5 Questions with Illustrator Rob Prior
Rob Prior is a comic book artist and illustrator who has enjoyed a 20-plus year career working with the industry’s biggest publishers, including Marvel, DC Comics and Image Comics. His work hangs in private collections and his skills as a storyboard artist are tapped for clients such as Anheuser Busch, Nikon and Monster. To manage all of his projects, Rob taught himself an unusual skill: to draw with both hands.
We caught up with Rob and asked about his unique talents, his career and what it’s like to paint on stage.
Who is Rob Prior?
I am an artist that started at a very, very young age. I had been trained to be an artist before I could walk. Coming from a family of artists, though none by profession, it was only natural that I become one as well.
When I was about 10, I knew at that point that I wanted to be an artist. Then I developed these morbid thoughts of, “What if I lose my right hand and can’t draw?” I’d be screwed, I thought. So, I quit using my right hand and used my left hand. So I basically trained myself to do everything with my left as I did my right.
Eventually, I began to use both hands. This came about when I had some math homework and a painting due at the same time. With a pencil in one hand, I did my math homework, and with a brush in another, I did my painting. That's how I came to paint with both hands.
How would you describe your work?
A lot of what I do is centered on pop-culture. I’ve worked for different comic companies: Marvel, DC Comics and others. I’ve done work for Lucas Films. I’ve done a lot of different things. It’s just a pop-art thing—it’s cool to draw super heroes. I remember when I got my first job drawing a super hero. I worked on a comic with a famous penciler, Mike Grell. I was thrilled! It was like living a dream. I got to draw heroes and do all the things I used to dream of as a kid.
You’ve worked on some very exciting projects, including joining Tech N9one on stage. Tell us about your favorite projects and painting live on stage with Tech N9ne
I am not crazy about getting up in front of a crowd—at least I wasn’t. Talking with Tech about it, he told me not to worry—that I wouldn’t even be able to see the audience. He lied! As soon as I walked out on stage, I saw everyone staring at me, waving, and I thought that I was going to throw up. But it was great! It was a lot of fun.
I’ve worked on such a variety of projects over the years. I worked on Spawn the Impaler (Image Comics) and the Terminator series. I’ve worked on video games like Darkness, Ghostrider and The Hulk. I’ve done book covers for Random House—I even sculpted and painted creatures for the last series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I am currently working on a TV show called Red Brick Road with Warner Brothers and Lifetime. I am also directing a movie towards the end of the year called Whisper. On both productions, I will be doing all of the artwork.
You create with watercolors, gouache, oils and digital tools. How do you decide what medium to use when you create a painting?
I literally work with whatever I feel like picking up that day. I like to mix everything. I start almost everything traditionally in pencil form, then I will lay down some paint, whether it be watercolor, gouache, oil paint, whatever, and then I’ll scan that and either finish it on the computer or print it from there and continue to work on it.
Traditionally, I’m a big fan of Canson paper and gouache. Canson offers a wide variety of papers, and I enjoy gouache from Royal Talens for their consistency. I use Corel Painter on the computer for its wide variety of brushes and the way that they mimic traditional media. I use Painter with a Wacom tablet because of the natural way that it works like a pencil and a brush. They are a kick-ass combination. But I literally use everything—whatever I grab that day.
What advice do you wish that someone gave you when you were getting started?
My key advice for any young artist is REPETITION. If you want your work to get seen—repetition. If you want to learn how to draw an arm—repetition. Just keep doing it until it sticks.
Most artists—and really all creative people give up after a short amount of time, and it’s about repetition. It’s about resending your work, and resending your work, and having the heart to get through it when you keep getting rejected. Everyone is going to get rejected one time or another. You just have to continue repeating the process.
If people want to get in touch with Rob Prior or see more of your work, where should they go?
Start at RobPrior.com. You can see a variety of my work there. Socially you can hit me on Twitter @prior2art and on Facebook at RobPriorOfficial. I’m also on the road a lot. I will be at well over a dozen comic conventions this year, on top of San Diego and New York.
So there you have it. Five questions with Rob Prior, comic book artist and illustrator. Ok, perhaps a few more than five. At any rate, I hope that you were inspired!