Interview with Jessica Jimerson – Comic book artist, Game designer, Published author and Digital painter from the USA

Jessica Jimerson

Jessica Jimerson is an artist from the USA specializing in comic book art, game design, books, and digital paintings. Inspired by her mother and grandmother to purse art, she decided to combine her love for gaming and art to pursue digital art in the form of comic books, game design, books and digital paintings. You can read more about Jessica on wikipedia, view Jessica’s work and contact her through her portfolio on Deviant Art, her website, and twitter.

ExtraImaginary: Please give us a background of yourself and your journey with art.

Jessica Jimerson: Jessica Jimerson - Lara Croft (comic color work only)Well I grew up in a fantastic art culture, thanks to my mother (Annette Jimerson), and late grandmother (Jessie Jimerson-Philips). Both amazing fine artist who have been around the country in galleries and shows, with their work. So I knew from a very young age I wanted to be an artist too. I’d go around drawing character designs, and dragons all the time, but as I got older (around the age of twelve) I realized I wanted to take that and combine it with my love of gaming, in becoming a game designer. Another major fuel factor at the time, was so that I could bring respectable female characters to the gaming scene, because even a child of twelve could see the differences in how the female characters were dressed, compared to their male counter parts. Or their repeat roles as helpless damsels in distress.

Jessica Jimerson - Tainted InnocenceI stuck to that dream, and when I turned nineteen I started college for Game Art and Design. College was a wonderful experience for me, and as it turned out I became the art (team) lead on several 2D (and towards graduation 3D) games, before I even finished my education. Which is something I am very proud of, however small it may be. After graduating though I attended my first Comic Con in San Diego, and met some great artist from Top Cow, one of whom told me to give comic coloring a shot. A week later I got a random commission to do just that, and I’ve been coloring comic books ever since. Comics became my primary focus, even though I still do other things such as write (having authored a few books “Vampire Love”, “The Pretty Red Flower, With a Single Thorn” and “Solstice Moon”), and paint (which I do as both a hobby and for commission). But I’ve colored and lettered nearly forty comic issues thus far, and counting.

ExtraImaginary: Your focus is digital art. You do books, digital paintings, comic books, sketches, games and 3D design. Tell us about each.

Jessica Jimerson - King SlayerJessica Jimerson: Writing has been a secret talent that I kept to myself (I used to write a lot of short stories for fun as a teen), until around 2009 when the entire concept for a full blown novel came to me one night. My mom, had been driving myself and my sisters across country (we were preparing for a move at the time), and one late night at a rest stop off the road… BAM! I was literally flooded with this medieval fantasy tail, it hit me very fast, and I had to scramble to write it down on a napkin (which became the first page of the book). I decided to later share what I had a few pages in, with my mom and grandmother, and they both got teary eyed. I was amazed I wrote something that was that powerful, so I felt compelled to write the entire book after that (which ended up being titled “Vampire Love”). Writing is always like that for me… I really can’t control what comes out, I get flooded with ideas, then I stop for a while, it’s always like that with me. And I don’t want to change it really, I want to keep that aspect of myself pure to its nature.

Jessica Jimerson - Tenth DoctorDigital painting on the other hand, is something I do on a regular bases. I turn out several per month, and its either commission, fan art, or fantasy art (I am building a fantasy art portfolio aimed to finish that towards the end of this year). I love doing fan art because I can express my inspiration form whatever media inspires, it’s usually TV or film characters (such as Sherlock, for example). While my fantasy characters are completely original, and often I view them as my babies (even though… they are often of creatures and dragons, haha) largely because I feel something special in bringing my imagination to life. Commission work is just that, although not as fun as fan art, it is still very rewarding in its own ways. Sketching is the same, although far less time consuming and instead of 2 to 14 hours, usually only takes an hour to do depending on the sketch of course.

Jessica Jimerson - EclipseWith comic books I color, and letter those mainly. Although I have written one before too (for a game project), so I know what it’s like on that end as well. Basically I get hired by indie companies such as September 17 (with the “Legacy” series), Kymera Press (“Gates of Midnight”), Scattered Comics, and several others. Generally with the companies I am signed up to color a series of a comic book (which normally runs #1 through #4 issues sometimes more other times less). The there are the off instances that I am hired by individuals bring their small time comic books to life (like the long running “Creepy Scarlett” series), normally running both printed and web-comics.

