Ask an Artist- Artists inspiring Artists

Todays Question comes from artist BJ Dicker, he asks.

“As a fellow artist i have professional artist who inspired me growing up. mine was Stan Lee, Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee. The Hildebrandt brother kicked butt too. who were yours?”

Painting by my mother Kay Zetlmaier

Thank ou for that great question BJ, I love talking about great art and great artists!
Growing up my biggest inspiration was my parents. Both my Mom and my Dad were very talented artists in their own right, and I was inspired by them more than I could ever put into words. Their inspiration and tutelage continue to influence my art to this day.

Panel from Godfather spoof (MAD), by Mort Drucker

Art of Jack Davis

Outside of my parents, I have a long list of artists that have inspired me and influenced the way I make art. As art is a journey, my creative eye would notice different artists at different times in my life.

I would have to say that my oldest influence was MAD magazine. I actually don’t remember not reading MAD as a kid. I loved the variety of styles and talent from  Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Sergio Aragonez, Al Jaffee, Don Martin, Angelo Torrez… I mean the list just goes on and on. These guys were not only out of their minds, but they were/are some of the most talented artists to ever be published. I fell in love with Caricature at a very early age, and that is what I wanted to do for a living.
My biggest inspirations came from Jack Davis and Mort Drucker. To me, these two are the very best in the biz. Mort Drucker has the most uncanny ability to get likenesses I’ve ever seen. But it’s not just his likenesses, his line work is amazing, and his work never looks stiff or un-natural. That is a lot harder than most people consider.
Then there is Mr. Jack Davis…Wow! Jack Davis is THE THE THE most under appreciated artist of this last century. Jack Davis could do IT ALL. An incredible Caricaturist, Cartoonist, and Comic Book Illustrator. But he was also an incredible draftsman, and could draw and paint beautifully, realistically or otherwise. Davis has influenced countless artists out there yet many people (not in the arts) don’t know who he is. But anyone who flips through a book of his art will know all of his work. What I love about Jack Davis’s art  is his ability to capture movement. His work is so fluid and it looks like it is moving.I mean, it even looks like warts are wiggling and hair is waving around. I think the secret is his ability to stay loose and expressive with his line and “old school” ink washes. He’s just amazing!
Sergio Aragonez has always been my favorite gag cartoonist, and has been a family friend since I was a kid. If you think his cartooning is funny, he is 100 times funnier in real life! I love Sergio for his art, his energy, and his love for life. I used to visit his studio when I was a kid, watching him draw and reading his ENDLESS supply of comics and art books. What I remember most was his work ethic. Not that he worked so hard, because he did, but he smiled and LAUGHED the whole time he worked. This man LOVES  what he does and that was such a great influence on me. I’ll never forget that. What a privilege that was. It is always a treat when I see him at Comic Con and give him a big hug. He’s the best!

X-Men cover by John Byrne

MAD Magazine led me directly into reading comic books, and I became obsessed with them in Jr. High School. Funny thing is, I actually RARELY read them, I studied the art, and I really got the gist of the story from the art. This was the 80’s so you have to know that while there was some great art, there was  A LOT of crap out there. The silver lining was it was the perfect backdrop for those who were fantastic to stand out and shine. My favorites back then were John Byrne (still my favorite comic book artist), Sal Buschema, Mike Zeck and John Romita Jr. Even though it seemed like there were less great artists in the 80’s than not, what these artists did was make me seek out older comics and discover older artists that influenced them. John Romita, Jack Kirby, Al Williamson, and John Buscema were all awesome. I couldn’t afford to buy those older comics, but I would look for reprints of their art.

When I got into College, I was looking for other forms of art. I still loved comics, and MAD, but I felt like there was even more out there that I hadn’t discovered. And boy was I right. I started going to Galleries and began getting influenced by the master painters through the ages. I think I was most influenced by the impressionists. I just loved their expressive interpretation of life, and their whole rebellious cause, protesting the established ART Academy. They broke down so many walls for every artist that followed after them. Van Gogh, Lautrec, and Degas were/are my very favorite. They paint magic as far as I’m concerned.

Jimmy Hendrix by Sabastian Kruger

Charles Barkley BY Philip Burke

By that time I was painting a bit more myself, but I was still creating Caricatures and developing my own style. I was really turned on by the modern Caricature artists that were popping up in everything from Entertainment weekly, to Rolling Stone Magazine. My favorites were Sabastian Kruger, and Philip Burke. Kruger is simply an amazing painter and Caricaturist, he managed to take all the art forms that I loved and weld them into one great piece of art after another. If you like Caricature, or if you just love great art you must pick up his book STONES. It is an incredible collection of his art work about the Rolling Stones. It is INCREDIBLE!!!!!
Philip Burke was a huge influence on me in the 90’s. I loved his use of colors and expression. It became less about form and more about expression, yet he still managed to get spot on Caricatures. One of my favorite pieces of his was a Charles Barkley T-shirt I had. It is one of my favorite shirts ever.

Wow, I could go on and on, but alas, I do have work I need to do:) Truth is I am influenced by all artists in some way. I am so lucky to have so many amazing artists as dear friends who inspire me everyday. Denise Vasquez, Matt Busch, Jason Palmer,Dave Dorman, Russell Walks, Tone Rodriguez, The Late John Alvin, Jerry Vanderstelt, Brian Rood, Joe Corroney,Jan Duursema, Tommy Lee Edwards, Mark McHaley, Grant Gould, Robert Hendrickson, Spencer Brinkerhoff, Dave Filoni, Killian Plunkett, Jeff Carlisle, Adam Hughes, JaKe, Hans Jenssen, Mark Ratts, Tom Mandrake, Terese Neilsen, Amy Pronovost, Lawrence Noble, Bill O’Neil, Tsuneo Sanda, Dave Seely, Cat Staggs, Ken Steacy,Ingrid Hardy,Luis Diaz,Jeff Chandler, Nicole Falk, Soni-Alcorn Hender, Alex Alderete,Malcolm Tween, David Rabbitte, Allison Sohn, Monte Moore, Richard CHasemore, Steve Anderson, and the list just goes on and on!