Introducing the Artists: Elliot Balson

eb-self-portraitTell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Elliot Balson, 23, I’m from the Scottish borders and came up to Dundee to study Animation. After that I went on and did the Comics MLitt course.

What made you want to become an artist?

The same as most people I guess, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t wanting to draw. I suppose it mostly comes from  watching my favourite cartoons and reading comics as a kid.

Do you have a preferred style of art?

At the moment it’s mainly digital, but I’ve been trying to work in more traditional stuff now that I’ve got the studio as well.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Video games, comics, and at the moment a lot of watching film and video essays about storytelling techniques or film techniques. Mostly because I find it interesting but hopefully I can use some of it in my own work as well.

What is your favourite comic of all time?

I knew that was going to come up! There’s quite a few, but the most recent big one I love is Punk Rock Jesus by Sean Murphy – whilst reading it I was like, this is everything I want out of comics put in one nice little package.

What is the best thing about working in DCCS?

Definitely having the space – from uni I’m quite used to having studio space in Animation, but everybody is kind of in and out a bit more in this one, so you keep to yourself a bit more but there’s also the chance to collaborate. Like if you’re stuck on something you’re able to ask someone else if they’re able to help and vice versa. Also having a dedicated area, not only for working in but specifically for comics, is great.

What are you working on at the moment?

Probably too much! I’m actually working on one of the comics we tried to do as an animation in fourth year but we didn’t get finished, so I thought now was a good time to try it. I’m working on a comic – what was originally a short comic – where the writers made the script 150 pages, so I’m slowly working on that in the background. I’m also working with a couple of other people to produce a few short comics for pitching things they want to do, like short films; it’s a nice short way for them to show what they’re hoping it to look like.

How can we follow you on social media?

Instagram – @ellbalson

Facebook – Ell Balson Art

ArtStation – https://ellbalson.artstation.com/

Thanks Elliot!

– Caitlin

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Introducing the Team: Damon Herd

Here is the final profile we have for you this week – some (Damon) may say we have saved the best for last. Introducing DCCS Coordinator, Damon Herd!

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Damon Herd, I’m 45 and I’m from Fife.

What do you do on a day to day basis?

I’m coordinator of DCCS, so that means I have day to day responsibilities for running the space – liaising with outside organisations and partners, programming workshops for our after school clubs, and arranging artists and facilitators for our studio space.

How did you get to where you are today?

I’ve always been interested in comics, as a kid I used to draw my own Danger Mouse comics with a school friend. I would go to the local library and pour over Asterix and Tintin books. Like Phil, I also used to get Rupert the Bear books at Christmas – I think that places us in a certain age group! I had my first published drawing in issue 26 The Nutty – a comic from DC Thomson – at the age of 9. When I left school I worked as a draughtsman, when you still drew with pen on boards, and then fell into Civil Engineering. It was never really what I wanted to do though, so I eventually ended up working in a record shop in London, and then got a job in the film and TV industry. That lasted until my mid-life crisis when I went back to art school in my thirties. I studied Book Arts and then later did an MA in Illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. When that finished, I was accepted to do a PhD on comics at DJCAD. It was titled Truth Games: Fact, Fiction and Performance in Autobiographical Comics and I just handed it in a couple of months ago. As my PhD was coming to an end, the job at DCCS came up so I applied. And here I am!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I’m a practising artist, I like working in screenprint and I’ve made installations and murals in the past. I also make my own comics such as The Adventures of Ticking Boy. During my PhD I conceived DeeCAP (Dundee Comics Art Performance), which is a theatrical event where we project comics on to a screen and the authors recreate or perform their comics. I also like to ride my bike – I recently combined my love of comics and cycling by doing the whole of the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail in one day on my bike! I’m also one of the regular posters at comics blog Graphixia which has a roster of comics academics, mainly from Canada and Europe, blogging on all things comics.

What is your favourite comic of all time?

Love and Rockets is probably my all time number one favourite comic, especially the stories by Jaime Hernandez. It began in the early 80s as a slightly sci-fi inflected tale of punk living in LA, but it slowly lost the sci-fi trappings and focused on the characters, who have grown older as the comic has continued over the last 30 years. I love Jaime’s black and white drawing style, he is an artist who really knows how to use black on a page. Another favourite would be Susceptible by Geneviève Castrée, her work is really delicate and beautiful and personal, but sadly she died this year. Like Norrie, I agree that the best Batman book is Batman Year One. It’s a great combination of Frank Miller’s writing, David Mazzucchelli’s art and Richmond Lewis’s colouring.

What is the best thing about working in DCCS?

