Juancho Velez Gaitan is a native Colombian and dynamic freelance artist. Recently, he took time off from his studies at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art to discuss his career and drawing…
JMH: How long have you been drawing comics?
Juan: I’ve been drawing comics since I was 5. I drew Superman and Batman, clearly they were really funky looking when I was 5!!! Now I’m studying at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, to make it as a pro soon!
JMH: Where were you born and raised?
Juan: I was born and raised in the city of Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, South America!
JMH: Tell CBI about yourself?
Juan: I just want to be part of the team, when it comes to comics! Doing what ever there’s a need for! Ultimate goal in life though, is being a good person and give something back to community, if it is with comics, that would be awesome!
JMH: Have you drawn other characters or only your own properties?
JVG: I like to draw every character out there! Hopefully one day I will draw my own and see them published!
JMH: What sources do you use for a cover image?
JVG: I try to mix narrative with a nice pin-up!! And try to make the logo of the cover a part of the illustration, but most importantly do what the script tells me to! Also the reference that I can gather plays a big role, so that everything looks believable!
JMH: How do you focus when drawing?
JVG: I focus by acknowledging that I’m drawing and that I have a good time with it, that it’s not a typical job, it’s something fun! Also music will get me going! For my choice, Vocal Progressive house will help me move that pencil!
JMH: What other mediums or genres have you drawn for?
Juan: I was a Graphic designer for McCann Erickson Worldwide in Colombia, South America where I am from, the advertising agency, before coming to Jersey to study at the Joe Kubert School; there I got to do a bit of advertising illustration, so it was totally different than comics. It was more conceptual or sometimes more simple, always taking care of the client’s needs! Also as a freelancer, I colored story boards for a Coca Cola TV commercial in Colombia!
JMH: What types of technology do you use to draw?
Juan: A nice tech pencil 0.5, with 2h lead, Hb at the most, Bristol boards, and Photoshop! I love Photoshop!! I think I would love to go full digital one day! Maybe getting a Cintiq would be awesome!! But the price!
JMH: What made you decide to enroll in formal art training? How and why did you pick the Kubert School?
Juan: I went for art training, because it was something I knew I wanted since I was a child, all my life, I knew I wanted to do comics!! So going to the Kubert School looked like my best option! I heard about the school in an old wizard magazine! I didn’t know who the Kuberts where and I didn’t know they had schools for just cartooning!!! It was crazy to find out that, in Colombia comics are not that big, there’s a ton of talent and it’s a shame that people don’t get to do it! So I studied more about the Kubert School and man were they big and still are!! It took me eight years to get to the school due to several reasons, but I’m here now!!!
JMH: Who are your artistic influences?
Juan: I like to get influences from everything, not only comics; different art genres are always awesome because they can open your mind so much! Also watching movies!! They will help you with your storytelling a lot!! Publicity ads too, a lot. They show you what’s new in terms of a trend in graphic elements! And that always helps!
JMH: Do you read any of the new comic books that are being published today?
Juan: I read comics that are being published today!!! But I like to wait for the hard or soft cover format!!!! Though, buying the singles issues gives more cool covers!!! Story clearly is super important, but I’m more of a “looking at the art” person!
JMH: Can you talk more about the character you have currently in the contest at www.TalentHouse.com.Who is Fallen Star?
Juan: Fallen Star has been changing and evolving constantly!!! I have thought about the character since I was eleven, so clearly tons of things were changing!!! Hehehe, the first name I had for him was just not good at all, getting a name is so important and so hard!!! Fallen Star is a given name! He is not going around telling people he is Fallen Star! He just goes and does his thing! Also the back story!! I mean, it seems that everything is invented already, but it’s the way you tell, the little things you change in the story telling, and the way you draw it!
As far as Fallen Star the character, well he is a guy with ability and that ability is a gift, but it should be used for the better of man kind, not for personal or an easy way out for the corrupt!! Superheroes in comics and stories are awesome because they respond to peoples needs and they show that we need hope and that we need to believe in something, and in times like this, we need that! We need to believe! So Fallen Star is meant to help, to give you hope, sounds cheesy, stupid, corny, what ever! It’s what it is!
JMH: Are there supporting characters in the Fallen Star Universe?
Juan: There are supporting characters, but I need to develop them more! So they can really help the story and also be as important as Fallen Star in the story!
JMH: The pin-up of Fallen Star is amazing. What inspired you when you created the image?
Juan: Well, I wanted to show a little about everything!! Not just some boring shot of the guy standing or some character sheet! I was thinking along the ways of making it more like a cover, showing story telling, but also a nice pin-up where you can see how Fallen Star is and what he can do! Also show the setting he moves at! He is an urban hero! I also wanted to do something graphic, make it simple so it pops out more and the viewers now what they are looking at!
JMH: What are your future plans for Fallen Star? Will fans see him in comics, online, or a graphic novel soon?
Juan: My plan is to get it out there on the shelves. I want to see it in print as a graphic novel as soon as possible! I do need to learn more before though, train my self and my storytelling! If an opportunity comes where it is online, I would do it also, one thing we have to acknowledge is the fact the digital and screen are the future, I don’t know if it’s for good or for bad, it’s just the future of it!!! So you have to be on that side now a days and take advantage of it. It definitely reaches easily to people!!!! And even if its digital, you can then print it!!! As long as you work at it at the 300 dpi before making it 72 dpi for screen!!
JMH: What advice can you give aspiring artists out there?
Juan Just draw and believe in your self, learn how to take criticism because it makes you grow and improve, respect your fellow artists, try to find the good in everything, reference a ton of what you can, take risks an experiment with different techniques, and above all have fun with it!!!!!!!!!! Do it for yourself and not to prove anything!!!
About the interviewer –
John’s creator-owned properties include: The Leaf, Canada’s Greatest Hero, Sky Watcher, The Armor Guardians, NorthForce, MacSorly – R.C.M.P, and many others.