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One of the greatest things about being an artist is the constant state of progress and evolution you go through after months and years of hard work and dedication. Our guest today, comic book artist J. P. Delmondes, is a very good example of that.
He is one of the brightest talents of the new wave of comic book artists in South America, specifically Brazil, and he is already building up a nice career with many different projects in both his country and the United States. So it was great to have the opportunity of doing an interview with J.P., where we discussed many different things and I hope you enjoy it.
Kevin: Thank you for doing this, J.P. First and foremost, how are things going in these crazy times?
J.P.: Thank you for having me. Well, this hasn’t been easy for anybody. I suppose I had it easier than most people in this case. As soon as this global crisis started I came back to my family’s little farm where I grew up and my life continued almost completely normal. I can’t imagine how hard it has been for those who had to continue to go out and work in the cities every day.
For people that might not be familiar with you and your work, what can you tell them about yourself?
I was born and raised in Brazil, where I still live to this day. Being an only child in a house with not that much money forced me to exercise my imagination to make the days go by faster. I consumed a lot of media and, like most kids, started to make up my own stories with my toys. I can’t remember a time before I had a pencil in my hand, and now I’m about to graduate from college and I’m still drawing daily.
Is there any particular project you’re working on right now that you would like to promote?
I have a couple of projects in the works that haven’t been announced to the public yet, so I can’t talk too much about them. I’ve also been working on something for myself for four years now, but I’m still not sure how I want to go about putting it in front of people, so I’ll keep it a mystery for a while.
How did you get into drawing when you were younger?
From a very young age, I got used to having my family out working most of the time. Growing up with no siblings gave me a lot of time alone to do whatever I wanted, and most of the time I chose to pick up a pencil and sketch characters from the various TV shows that I watched.
This will make me look a little petty, but young me felt like he had to draw better than the other kids, so being a sore loser also helped. My interest in art never went away. I guess I never grew out of it. Portraits, anime characters, superheroes, I’ve done it all but never thought it could be a career for me up until recently.
Considering you work in comics now, were you interested in them in your youth?
In my childhood, I read a lot of comics from a national publisher called Maurício de Sousa Productions. It was all very light-hearted stories aimed at children, but that’s where my love for the medium started. I didn’t really have access
to the traditional superhero comics, so most of what I knew of those famous great characters I learned from the animated shows.
Who are the artists that have influenced you the most?
Stanley ‘Artgerm’ Lau was the artist that made me obsessed with this. The first time I saw his work I thought “If it is possible for a human to do something this good, I want to be able to do it.” As time went on, my taste in art had changed a bit. I’m mostly a manga fan, so Masashi Kishimoto, Masami Kurumada and Kazuki Takahashi were big influences on me.
From traditional comics, I’m a big fan of Ed Benes, J. Scott Campbell, and Brett Booth to name a few. There are also a lot of new artists on the independents doing outstanding work that I’m sure are going to inspire the next generation.
How do you think you have evolved as an artist throughout the years?
I’m still so young. I’m sure my work will evolve in ways I can’t possibly predict (at least I hope it will). I’ve been taking art seriously for a couple of years now, and I can see big differences in quality between pieces that were done just a couple of weeks apart from each other. I know it is cliché for artists to say that they hate looking at their old work, but that’s a cliché for a reason. It’s the truth. I see how the structure of everything I draw has changed.
Something that I like to do from time to time is re-draw pieces that I’ve done a long time ago, just to see how different everything looks. I catch myself daydreaming about how my art will look when I have one or two more decades put into it. So I’ll have to be patient.
Following your work, I know that you tend to draw more women than men. Is that a personal preference of yours or does it just so happen that you get hired for that?
A little bit of both. I was always more interested in drawing the female figure, so that’s what I mostly did. I think that’s why I attract those who are looking for this type of art, and I’m glad people are taking an interest in what I do. So getting hired to draw women is like getting hired to have fun, and it reinforces my own preferences. I guess I’m stuck with it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What are your thoughts on modern comics when it comes to art?
Well, there are artists out there who are really raising the bar for everybody else. Guys like Jorge Jiménez and Carlos Gómez for example are making some of the most beautiful pages I’ve ever seen.
However, there’s also some stuff being published that doesn’t really appeal to me in any way. It is not my place to tell others how they should do their work, but sometimes I can’t tell if there’s even an audience for some of those books. I guess it’s all personal preference, but I’d rather spend my time praising the artists that I like than bashing those I’m not a fan of.
What do you think are the cultural differences between comic book artists in Brazil and the United States?
I’ve noticed a pattern in all my artists’ friends from here, that is we all try to make the sexiest art possible. Not that there aren’t artists in the US doing the same, but I feel like there’s an effort to shame those artists for some reason. That would never fly here. There is no stopping us from drawing as we wanna draw. Also, for people here, getting paid in the dollar it’s kind of a big deal. It’s entirely possible for our artists to charge less than the competition and still make a decent living out of it. Just getting in this business can be really life-changing for us, so we do everything in our power to achieve that.
What do you think are aspects of being an artist that are not discussed enough?
Discipline. Because we are “artists” it’s easy for some to think too highly of themselves and make excuses for their poor work ethic. Hell, I’ve been guilty of this myself. At the end of the day, it’s a job. If you sit down to do it, you’ll get through it and meet your deadlines. Try not to bite off more than you can chew and you’ll be fine. Making your own schedule can be a blessing or a curse.
Looking back on your career so far, what are some of your favorite moments?
I’m just getting started. I still get way too excited every time someone is interested in hiring me. It’s like another person telling me that what I’m doing is actually worthwhile. I guess one of the greatest moments was when I had my first published piece on Sunsworn: Edge of Annihilation. I remember thinking to myself “You actually think I’m good enough? And you want me on your project?” Having my work printed on Dragonrage, with David Finch on the cover of the book was also a highlight. I always go back to these moments whenever I’m feeling down for some reason.
Thank you for doing this, J.P. It was awesome. Any last words for our readers? Where can we follow you on social media?
Again, thank you for having me. This has been great. I’d like to say to every artist out there that what you are doing matters. And you should never let anyone tell you otherwise. Only you can bring your vision to this world and it would be a shame if you didn’t. And if you’re just a fan of comics reading this, thank you. You’re the reason we’re able to do this in the first place.
Everyone, feel free to shoot me a message if you have any questions or even just to chat. It’s been a pleasure.