Isaac of Hero Spy: What is your first professional experience in the art world?
Julio Cesar: First, let me say that I am honored that your site has chosen to spotlight my work. I hope I can answer these questions in a way that may give some insight to young artists or fans alike.
As far as my first gig, I was a newspaper illustrator for about six years and have worked doing freelance artwork of one kind or another for the past 23 years. In the comics or fantasy field, my first gig was the Snow White issue I did for Grimm Fairy Tales #7 from Zenescope. I was given about two weeks to draw and ink the book because someone else backed out on them. I was working at the time and could only work on it at night. It is by no means anywhere near my best work, but I am very proud of the fact that I came through for them when they were in a tight spot.
Hero Spy: What would be your favorite Comic Book character you enjoy drawing or wish you could draw in the future?
Julio Cesar: While I am best known for the ladies I draw, I would have to say that I would love to draw Superman. No matter what comic is hot at any given moment, Superman is the icon and the character by which all others are measured.
I would also enjoy doing Vampirella, the Hulk, Conan, Sheena, and the New Gods. These are not necessarily my favorite books or characters, but I think they would lend themselves to my style very well. From purely a fan’s point of view, I would love to work on the Fantastic Four, Batman and the Justice League.
I do love to draw the ladies, but sometimes that can get old……….ok, not really, but I wanted to sound like a multi-dimensional person, if only for a moment!
Hero Spy: Have you had any artistic training?
Julio Cesar: Yes, but I say that with some hesitation. I was offered the opportunity to study at the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute at the age of six, but my father thought I was too young to attend the school and turned them down.
I later graduated from a different art school, a very prestigious school that is considered one of the top schools in the country for art. With that said, I have to honestly say that I did not learn a whole lot in college. It actually pains me to say that, but I don’t think this particular school was very good at teaching the art of illustration at the time. They were very much into modern art while I was heading in a more classical direction.
I have since learned a great deal more from other artists and studying the masters. There is no substitute for learning from the masters.
If I had to recommend a school for the comic craft to anyone, it would be the Kubert School in Dover, New Jersey. I never went to the school, but I buy supplies from them and have visited the school and spoken to many of the staff and students. There may be some other very good schools for comics out there, I am sure I don’t know them all, but from what I have seen, the Kubert School is by far the best.
Hero Spy: Your drawings of the female form are awesome; would you say it is your best subject to draw?
Julio Cesar: It is certainly my most popular subject and one that I love to do. I love the human figure in general and comics and fantasy art allow me as an artist to play with the figure a great deal. For some strange reason, it seems easier to keep my focus when drawing beautiful, sexy, alluring, half-dressed, voluptuous babes!!!! I can’t quite figure it out, but it just seems to work out that way.
Hero Spy: I love to draw as well, (but not even close to your level) and I always wonder how long it takes you to finish a page, such as a commission in pencil?
Julio Cesar: That is a really hard question to answer because I do many different size commissions and work in both regular and colored pencil among several other media, but I will do my best. It is perhaps easiest to give you a range of time. A simple line drawing can sometimes be just a matter of minutes. A detailed and shaded pencil drawing or colored pencil drawing can be a few hours to the better part of a day. The angels and fairies I am known for are good examples of this. I have also done some commissions using color pencil that have taken me about 40 hours if they involve multiple characters on a large surface. A good example of this would be my Star Trek pieces.
I have found that the more direction I am given on a commission request, the longer it takes me to do and the less happy I am with it. When a client gives me a subject and just lets me go with it, the pieces always turn out better. I imagine that this is true with most artists. If you like an artist’s work, then let them be free to do what they do best. I think that collectors will find that 99% of the time an artist will do a better job if left on a long leash. If the artist feels free and inspired to do the piece, that is as close to a guaranteed great piece as you can get and everyone ends up happy.
Hero Spy: What would be your main tools for your drawings?
Julio Cesar: I keep it very simple. I like to draw with hard leads and build up the darks with the softer leads as I work. It allows me to keep the drawing surface cleaner and to create a soft feel that fans seem to enjoy about my ladies. I start with as light as an 8H and work as dark as a 6B depending on the drawing.
