This week of Halloween, while there are plenty of people dressing in different disguises, Black Ship Books interviews a comic talent that dresses his art in his own unique way. Airbrush artist, illustrations and t-shirt painter Paul Knipfer is in the hot seat today.
Black Ship Books: So Paul, as an airbrush artist, which came first, your love for designing clothes or making comics? And how did you transition from one to the other?
Paul Knipfer: I doodled fantasy and sci-fi before I airbrushed in college. Airbrushing on T’s is not my favorite thing but it keeps me going. As long as I keep my hand revolved around what I see, what’s on my table or easel is always the most in focus.
Paul Knipfer: Originally I was to become an illustrator, that hasn’tchanged as I treat most of what I paint the same—good detail if I can and visually appealing.
Black Ship Books: When it comes to comics, what is your primary source of inspiration? History, other comic works, politics, etc.?
Paul Knipfer: I love history, but I also like the politics of religion. Nothing against religion, I’m all for it. I just like to mix the myths and “what if’s” of it.
Black Ship Books: Do you have any other talents? And how do they correlate with your artistic work—did they influence your art style, could they aid you in the future if you decide to make a career in comics?
Paul Knipfer: I play the ukulele. Not really related. At times I get out my telecaster and pretend I still remember how to play the cool stuff I did in a band. Alas, not to be; (Laughs) took a backseat to painting.
Black Ship Books: How do you approach a new challenge and who has challenged you the most when it comes to airbrushing for comics?
Paul Knipfer: Easy—Mike Rickaby. This might be an exaggeration, but if I forget, it’ll be like “I need that tomorrow.”
Black Ship Books: Do you think airbrush art is more challenging than the more traditional art styles?
Paul Knipfer: It can be worse. Airbrush is a tool, that’s it, but if not used properly it looks cheesy. I see a future of all digitally painted comics, like Co-Op.
Black Ship Books: What is it that you think distinguishes your art style from other airbrush artists, or other artists in general, I should say?
Paul Knipfer: I have a penance for “soft focus”. I use a technique I call “color stacking”. It involves using a pallet of 14 colors. No mixed pallet. The colors are transparent so I stack them and blend.
Black Ship Books: Who or what keeps you most motivated in your artistic endeavors?
Paul Knipfer: Me. Customers. Either or. ADD will keep you going.
Black Ship Books: What has been one of the greatest disappointments for you in your work?
Paul Knipfer: A book called “Scrap”. It’s one of those projects you think is really cool until the end and then you think “What the hell was I thinking?”.
Black Ship Books: You offer tutorials in airbrush painting, but is there anything else you usually do to educate or inspire other artists? Or any words of wisdom you would like to share?
Paul Knipfer: Paint as much as you can, however you can, whenever you can!
Thanks a lot for the interview, Paul! You can see Paul’s art featured on CE Publishing’s book covers, such as the MEGABOOK anthologies, and various other books including his upcoming project, Co-Op.