THE CONVENTION COLLECTIVE: Thank you for joining us in the Spotlight, Adam! How did you get into art/writing and why did you want to become an artist/writer?
Adam Ferris: I can recall a time when I was very young, where my father drew the spies from Spy vs. Spy on a piece of paper. It blew my mind that you can just draw lines and it can create a thing! I’ve been obsessed with illustration ever since. When you are young, everyone draws or colors, but only some continue to flex that part of the brain. I simply continued. I did have a 10 year span of not drawing anything, from when I was 18 to about 28. I had went to a portfolio review and they really tore my art a good one. I was crushed. However, I matured and my love for art/comics brought me back in. I learned how to grow a thicker skin and use critiques as a way to improve myself. Over time, my portfolio reviews had less and less negative input and more positive. That’s why I really do comics, to overcome my natural abilities (which only hold you back) and try to become a greater artist. It’s a battle with myself, don’t ever give up on what you love!
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!”?
Adam: After I had came back from my decade of not drawing, I practiced and studied. I practiced an absurd amount of hours. I wanted to come back as strong as I could. So for a few years more I didn’t really do much actual comic work. Until one day I saw someone was looking for more artists for their anthology. That someone was Heather Antos and the anthology “Unlawful Good” ended up being her way of breaking in as an editor. This ended up being very good for all involved and as far as I know, it was one of the earlier Kickstarter anthologies that really took off. Getting actual praise for doing actual comic work felt like I reached a goal that was always out of reach for me. Doing that book immediately increased eyes on my art and best of all I ended up making friends with some of the creators, who are still some of my closest friends ever.
TCC: Which artists/writers inspire you? And they don’t have to be in the medium you work in, either…
Adam: As far as artists go, I could go on all day! Of course Frazetta, Kirby and Wally Wood are gods, but J.H. WIlliams III and Steve McNiven are my absolute biggest influences. They set the bar so high, I feel like I’ll always have a level I’m trying to reach. My non-comic artist pick would have to be Gustave Dore, his works have proven to be timeless and puts me into a trance every time I look at it. For the writers, my biggest would be the writers that I personally know to varying degrees. Ian Mondrick, Mario Candelaria, Danny Lore, Eric Palicki, Mark Waid. I’ve been able to talk about writing comics with all of them, the way they break things down and explain how they do it has been a game changer for me. Not to mention their stories are remarkable and just so fun to read!
TCC: Can 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?
Adam: I’m at an age where I know myself pretty well and I’m not immune to saying something stupid out of nervousness. So, sometimes I’d rather look at them as I walk by than say anything. (Hello, Stan Lee.)But, I’ve certainly been introduced to some incredible creators. I want to say an introduction that went far better than I expected was with Ryan Stegman. He was so friendly right off the bat and even asked to see my portfolio. He gave me a critique that was both honest and helpful. Over the next couple of years he would look at all my new stuff every time I saw him. He was a huge part of my education of art in comics. Ryan really loves the industry and wants to help those that can show they really care too. And my god his art is just so great!
TCC: What is your favorite fandom? Who is your favorite comic book character/movie/tv character?
Adam: I know it’s done to death, but Batman will likely always be my favorite thing ever. I don’t love all of it, but when I connect with a certain storyline or even a movie I just feel at home. A close second would be Silver Surfer. In many personal ways, I feel very connected to that character.
TCC: Outside of the ones you create for a living, what characters/stories do you like drawing the most in your spare time?
Adam: What’s this spare time you speak of? But really, I enjoy watercolor painting. I have yet to do it in a book, not sure if I ever will. Sometimes I paint comic characters, sometimes I do weird takes on them just for fun. But my partner and I also enjoy classic pin-up girl art. So I like to draw and or paint those from time to time for her.
TCC: What’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?
Adam: The truth about working routines is you often can’t pick the times. Most comic creators, myself included, have to have a regular job. So, I work in between the job and family life. I won’t lie, it’s extremely hard to manage all of it. I don’t have much free time, I’m just usually working. My partner, thankfully, knows how to keep me grounded and sane.
TCC: When 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?
Adam: I like to switch things up between total silence and wearing headphones. If I’m in a really good mood, I tend to put on music with a solid beat to keep me flowing. But there are plenty of times where I like to hear the wind, the birds, dogs barking in the background, cars and sirens. It’s a connection to my surroundings that often pulls out something deep.
TCC: What was the first comic con that you remember attending? And, indeed, what was the last?
Adam: The first was Motor City Comic Con in Detroit. This was early 90’s I believe. I was quite young and in comparison to now it was much smaller. But wow did it make an impression!I think my last was NYCC in 2019. NYCC is always a ton of fun, so much so, I never apply for a table there because I don’t want to be stuck at one spot!
TCC: What’s your favourite element of a comic convention? And which bits could you easily leave behind?
Adam: Definitely the creative surge I get! I always come back so inspired by all of the creators I can’t wait to get back to work.-I think that we could focus on creating some safer spaces for creators for the after parties. I’d like to see less alcohol and more coffee. The older I get, the more I prefer friendly get-togethers than parties.
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?
Adam: I will bounce between going to the publishers and staying in artist alley. If you aren’t selling, you have to be making friends/networking.
TCC: During 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?
Adam: The way I work with commissions now is the way I always have. I’m often not available. With working a day job and working comics at night, there isn’t a ton of time for that. So every now and again I’ll announce that I’m opening up a few spots. This has always worked pretty well for me and 80% of the requests I get are from the internet. But comics aren’t about money for me, it’s about the books.
TCC: A lot of creatives are also took to crowdfunding – such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo – to generate income from their work. What’re your thoughts on that avenue?
Adam: I’ve ran a Kickstarter once (THE GOOD FIGHT) and I’m going to do another one by the end of the year (Devil Water). Kickstarter is pretty great for creators. Sure, there are some things I’d change but so far I don’t see a better avenue for people to self-publish. We live in a pretty great time, where you finally don’t need anyone’s permission to get your book out. You only need funding from your fans that want it.
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?
Adam: ‘ve been as careful as possible during the pandemic. But with new variants of COVID and some breakthrough cases, I’m not exactly feeling confident about being in massive crowds. I won’t attend any cons for 2021. I don’t want to say I won’t for 2022, but things have got to get better before I do. But having a break has been a little refreshing. One less thing to have to plan.
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?
Adam: I discovered this summer that one of my books, Parallel, has been Ringo! nominated for best single issue or story. The writer, Jason Douglas has also been nominated for best writer. So we are still very excited about that! I’ve been working on a book with Mario Candelaria called Devil Water. It’s a bootleg-gangster-horror story set in the prohibition era. If you are a fan of Boardwalk Empire and demonic possession, you’ll probably love it. We will be Kickstarting that right near the end of the year. Final date TBA. After that, I’ve been writing my own graphic novel and then drawing it as well! I haven’t announced the name yet, but it will be a sort of superhero book. I’m very much looking forward to it!
TCC: How do you stay connected with fans? Do you use a mailing list or newsletters, are you active on social media?
Adam: It used to be at conventions, but now it’s just social media. You can find me on Twitter @AdamFerrisAF and on Instagram @mr_ferris
TCC: Where can people see an example of your art online and find out about your rates?
Adam: I have a website www.silverart.carbonmade.com where I show off the things I can, I even show my Marvel samples I send in which can be helpful to other artists. I also have an Etsy shop where you can buy some of my books and artwork: https://etsy.me/3dkLJs9
As far as rates go, if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know when I’m available and how much.
TCC: Thanks, Adam, for your time!
Adam: Thank you! It was my pleasure!
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