Mark Schultz responds to questions about his new book, Various Drawings Volume One, Xenozoic Tales, and his artistic style. Originally conducted in 2005 by John Fleskes. Moving to my blog for archival purposes.
Flesk Publications: What prompted you to work on a collection of your drawings?
Mark Schultz: Over the last few years a good number of people who follow my art have expressed their interest in seeing a collection of my sketches. There certainly seems to be a healthy market for such things. What has prevented me from doing a project like this sooner has a lot to do with the fact that it wasn’t till relatively recently that I learned the technological end of reproducing my work. I wanted to be able to control the process of producing the book as far as doing the scanning and cleaning of the art myself. Now that I’m learning how to do that, there’s no holding me back.
FP: With Mark Schultz: Various Drawings being your first collection of artwork, why did it take over twenty years to compile a book?
MS: In addition to the above, I haven’t until recently felt that I had a sufficient body of work that warranted public display—my preliminaries and sketches weren’t of a quality that deserved print. They were for my use as tools in developing finished work only. But, now, in the last few years, I feel that my draftsmanship has progressed to the point where I can live with seeing it in print.
Another important factor that has kept me from doing a Various Drawings before now is that, since the demise of Kitchen Sink Press back in the mid-90’s, I haven’t found a publisher with whom I was completely comfortable. I had been approached by a number of publishers about doing volumes featuring of my work, but the situation never felt quite right to me. That is, until Flesk Publications approached me. I have been a fan of John Fleskes’ imprint from his first publication. He has a concern for quality reproduction and good, clean design that mirrors my own. I knew this was a good fit.
FP: What was your goal for the design of Various Drawings?
MS: The striking design of Various Drawings has everything to do with Randy Dahlk. Randy and I had worked together on some Xenozoic Tales merchandise back in the early ‘90s. He is a top-notch designer, and we are simpatico in our interest in the designs of the 1930s and ‘40s–particularly, in this case, those of textbook jackets and technical manuals. I wanted that look to inform the design of Various Drawings, so Randy was my only choice.
Beyond that, I wanted the art reproduction and paper stocks to be very reflective of what you would see in an art exhibition catalogue—museum quality attention to detail. John and Randy got all these things right.
FP: Inside the book there is a preliminary for the cover to Xenozoic Tales #15. Are you working on XT again?
MS: While I have the next four of so issues of Xenozoic Tales carefully planned out, I am sorry to say that I have no immediate plans to get back to that series. It is never far from my mind, and I am always looking to find a way to make it financially feasible. It is what I want to do more than anything else. Someday it will happen, but in the meantime, I content myself with the occasional preliminary, mapping out what I would like to do.
FP: In recent years, with the exception of your Conan work, your artwork has not been readily available to fans. Can they expect to see any artistic variations or growth, which may surprise them?
MS: Well, I get bored pretty quickly if I’m not exploring some new technique or media. There are a couple of recent pieces in Various Drawings which were done with Wolff carbon pencil, a medium long out of favor, but very popular with illustrators in the pre-color years of the early 20th century. It allows for very rich tonalities—it’s great for creating mood and atmosphere, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. I recently completed the illustrations for The Autobiography of Charles R. Knight, which will be published this summer by G.T.Labs—they were all done in Wolff pencil.
FP: How do you see your artwork growing in the future? What do you hope to achieve through your illustrations?
MS: I’ve never been much good at guessing the future curve of my career. Everything pretty much depends on what jobs I’m offered, or where I find a niche that needs filled. So I might be painting more in the next few years, or I might be back to doing more brush and ink work. The important thing is that I feel I am growing and evolving.
I’d like to evolve a pair of gills, actually.
FP: Which stage of the drawings do you find most enjoyable?
MS: It’s all gawdawful hard. I’ve never found any stage to be easy enough to call enjoyable. In fact, by the time I’m done with my average drawing, I’m usually convinced that I’ve ruined it. I guess what I like best about the whole deal is looking back on a drawing months after I’ve completed it, seeing it with fresh eyes, and realizing that it isn’t nearly so bad as I thought it was.
But, bitching and moaning aside, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.
Mark Schultz Interview © 2005 Flesk Publications. All rights reserved.