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Featured Artist: Lorenzo Etherington!

Lorenzo Etherington is a living legend! I put him right up there with Bill Watterson, Will Eisner, Walt Kelly, Winsor McCay etc. This guy can draw everything well; characters, mech, vehicles, architecture, backgrounds, vegetation and on and on. Not only can he draw them but he draws them at a whole different level. If you're like me, you wish you could draw like that too. Get ready for the best news ever... Lorenzo has a book on Kickstarter RIGHT NOW that will show you how to draw. Before you read this interview, go pledge for this book!


I’m sure you were drawing at a very early age, what did your parents do right and what did they do wrong in raising an artist?

I'm very VERY lucky in that my parents did the one most important thing in the world - they let me be myself and find my own path, and helped and encouraged all along the way. I lived in a house full of creativity, where there was no right or wrong way to make things, it was wonderful. I know a lot of people don't have that support, or access to a creative mentor within their lives, which is a big part of why I started doing my free tutorials.


How did drawing help get you through your childhood?

Drawing is so woven into who I am, that I can't imagine a life without it. It has been my constant companion, an endless, perpetually fascinating journey of learning and discovery and expression. Childhood and drawing are so cool, because at that age, everybody draws, no-one thinks they aren't good enough, it's wonderful, everyone does it. I wish so many people didn't give up drawing when they become adults - no matter your abilities drawing is a fundamental thing that us humans love to do, and we should all do more of it. I love getting messages from people who have started drawing again after many years away off, because of an idea that inspired them in one of my tutorials, that stuff makes me so happy.


Did you get any art training or education or did you just practice like crazy on your own?

I went to Falmouth College of Art and studied fine art, and I loved art school and the friends I made there, but I've always been impatient with the pace other people go at. At art school so many people thought it was cool to rock up to the studios after midday. I thought it was cool to be there at 6am working like crazy :) This is why I love the internet - if you're like me and you want to go at 100mph all day, there's a place for that output. This year I'm planning to take it up to 200mph, so I hope people's eyeballs are ready for that :)


What was your first job as an artist?

That's a tough one! My first public exhibition was when I was 15, and I sold work at it. Does that count?! My first proper job that paid me the money to quit my part-time job was drawing comics for Dreamworks.


Did you work for anyone else creating art before creating your own company with your brother?

Robin and I had been making self published comics for about three years when I got the gig with Dreamworks. It was never my plan to do that kind of work, we always wanted to be independent and make our own series, but the Dreamworks job was a way to get out of the part time job and get some experience. I quit working for Dreamworks after 6 months when Robin and I got the opportunity to start being paid to make our comics together. 


How did the Etherington Brothers writing and art duo come about? Did Robin pitch the idea to you or did you pitch the idea to him?

Robin and I have always been really close, but we both went to different universities and studied different things, and ended up with me living in Bristol and Robin in London. One day I wrote him an email saying that I wanted to make a children's book or something with him, and it all started from there.

Was it a struggle in the beginning or did the jobs start flowing right away?

It was HAAAAARD, but not in the way you'd imagine. We weren't really looking for jobs or sending our books to publishers for the first 3 years, we were just sticking at our day jobs and concentrating on doing the self-publishing thing right, and we put a LOT of hours into it! I think we knew we were trying to do something different, so we didn't expect instant success, and we had a lot of skilling up to do!


What are the mechanics or your relationship? Do you work together every day and if not how often do you get together?

We live round the corner from each other here in Bristol, so we actually see each other a lot, but rarely to work! Robin usually works at least a full book ahead of me on scripts, so there's not much day-to-day collaboration, though we're working on something new that's going to be made more in our old madcap process, which will be fun :) We do loads of shows and events together though, which are 100% ALL FUN!

Do you influence each other's responsibilities? Do you ever write or throw in ideas or does Robin ever draw or give art direction?

Absolutely not, he writes, I draw, no cross-over. We have brotherly trust, so we both know the other bit's in good hands!

I am astounded by the sheer volume of work you guys produce, between commercial projects, Long Gone Don, Von Doogan, Baggage, Monkey Nuts and Freaky and Fearless, how do you have time for STRANSKI, your drawing tips “How to think when you draw” or other personal projects? You must be a time management ninja!

The irony is that more than 60% of everything we've done over the past six years isn't even out in book form yet! The secret to becoming a drawing machine is firstly to work on things you love, and then stick to a routine, like REALLY stick to it. Before you know it you'll have released your third 600 page sketchbook, like I just have :)

On that note, you look pretty fit, how do you stay healthy with a profession that has you sitting for most of the day?

Haha! Why thank you! :) You may find this hard to believe, but I used to be a model - and back then I got into the habit of working out, and I've just stuck to it. It's the same thing again, a bit of routine goes a long way. I work from home, which makes fitting in a workout reeeeally easy, because you don't have to go to a gym, or plan it around a commute, or anything. I workout every other day. It keeps you strong, especially your core. I realised ages ago that the healthier I was, the more drawing I could do! And try to keep away from the kitchen, that's the tough one when you work from home... 

Speaking of “How to think when you draw”, tell us about your new Kickstarter project.
For the past 14 months I've been posting up tutorials for free online called "How to THINK when you draw". I'm basically building a massive online Encyclopedia of drawing tutorials available for everyone, for FREE, forever. My Kickstarter is for a 200 PAGE full colour hardback book of these tutorials. It is unlike any other book on drawing ever made - thousands of tips, masses of illustrations, all super-accessible and designed to be useful to everyone from the absolute beginner to the seasoned professional.
How much of what you do now is traditional art vs digital art? 
It's about 50/50 now, though a few years ago I was 100% digital. 
What size is the original art for something like Monkey Nuts? With all the detail you include it must be gigantic!
Haha! I used to draw those pages at A3, which is similar to you full sized blueline comic boards in the states. That book had a silly amount of detail in it!
How often do you use a colorist to color your work?
Never, actually, I'm too much of a control freak!


When you give presentations at schools or to young people, what do you say to kids who need help convincing their parents a career in art is a good idea?

This message is a tricky one, as I don't think you ever need to convince anyone else that you want to be an artist, you decide you are one. The beauty of drawing especially is that even if you're not supported at all in your dream, no-one can stop you doing it in your spare time. I think the battle most children will have is not letting all the distractions from games, youtube, and the internet get in the way of them discovering their creative abilities at the time when they have the most freedom to just try stuff out and have fun with making.


If there was one project you’d like to do before you die (dramatic I know), what would it be?

I want to teach more people to draw than anyone else in the history of the world. Be the all-time teacher, build the greatest ever drawing resource. and give it all away online for free, so anyone can benefit from it. I want to build an Encyclopedia of drawing tutorials so big and so diverse that 200 years after my death, someone somewhere is still using it. That's the plan, anyway!

Thanks for taking the time to give us a peek into your life and work!

If you haven't done it already folks, go pledge for his book!

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