Just seeing what the kids come up with during our workshops – they are endlessly inventive, some of them are really natural instinctive cartoonists and their work is always surprising. Usually there’s a good fart joke. It’s great working with artists day to day and it’s also given me the opportunity to continue creating my own work. Everything about the Space is great!

(I think he also enjoys bossing around interns.) What are you working on at the moment?

The after school clubs have been a bit quiet over the holidays but now the schools are back hopefully it will get busy again. We’re working towards getting our Comics Clubbers to produce comics so we can sell them at the Ex Libris book fair at the Dundee Literary festival in October. In a personal capacity, I’m currently guest editing the next issue of Scottish literary journal The Drouth. It’s a comics special and it’s given me great pleasure selecting artists and writers to produce strips and articles for the issue. It should be out in October and it’s going to be great!

How can we follow you on social media?

Twitter – @tickingboy

My website – damonherd.com

Thanks Damon!

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Introducing the Artists: Andy Herd

The seventh and final artist in our studio to be profiled is Andy Herd!

IMG_4614Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Andy Herd, I’m 37 and I’m from Fife but have lived in Dundee for 15 years.

What made you want to become an artist?

Well I always doodled when I was young – I’m a big doodler, I doodle at work and I doodle most places, so I guess I’ve always had something in me that wanted to draw cartoons. I did read The Beano a lot when I was young so I think that helped a lot as well.

Do you have a preferred style of art?

I work entirely digitally – I used to use Wacom tablets but now I actually draw on an iPad, which is fantastic because I can take it with me and draw everywhere. From start to finish, everything I do is on the iPad, from sketching right down to the final stuff. Having worked digitally for so long, I now find I suck at drawing with pens and paper! I really love digital drawing, I think it suits my style, which is quite cartoony and bold. I use an app called Procreate and I also use Adobe Draw, but Procreate is the main one that I use now, which is fantastic I love it.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Hmm, I like to watch horror films on Netflix, I play video games sometimes, I like to read books and I like to think about owls or shrews – they’re really fun animals – and ducks as well, big fan of ducks. My favourite book is Watership Down, it’s fantastic I love it, it’s the only book that ever made me cry.

What is your favourite comic of all time?

It would probably be The Far Side by Gary Larson, which is a selection of one panel newspaper style cartoons. I had a lot of his books when I was young, they’re so funny and so stupid. I think they influenced me a lot. They’re timeless and they have a lot of funny animals and ducks in them.

What is the best thing about working in DCCS?

Being around other people who do comics is very motivating, and having desk space is fantastic, a place to put your things and work in peace. Sometimes when I work at home there’s too many distractions, so having this desk is brilliant. Working with the kids in the workshops is great, they come up with some completely insane comics – sometimes I mentally steal ideas from them. Overall it’s a really encouraging and inspiring atmosphere.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on Episode 7 of my comic called The Cases of Detective Skip Tobey, which is going to be about pan-dimensional crime reptiles who have taken over the city. It’s online on my website, and I’m part of Treehouse Comic so all of my Skip Tobey comics are also in Treehouse.

How can we follow you on social media?

Twitter – @_pandy

Website – www.pandyland.net

Thanks Andy!

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Introducing the Artists: David Robertson

Here is the next in the series of profiles of our DCCS artists – meet David Robertson!

Fred Egg Comics logo (1)Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name’s David Robertson, my age is 44 and I’m from Dundee.

What made you want to become an artist?

Well, I always liked drawing and I’ve always read comics so it was just natural to start making my own as well as reading them. I remember reading things like Hulk, Star Wars, Spider-Man, The Dandy. Up till now, comics is more what I’ve done in my spare time. I knew Damon prior to coming here so when he got the job I told him I was interested. I’ve always made comics so this is a good place to come and do it.

Do you have a preferred style of art?

I guess I’m old fashioned – pencils, paper, and ink. I do use computers and digital stuff for certain things – scanning artwork and tidying it up. But primarily I work the old fashioned way.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Apart from making comics, I listen to podcasts and also make comics podcasts. I’m just starting to get into that. I like watching telly – I like Columbo!

What is your favourite comic of all time?

That’s a difficult one. I’ll say two that my sons made – The Concorde story and The Stick Guy. My sons are 10 and 7. The Concorde Story is a factual comic about the plane. The Stick Guy is a day in the life kind of thing – a man having everyday adventures.

What is the best thing about working in DCCS?

It’s good to be involved in the Dundee comics scene, which seems to be growing all the time. That’s really good. Also when you make comics a lot, you’re kind of sat in one room for hours and days on end so it’s nice to get out the house and come and meet people with similar interests. I do enjoy doing the workshops with the kids – they have great ideas.

