Sandbox Spotlight – TANA FORD, Artist and Comic Book Creator

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THE CONVENTION COLLECTIVEThank you for joining us in the Spotlight, Tana! How did you get into art and why did you want to become an artist?

Tana Ford: Typical kid stuff. I always loved to draw and just kept with it. 

TCC: What was the first work you completed, where you stepped back and thought, “Yes, y’know what, I can do this for a living!”?

Tana: Oo! What a good question. I don’t know that I had an ‘Aha!’ moment like that. I knew I wanted to make books for a living, so I made some books. 

TCC:Which artists inspire you? And they don’t have to be in the medium you work in, either…

Tana: Oo! Another goodie! I love what Will Sliney is doing to motivate and inspire young artists these days with his Irish Drawing Show “Draw With Will”J.C. Leyendecker is a fave, in comics? Kris Anka, Jen Bartel, Ryan Ottley who draws splatter better than any artist working today.

TCCCan you tell us your greatest fan moment, interacting with a personal hero of yours where you may have gone a little weak at the knees?

Tana: I did tell Ryan (Ottley) to his face that he was the best splatter artist of our generation and that his penchant for drawing floating eyeballs totally grosses me out. That made him laugh and (I think) made him blush. It’s so wonderful when you meet these artists in real life and they turn out to be decent, likable folks.

TCCWhat is your favorite fandom? Who is your favorite comic book character/movie/tv character?

Tana: Fandom: The A Song of Ice and Fire

Favorite Comic Book Character?

There have been many but I have to pick SILK because she was my first on-going series as a Marvel artist and that work changed the trajectory of my career. LONG LIVE CINDY MOON! 

TCCOutside of the ones you create for a living, what characters/stories do you like drawing the most in your spare time?

Tana: I love it when fans surprise me with commission requests of characters I don’t know well.

I enjoy getting to know what other people love in comics, and drawing commissions allows me to explore that.  

TCCWhat’s your working routine? Do you work regular set hours and days, keeping certain days free for personal time, or do you find you create any time the muse takes you?

Tana: I wake early, respond to emails over coffee or do a bit of writing before settling in to draw most of the day. I’ll break for lunch (usually I cook for myself, or re-heat yesterday’s leftovers) then it’s the afternoon session when I will sometimes livestream (twitch.tv/tanaford)

TCCWhen you’re creating, what do you use for background noise? Some artists use music or podcasts, some use a TV show that they just can listen to in the background. What do you use?

Tana: It depends. I fell out of my chair when Greg Capullo told me he listens to nothing, not even music, when he works. Just silence?! I couldn’t do it. I listen to music mixes, binge watch television series, catch up on my podcasts, or consume audiobooks. 

TCC: What was the first comic con that you remember attending? And, indeed, what was the last?

Tana: My first was the Alternative Press Expo (APE) in San Francisco and the last was supposed to be C2E2 (or was it ECCC?) just before they cancelled it for the Pandemic Round 1. I miss cons. 

TCC: What’s your favourite element of a comic convention? And which bits could you easily leave behind?

Tana: Meeting fans and other creators is always the best. Making art can be so isolating – drawing alone in our houses all day long- that to have that influx of human connection is really uplifting. I always leave cons exhausted but happy. 

TCC: At a convention, when you’re not behind your table or doing the things you have to do at a con, which corner of the show would we find you in?

Tana: The bathroom! Or in line to get coffee. Or hiding in the green room trying to smuggle snacks back to my table (shh!)

TCCDuring pandemic, due to the lack of conventions, a lot of artists took to taking commissions online and mailing them out to people – was this something you did or did you find an alternate revenue stream to keep you going? 

Tana: Absolutely. 

While Supplies Last! 

Order yours today at hey@tanaford.com (!!)

TCC: The conventions are slowly but surely coming back, thank goodness! Have you attended one yet, do you intend to get back out behind a table soon? What’s your next convention or, if you’re holding off for a while longer, what’s your thoughts on cons right now?

Tana: I have plans to attend TerrifiCon in CT this year, but I am not doing any conventions until my next book: Space Cat(First:Second) is finished. 

TCC: But let’s get back to the important stuff:  your work! What projects have you recently finished, what are you working on at the moment, what projects are coming up that you can talk about? 

Tana: Ah, yes! Next up is: Space Cat —Written by Nnedi Okorafor, my collaborator on LaGuardia for which we won an Eisner and the Hugo Award in 2020. She and I also collaborated on Black Panther: Long Live the King creating a venomized Black Panther character named Uzaru which was a lot of fun. 

TCC: How do you stay connected with fans? Do you use a mailing list or newsletters, are you active on social media?

Tana: Email is the best way to get me these days. You can find me reposting memes on Twitter (@tanaford) mostly, and rarely lurking in the realms of Facebook and Instagram (@tanaford.designs). 

TCC: Where can people see an example of your art online and find out about your rates? 

Tana: tanaford.com has samples of my art

And the ones in this article as well. 

hey@tanaford.com for my price list

TCC: Thanks, Tana, for your time! 

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