For years, Awesome Art We’ve Found Around The Net has been about two things only – awesome art and the artists that create it. With that in mind, we thought why not take the first week of the month to showcase these awesome artists even more? Welcome to “Awesome Artist We’ve Found Around The Net.” In this column, we are focusing on one artist and the awesome art that they create, whether they be amateur, up and coming, or well established. The goal is to uncover these artists so even more people become familiar with them. We ask these artists a few questions to see their origins, influences and more. If you are an awesome artist or know someone that should be featured, feel free to contact me at any time at [email protected].This month we are very pleased to bring you the awesome art of…
Dave Rapoza is a freelance artist from Denver, CO, who has been working in the entertainment field for the past 14 years on feature films, video games, comics, and various other publications and is co-creator of Steve Lichman. Dave has worked for such high profile clients such as Bethesda, Blizzard Entertainment, Darkhorse Comics, Hasbro, Marvel, MTV, 20th Century Fox, Wizards of the Coast and more.
JoBlo: What got you started as an artist?
Rapoza: I was always drawing as a kid, lots of comics, lots of fan art stuff and, like any kid growing up in the 1990s-2000s, a ton of anime. Between games like Street Fighter, Final Fantasy, and movies like Akira, Fatal Fury, and Vampire Hunter D, I had no real shortage of influences. I wasn’t the best in my school by any means and honestly didn’t take it very seriously as any kind of career until I was 19. Growing up there was a push to be independent in work/life from my dad so when I considered my options for what I’d do with the rest of my life as a job I decided that being a freelance artist was most in line with all that. I dove into studying every day and tried my best to stick to pursuing what I consider the most fun aspects of creating art which lead to working on feature films, AAA video games, designing toys and pretty much everything else that falls under the umbrella of an artist/designer
Who were some of your favorite artists growing up?
There’s almost too many to name, but some of my heroes were Todd McFarlane, Akira Toriyama, Drew Struzan and Yoshitaka Amano. Amano’s work on the Final Fantasy series was always so incredible to me with his amazing sense of design and use of color. Drew Struzan’s work is iconic, just the sheer amount of work is incredible but even more, so that it’s all so consistently great. Todd’s work on Spawn was probably the coolest thing I’d seen since I saw Jim Lee’s X-Men, he has such a great sense for what people find cool. Toriyama also nailed that sense of cool with his Dragon Ball work, but his illustrations for things like Chrono Trigger were so inspiring to me, I wanted to create art like that more than anything when I was a kid.
Who do you really dig these days, follow on Instagram?
I’m really drawn to the work of Noriyoshi Ohrai, his work on Metal Gear and Star Wars is just the best, super dynamic and colorful. Paul Bonner is consistently incredible with his fantasy work. Jerome Opena is one of the most ridiculous draftsmen I’ve seen working in comics, seriously, look up his work on Seven to Eternity, especially his inks. Seb McKinnon is creating my favorite Magic the Gathering cards, he nails that aesthetic perfectly, feels so nostalgic while being new at the same time. Here’s a few more in case anyone out there reading this is looking for great artists – Tsubasa Masao, Akihiko Yoshida, Yoji Shinkawa, Ayami Kojima, and I’ll end it there because I could go on for way too long, I already have haha.
What advice would you have for budding artists today?
Be disciplined. That’s the most important, don’t worry about a perfect path forward because there is none. Study anatomy, study lighting and color and all the fundamentals daily. I never went to school for any of this and I never had the best tools starting out to make it happen, I just used whatever I could with whatever resources and stuck to a strict schedule I made for myself. If you can stay dedicated then you’ll improve and you’ll move closer and closer to your goals over time. Also, for any artists already working and having trouble getting out there, be consistent with your posts online, be available and let people know you’re looking for work, don’t wait for them to come ask you. And, most importantly, be yourself and do what you love. If you try and be everyone else it won’t work, be yourself and pursue what you enjoy, that excitement will resonate off the page and people will feel it.
What should we be looking out for from you in the future?
I’m doing a ton of work on my Patreon, fan art paintings, comics, tutorials and all kinds of in-depth looks at the process behind everything I do. I also write and illustrate a comic with my buddy Dan Warren called Steve Lichman, there’s over 280 pages up on our website SteveLichman.com, so if you’re bored, you can check that out! Other than that I’m always posting up new work on social media and I’m writing/creating things constantly in the background so there’s always a new thing coming.
Being a fansite, we have to ask you… What are some of your favorite movies/TV shows of all time?
I’m a huge fan of season one of True Detective, that perfect blend of small-town murder mystery and underlying horror/fantasy, I thought that show was one of the best I’ve ever seen. The cinematography in the film The Fall gets me coming back over and over, just a beautiful film. One of the movies I’ve watched a lot recently is Princess Mononoke, I love the animation, music, and characters but also the whole mythology and world of the film is so unique and inspiring to me.
Scroll down to check out some of our favorite art pieces from Mr. Rapoza as we continue to follow his journey across some of his Website and social media hubs: Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / Patreon.
God of War
Metal Gear Solid
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Skull and Shark
Terminator: Dark Fate