Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Erica Hesse interview

Amidst all the crowds at Baltimore Comic Con this year I found an artist who pieces I liked and could afford. Artist Alley was a busy area and this is where I happened to meet Erica Hesse. These are the pieces I was able to get from her (several other pieces had already sold out which makes me wonder what I missed). They are Supergirl, Red Sonja, girl on a tombstone and Shadowcat with Lockheed.

 I have shown the pictures to some people and they like them, especially the Shadowcat with the dragon.

In addition to doing these pin-ups, she also does commercial graphic work. Some of her work has included roller derbys and clubs. She kindly agreed to answer some questions. All the other pictures below, except for her photograph, are courtesy of Erica Hesse.

Ziggo Dent from Facebook describes you as "rad". Is that an accurate statement?

 Wow, that's an awesome compliment! It must be an accurate statement if Ziggo (Leroy) said it. Thanks Ziggo!
Erica Hesse at Baltimore Comic Con.

Your website,, states you have little training in art. How did you learn to draw, to become proficient enough to earn a a living at it?

I learned how to draw like any kid growing up, by trying to copy my favorite comic or cartoon characters.  I remember trying to duplicate anything from Katy Keene and Millie the Model, to Betty and Veronica from Archie comics.  As I got older, I would take any classes that were available in high school, (which was usually your standard art class) and had a really cool art teacher that encouraged my pursuing illustration. From there, I went to the Art Institute of Philadelphia for  a few years of Graphic Design. My first passion was illustration, but somehow got swayed into Graphic Design instead. To be honest, a lot of my illustration skill comes from practice, practice, and more practice!

As for becoming proficient enough to earn a living, a lot of it is going after the work yourself. I put myself out there and made myself available by setting up a website, going to comic conventions, and networking. A lot of it is knocking on doors.

At what point did you feel ready to start selling your merchandise at conventions? When did you realize that this is what you wanted to do?

I believe it was the first Wizard World comic convention in Philadelphia in 2002. I was there with my boyfriend ( now husband ) at the time, we were walking around checking out comics and artist alley. Seeing everyone's art in Artist Alley inspired me and knew this is something I could do. I pretty much stated that "I'm going to do a comic convention here next year." And that was it. The following year I was set up at the Wizard World Philly show. I just kind of knew this is what I wanted to do, to somehow be involved in comics and start getting my art out there.  I really didn't have much to sell at the time. I think I had four prints to sell and  had free posters to give away for my website. It's hard to believe that I've been doing shows off and on about eight years now. Pretty crazy when I think about it!

How much of your business comes from commissions and how much comes from professional organizations?

To be honest, it's hard to say how much of my work comes from commission and professional work. I get a fair share of each, it happens to be different from time to time. I do notice that my comic art picks up each time before and after a comic convention. A lot of it due to pre-orders for conventions, meeting new people, and new work being picked up after a show.

Charm City

Some of your professional work is based on roller derby. Do you skate in roller derbys?

Nope, I don't skate at all. The closest I've gotten to roller derby is going to bouts (games). There's been times where I thought about joining, but, to be honest, I can't skate for jack. I have fond memories as a teenager skating at my local roller rink, being out skated and pushed down by five year olds on skates. So, if you wanted to be technical, I guess you could say I was in an informal type of roller derby growing up! 

What conventions do you go to?

The conventions I usually set up art are usually comic book related. Every year I go to Comic Geek Speak, Baltimore Comic-Con, New York Comic-Con, and a few local shows around New Jersey. Going forward, I'm looking to expand my convention appearances next year. Currently I've been looking to do some tattoo, classic car/hotrod, and horror conventions. I'll be posting what shows I'll be doing on my website, when I find out more details.

Stephanie Brown time trois

What are your favorite pieces?

My favorite pieces? That always changes but it does seem to be whatever current piece of art I'm working on. There are a few right now that are in the works that are becoming favorites, one of them labeled "Dirty Martini". It's still in progress, but, when it's finished it will have a Romance/Thriller Style book cover look to it while still throwing a bit of the pin up style I love to do. Another piece I'm really liking now is one I just completed last week. It's a Wonder Woman commission I did and was pretty psyched with how it turned out. Wonder Woman is one of my favorite female DC characters ( Batgirl Barbara Gordon comes first! ) and feel like I have a hard time getting a certain look to her. I wanted her to have a pin up type feel to her without taking away any of the strength she represents. I think I managed to do that.

