David Michael Beck’s illustration career has spanned four decades and has crossed multiple genres, from landscape painting to editorial illustration to comic books. His incredible work ethic has allowed him to continually produce a high-volume body of work. He also teaches as an adjunct professor at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio/ White Oak
Website: www.davidmichaelbeck.net www.davidmichaelbeck.com www.catskillcomics.com
On the Drawing Table: landscapes, contemporary narrative, comic work
Coming out soon: same as above
How did you get your start as a professional artist?
from the Chicago Academy of Fine Art in 1973.
I had attended two previous schools, Wright State University, and The
American Academy of Art. I began working in a suburb of Chicago in an in-house
art department for a company that marketed dinnerware and other household items
to national grocery chains as sales incentives. Example: buy $50 worth of
groceries and receive one full dinnerware setting. I illustrated a large body of black &
white drawings in several techniques and mediums that were used in full page
newspaper ads. After a year or so, I
took a position as a staff illustrator in one of the large art and design
studios in downtown Chicago. I worked on
projects for ad agencies, design firms, publishers, and various corporate
clientele. Over the course of my first 10 years as a professional I worked in
several art studios and corporate in-house art departments working with an
array of materials and techniques. During that time I attempted to go freelance twice and failed. The third time
was the charm, and I have been a freelance artist ever since.
has developed in several areas of market covering editorial, advertising,
institutional, publishing, and entertainment. My portfolio ranges from animated
cartoon styles, to stylized realism, and contemporary regional landscapes. I have developed a large body of genre work
spanning sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, horror, and comics.
Tell about your workspace.
It’s messy. I turned the top floor of our house into my studio.
My studio is in an upstairs converted master bedroom. The room has wooden floors for easy clean up of spills, two work stations … one for drawing, the other for table top illustrating and painting. It has two windows with knock out pull down shades, and wide black blinds to completely darken the room for overhead projections of sketch work, photos, etc. There is an easel, large flat files and book shelves loaded with books, statues, figurines, music equipment, props, cameras/ tripod, and artwork. Everything is neat, clean and in it’s place. I freaking hate clutter! I have things arranged so that no time is wasted searching for something I need to work with. I am extremely organized, anal, and efficient to a fault.
What are your favorite materials digital and traditional?
I work with
an array of traditional materials and tools. Pencils, brushes, I often make my
own tools using organic materials such as pine needles wrapped and wound to make a crude brush, twigs, etc, ink,
acrylics, watercolor, oils, charcoal, oil pastels, air brush, crow quills and
steel brush, sponges, and an electric eraser (with hard and soft eraser tips),
rigged with a nylon grinding disc used to create interesting effects on pencil
and charcoal work. My working surfaces
include, illustration board, canvas, paper, linen, and wood panel.
What’s your typical workday/work session like?
I work most
all of seven days a week. My days are 8-12
hours long. Some even longer if need
be. My day starts 15-20 minutes after getting out of bed
either side of 5:00AM with a cup of coffee.
The work day ends around the same time in the afternoon.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated as you work?
I never ever lack
in motivation, or inspiration, nor do I get tired. I have several projects going on in the studio
at the same time. All of them are in
various stages of my working process. I
work on one project for a while then move over to another. I get a lot of work done in this manner. I am very self disciplined in work ethic and
time management. I treat everything in
my life as a priority. By the way … I do
make time to enjoy family and friends and some recreation. In the past year and into this one I teach at
the Art Academy of Cincinnati in an adjunct position two days a week. I teach a materials & techniques class,
and I co-teach with one of the deans an illustration class based on special
topics and projects with advanced students.
What is your dream job?
suppose I have a dream job per se. I am
doing the work I enjoy now after 45 years of hard endeavor. In my early years I
produced a lot of work solely for the money, and to solidify my free lance
status. Now I enjoy working on a gallery
oil painting, then switch over to a comic cover, then perhaps on to a series of
black & white interior drawings, then on to a contemporary narrative piece
and so on. I would get very bored working on the same type or work every day.
I have a lot of art interests in me that shouts to get out.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
several sketchbooks that I work on from time to time. They consist mostly of refined preliminary concept
drawings,…some just for fun, while others are the emphasis for finished
work. I rarely loose sketch and doodle
in the books. Most all of my loose
thumbnail sketching done in brainstorming sessions ends up in sketch files
stored in portfolio envelopes.
What do you listen to while you work?
Often I work
in silence, especially if I’m conceiving ideas and brainstorming. All prep work for finished I work is in a
silent environment. When the tunes are
on, I listen to a range of music including jazz, smooth jazz, blues, rock,
country, bluegrass, and classical. I
usually select music based on the type of work I’m doing at that time. For instance, if I’m painting a landscape, classical
music is almost always in the air. At
the end of the work day there’s usually
a “one man party” going on in the room.
I crank up the volume, grab a couple beers or wine and hang for a while
getting set up for the next day’s toil.
What are you reading/listening to on Audible?
I read in bed
before nodding off for the night. Mostly
I study the artwork and lives of other artists, past and present. I take in a magazine article or so on various
topics, or perhaps read a comic. And yes!,..at
age 64, I still love a good comic book.
I go through a comic twice. Once to read the storyline, the second to study the
Who are your artistic influences?
influences are many and varied. Here’s
some examples. For landscape work, , Maxfield
Parrish, Ansel Adams, Clark Hulings,
Clyde Aspevig, Peter Fiore, Ruisdael,
Jan Vermeer, the Hudson River artists. For illustration:, Norman Rockwell, Bernie
Fuchs, Mark English, Robert McGinnis, Tom Lovell, Sebastian Krueger, and the
“Ashcan” artists. For comics, sci-fi, &
fantasy: Donato Giancola, Michael Whelan, Frank Frazetta, Neal Adams, Mark
Schultz, Al Williamson. These just came
to mind, but there are a ton of artists I admire and have studied extensively both
past and present.
What do you do that is not art related that inspires you?
I love being outdoors. Because of the great amount of time spent working in the studio, I relish getting outside. It doesn’t matter the weather, temperature, or season. Dressed accordingly, I can stay out all day long hiking, fishing, cooking and partying with a friend around a fire, hanging pool side with an appropriate adult beverage, having dinner on the back deck with my beautiful wife Kitty, or whatever.
What was the best advice you got in your career so far?
learned much from my parents and friends who have instilled in me a sense of
purpose. High work and professional ethics, commitment, loyalty, love and
devotion, consideration and respect for myself and others, giving instead of
taking, and a never give up, never give in attitude to life in general.
What is your favorite color?
I have no
favorite color. I love them all.
How can we get best follow your art online/on social media?
websites, or check me out on Facebook
Don't forget to check out David's Books By the Banks poster being unveiled Tuesday at Joseph Beth!
Details here: http://cincyillustrators.blogspot.com/2015/09/books-by-banks-poster-unveiling.html