1. Have you worked on any other Topps assignments other than Garbage Pail Kids? And, how did you find yourself freelancing for the Topps Company?
Yes, I've worked on a couple of projects for the Topps Company. I did some illustrations for the Hollywood Zombies series and I provided some animation and character designs for a new animated project, soon to be released.
HOLLYWOOD ZOMBIES : SELF-PORTRAIT
I started freelancing for Topps by
being at the right place at the right time. I attended a comic convention
and The Wayans Bros. were promoting their new card series, 'The Dozens' at
the Topps booth. Since I had previously met Marlon Wayans a couple of years
back on another job and found out that he was at the convention, I wanted
to stop by his booth and say "Hi". By the time I got to the Topps
booth he and his brother were gone.
I met Jeff Zapata and showed him my portfolio. He liked my samples and a couple of months later I received a GPK illustration test. I had to illustrate Pingitore's sketch of Armless AARON. I took the test, Topps liked it and ended up printing the illustration in ANS5.
ANS5: 15a ARMLESS AARON - 15b UNARMED ADRIAN
2. What is your preferred technique
of creating art? Or rather, what is your method, process or art style that
you usually paint in and what materials did you use for your GPK artwork?
I generally like to work in traditional mediums like Inks, Watercolors, Gouache, Acrylics, and Oils, although I do illustrate in digital mediums as well. The illustrations for GPK ANS 5 & 6 were painted in Acrylics and the illustrations for ANS 7 were all done digitally.
3. What type of art background do you have and what other projects did you work on before starting at Topps (schooling, jobs, projects, et cetera)?
I come from a realistic commercial illustration background. I went to College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, where I received a BFA in Illustration. At the time my artwork was more on the realistic side. I also did caricatures that were rendered very realistically for a few magazine companies, and had an interest in traditional 2D animation, which led to me working on television commercials as a 2D animator. From that, I was given the opportunity to work as an intern at The Walt Disney Feature Animation department in California and Florida.
ANS5: B11 OPERA URSULA
The knowledge and experience I acquired
from the Disney internships opened more doors of artistic opportunity. I moved
to California and "got my foot in the door" within the animation
industry, working at various studios like Disney, Warner Brothers Animation,
and Klasky Csupo.
4. Several of your final pieces stem from concept artwork from artists such as Pingitore and Wheaton do you feel obligated to keep close to the original concept idea, or do you have freedom to throw in your own interpretation? How is it working with, and being art directed by Zapata? I've noticed your characters distinctively have, if dismembered, plastic doll arm, leg or head attachments how did this creative idea come about?
Unless otherwise directed by Topps, I try to stay true to what the conceptual artist is trying to convey in the gag. Pingitore and Wheaton are great conceptual artists, so if the concepts are on point, I am free to interpret the details, color scheme, background layout of the final illustration and I might throw in extra props (or poop) here and there to emphasize the gag more. That's the main focus for me.
ANS5: 33a TETHER BILL - 33b SPORTY SPENCER
Jeff Zapata is a great guy and easy
to work with. The whole plastic doll look stemmed from "Armless AARON",
my first GPK painting. At the time I had Pingitore's sketch to work
from and I asked Zapata should there be bones sticking out of Aaron's armless
body. He told me to think of the body like that of a toy doll, so I made the
dismembered body and parts like a toy doll.
5. You started working on GPK during ANS5 completing four pieces (cards 15, 26, 33 & B11) for the set. Your pieces for "Armless AARON" and "Tether BILL" for ANS5 were some of my favorites. You then finished one piece for the ANS6 set (card 11), why only one piece for this set and does other work prevent you from working on GPK more, or does it depend on what Topps needs for a particular set?
Well it depends on what Topps needs for a set. At the time of ANS6 I was exclusively working on the Hollywood Zombies series and wasn't scheduled to do any painting for Garbage Pail Kids. Card 11 for GPK ANS6 was originally going to be painted by another artist that couldn't do it, so I was asked to paint it as a last minute rush job. I know some die hard fans had problems with that particular card..."My bad!"
ANS6: 11a SNAKES IN DWAYNE - 11b TAPEWORM TANNER
6. As briefly mentioned on the
GPK Underground, your ANS7 artwork has been done digitally (cards 23,
28, 36 and 45), which is interesting when it comes to the idea of collectors
wanting to purchase the final artwork. I know Zapata had you plug several
GPK website names for your "Car JACK" piece, I wanted to
say "THANK YOU" for paying tribute to my website, I know I'd be
very interested in any prints you may sell of that artwork. Would you consider
selling quality (maybe numbered) prints of your artwork?
Illustrating the ANS7 cards digitally was a result of timing. I was working on another job as a storyboard artist and animator, so in order to reach the deadline I had to digitally illustrate the finals.
I was a little bummed out that some of the GPK websites were left out of "Car JACK". If there is a list somewhere that has all of the current GPK websites, please let me know just in case I have another painting that requires "shout outs" to the websites.
As mentioned on the "GPK Underground" website, I would be happy to sell prints. Due to my freelance work schedule, I haven't been able to make this happen as of yet but when I get a breather, I will make prints for those who want them.
ANS7: 36a CAR JACK - 36b SCRAP HEATH
7. If a future ANS8 set materializes,
would you consider participating in sketch cards if that chase card was resurrected
for that release? Have you ever done any sketch card work?
I would love to do some sketch cards for GPK or for any other Topps card sets. I've collected quite a few sketch cards from other artists and tend to like them. I love the looseness of the line that sometimes gets lost in the rendered paintings of the final. Hopefully I'll get a chance to work on them. I have plenty of sketch card samples of my own.
8. Do you ever feel any pressure to live up to hardcore GPK fans' expectations of what GPK should look like? Have you received any constructive criticism or pay any attention to the online message boards regarding your work?
As a commercial artist, I'm commissioned to provide artwork to sell a product, so I have to know my target audience and the fan base of the product. I try to see what the fans like and what they are looking for in GPK cards. I listen to constructive criticism and try to adjust if needed. The measuring rod in illustrating GPK cards is John Pound and the filter is Topps, whom in the end has the final say and approval. So, I try to do the best I can as an Illustrator to capture that GPK look. Sometimes you hit a home run, sometimes you don't.
ANS7: 23a GATOR ABE - 23b WE WINNIE
9. Were you previously aware of,
or a fan of GPK from the 80's or the Wacky Packages parody cards
throughout the decades? How do you feel about working on the all-new reincarnation
of these Topps products now?
I was a fan of Garbage Pail Kids, and a huge fan of Wacky Packages growing up. Too bad I took all of my stickers and stuck them onto my grade school notebook when I was a kid that I no longer have. This was before the revelation of 'collectable assets' came into my existence. So many stickers gone forever...D'OH!!!
I'm excited to be part of the Topps family of artists, where's so much talent and history. It's like being a kid in the candy store. I love working on the cards and being a part of the team.
45a MANUEL LABOR - 45b LANDON SCAPING
10. Where else can we find DeJarnette
artwork (including websites, etc.)? And are there any personal projects you're
currently working on or will be working on?
My portfolio website is www.dejarnettedesigns.com and my blog with updated artwork is www.dejarnettedesigns.blogspot.com. I just finished illustrating a book for comedian Jeff Foxworthy titled, "How To Really Stink At Golf" and a few animated commercials for the studios. I am currently working on a few animation projects of my own to be posted on the web soon. Thanks AJ!