Tue
Sep 16 2008 8:07pm

Joshua Middleton Interview

Joshua Middleton Ruby Key I saw the above cover by Joshua Middleton for Holly Lisle’s The Ruby Key at my local bookstore and became green with envy that it was not a Tor cover. I went home and spent a long time at his website. Now, putting together this post about a week later, I spent even longer trying to decide which images to show here—having to remind myself there is no need to duplicate his entire website. Hopefully I will be able to work with Joshua someday, but in the meantime he has gracioulsy agreed to answer a few questions and be in our Tor.com galleries.

Joshua Middleton Nitghtcrawler Do you remember the first time you knew you wanted to be an artist?
I once saw a paper I wrote when I was around seven years old that said, “Someday I want to be a Disney animator or work for Marvel Comics.” Art has been my life from day one, really.


Your biggest influences?
Classic Disney, Frazetta, John Buscema, Alan Lee, Brian Froud, Miyazaki, Rockwell, Rackham, and Tenggren, to name a handful.

What are you working on now?
I always have some DC Comics covers to keep me busy, and I am just starting another Supergirl now. I am also putting the finishing touches on thejoshua middleton supergirl cover for The Silver Door, the second book in the Moon and Sun series for Scholastic (The Ruby Key was the first cover in the series, and also my first book cover, ever.) Finally, I am wrapping up another wraparound cover for a book called The Unknowns, this time for Abrams Books.

Do you have to like the book/comic/movie to be excited about the project?
Absolutely. I am terrible at faking interest, although I do my best to make the most of whatever is on the table. When I don’t care for the project, the work is extremely laborious and the end result always suffers. I know this because I almost always work too hard on stuff I don’t like. It is infinitely more satisfying to draw the things I love. I admire and envy artists who are able to make even the most mundane assignments brilliantly their own, but it just isn’t within me to do the same.

Joshua Middleton BatmanDream assignment?
My dream assignment at the moment would be to draw classic fantasy: faeries, barbarians, dragons, otherworldly beings, etc. I adore that stuff, but have yet to really draw it professionally, which is quite frustrating.


Do you have a set image in your mind when you first start sketching or do you start out abstractly and let the process of doodling take over?
If it is a commercial assignment, then I probably have some elements I must include in the composition, so my sketching process usually starts with those general puzzle pieces in mind. I don’t always have the luxury of time to doodle, so I have to work out a lot of drawing in my head before the pencilJoshua Middelton days, which is often the case with comic book work. If the work is purely personal, or the deadline is loose, I might explore more and allow the image to work itself out based on a vague concept or feeling I am trying to get across. I am always happy when I can scribble a bit and stumble into a happy accident. In any case, the challenge is always to refine the image without losing the energy of the sketch.

Favorite color?
Whichever one will fix the awful mess I am looking at in Photoshop right now.

Do you have a five year plan or do you just take each job as it comes?
If by “five year plan” you mean trying to draw a personal project for the last five years, then yes, I definitely have a five year plan. I will probably spend another five years trying to get it done while taking other jobs as they come.

joshua middleton

5 comments
John Ward
1. jlward
Irene, could you give some examples of what a "five year plan" would look like for an artist? I've seen you ask this several times on your personal blog, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone really answer it.

It seems that if you're going to be working as an artist that you're either doing illustration, concept stuff, or gallery work. Sorry if this is a silly question. I'm just trying to figure out what types of goals I should be setting for myself other than:

1. Get Work
2. Get More Work

Thanks,

John
Irene Gallo
2. Irene
Hi John,

I guess the question is meant to change depending on who is answering. I used to only ask people under 30 in a series of interviews I ran on my own blog called "Fresh Paint." And then I just started asking everyone, regardless of experience, since you never know who might have a secret passion to do something they are not yet known for and what they are doing to see it happen.

The problem I would see is, emerging artists sometimes work so hard at a quantity of lower paying jobs that they don't have time to stretch themselves and settle in on projects that will lead to bigger paying, longer term jobs with more authorship.

Donato Giancola can speak very well about this. He has often worked well above and beyond the requirement of an assignment knowing that it would further his career...even as he was "losing" money on the time spent on that job.

It's a tricky balance for young artists to hold, but I think it's important.
Eric Braddock
3. EricBraddock
I think everyone has a plan. Whether it's a 1-year plan, a 5-year plan or 20-year plan, everyone has something in mind. The difficult step is achieving the right plan for you as an artist. Irene is right, being that I just recently graduated from UArts this past May, I have already begun to see some friends and heard stories about artists my age taking the lower paying jobs just to make ends meet. Unfortunately I guess everybody's situations differ so much that sometimes people get into those sorts of "holes." However, I suppose as long as you're happy finding work, that's the important thing. I don't really think that money is what should drive someone to take a job, it needs to be something that you will really be able to do a dynamite job at and enjoy doing it in the process. *Even though I understand that there are bills to pay and such, don't we all ;) **

Either way, I think it's safe to say that everyone finds their own path, and I try not to dwell on the idea of stressing out trying to find work right this instant. I personally think what's important is to continue to work, continue to get better as an artist and continue to stay involved in a community of artists that you can feel part of in order to really grow and expand. (and also continuing to network, being persistent and promoting of course..) The work will come in time. Meanwhile, I'll be at my easel.
Jeffrey Richard
4. neutronjockey
Holy hell that's the most brilliant understanding of light and shadow I've ever seen... I'll be lost in his galleries for an hour...leave a message. *beep*
Dale Pease
5. walkingstick
I have a copy of The Ruby Key here. Not only is the illustration fabulous, but the graphic design of the entire book is really top-notch. Kudos for everyone involved in the project... and yes, you should try to get them to do some work for you over at Tor. By the way, the story was really well crafted as well.

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