How long have you been an artist?
I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. But I entered the professional world as an illustrator in 1998. At that time I was working as a Barista in Pasadena California, but was picking up freelance work on the side. This was also the year I started “Mad Creator Productions”. But it wasn’t until 2000 that I picked up my first book illustration job, which launched my career.
What is your real name?
That’s my deaf ear you’re speaking in.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from almost anything that surrounds me daily. The most obvious are music, books, films, fantastical images, live performances, and, of course, my family.
Who are your influences?
My influences are always changing. The influences I have now are different from the ones I had five, ten, or fifteen years ago. Below are a few books and illustrators who have strongly held their positions as influences for some time:
Artists: Andrew Wyeth, Arthur Rackham, Brian Froud, Charles Addams, Edward Gorey, Egon Schiele, Gerald Scarfe, Holly Hobbie, Jack Davis, Jamie Hewlett, John Blockley, Jon J Muth, Lisbeth Zwerger, Marc Davis, Maurice Sendak, Mercer Mayer, Ralph Steadman, Sam Keith, Stephen Gammell, Tim Burton, and Windsor McCay.
Books: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland– Lewis Carroll, The Cat in the Hat– Dr Seuss, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory– Roald Dahl, The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales– Margarate Hunt, Frankenstein– Mary Shelley, Geek Love– Katherine Dunn, The Grapes Of Wrath– John Steinbeck, The Halloween Tree– Ray Bradbury, Inferno– Dante Alighieri, Liza Lou And The Yeller Belly Swamp– Mercer Mayer, The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy & Other Stories– Tim Burton, One Monster After Another– Mercer Mayer, Mother Goose’s Melody– John Newbury, The Sandman– Neil Gaiman, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark– Alvin Schwartz, Something Wicked This Way Comes– Ray Bradbury, Struwwelpeter– Heinrich Hoffmann, Tales of Mystery and Imagination– Edgar Allen Poe, Where The Sidewalk Ends– Shel Silverstein, Where The Wild Things Are– Maurice Sendak, The Wizard of Oz– L Frank Baum
Where were you born?
I was born in a small town and raised on a farm in Nebraska.
Where did you go to school?
I went to Concordia University of Nebraska where I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Unfortunately, at the time I was immature and didn’t take advantage of the opportunities and knowledge the faculty had to offer. A large portion of my talents came from being self-taught, researching literature at the library, and copying from my comic book heroes. If I could go back to the dark road I was on, I would warn my younger self to go to classes, do the homework, and learn from your instructors.
What medium do you work in?
I’ve explored many media, but find comfort in watercolor and ink. I believe the quality of the materials impact the mastership of the work. Spend a little more on your art supplies and you will see better results. Throughout my 20 years searching for a top-notch watercolor paint, I have found a kinship with the watercolors produced by Hobein. It was a day and night difference compared to prior brands. The pigment is rich and each color has it’s own unique personality. As described by Holbein.com, “Holbein Artist Watercolor is produced without ox-gall, animal by-products or other dispersing agents. This affords the user greater control in the dispersal of their pigments, enhances handling qualities and delivers color of unequaled intensity, purity and reliability for brilliant transparent washes and/or powerful, clean darks.” Couldn’t agree more.
For more than two decades, I’ve used Rapidograph mechanical pens. But recently, I’ve taken to old school dip pens with nibs. Being that this is still an exploratory stage for me, I don’t have a company I can confidently get behind. But I’m looking forward to trying different stocks and brands of pens, nibs, and inks. As for paper, my go-to paper for over fifteen years is Arches 140 lb. cold press sheet. I like the way water interacts with it and how it holds pigment.
Do you use a computer?
I use a computer but not to create my work. All of my artwork is done with traditional mediums. If a computer is used at all, it is only to archive my work and the occasional color correction/tinting for publication.
How do you break into the industry?
This is a difficult question because I believe everyone walks his or her own path in life. Bottling a formula for success and passing it around doesn’t seem to work, because the effects are different for each individual. Things will happen the way they should. If I were to relay anything that might help, it would be: Charisma is everything! Be outgoing and mingle with your industry peers. Become friends with curators, editors, critics, and press. Be present. Go to gallery openings, industry parties and other professional gatherings. Personally, I’m a recluse and have the charisma of a lump of coal. So I’m not sure what happened.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists and authors?
Get an agent and legal guidance. I went through a period when I thought I could do this alone. I made less money, generated fewer opportunities, and found myself contractually misled. If you get reputable representation, they will work for your better interests and the fees are worth it. Also, draw and write constantly.
Will you critique my work?
I would love to, but unfortunately my schedule is such that I would not be able to commit the appropriate time to give an honest critique.
Can I do a class report on you?
Yes you may, although I am unable to contribute personally. I am honored by my candidacy for your paper, but my schedule does not allow me to answer back in a timely manner. There is a great deal of useful information contained in my FAQ as well as online interviews I have done in the past.
I wrote you a letter. Why have you not responded?
I’m sorry, but I am not always able to respond to inquiries by mail or email. That does not mean I do not read them or enjoy them.
Can I have permission to use your art as a tattoo?
Of course, you can use any of my preexisting art for tattooing purposes. But you must be at least five years old. Please share your new tattoo on any of my networks.
Do you accept commissions?
If you are interested in a commission, I do accept offers depending on my availability. Send all serious inquiries to my email address and I will let you know pricing and time frame.
Where can I buy GG merchandise?
Some of our merchandise is limited edition or exclusive to the website. Most of my books are distributed through bookstores and some comic shops worldwide. Try looking at your local independent book provider. If they don’t carry it, request it. Everything we have in stock is currently available on our online store.
What are your store policies?
The goal of the Gris Grimly store is to make my merchandise accessible and available to the public in one location. All books purchased from the store are shipped out signed by me, with a small sketch, and personalized when requested. Most orders include free swag like postcards, stickers, and halloween novelty junk. This is a one stop shop for everything grim. With that said, this is a small operation and foremost, I am a children’s book illustrator which consumes most of my time. Packages will usually go out once a week. When the workload is light, they will go out twice a week, but on rare occasions when I’m slammed with deadlines, more than a week can go by before getting orders out. During new book releases, when orders are high, shipments can go out every day until the dust settles.
I do not accept returns, so shop carefully. In the event you receive damaged or inaccurate items, contact me and we will make right.
How do your shipping prices work?
All orders are shipped via USPS with tracking and insurance when possible. I am yet to find a fool-proof formula for calculating shipping rates due to the broad selection of items at different price points and weights. What I use currently is pretty accurate and whenever possible, I upgrade the shipment to priority. Other times, the money charged to ship a heavy book is only enough for media mail. In this case, the book is shipped on its own and the package does not include free swag. I used to ship prints in a box (inside a plastic sleeve with backing board). But with multiple orders, this becomes cumbersome and takes up too much space. I now ship prints rolled up in a tube. This means that these orders will not include free swag either.
Do you accept International sales?
At this time, I no longer offer international shipping. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.
Will you send me free stuff?
How has having a child changed you and your work?
Before I was a father, I created books for myself, and that was authentic to me. Now, I want to create books for my kids and children like them. When I wrote Wicked Nursery Rhymes, I was writing children’s books for adults who like dark things. Now, I want to write children’s books for children who fear dark things. They are two very different states of mind, and since I’ve been a father, I think I see the distinction more clearly.