Meet the Artist: Bob Stevlic

By George Nadeau

Commercial artist and illustrator Bob Stevlic has contributed extraordinary artwork to our trading card sets for The Walking Dead, Tarzan, and Revenge. In addition, we've already seen his Downton Abbey and The Hobbit sketch/art cards; we know collector's are going to love them. We'll share sneak peeks as soon as we're allowed, so be sure to watch our Facebook page for previews. Until then, you can see more of Bob's artwork on his personal website and on Facebook.

Where are you from?

I was born in Chicago and grew up in the south west suburbs.

Do you have a formal education in art?

I have Associate degrees in Fine Art and Electronic Design.

When did you decide to become an artist?

I never decided, I just always was.  What Picasso said about all kids being artists is true. I think as we grow up most people lose interest or don't have the passion to continue drawing and painting, and that's the biggest difference between an artist and a non-artist, or someone who's not artistically inclined let's say.  I don't think "artists" necessarily started off much more inclined than anyone else.  It's just that if anyone puts enough time into any given endeavor, they're going to get good at it.  So when an artist is commissioned to create a work of art, they are not just being paid for the time spent on the particular piece, they are being paid for that lifetime of training, studying, observing, practicing, refining their skills... but unfortunately that's changing now.

Who are your biggest artistic influences?

I like a lot of the classic illustrators--Sundblom and Elvgren being favorites of mine style wise. I would favor Sundblom more based on his subject matter.

Like a lot of other kids John Buscema was a huge influence on me when I was young and first picked up his Marvel How-to book.  Stan Lee was correct in calling him "The Michelangelo of Comic Books". His paintings were amazing, and it's a shame that he wasn't doing more painted work for Marvel.  I only own one piece of original comic art, that being a half-finished Conan pencil and ink page by Buscema. A close second to Buscema for me would be Al Williamson, who also had one of the most fundamentally solid and dynamic styles. A very classical style with great line work.  

But the artist that influenced me the most technically was Hajime Sorayama.

What's your typical process for creating your artwork?

I always start with a pencil drawing and when I paint I work in airbrushed acrylics.  I've been tempted to use inks, watercolors, which spray a lot nicer, but they're not as stable or durable as acrylics.

When I paint any type of artwork, big or small, I use the Sorayama technique--erasing highlights from multiple airbrush passes and adding details with colored pencil or brushwork when called for.  For this reason I rarely use graphite on the original drawing because it erases and smudges too easily.  Almost everything I draw is done with a black, grey or brown colored pencil.  I've used Prismacolors forever, but lately I've started moving towards Derwents and Faber Castells.  With paints I'll always stick with Liquitex but lately I've been getting good results by mixing in Golden and Com Art transparent acrylics.

On occasion I'll put some minor marker work into a card or do some fills if it's greyscale, but it's mainly a time saving effort when the deadline is tight.  On a few past card sets I worked b & w strictly in charcoal, and was happy with the results, but in the end it didn't speed up the process any so I went back to pencils and paint which don't require as much caution on such a small working surface.

What are you currently working on?

I just wrapped up work on a MLB card set and I'm getting ready to jump onto another set from a galaxy far away.  Outside of official sketch card sets I'm also doing commission work for collectors whenever possible.

If you couldn't be an artist, what would you do?

I think I'd be a fire fighter.  You get paid to sleep! ...which is the opposite for a freelance artist.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

"Spare time"?  LOL

What is something that most people don't know about you?

I was once a motion capture actor for a TV series on the History Channel.

Dinner party with anyone, living or dead. Who are the guests and what would you talk about?

My family and everyone I've ever lost, just to see and be with them again.

What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon as a child?

Spiderman and His Amazing Friends.  That title could've used a little work.

What was the best compliment you've received?

I can't think of any one compliment that stands out, but I appreciate them all. When someone is moved enough by my work to contact me and tell me so, it means a lot.

What's the worst thing you did as a kid?

Nothing too bad...  typical kid stuff.

If you could eliminate one thing from your daily schedule, what would it be and why?

SLEEP!  It takes up so much time.

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

Some days I feel invisible!

Name your favorite song.

That can change from week to week!

You are marooned on an island. What five items would you like to have with you?

Hmmm...How long am I staying?   

Name one thing that drives you crazy.

Nothing really drives me crazy, but people who don't have a clue at a four way stop might rank up there.

Name the most famous person you've had a face to face encounter with.

I saw the "Hoff" once at Universal Studios.  

Thank you, Bob. We look forward to working with you again and again.