What are you working on at the moment?

Today I was working on a new comic, a one pager, called The Making of Space Film Episode 7, which I’m hoping will be in this magazine called Star Jaws. I was pencilling that today. Yesterday I was doing a story with my son who wanted to do another one called Shopping for Tuna. He told me what the story was, while I planned out how it would be on the page. That’s been done over the holidays and I need to draw that up now. I’ve got an ongoing web comic that I do called Bell Time which goes up at the Redbird Review website. I’ve just released my own comic called Zero Sum Bubblegum. I just make comics all the time, I never stop – so I never know what I’m working on, what’s just been finished, what’s just been accepted or rejected, what’s just been published. I do stuff for Treehouse comic regularly. I’m also collecting together my first two mini comics that I did, and putting them into a book called Berserkotron and reprinting it. I want to get that done for this year’s Thought Bubble which happens in Leeds in November.

Finally how can we follow you on social media?

Twitter – @FredEggComics

Blog – fredeggcomics.blogspot.co.uk

Website – fredeggcomics.com

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Introducing the Artists: Ashling Larkin

A new week, a new artist profile – meet Ashling Larkin!


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Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name’s Ashling Larkin, I’m 22 years old and I’m from Eastbourne in England.

What made you want to become an artist?

Well, I’ve read comics since I was a kid, and I was also fascinated with the art of animation. So it was a mix of reading these Brazilian comics (“Monica & Friends”) and also seeing some behind the scenes footage of how they made Snow White that kind of did it for me.

Do you have a preferred style of art?

I really enjoy drawing traditionally, because it lets me draw in lots of detail. The best way to describe my art style is probably as a mix between anime and Disney.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Mostly reading comics of course, catching up on my TV shows and cartoons, and socialising – I think I’m an extrovert. My favourite cartoon show at the moment is Steven Universe and my favourite TV show is The Mindy Project.

What is your favourite comic of all time?

Well I have a favourite artist, and pretty much anything he makes is gold for me – Bryan Lee O’Malley. But my number one comic by him is Lost at Sea because it’s so emotional and it’s similar to the way I tell stories, so I guess it’s one of my influences. I love all of his work though.

What is the best thing about working in DCCS?

It’s really really great to have a dedicated space that is just for working and creating – I’ve noticed that my productivity has gotten way way higher since I’ve been here. Also the workshops are really fun and interesting, and it’s great to get a fresh perspective from the kids we work with.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m finishing up the last chapter for my comic Fundee, and I’m also in the middle of writing The Enchanted Book – it was my fourth year [of university] film which I’m currently transferring into comic form. Those are my big projects at the moment, along with the odd commission here and there.

How can we follow you on social media?

Facebook – Ashling Larkin – Art & Illustration

Instagram – @ashlingdraws

Tumblr – ashlingtumbls.tumblr.com

Twitter – @ashlingtweets

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Introducing the Artists: Norrie Millar

Over the next couple of weeks we will be creating short profiles on the artists that work in our studio, with interviews by Caitlin Mitchell. Here’s the first; introducing Norrie Millar!

 

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Norrie Millar, I’m 30, and I’m from Dundee.

What made you want to become an artist?

I come from a family of artists so it was sort of expected that I would go the same way – my brother was the same, he’s a musician. I eventually went into art school and studied at Duncan of Jordanstone up the road, and I studied fine art.

Do you have a preferred style of art?

My art style is quite traditional, with ink, paper, pencil and eraser. That’s how I like to work. Also messily – I’m very messy.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like playing music, I play guitar – mostly rock and roll and heavy metal. I try to read a lot – my favourite book is Frankenstein.

What is your favourite comic of all time?

Tough question, I’ll give you a few:

Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo, which is one of the first comics I can remember reading as an 8-10 year old, so it has a lot of childhood memories for me.

Day Tripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá is a comic that I read when I was in my mid-twenties, trying to get back into comics. It’s a story about life and death, it’s quite an intimate book, and I got really invested in it.

Batman Year One, because it is the best Batman book. (And you can quote me on that.)

What is the best thing about working in DCCS?

Just having the space – it’s quite incredible, not something that a lot of people have. Having the studio is a very rare occurrence as lots of people have to work at home because they can’t afford one. Having the workshops is great as well.

What are you working on just now?

I’m part of an anthology Comic Haus, and I’m also working on a couple of personal projects.

How can we follow you on social media?

Twitter – @prehistoricfrog

Instagram – @norriemillar

www.norriemillar.wordpress.com

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