June 2, 2010

Dream a Little Dream... And Send It to Me

An Interview with Artist, Illustrator and Converter of Dreams Jesse Reklaw

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
Click on any picture to enlarge

Jesse, your background – or perhaps better said – your training to be an artist must have been an interesting one. How did you not only learn to draw-slash-illustrate but eventually decide to be an 'artiste' full time, leaving as I understand the computer program at Yale to do so?
I've always been a drawer. With the state of comics and the publishing industry in the early 90s, I figured I'd still need a "day job," so I studied to be a programmer.

I couldn't have foreseen that comics ("graphic novels") would become popular, and that the Internet would open up so many opportunities for young artists.

Are you involved in other activities such as teaching or other graphic design related ventures?
I do teach comics part-time at an amazing institution in Portland, Oregon called the
IPRC. I also do freelance illustration and storyboarding, and I'm in the occasional art show. Exactly the kind of piece-meal occupation you'd expect these days.

I could really envision your watercolor pieces as being spot on for children’s illustrations. Has this been a focus or even approach for you before? Or is this field so crowded it’s just too tough to even try to get in the door?
Again, I think a lot of opportunities are opening up even in the historically impenetrable world of children's book illustration.

But I'm not very good at kids' and young adult writing. I'm too fond of obtuse philosophy and dirty jokes.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t an illustrator and why?
I was just thinking the other day that if in high school I'd started taking antidepressants, today I'd probably be an electrical engineer (or a retired one that is!).

Alternatively, I'd be dead.

Or turn that around a bit: say a younger person approaches you and says ‘I want to do the same thing as you’ what would be your advice (e.g. ‘work hard and stay off drugs?’ vs. ‘run Forrest run’)?
I think doing internships is a really valuable way to connect with the industry, learn practical skills, and also see if the field is really something one wants to commit to.

But to get the most out of those real-world experiences, one really needs to learn how to listen to other people. Self-knowledge of course is even more important, and can help one develop listening skills.

So I'd say taking a lot of drugs and going on vision quests is the first step to any important career.

Finally, a selection of ‘what if’ questions:

What if you could get a hold of any project you heart could desire, what would it be and why?
Well, it's always fun to imagine being in a think-tank with my creative heroes, working on some slick corporate project that's burning money flying us to Europe, filling hot tubs with champagne, etc.
But I also sincerely love sitting in my backyard scribbling comics in my sketchbook, while my cat sniffs daisies, laughing to myself over some abstruse joke that I shouldn't publish but I probably will anyway, somewhere in the background.

What if you’ve just won the Super Lottery, and you’re suddenly richer than Bill Gates.
What becomes of your illustration career and why?
I challenge Bill Gates to a winner-take-all, high-stakes round of Old Maid... its close...! But... I lose everything and shuffle off to live under a bridge with my daisy-sniffing cat.

Then my girlfriend reminds me to come home because it's my turn to make dinner.

What if, I mean, what is a super cool fact about yourself that you would like to (or can) share without getting arrested, beat up in a dark alley or even worse, being forced to vote for Sarah Palin in 2012?
All my super-cool factoids will be published in my memoir ‘Couch Tag’, due out from Fantagraphics in 2011.


As a public service announcement in order to get in a cheap plug for them, I’m using most of the bio of Jesse that was prepared by the
San Francisco Zine Fest (with a little extra flavoring thrown in from the IPRC site added in for, uh, flavor), noting Jesse did this very cool poster for them as well :

Jesse Reklaw is a fantastic writer, illustrator, and painter, and has created work in a wide variety of formats, including self-published works (the autobiographical ‘
10,000 Things to Do’), a weekly strip (‘Slow Wave), zines (‘Applicant’), the books ‘The Night of Your Life’, ‘Bluefuzz the Hero’ and much more.

A long time resident of the Bay Area, Jesse was a founding member of the mini-comics distro Global Hobo, helping dozens of local small-press cartoonists get their work out to shops and readers around the country. He continues to support small press and DIY publishing in his home of Portland, Oregon, where he teaches cartooning classes at the IPRC, having taught comics courses at Portland Community College and elsewhere as well. He has been nominated twice for the
Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic. For more on various syndication as well as self-professed ‘awards and stuff’, please check out his website at this link.

While you’re at it,
submit a dream of your own to Jesse. He has put together some helpful hints including: ‘If this is the first time you've submitted a dream, please provide a brief physical description of yourself (for example, your age, sex, and other features like do you wear glasses, have freckles, a monkey tail!!, etc.). Funny, interesting, and unusual dreams are preferred, which I guess is sort of his way of saying these are the ones that might get published (vs. just ogled at and sold to Pentboy for their readers’ letters section).

There seems to be, however, no restrictions on describing embarrassing bodily functions, which is – to no one’s surprise I’m sure – what I dream about pretty much all the time, too.


All pictures, videos and other media are used with written permission of Jesse Reklaw, or are available in the public domain (noting copyright and other restrictions, accordingly). No further reproduction or duplication is permitted without contacting the artist directly. Some pictures have been modified slightly only for the purpose of space limitations.

1 comment:

Francesca Prescott said...

Ooh, very cool stuff! If only my eyes were better so I could read the captions in the cartoons. And what a good idea to use people's dreams! Love it! Next time I have a weird dream I'm submitting...

(oh dear!)

xx Francesca