Artists discuss six-day illustration boot camp

Tom Babbey interviews Erik M. Gist, Lucas Graciano and Michael C. Hayes

Michael C Hayes – Alessandra

My name is Tom Babbey; I’m a freelance illustrator, art instructor, and Watts Atelier student. I recently had the chance to sit down with E.M. Gist, Lucas Graciano, and Michael C. Hayes, and ask them some questions about their upcoming Illustration Boot Camp, running from July 17 through the 22nd, and hosted through the school that trained them, The Watts Atelier of the Arts.

Will you be giving advice to new illustrators and students on how to "break into" the industry and get clients, or is this strictly a skill-based boot camp?
E.M Gist:
There will not only be a lecture given on this specific topic, but also many personal anecdotes thrown out there about how each of us got our first jobs. One thing about Watts Atelier, most of us enjoy spinning a good yarn.

Lucas Graciano: I am planning on doing a "Getting Your First Professional Assignment" lecture, in addition to the many hours each of us will be at the students' disposal for more specific questions they might have.

Lucas Gracinao – Grave Titan

Will you be covering preparatory skills in painting (priming a canvas, etc) or will this be focused on the painting itself? 
The focus will be on process, AND traditional methods. While the focus will be on taking your rough idea to a finish, all aspects of the process (both technical and creative) will be touched upon.

What is the daily structure of the workshop going to look like, including the figure drawing sessions? 
Gist: While schedule may vary a bit from day to day, each day will include a time for formal crits, a demonstration, and a lecture. The rest of the time will be filled with LOTS of one on one help.

Graciano: Most of the time will be spent painting with the instructors one on one. Each day there will be an hour long lecture by one of the instructors. The doors will open at 8am and close at 11pm or later. During each day, we'll also be doing a 3hr life drawing open workshop, complete with the figure drawing demonstrations the Watts Atelier is known for.

Lucas Gracinao – Dragon Swarm

What do you enjoy most about illustrating, (subject, technical, process, etc) and how are you looking to incorporate that strength/passion of yours into the workshop? 
Subject and storytelling are probably my favorite elements of illustration. As a result I will be giving lectures on visual storytelling that range from general to genre specific. Lucas: Ever since I can remember I've always loved to create things; drawings, comics, stories, ceramics, sculptures....paintings.

I grew up with movies like Dragonslayer, Beastmaster, and Conan and have always loved the fantasy adventures these kinds of movies to me on. I was also introduced to the amazing art of Frazetta and Boris at an early age. They created these whole new worlds outside of our own. I think with my passion for creation and the influences of my childhood, I came to want to illustrate my own worlds. I hope to share a deeper insight into what goes into making the paintings I do with each of the students

E. M. Gist – Alien v Predator

Michael C. Hayes: I would say the process, and the continuing mastery of the craft are the most enjoyable parts. I intend to talk about the importance of attention to detail in every step of the process, how to establish your own way of doing things and how that will hopefully help you grow as an artist throughout your career.

What are you, as an instructor, most excited about in regards to this bootcamp?
I always look forward to meeting new, enthusiastic artists and aiding them in taking their work to the next level. Lucas: I'm looking forward to meeting some new people and hopefully help them achieve some of their goals. Similar to what The Atelier did for me. My way to give back a little.

Hayes: It will be my first time teaching in any official capacity. I have always found the portfolio reviews I do at conventions to be immensely satisfying to me, so I'm looking forward to giving back in an expanded context. For more information regarding the Illustration Boot Camp, please visit us at If you have any questions of your own not answered in this FAQ, drop us a line on our website or on facebook, and we’ll be happy to answer any inquiries you may have.

For more and to enroll today, head over to the online registration page.

E. M. Gist – Monster


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