Friday 12 April 2013

Green Is The Colour… And Red… And Blue…

Guy Gardner - Warrior!
This jaw-dropping image leaves little doubt that the most controversial member of the Green Lantern Corps is every inch a hero, from the tips of his spiky red hair to the toes of his shiny green boots.
The artwork is one of many DC Comics inspired creations from the graphic designer known as ColourOnly85.  This uber-talented artist has set himself the extremely bold challenge of producing an illustration of every character appearing in the DC universe before 14 June 2013 – the date that the much anticipated Superman movie, Man of Steel sees general release.
Impossible I hear you say.  And yes, maybe so.  But let me tell you, ColourOnly85 is making a damned good go of it!
I was lucky enough to be able to catch up with the man himself to find out a bit more about the Man of Steel project and the inspiration behind this daunting undertaking.
FP:  Thank you for taking time out of your busy art schedule to share a few words with 'Flodo's Page'.  This is a massive project you have set for yourself - to illustrate all of the DC characters before the Man of Steel movie comes out in June.  What inspired you to create this challenge?
CO85:  Thanks for giving me time to share a little bit about ColourOnly85, very grateful.
Well it all happened a bit randomly.  I got caught up doing a lot of graphic design work and realised I hadn't given much time to just design and create for the fun of it.  At the same time I was getting really excited about the new Man of Steel movie, so I thought it would be fun to do a Superman piece in aid of it.  It was whilst doing the Superman illustration I thought 'why not do some other DC Characters, ' and after that the thought of doing more artwork dedicated to Man of Steel popped into my head.   So I decided to turn what I was doing into a challenge to try and draw all the characters before the movie is released.
FP:  Last I checked you had released character #115 which is an amazing accomplishment but there have been a lot of characters in the DCU over the last 60 years or so!  How many more illustrations have you got left in you?
CO85:  Thanks so much!  I'm now on #120 and in the grand scheme of things I know I've got a LOT of catching up to do.  But I've definitely got it in me to do all the characters (although unfortunately it looks like the bulk will likely come after the deadline).  But I like to stay optimistic, so I'm still going to try and work towards June 14th anyway.
FP:  You obviously love comics and movies. Which do you enjoy more?  Is there a comic book or film that holds a special importance for you?
CO85:  That's a tough one, but I would have to say movies.  I love getting lost in comics and LOVE seeing the talent in the artwork that's created in them.  But there isn't much I enjoy more than going to the cinema or kicking back at home and getting lost in a good film, I love the escape of it.  With today's visual effects at such a high level as well, it just makes me love films even more!
In terms of a favourite film, I can't honestly say I have one.  Sci-Fi and fantasy films are definitely my favourite genre but I couldn't point out a single film as my favourite.  I know that's an 'easy way out answer' but it's true …haha. 
FP:  Your work is awesome and, as your Twitter name suggests, your creations are in colour only.  No lines.  What inspired you to follow this style?
CO85:  In terms of the style, I really wanted to do something different, especially in terms of presenting comic book characters.  I think at the moment, the traditional clean graphic style is what we are very used to seeing and which is incredible.  But I really wanted to come from a totally different angle.  So I took some time to just try a few ideas out and I finally developed the idea of geometric shapes and minimalism without lines to define the object and the ColourOnly85 style was born from that.
FP:  It seems like you produce your illustrations really quickly.  You sometimes post 3 or 4 works at a time on Twitter.  How long does it normally take to create a piece?  What do you use for reference? For example, do you look for lots of images of Kyle Rayner and then pick one you like to base a new illustration on?
CO85:  Producing a piece takes about 2 to 3 hours on average and what I try to do is work on 3 or more at one time.  Jumping between different characters helps me keep the ideas fresh in my head and makes the experience a lot of fun.  Getting the free time to design is the hard part.  Sometimes there are weeks where I will produce lots and weeks where there may only be 1 or 2 designs.  It can be really really tricky.
In terms of the actual designs, I will either use a popular or particularly striking image for reference.  That way I can deliver something fans are familiar with but in a new way.  Or I will use a pose that I think reflects the character well.  I took a lot of time to build a massive library of action poses which I use for reference and which are a massive help when illustration. 
FP:  Of the DC illustrations you have created so far which is your personal favourite and why?  Is there a character that you haven't illustrated yet that you are really excited about producing?
CO85:  Hmm...  At the moment the Batman image is my favourite.  It was the image that really convinced me that the style of illustration I was doing could work.  I also just had a blast doing it, so there are a lot of good memories I have associated to that piece.
In terms of a character I'm looking forward to doing, I'd say Kilowog.  I really like his character and Green Lanterns are my favourite DC Characters so I can't wait to do him.
FP:  I have to ask - apart from DC is there one character, be it comics, movies or the real world even, that you would like to give the ColourOnly85 treatment to?
CO85:  Man, awesome question, so tricky though.  There's so much to choose from!  I'm a MASSIVE Avatar: The Last Airbender fan (and also the new Legend of Korra TV show).  But Toph in particular is my absolute favourite so I would say I would like to do a ColourOnly85 version of her the most.  
FP:  Finally, I don't want to take up too much of you time but I'm sure your fans want to know, is there anywhere they can buy your work, either originals or reprints?
CO85:  I have an Etsy shop but only have two characters available at the moment.  I've decided I'm going to slow down on selling the prints until summer to help me deal with the workload.  There is just so much I'm working on at the moment.  Plus my main concern is getting the artwork out there for the fans to see.  I am in discussion with some individuals where I'm trying to get the prints out more effectively, so watch this space and I'll keep you posted as to how things come along.
FP:  Thanks again for taking the time to do the blog.  I wish you the very best of luck with your Man of Steel challenge and I will certainly be looking out for more of your fantastic creations in the future.  I hope we can expect a few more Green Lanterns in the line-up!  Kilowog maybe?
CO85:  It's been my pleasure and an honour.  Thank you so much for your support and taking the time to do the interview. And again a massive thank you to everyone who has been supporting me so far, the feedback and encouragement and way everyone has been spreading the word about the artwork has blown me away!
Haha…  Kilowog is definitely one of the greats, I'll make sure I add him to the list and see if I can deliver something special just for you.  

You can follow ColourOnly85’s progress on his Tumblr page or catch up with him on Twitter @ColourOnly85 and check out your favourite DC Comics heroes as you have never seen them before!


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