Interview with Illustrator Jason Westlake

Despite being in the midst of a busy convention season, the illustrator, Jason Westlake, took some time out to answer a few questions for Flocked. We thank him so much for allowing us this time, and we hope you enjoy his answers as much as we did!

How long have you been creating? What was the catalyst that started it all?

I have been drawing literally my entire life, but I can’t pinpoint exactly what started it. I do remember, though, I was the reason my class didn’t have scrap paper in elementary school; I took it all to draw up my own Mortal Kombat characters and Power Ranger monsters.

Who are some of your favorite visual, literary or performance artists?

Hmm, all across the spectrum I see. Visual artist would have to be Drew Struzan; the guy is unstoppable at poster art. Book-wise, I’ve always enjoyed Michael Crichton novels, ‘Sphere’ is one of my all-time favorite books, ‘Jurassic Park’, and especially ‘The Lost World’, even though the movie was an abomination. And I don’t care what people think, but I really enjoy the Dan Brown Robert Langdon series, although I didn’t care too much for ‘The Da Vinci Code’. There, I said it.

What is your preferred medium? Digital, pen, ink, pencil, paint, charcoal, Sharpie, etc?

Can’t go wrong with the ol’ pencil, but I do doodle a lot with a simple Bic pen. Altogether though, I like mixing it up (sketching it out in pencil, inking, then painting, etc.).

How do you choose what to create?

A lot of the time it might have to do with what music I’m listening to at the time. I LOVE drawing characters from movies, and I find myself listening to soundtracks quite often as it is, so I guess it just goes hand in hand.

Do you have any technical/formal training to do what you do?

I actually have an Associates Degree in Communications Design (Graphic Design) from the community college I first attended and my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Illustration from Kendall College of Art and Design. So, all in all my training covers both the digital and fine arts ends of the spectrum.

What projects are you currently working on or hope to work on in the near future?

Well, October 25th-27th I will be part of the Detroit Fanfare comic convention in Dearborn, MI. and two books will be released exclusively at that show that I was part of, along with many other artists. The first is called ‘The Book of Tarot’ from Transfuzion Publishing which is a beginner’s guide to the world of Tarot Cards. I submitted a piece based on the card ‘Judgment’, and I it was a blast to work on. U

The second book is called ‘Zelda’s Zombie Zoo’ which is written by Gary Reed from Binary Publications. It’s a children’s book about a zoo full of zombie animals. Yes, a children’s book with zombie animals. Needless to say I had to scale back a bit on the gore. I illustrated a hyena and I think it turned out great. From what I’ve seen from the other artists that contributed to the book, it’s going to be a really fun book.

Do you have any rituals that help you get in the mindset to create?

Have a cigarette, perhaps a little bit of whiskey, and iTunes. Simple.

Star Trek or Star Wars or both?

Star Wars. Though I love the new Star Trek franchise as well. But it’s a win-win for me because JJ Abrams is directing the new Star Wars and he’s one of my favorite directors, lens flares and all.

Is there a super hero/comic book character film would you like to see made that has yet to be made? Who should direct?

Mighty Max. It was a cartoon I watched growing up, and I believe it was a comic book at one point too. I remember the toys were basically the boy version of Polly Pocket, but instead of swinging on swings and playing with dogs, it was teleporting all around the world fighting lava monsters with an 800 year old chicken (Virgil) and a tall brute warrior who was Max’s best friend (Norman). The cartoon was actually pretty serious considering there was a talking chicken character, but if played straight, it could be an awesome movie, or even a franchise. Look it up. Who should direct is a whole other conversation, along with casting.

If you were a cocktail, what kind of cocktail would you be? Why?

Whiskey and Coke. Like me, it’s bitter and sweet.

What is the best way for fans to buy your work or follow your career? Such as convention appearances?

The two main ways people can keep up with me are: 1) and 2), though I must admit I don’t update it nearly as much as my Facebook page, but I’m working on it.

Again, thank you so much to Mr. Westlake for taking the time out of his schedule to chat with us. Be sure to check out his wonderful work online, and at the conventions, like Detroit Fanfare this weekend (October 25-27, 2013)!