When I use color pencil or work with mixed media, I swear by Prismacolor pencils. I love how versatile they are and can give real form and depth to a piece of art.
When I draw in inks, I use mostly Micron pens and rarely do any brush work. Now there are pens on the market with tips that are somewhat similar to foam and create a great brush-like effect without any mess. I keep all my old pens that are running out of ink and use them to create subtle shading effects. In this way the fact that they are dying actually works to my benefit and allows me to create very dimensional pieces in ink.
When I use paints, I work exclusively with oils. I have found a way that allows me to use them either in mixed media pieces or alone for a more classical feel and still keep the drying time down. I know a lot of other guys use watercolors or acrylic because of drying time, but if worked right, oils can be almost as quick. I am used to oils from my fine arts pieces and I just think they are by far the richest and most versatile paints out there.
Hero Spy: I noticed some of your colored drawings such as the one with Aquaman and Namor. What method do you use to color?
Julio Cesar: Well, there are two things you should know about me when it comes to color. The first is that I am almost totally colorblind. I only see six colors and three of those are black, white and gray. Doctors have told me that I have the most rare form of color blindness and only about 10,000 in the world suffer from it. That always seems to fascinate people. It is rarely a problem for me anymore as long as the pencil or tube of paint have the name on them, I can manage. I have often been complimented on my very vivid colors. I have to take people’s word for it. Color theory is one thing that I did learn in college that has helped me tremendously in dealing with this problem. Occasionally I will forget where I put a certain color on my palette and mistake it for another color and then after a few hours of working on something, my wife will walk in and ask “Why does that man have green hair?” That can be a little frustrating, but it does give me the rare opportunity to practice some of the more colorful words in both the English and Spanish languages!
The other thing is that I am always experimenting and working to get better and more versatile. So how I color my work depends on the piece, I may use Prismacolor pencils alone, or for mixed media I may combine the color pencils with oils and ink. If I am looking to do something more classical, I will work in oils alone. The Aquaman and Namor piece you mentioned is a little experiment I did and it is painted exclusively with oils. I did it on illustration board, but I find that I prefer to paint on paper. Since discovering paper as a painting surface, the quality of my work has gone up tremendously. It allows me much more control than a board or canvas ever did. It may not work the same for everyone, as each artist has his or her own way of doing things, but for me it has been a real blessing. Soon I will be putting some of these new pieces in oil on paper out there for sale and I think fans will see a huge improvement in my work.
Hero Spy: I would imagine you are bombarded with requests for you art. Is there any request that was just weird? Like a woman with four heads.
Julio Cesar: I am always very respectful of fans and the things they like. I understand that many people have some tastes that would tend to perhaps be looked at as unusual by others. I try not to pass judgment and this has ended up sending many clients my way. They have found that they can trust me with what might be called quirkier type requests. I find that perhaps the most common request I have gotten that some people may look at as unusual involves foot fetishes. Apparently there are lots of people out there that really like the way I draw feet. If I ever retire from art, perhaps I have a future in pedicures?
Hero Spy: LOL
Hero Spy: When you are not working, how do you fill your time?
Julio Cesar: I relax by drawing! I actually have very severe ADD. I was diagnosed as a child and I have to be doing something all the time. It has made me the ultimate multi-tasker. Whenever I am drawing or painting, I am also either watching a documentary, a movie, a TV series on DVD or listening to a book on CD or my wife will read to me. By doing two things at a time, it allows me to bounce my attention back and forth from one to the other and it dissipates my nervous energy. Because of this, I have subscriptions to Netflix and Blockbuster Online, as well as the in-store Blockbuster pass as well.
I don’t have any kind of cable television. I saw from one of your previous interviews that Jeff Spokes doesn’t watch TV either. I can’t deal with all the negative energy from the news, so I just chose several years ago to cut out all the news and trash TV from my life. Now I control what I watch. It may sound artsy-fartsy or new age, but I find negative energy really puts a whammy on my creative flow.