Jessica Jimerson - The WindowGame design and 3D work are usually one and the same. Or… Better put I’ve never needed to do anything 3D related unless it was for a game project (beyond portfolio building of course). But with video games, you almost always work on a large team of many people, and as game designers we all know the various positions its just the matter of taking the one you specialize in, as your role of focus. Personally I consider my 3D modeling and texture work to be my strongest suit, although as art lead I’ve done a bit of everything from animation, writing game stories and objectives, to giving the other team members tasks to bring everything to finish. 2D games can but normally don’t require a large team and can be done with just an artist and programmer alone, I did with “Bunny Smack”, “Space Rampage” and a few others with teams such as “The Mother Load” and “Pancho Perry” back in my college years. But the most recent game I worked was “Left to Rot”, which is a the FPS 3D horror game featured in the 2012 film “Starlet” for a brief scene were the main characters played it.

ExtraImaginary: What tools and techniques do you use to create your digital art?

Jessica Jimerson: To do digital paintings, sketches, and comic coloring I use a Wacom tablet, and work in Adobe Photoshop. But for lettering its other programs in the Adobe Master suit, and for 3D work I use programs like, 3Ds Max, Silo, and SpeedTree (which I can use a tablet for, interestingly).

ExtraImaginary: What is your inspiration?

Jessica Jimerson: For my art I would say my favorite music, films, television, and poetry. I think that shows somewhat in my fan art. Also when I see other artist who are superior to myself I get inspired to want to be that good one day. I sometimes wonder looking back at my old works from six years ago to now, what my work will look like in another six years, that’s an inspiring thought as well because there is nowhere to go but up. For my writing I just have to be blissfully happy (excited almost) for a few days straight, then I can write like mad, there isn’t much else to that.

ExtraImaginary: Walk us through the process of creating your art – from first inspiration to final product.

Jessica Jimerson: For digital paintings, I have videos showing the various stages of start to finish:

I start from sketches, then move to colors, and smoothing, lastly I sometimes add small bits of lighting to make it pop.

Jessica Jimerson - NidhoggFor 3D modeling, given it has to be a model of something that literally doesn’t exist, like a dragon for example… You have to draw it out first, front, back and side then take that into the 3D software and kind of block it out based on the drawings (or photo if it’s of something like a car), then you unwrap and texture, followed by rigging (which is like adding bones for moving models so the mesh ‘knows’ where its joints are and how to move). You can animate it from there, but I while I’m fairly good at modeling/texturing I’m admittedly not great at the rigging process, it’s on the tricky side.

ExtraImaginary: Do you ever use traditional art techniques such as pencil sketches or canvas paintings to test or experiment with ideas before going digital?

Jessica Jimerson: Rarely. While I started out scribbling in traditional, I almost exclusively work in digital now.

ExtraImaginary: Which is your favorite medium in digital? Books, Comics, Game design, Sketching, Digital Painting or 3D?

Jessica Jimerson: By the amount of comics I do you’d think that’s it, but I actually enjoy digital painting the most right now. But I love all of it.

ExtraImaginary: What is your most memorable moment as an artist?

Jessica Jimerson - The Shadow Princess (self portrait)Jessica Jimerson: Oh gosh, well there are two really… The first being when I won the Cengage Learning; MAD Vector Illustration contest a few years back with a self portrait. Two of their noted authors gave me a detailed review of why they ‘loved’ my work, as well as a feature on their website, free books, and iTunes cards. Given Cengage is such a huge company I was very, very honored. The second was seeing a game I worked on in film… On Netflix. I mentioned the title for that earilyer, but that really made me feel good about my work.

ExtraImaginary: Who are your favorite artists?

Jessica Jimerson: I love my mom and her work, she is always an inspiration. Also I love Leonardo da Vinci, his story and work have always inspired me. Lastly, he may not be a visual artist but I adore Shakespeare as well.

ExtraImaginary: What are your goals in regards to your art?

Jessica Jimerson: I want to be the best I can possibly be. Hopefully one day I will be able to work with a large company such as Marvel, for example.

ExtraImaginary: Is there anything else that you would like people to know about you?

Jessica Jimerson: I’m down to earth and love what I do. If you have a question about my work it’s ok to ask. Beyond sharing my insights on the field that’s all. For people who seek to commission me, my pricing and contact info is something I make sure is always available. (primary art site)

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