THE CONVENTION COLLECTIVE: Thank you for joining us in the Spotlight, Tristan! How did you get into art and why did you want to become an artist?
Tristan Whitehouse: Well, thanks for having me! I’ve been drawing as long as I can recall, and as my parents tell me, even before that. Apparently when I was something like a few months old, I wouldn’t sit still for anything except Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting. I think the earliest thing I can actually remember drawing was airplanes and the USS Enterprise. Drawing is like breathing to me, I can’t not draw.
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!”?
Tristan: I suppose I could answer that two different ways because on one hand, I don’t do this for a living at all. But, on the other hand, the moment after I finished the first issue of The Adventures of Terrik Zion and held a print copy in my hands, I certainly got that rush of “I can do this!!” That was February of 2019.
TCC: Which artists inspire you? And they don’t have to be in the medium you work in, either…
Tristan: I could write a book answering this question so I’ll try to boil it down but this list is far from comprehensive: From a style/penciling technique standpoint, J. Scott Campbell and Joe Mad’s extremely tight pencils are a big influence on me. Marte Gracia is probably my biggest coloring inspiration. From a sheer work-ethic perspective, Hiro Mashima is an absolute machine. I don’t think I know of anyone churning out more content than he is. But I also have to shout out Adam Warren and Eastman & Laird, as their comic work was my earliest exposure to comics and made me fall in love with the medium itself.
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?
Tristan: Ahh, I can segue right into this one! I got to meet Adam Warren at SDCC… 2018? Or 2019? But he was a total class-act! He autographed a bunch of his books I had picked up and took the time to chat with me about his daily life drawings, which was really awesome. A gentleman and a scholar, he is!
TCC: What is your favorite fandom? Who is your favorite comic book character/movie/tv character?
Tristan: It’s a toss-up between old-school Star Trek and the Original Star Wars Trilogy. TNG and Star Wars both changed my life for the better and neither will ever be replaced. Favorite comic book character, I’ll go with TMNT’s Raphael – back when all four Turtles wore red! Favorite movie character has got to be Darth Vader, and my favorite TV character is Malcom Reynolds.
TCC: Outside of the ones you create for a living, what characters/stories do you like drawing the most in your spare time?
Tristan: I like to draw my friend’s OCs but I tend to draw fan art of whatever I happen to be watching at the moment, Fairy Tail, Wakfu, Escaflowne, and Battlestar Galactica are some recents.
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?
Tristan: I’m pretty scattered with my artwork; I’ll sit down and draw in short, high-intensity stages, but then I’ll take a break and go do some (extremely amateur) wood working or even just do yard work to get a stretch in and think about what I’m going to draw next. I always keep a sketchbook nearby though because as soon as an idea strikes me, I must get it onto paper immediately. I don’t necessarily have to finish it right then, but I have to express it on paper ASAP.
TCC: When you’re creating, what do you use for background noise? Some creators use music or podcasts, some use a TV show that they just can listen to in the background. What do you use?
Tristan: Sometimes a fan is enough background noise, but very often it’s orchestral music – LOTR, Star Trek, Star Wars, and anything from the group Two Steps From Hell. Somewhat recently I’ve been digging a few heavy metal bands while I draw fight scenes though! Aggressive music for aggressive artwork.
TCC: What was the first comic con that you remember attending? And, indeed, what was the last?
Tristan: San Diego Comic Con 1994! Long before the expansion, and back when you could literally walk up, buy a ticket and go inside. It was that fateful year when I picked up Adam Warren’s black-and-white short, Dirty Pair: I Honestly Hate You, just after getting my hands on the original TMNT comics. To say it was memorable would be an understatement. The most recent would have been San Diego Comic Fest – a much smaller event that goes on in March and was the last thing I attended before you-know-what shut everything down in 2020.
TCC: What’s your favourite element of a comic convention? And which bits could you easily leave behind?
Tristan: The Floor! Of course, that’s a pretty broad brush so maybe I’ll zero in on Artist Alley/Small Press. Maybe I’m biased but I dig what indie creators are doing so I like to hang out in Artist Alley and Small Press between panels. The part I could leave behind is 5pm on Sunday when they say it’s over and we all have to leave haha! That, and I guess sore feet from trekking a million miles.
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?
Tristan: Oh, Artist Alley and Small Press for sure, but I do also very much enjoy educational/historical panels!
TCC: With the lack of conventions, a lot of artists are taking commissions online and mailing them out to people – is this something you’re doing?
Tristan: I’m not, but that’s actually not out of the norm for me, I have terrible imposter syndrome and very rarely open up commissions. It works out though because I’ve absolutely thrown myself into work on Terrik Zion and I’m on track to finish four issues in a year. (Fingers crossed!)
TCC: A lot of creatives are also taking to crowdfunding – such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo – to generate income from their work. What’re your thoughts on that?
Tristan: Oh, I dig it! I’ve been part of a few Kickstarters with local art group the Accidental Aliens to get our short comics printed and into the hands of readers. My hope when I (eventually) run a Terrik Zion Kickstarter is that I’ll be able to make some extra cash to roll forward into printing more issues as they’re created.
TCC: What projects have you recently finished? What are you working on at the moment, what projects are coming up that you can talk about?
Tristan: I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into my original scifi comic – The Adventures of Terrik Zion! It’s my love letter to all science fiction. I started working on issue three in August 2020 and I’m currently halfway done with issue five! Upcoming of course is issue six, and if I can really keep my nose to the grindstone, I think I can have it complete by August this year. I won’t rush it or compromise quality just to hit that deadline, but I’d be super-happy if I managed it!
TCC: How do you stay connected with fans? Do you use a mailing list or newsletters, are you active on social media?
Tristan: Well, I do have a wide selection of social media accounts (Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, DeviantArt, ArtStation all under @TristanArtSD) but I find social media exhausting and went into self-imposed Dagobah exile this year in order to keep all my energy focused on comic production.
TCC: Where can people see an example of your art online?
Tristan: Well, you can read The Adventures of Terrik Zion at terrikzion.com (I put up one page a week, webcomic-style) but if you’re looking for other art, I’m on DeviantArt and ArtStation (TristanArtSD again) and my woefully-out-of-date website ArtKnightStudios.com has some art and some previous graphic design work.
TCC: Thanks, Tristan, for your time!
Tristan: Pleasure’s all mine!
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