When I finally reach my limit and need to walk away from the art table, I may walk away for two or three days just to clear my head. Then I like to spend time with my wife and like to let her choose what we will do (she made me say that under threat of physical harm).
Hero Spy: If you want to give me a piece of your art…you can, for free. LOL
Julio Cesar: Well, I leave all of my business decisions up to my rep, Bob Shaw. You can contact him at www.serendipityartsales.com If you can get a free piece out of him, I don’t have a problem with it, especially if you don’t have a problem with this cheap and obvious plug!!!
Hero Spy: Are there any up incoming projects where we can see your work?
Julio Cesar: I’m currently working on a few things. I am doing a series of four books for a DUB entitled “The Applicants”. It is a very funny book written by my friend, a very talented, young writer named Jon Vinson. When you see these books, you won’t recognize them as my work. I used a very cartoony, almost child-like style to give the story a different feel and keep it closer to what Jon envisioned.
I am also working on some book illustrations for a yet untitled sci-fi book that I believe will be published in 2008. I am working on my own graphic novel. A series of seven novels entitled the Omega Chronicles, which deal with the end of the universe, sci-fi, religion, spirituality, super heroes and the kitchen sink! And of course, I am always doing commissions (Feel free to insert another cheap plug here! LOL)
Hero Spy: Who would you like to work with that you haven’t had the chance to?
Julio Cesar: Just about everyone in the comics and fantasy business. My career in this field is just getting started, so all the wonderful, nice, talented and saint-like folks at DC and Marvel are on my list of people I would love to work with (That wasn’t too obvious a kiss up was it?). And of course the folks at Image, Dark Horse and Top Cow would be wonderful to work with as well (Covering all my bases!) I would really have to say that I would enjoy working with anyone who is relaxed about the creative process.
Hero Spy: Who would you consider to be a great artist, besides yourself?
Julio Cesar: Michelangelo! And I would be beside myself if I could ever approach his genius! (Maybe……. if I live to be 500 years old!) I love the masters such as Vermeer, Bougereau, Louis David, Caravaggio and Salvador Dali.
In the comics and fantasy field my heroes are Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo. I live less than an hour away from each, but I just can’t seem to get them to return my calls! In all seriousness, they are the two guys that inspired me to get into this field. I also love Adam Hughes and Frank Cho’s work. They do beautiful figure work. I like Travis Charest and what he does with the feel of many of his pieces. The same goes for Gabrielle Del Otto.
Hero Spy: What would be the first step in getting into drawing comics as a career? Besides practicing everyday like a maniac!
Julio Cesar: Be realistic about what your goals are. Have a back up plan. ( I know I sound like everybody’s dad ) It is a lot easier to break into comics if you have another source of income, whether that is some other form of art or working as a CPA or pumping gas. This allows you to ease your way in and not end up putting yourself in a position to be ripped off. In the beginning the comics field really demands that you pay your dues by working for small companies and proving you are someone who can meet deadlines. That has to be established before anyone is going to hand you a big project. The real downside to that is that there are a lot of people out there looking to take advantage of young artists. It happened to me and countless others I know. When I was younger, I got taken to the tune of several thousand dollars. The only thing that saved me was having another source of income. I would say it is very important to talk to as many artists that are actually working in the field as possible. Then eliminate the two extremes of opinions that you get, and then you will probably have a fairly realistic view of what you are up against.
Hero Spy: Most artists love movies, what would you say is a Movie you love or are looking forward too?
Julio Cesar: I would say there are a few. The next Batman and Hulk films are high on the list. The new Wolverine film should be really good as well. I am looking forward to the next Bond. I never liked the old Bond films, but the last one redefined the series and gave it an all new start. I am also looking forward to anything with Kenneth Branagh in it. I love his Shakespeare films (Yes, that was a somewhat unexpected curve in there ).
Hero Spy: I always end interviews with this question:
What would you say is your favorite fast food joint?
Julio Cesar: Yo quiero Taco Bell!!!!