Freelance illustrator Jeff Dekal was born and raised in South Florida. Known for his cover work for Marvel’s revamp of ‘Journey Into Mystery‘, Dekal has also just recently finished a cover for ‘Superior Spiderman‘. His work is both full of realism and powerful imagery which he then tops off with a touch of urban. He has a gift for bringing a character on paper to life. For the short time that I have known him, he has always been very humble and modest about his art. His dedication and determination make his work shine. His positive nature and eagerness to succeed have molded him into the artist he is today. I highly recommend that you save any Jeff Dekal commission art you are able to get your hands on because it’s going to be in high demand soon. If you are attending the New York Comic-Con this weekend, make sure you stop by Booth Z3 to meet him.
Angela Kam: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Jeff Dekal: I’m 28 years old and drawing has always been a huge interest in my life. I say drawing and not art because I didn’t know what art was as a kid. But I definitely knew what an amazing drawing was. That is what’s responsible for where I’m at today. Drawing and all of the other aspects of illustration are what I focus on and where I’m constantly seeking improvement.
Angela Kam: How long have you been drawing?
Jeff Dekal: Basically since I can remember. I just always enjoyed it and found it fulfilling.
Angela Kam: How did you break into the industry drawing comic books?
Jeff Dekal: Well besides all the long years of sacrificing much of my time to practice and get better at my art, I found out there was an editor from Marvel doing portfolio reviews at a convention I was participating in. I showed her my work, she liked it, and sent me an email a few weeks later asking me if I’d like to do a cover for the Marvel Now revamp of Journey Into Mystery
Angela Kam: Do you have any formal art training?
Jeff Dekal: Pretty much just drawing for my whole life. I did a lot of life drawing when I was younger, drawing people at the beach and cafes. I think that helped me get things down quick. Since the figures don’t stay still for long, you’re forced to get things right in a lot less lines and little time. I did also attend a university where I majored in painting.
Angela Kam: Who are your artistic influences?
Jeff Dekal: There are so many to name. a few are Marko Djurdjevic, Alex Maleev, James Jean, Jon Foster, Degas, and Mary Cassatt.
Angela Kam: How do you focus when drawing?
Jeff Dekal: Just clear my mind, put on some music, and get to it.
Angela Kam: What are some of your inspirations? What gets you motivated before you start drawing?
Jeff Dekal: Usually just the fact that I’m excited to work on the project is motivation enough but if im not in the mood or its a project I don’t have a ton of interest in for a client then I’ll just shuffle through my art folders on my computer to get the juices flowing.
Angela Kam: What types of technology and tools do you use to draw?
Jeff Dekal: When I work digitally im using Photoshop and a Wacom Intuos4. when I draw traditionally I use a mechanical pencil with .5 2b lead and I prefer moleskine paper or bristol paper.
Angela Kam: What was the first comic book you ever read?
Jeff Dekal:I don’t think I remember the first, but one that had a big impact early on was ‘Marvels’. It’s a graphic novel and the whole thing was painted by Alex Ross.
Angela Kam: Do you read any of the new comic books that are being published today? If so, which ones? If not are you reading any books right now?
Jeff Dekal: I’d like to read the stuff that’s out now but there’s so much of it and I just don’t have the patience to shift through it all. I have a lot of old trade paperbacks from artists I admire that I’ve read and have a few more to go. Some are, ‘Silent Dragon’ drawn by Leinil Yu.. ‘Wolverine, Killing’ drawn by Kent Williams.. and ‘Undying Love’ drawn by Tom Coker.
Angela Kam: What projects are you currently working on?
Jeff Dekal: I just finished a Superior Spiderman cover. I’m working on some t-shirt designs. I’m doing a few book covers for an author. And a bunch of other stuff.
Angela Kam: Tell me a bit about your book of artwork you just recently published.
Jeff Dekal: It’s just a small collection of mostly personal work that some buddies of mine influenced me to make. I honestly didn’t plan it at all. I just wanted something more to be able to sell at conventions and another way to share my art. I ended up being pretty proud of it though. It has sketches, doodles, and finished paintings in it. A full spectrum of my work I think.
Angela Kam: Do you have any words for aspiring artists?
Jeff Dekal: There’s always someone in line behind you no matter what you do in life. If you don’t want it bad enough someone else does and they will come right in and take it from you. You don’t have to be the best to get jobs and to be successful, but you do need to be good enough and that requires will and sacrifice.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to tell us a bit about yourself and your experiences.