Tell us more about your work, "The Key".

My comic, "The Key", is my personal self-published comic that I'm currently working on. It's a tale about a woman named Angeline that has a near death experience and comes back from it. But when she comes back from the near death experience, something in the world is not right. She sees things that other people don't see such as forces from Hell, the living dead aka Zombies, and others that promise her a way out of this hell shes currently experiencing. It's a psychological horror story. 

Cover to issue 2

In the third issue, (which I'm looking to get done before the year is out, knocks on wood) I'm pretty excited how everything is "revving" up storyline wise for Angeline. As I get closer to finishing up this issue, I'll be putting out a sneak preview of the comic and will offer it for pre-sale on my website and Also, it's still tentative, but I'm looking into making the first two issues of "The Key" available for digital download too. But for now it's available for sale on my website at or on

I see you have a profile on Model Mayhem. Has this helped your business? Do you meet models there who want to pose for you?

I have gotten some inquires on Model Mayhem about my art and  think it has helped my business as for "getting my art out there" so to speak. So I would say yes, it has helped me.  I do get a lot of inquiries from models who want me to draw them. As much as I would love to, I simply just don't have the time. I have never had any of the models pose for me as of yet, but plan to in the future. 


What comics do you like to read? 

Where do I begin? Anything with great art intrigues me. For some people it's the writer, for me it's the artist. Don't' get me wrong, there are a lot of writers I love out there, but if the art doesn't do it for me I won't pick it up. Does that make me a comic book art snob? ( laughs)  I read all kinds of comics, mainstream, indie, webcomics, horror, slice of life, you name it.  Currently I'm reading The Walking Dead, Ex Machina, Claws II, and some of the 52 comics from DC. I picked up Batgirl. Justice League, and Batman Detective last week. I'm looking forward  to reading Wonder Woman, Batwoman, and Catwoman next. I guess it's safe to say that I'm a huge fan of female DC characters! 

Wonder Woman Color

How would you describe your style?

I would say my style is good girl pin-up with a slightly naughty edge. 

Besides commissions, how do you decide what to draw?

Usually whatever inspires me at the moment. Mainly it's pin up related. I have a few notebooks filled with thumbnails and sketches of ideas of pin-ups, posters, and paintings I would like to do.  I get most of my inspiration/ideas from listening to music- I would love to do a series of prints based on that idea alone. Now I just need to find the time to do it!

How long does it normally take you to complete artwork such as sketches or work on "The Key"?

Since I work on "The Key" on and off, it all depends on my workload, it can span over many months. I usually start out with thumbnails/roughs of each page. From there I enlarge the thumbnails/roughs on my computer or copier to a full size comic page (around 11x 17 ) and start roughing it out on the light table. What takes a good chunk of time for me is backgrounds, that kind of eats up my time quite a bit. It can take me up to a day or two to pencil one page.  After all the art is completed and changes are made, I can move onto the inking process. At this stage, inking takes far less time for me than pencilling. I can ink about two to three pages a day, all depending how detailed they are. After inks are completed, I need to scan all the art in and move on to coloring, lettering, and laying out the comic. So you can see, it's very involved and time consuming!

Is there a date on your pin-up book yet?

There's no set date as of yet for my pin up book, tentatively titled "Girls, Girls, Girls and more". It's another one of my projects that's a "work in progress". Each time I do a new pin-up it's almost a guarantee that it will be put in my book. It's just a matter of collecting enough pieces of art and laying it out. What's cool is that I will have preliminary sketches of the art, inks, and the final art piece. Plus, I'm thinking of having a " How to" section in the book. How I start a pin-up from start to finish in traditional and digital mediums.
Are you going to any other conventions in the near future? Where can people go to physically see your art?

Mermaid Tattoo

There are two conventions I'm doing, the first being New York Comic-con in October. It's still up in the air, but I maybe at a table for  a few hours on one day. If anything pops up on that, I will post that on my website. The other will be a one day convention, the WildPig Comics Show, on November 5th in New Jersey. To find out  more information on appearances and  my art you can go to

Her website is full of material such as the images posted above and many more. The site is easy to maneuver and look around. Be warned. The material is addictive and you may find yourself wanting to buy many different pieces. I know I have.

Comments always welcome.

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