Artist Interviews 2021

Wade King  
By Laura Siebold

Wade King is a comic book artist, creating both traditional and digital paintings. Growing up within an artistic family, Wade became engaged with art early on. For Wade, both comic books, tattoo art, Japanese sumi-e paints, sculptures, and animation serve as inspiration for his unique style. In his interview, we learn about his creation process, the reassurance for his career choice he receives from his family, and the positive impact the pandemic has had for Wade’s art and his communication with fans. Wade reveals his turning to anime, his quest for lifelong learning, and future goals of launching an artist collective. Wade King lives in Florida.

Wade King – first of all, I would like to thank you for your interest in a feature in Art Squat Magazine. There is a rumor that comic artists like to stay rather invisible behind their art. I wonder what your experiences with exhibiting your art in public, and being known as the artist “Wade King”, versus your individual persona have been so far?

Firstly, thank you for the opportunity! I do feel that art is a very intrinsic and profound part of a person regardless of the medium they choose to express it with. So, personally, getting out in public and actively doing shows and meeting people at first was a very intimidating experience for me. Eventually, I found that people were interested in the experience and the genuine interaction of meeting the person behind the art and it really has allowed me to feel far more comfortable with being myself in front of and behind the scenes.

We are curious about your background. When did you first encounter comic art, street art, mythology, and folklore, and how much did this influence you in your choice to become a comic book artist?

I often joke about having the same cliche answer all artists have with questions similar to this one. “I've been interested in art my whole life and always drawn off and on.” But in all honesty, my earliest memories were art-related and seeing the world through the prism of art. My father was an artist and a storyteller, so things like fantasy, scifi, comics and folklore have always been a stalwart part of my upbringing. Fast Forward to my early 20s when video games and comic book and sci-fi movies started dominating our pop culture, it just seemed like everything started falling into place and, eventually, I found myself doing what I love and drawing for a living.

You specialize in comic book and digital painting art styles. Which is the most important source of inspiration for you? How would you characterize your style?

Hmm.. This is a question I always seem to struggle with. As far as inspiration goes, I find it in nearly anything and everything. I follow many different artists, art styles and genres, and try to take pieces of them into my own works. My style is definitely the hardest thing I would say to describe. I have taken a huge amount of inspiration from the obvious comic style artists, but I also take a huge amount of inspiration from tattoo artists, Japanese sumi-e paints, sculptors, and animation.

Your artwork includes an impressive collection of strong comic action characters. How do you decide which character to paint next? How much impact do client commissions have on your choice of subjects?

Typically, for personal pieces, it's always a pretty safe bet I either watched, read, or played a video game involving those characters or scenes that dictates the inspiration for a piece, although client work has definitely had an impact as well. Oftentimes, when I’m commissioned for a subject, I’m not familiar with, I’ll typically try to dive into that subject and find inspiration from the subject matter and more times than not find a new obsession in the process.

Can you walk us through a typical process of creating a digital comic book print or poster?

This is something we as digital artists get asked A LOT and it's oftentimes a lot more simple than people would think. The process I use to do a digital piece is the same as a traditional piece. It starts with gathering reference and creating a mood board. Working out thumbnail sketches to choose a composition. A rough sketch then to a cleaned sketch. The piece gets inked, colors blocked in and then rendered with light, shadow, and touch ups.

Reflecting on your engagement with art, can you recall a specific experience that reassured you to continue your path as a comic book and digital artist?

I can't recall the exact moment but more of a constant affirmation I get. A huge drive for my choice in this career has been the look I see on my three daughters' faces and the excitement they get when they see my artwork. My oldest daughter Stella is very proud of what I do and tells me stories of when her friends and schoolmates talk about my work. Those moments have been constant boons, especially when times are difficult, and I have deadlines or have four different shows in four different states in one month.

Have you ever collaborated with another artist during your career and what was the outcome of the collaboration? If you have never collaborated with another artist, who would be your first choice and why?

I actually have three very good friends that we collaborate on pieces quite frequently. Kyle Petchcock, Alex Trpcevski, and Patrick Brown, three extremely accomplished artists and very close friends. At the time of answering this, my three friends and I are working on one of the biggest collabs we’ve ever done, so be sure to follow me on social media to see the outcome! I'll be sure to attach some of our recent collabs as well.

Do you feel that the pandemic has had an impact on your imagination or process of creating? Elaborate.

I know not everyone has had a pleasant experience with the pandemic, however, for me it really allowed me to focus and hone my skill set. I was able to do a lot of studies and improvements throughout. I found mentors and took on a lot more elaborate pieces that really helped me to find and focus on my weak areas and slowly make progress. As far as imagination, I found myself ingratiating myself deeper into any good storyline I could get my hands onto. With the lack of movies and new shows coming out, I needed something to help fuel the creative fires. Primarily being a fan artist, there was a bit of a lull at the beginning of the pandemic that had me worried, but I turned deeper into anime and videogames and found a massive source of inspiration during that time. Something even more positive that came out of it all was this massive community of others in a similar situation to myself that I meet at shows constantly: Fans that were never into anime and oftentimes turned onto it by friends or family and the only reason they took the dive was because of the same lack of content that was plaguing the rest of the world. It has been a very fulfilling experience getting to nerd out with people at shows about their favorite characters and newfound passions.

Where do you mostly exhibit your art?

As of right now, we are found typically at most major Comic book and Anime conventions across the country. I have been doing more local artisan and Farmers markets in our downtime near our home, which has been a ton of fun getting to meet the local community and art enthusiasts. I'm hoping to have a more curated and accessible online store up and running before the end of the year where people can find my work, as well as the art of a few of my colleagues.

We are curious about your future ambitions as an artist. Can you give us an insight into anticipated goals and projects?

This is another question I get frequently. As an artist, I will forever be learning and improving until the day I die. So, with the goal posts constantly being pushed back, it is very difficult to nail down this answer. Ideally, I would like to be doing more licensing work with companies like Marvel, Disney, and DC Comics. I would very much like to start designing my own intellectual properties and start designing my own clothing and merchandise in the near future. I'm also toying around with the idea of doing a kick starter to maybe light a fire under myself to get the ball rolling on those clothing ideas, or even an artbook collecting my works. I currently have a lot of collaborations with some great artists in the works, as well, that will be coming out soon. However, currently at the top of my list is launching my artist collective with my three friends and taking our business as an art group to new heights in the coming year.

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