m excited to share with you Travis Hanson, an Eisner nominated creator of the webcomic/graphic novel series the Bean. An epic fantasy tale of a dishwasher. I have been a fan of Travis’ work and was happy he accepted the invitation to be interviewed. Here is a little about him:
Travis Hanson: I am an artist and storyteller. I have been illustrating professionally for about 15 years now. I am also a father of 5 incredible kids, and husband of a beautiful enduring wife. “the Bean” is my story. Published both as a webcomic and as printed graphic novels. In 2011 Bean was nominated for an Eisner in the “Best Digital”. That was a huge motivation to keep the story going. I am lover of fantasy art and epic story telling. I am also a believer that “If you truly want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen.”. I also believe that it is our responsibility to teach others how to achieve their dreams as well. Yet, in the end it really comes down to how bad do you want to see your own dream happen.
I have to say I am a fan of your work and look forward to your weekly posts. The Bean series is a compilation of graphic novels. For those unfamiliar with graphic novels can your share what sets these apart from say comic books?
Travis Hanson: Why thank you, I am excited you are enjoying my fantasy adventure of a dishwasher. I would say though as for what sets graphic novels apart from comics is not much really. They are comics and they both tell a story. Comic books though tend to tell in 24 pages while graphic novels take a little longer.
As an illustrator myself, I know that hours of work go into creating one illustration; from sketching, to penning, then paining it can be a challenge. Can you explain the process you go through in creating your art?
Travis Hanson: It usually just starts with a sketch. Nothing more, nothing less. Once I get the pencils done, I then ink on vellum, tracing paper. This creates a perfect piece of line art when I scan. After that it goes into a layout program or a coloring program, depending on the needs. Music though is a big part of my art. I use it all the time in the creation process.
How did you get your start in illustrating? Have you always done it or was it something you picked up later in life?
Travis Hanson: I have always drawn pictures but I did not get into the industry until my mid-twenties. I got a little sidetrack and then was pleasantly reminded that artistic gifts can go away if you do nothing with them, After that I got my first job as a cartoonist for a local print shop and the rest is history. :)
I can tell from The Bean series that you favor fantasy and epic stories. What inspired you to write these books?
Travis Hanson: I love epic fantasy and my inspiration comes from many sources. Books like Bone and ElfQuest, to a general disdain of doing dishes, to watching my kids play. It all sort of just got lumped together and gelled. I am still getting inspiration on my story though and it is getting stronger because of it.
I believe you used a Kickstarter program to help publish your series of graphic novels. Can you share how that worked and if you recommend others like you to use it? How has your journey to publication been?
Travis Hanson: I have run 3 successful Kickstarter campaigns. Each one was stronger than the last. It's been a fantastic ride. The key though is to have an audience (hence my love for webcomics) and build off that. I would also say prepare. Just don’t jump into it. It can be a very, very bumpy ride. :)
I am a fan of James Owen and I have a quote of his attached to my computer screen. It helps me stay positive and focus on my goals as an author/illustrator. “Never, ever, sacrifice what you want most, for what you want most at the moment.” I’ve seen that you and I favor a lot of the same artists. Can you share one or two things that you have learned from your mentors?
Travis Hanson: James asked me a question when I first got into this field. He asked, “Trav, how bad do you want this?” before I could answer he stopped me and said, “you cannot tell me how bad you want it, you have to show me.” I have lived by that ever since.
What are some tips you can share to an author/illustrator just starting out?
Travis Hanson: Stick it out, pay your dues, listen to c/c, treat it as a job, and . . . “How bad do you want it?” I can't repeat that enough. Only you as a creator know the answer to that and if you want something bad enough you will figure out how to be successful at it—No matter what the odds.
Is there anything else you’d like to share or shout out?
Travis Hanson: That dreams are meant to be followed and sometimes it's a rough road, but in the end the payoff is not always monetary but satisfaction that you created something that people appreciate.
Thank you so much Travis, these are words to truly live by.
For more information on Travis Hanson creator of the Bean series, visit his website at: http://www.beanleafpress.com/. You can also find him on Twitter at: @Travsthebean, on Facebook as Travis Hanson - The Bean