Sebastian Gomez was born in Colombia and, at age 11, immigrated to the U.S. with his family. There he pursued his dream of creating art for a living. He makes pictures as a way to bring to life all the fantasies and stories that have been stuck in his head since childhood. He loves F/SF and horror. He provided art for this week's story, "The Dead Father Cookbook," by Ashley Blooms.
This interview was conducted by email in July 2017.
Tory Hoke: As an illustrator, how did you get where you are today?
Sebastian Gomez: I have always loved drawing, but when I got to the U.S, in high school, I stopped and focused on academics and sports. When I went to college, I did two years of business, and while taking an art elective I fell back in love with art. I took a few years off from school and decided to switch majors and go for an illustration degree from Montclair State University in New Jersey. While in my junior year, I took a week long art book camp called "The Illustration Master Class" in Amherst, MA, which helped me gain confidence in my abilities and begin to create relationships in the illustration world with some of my art heroes—they were the instructors. This helped me find my voice and kept me working hard to improve myself everyday.
Tory Hoke: Your work plays with atmosphere and perspective to an enchanting effect. How did you cultivate this style? What effect do you hope to have on your viewer?
Sebastian Gomez: Yes, I love to play with atmosphere and lighting; my process lends itself to that kind of effect. I work by doing a line drawing for structure, then on a separate paper I darken the whole thing with graphite powder. Finally I place the line drawing under the graphite and use a light box to help me carve out the image with an array of erasers. Once the graphite piece is done, I scan it and color it digitally. So a simple way to describe my style is that I take a dark room and start shining light into it to expose the final image.
I began experimenting with this style when I discovered one of my favorite artists, Sam Wolfe Connelly.
The effect I want to have on the viewer varies with the assignment, but for this image and other horror pieces I've done, I want the audience to feel almost both the feeling of not wanting to look at the image, but somehow not being able to look away.
Tory Hoke: Your portfolio seems to contain a spectrum of commercial, commission, and fan art. What kind of projects excite you the most? What kind of approaches to you bring to these different kinds of projects?
Sebastian Gomez: The projects that excite me the most are the fantasy themes of myths, gods, and creatures, for which I get to use my own interpretation and creativity to bring to life things that don't exist. I almost bring the same approach to any piece I tackle. I love doing the research and gathering photographic reference for any piece, whether it is a realistic historical piece or a more cartoonish children's book image. The only thing that changes is the mood and emotional response I am trying to get from my audience.
For private commissions I work in almost any medium, since I am more free from deadlines. I love oil painting, and it's what I mostly do for my personal work.
Tory Hoke: What inspires your creations? What effect do you hope to have on your viewer?
Sebastian Gomez: What inspires my creations is mainly nature. I love animals, and I am pretty sure, in almost every piece I do, I make sure to include an animal. I am also inspired by myths and stories. I am constantly reading F/SF novels and wanting to bring those stories to life.
The effect I want to have on the viewer is a sense of wonder, making them ask questions to immerse themselves in the story I am trying to convey.
Tory Hoke: What is the art community like where you are?
Sebastian Gomez: The art community where I am is very exciting as I live just 45 minutes from New York City, and a lot of my favorite illustrators live there and gather at the Society of Illustrators from time to time. My town of Dover, NJ, is also the home to a really good comic book art school: The Kubert School.
Tory Hoke: What other artists inspire or interest you?
Sebastian Gomez: There is a long list of artists that influence me everyday, but my top ones would be Frank Frazetta, Jim Lee, Donato Giancola, Dan Dos Santos, Sam Wolfe Connelly, Greg Ruth, Gregory Manchess, James Gurney, Jeff Miracola, Peter de Sève, and many more.
Tory Hoke: What would you like to see more of in contemporary F/SF art?
Sebastian Gomez: As I am Latino, I would love if some of the myths and gods of Latin America were represented more in popular culture. Most of the fantasy stories, movies, and TV are populated with the myths and gods of the Greeks, the Norse, the Egyptians, etc. I would love more art and stories with the Mayan, Aztec, and Inca Gods and myths.
Tory Hoke: What's your dream project?
Sebastian Gomez: I would love to get into Visual Development in the film or game industry. I would also love to be able to do F/SF book covers.
Tory Hoke: What's next for you?
Sebastian Gomez: I am part of a Kickstarter for a tabletop RPG which will launch late this year; I hope it gets funded so I can continue to work on it. I also will be doing more portfolio pieces to keep trying to get some book cover work.
Tory Hoke: Thank you, Sebastian! It's been a pleasure.