I did a little interview with our watercolor master DAVID MACK recently.
Thought you might enjoy seeing just how generous of spirit he is in his work with students in other countries.
his newest Neverwear print is still available here:
www.neverwear.net or by clicking on the image above.
CAT: The watercolors you are working with are evolving in such a wonderful way over our last few years of collaborating (Words of Fire, Goldfish Pool, Wish, Dream, and now Make Mistakes)
What can you tell me about this process?
DAVID: Yes, this is our fifth Neil Gaiman print together!
I think my work on them may have become increasingly more playful and whimsical!
Though when I’m working on them, I’m focusing on Neil’s text of each project and trying to think of the right balance of image for that particular text.
CAT: Over on Twitter, people were asking "why the girl holding the umbrella?" I love our little puddle-splashing heroine, what can you tell me about her?
DAVID: I’m thinking maybe she is either jumping up into the air, and wondering if she will hover with the umbrella… or maybe she has opened the umbrella and jumped from a high spot and it is perhaps levitating her gently down.
Or maybe she is just splashing in the rain.
CAT: David, please tell me about your art/student/travel bit, you have been giving back in such a generous way.
DAVID: This year, I was asked to be an Ambassador of Story and Arts for the US State Department, also called in thier State Dept memo: “Comic Book Ambassador” which has a great ring to it.
In efforts with the State Dept and the US Embassy, my first Ambassador work was going to Tbilisi, Georgia and teaching at settlment camps & schools near the borders in the former Soviet areas.
I visited the settlement camps there which house people who lost thier homes in the 2008 invasion. I taught storytelling classes to the kids at the camps. I went there with my US Embassy Liasons and we gave out books and art supplies to the students to teach them how to tell stories with images. The people their have incredible personal stories and we encourage them to give voice to thier stories through the medium of comics.
Through the Embassy, I also taught in Tbilisi at the Arts Academy there and taught Georigian comic creators who are making thier own comics. They have since completed their first published comic book!
The historic Tbilisi Palace of Fine Arts had an exhibit of my work. It was packed. Probably the biggest and largest exhibit of my art in terms of the amount of people that attended.
It was filled with people fascinated by the art form and the museum extended the show because of requests.
I did many interviews for Giorgian TV and interviews with Uzbek and Kyrgizstan Journalists. Georgia, and lot of the former Soviet nations don't have a deep historic tradition of comic books. What they do have is an incredible tradition of fine arts of all kinds.
I learned that I was selected to bridge their apprieciation of fine arts and itnroduce them to comic books that can be told in a variety of styles an diversity of media as well has being told with a personal voice.
I taught a masterclass and lecture at the youth center in Marneuli which is on the borders of neighboring Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Students there are mostly Azerbaijaini, which is an ethnic minority in the coutnry of Georgia, but it communicates the commitment and embracing to Georgians of all ethnicitiies.
Encompassing gender, ethnicity, special needs, origin, religion, comics become a bridge that can unite and be a communication forum, for people of all kinds.
Comics can act as a personal voice for people, and an expression and a medium of mental development.
I taught a class at the Asylum Seekers Center. For people seeking asylum migrating from other countries, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, of all ages. It was incredilbly powerful. They are people with unique stories to tell and to see them creat panels and images to express thier stories is powerful.
I taught at a special needs school in Tbilisi. I think the nature of comics, the telling images in sequences, cultivates a kind of sequential intelligence that stimulates the mind of both the reader and the creator.
I donated my books to each school and institution that I visited. Including the US Embassy Bookmobile.
At the Tserovani IDP settlement camp, I taught a class to the students there of art and storytelling and brought books & art supplies with the US Embassy.
And quite a bit more. It is in intensive experience.
Tbilisi is a magical city, and the neighboring areas are breathtaking and have a wonderful diversity of peoples.
I have a commitment to continuing my efforts in teaching storytelling and expressing through art and story to a variety of peoples that transcend percieved borders and categories.
Some photos of it on my main page here:
CAT: What has it meant to you to illustrate author Neil Gaiman's words?
DAVID: It has been a joy. And inspirational.
I’m honored that he trusts me with his words, to bring an image to them to dance with.
It began with that email I received from Neil five years ago, about drawing a tattoo for his poem Words of Fire specifically made as a poem to be tattooed on someone’s back… and then you envisioned that to be a print.
And it has been a joy to work with you over these years too!
I’m working with Neil on a couple of other things that I expect will be announced/revealed soon.
CAT: Aw, so sweet, love working with you too, my Libra brother.
We are seeing your work everywhere, would you expand on what you have going on, and where you are heading?
The KABUKI: Library Edition Volume 4 has just been released from Dark Horse. It is 416 pages with a lot of new paintings and drawings and extras. That means all of the existing KABUKI series is now collected in four massive format Library editions from Dark Horse.
Each one is over 400 pages. They all line up handsomely on the shelf. And my art book Dream Logic lines up with them nicely on the shelf as well in the same size and format.
Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood gave me a wonderful quote for the KABUKI Library volumes. Chuck Palahniuk wrote an introduction.
I did all the covers for Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club 2 which is now collected with loads of extras, and I contributed art for Chuck’s new coloring book for adults called BAIT.
The Jessica Jones Netflix show opening titles that I worked on were nominated for an Emmy, so that was a lot of fun this year, being at the Emmys and working with the show.
The Jessica Jones TV show won the Peabody Award and was greenlit for a second season, we are doing a new comic series of it as well. It will see a return of the entire original creative team. I’m working on the new covers for this new Jessica Jones series.
Brian Michael Bendis and I are working on a new creator-owned series together.
I created some art for the new Powers TV show and did a cameo role in an episode. I finished some new Powers TV covers I did of the characters when the actors modeled for me on set.
AMC released the painting I did for the new Preacher TV series.
On the music front, I created a short animated film as a muisc video for Amanda Palmer this year.
We are cooking up something else right now!
I did the new album cover to Alice Underground, and the album cover to Vincent D’Onofrio's new album Slim Bone Head Volt.
When we met on the Daredevil set, I had brought Bill Sienkiewicz with me and Vincent publicly said our art of Wilson Fisk really informed his character, which he told Bill on the set. Vincent texted me when he was prepping for Daredevil season 2 asking me to send him some Fisk art and notes that could help his character building.
I saw his live performance in NYC with Charlie Cox & Deborah Ann Woll & he asked to me to do his new album art with his music collaborator Dana Lyn. You can see some of the promo art of it already on my FB page.
On the theater front, a new Bowie theatrical production is in the works that I did the Marquee art for (from Shadowbox who did Tenshu). I did the art & character design for their Tenshu performance which recieved several Broadway World Awards. They are also working on a live theatrical performance interpretation base on my book Kabuki that I'll do some theater art and design for.
In Paris right now, my work for Jodorowsky’s DUNE is in his DUNE exhibit and has been released as a print.
Attack on Titan manga just revealed the cover I did for the new collected work of it.
In the coming year, I have plans for more childrens books.
More creator-owned projects, and I have been contacted for more Ambassador State Dept work abroad.
CAT: Just some of the amazing work David has done, selfless and generous soul that he is.
Grateful for his friendship and vision in this world.
(***ps. Looking forward to when we have our next sushi date!)