This interview does not begin to do justice to artistic abilities of Willie Carwell. Not only is he a very talented man, he is also a friend of mine. Below are a few questions that hopefully gives you insight into tapping into your gift, how to dream, and laying the foundation for your legacy, and building from there…
Everyone is gifted in one way or another. Figuring out early on in life you have something special, and embracing your unique gift is what we all strive for. When did you know you were gifted with reproducing on paper what you saw in your head?
I’ve always had the gift of drawing, I cant remember the 1st time exactly, but I knew I was gifted in that area. I knew I could draw what I saw in my mind, and draw what I see. I would say it was somewhere around kindergarten or the 1st grade; from the time crayons and pencils came into my life
I don’t have the gift of creating in the same capacity as you do, I could sketch something amazing, and would never know it. Who was the 1st person that noticed you artistic abilities as being better than pretty good, and what did it mean to you being acknowledged as having something special?
My 2nd grade teacher pointed out that I was gifted in art. She was half Native American, and she always wanted me to draw Indian figures. Some years later she contacted me and told me she remembered me for my drawing abilities, and even kept a few of my drawings. I would say she was the 1st person that showed me or brought to my attention I had a talent that was above average.
The definition of art is : the expression or application of human creative skill, and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Describe the various applications of your skill for those who may not be familiar with your work.
Ummm, illustration, drawing, sketching, everything that has to do with pencil, pen, and ink. I moved into digital art close to the year of 2000; a little sculpting, but mostly poetry, and art. I love to paint words on paper just as well as I love to draw images on paper. I would say poetry, and art go together.
Where do you go in order to find a quite space in your head to give birth to an idea once the contractions of creativity are no longer bearable?
Most of the time I randomly find a place when I get off work, or sometimes even in the middle of work an idea will hit my head, and I’ll tuck it away or I will scribble it down on a piece of paper; if I don’t have either, I’ll remind myself I before I go to sleep that idea was something I need to put on paper or type into my notes.
When do you find you are most inspired to create art?
Mostly in the mornings… ummm, when I 1st, I give God some praise, and then I’ll go on about my day, and sometimes a poem will come out of my conversation with God. Sometimes a thought will come to me, and inspire me to write poetry, and then sometimes I’ll have an idea for one of my characters. Just usually early in the morings when Im most inspired.
Do you have to create right away or is their an expiration date on an idea before another idea is ready to be created, and if you haven’t done something with your previous idea, does it get lost or does it lose some of its intended purpose?
I don’t usuallly have an expiration date on any of my ideas. I don’t really an expiration date on writing poetry or creating art. I usually take an idea, and if I haven’t used it for one purpose, I’ll use it for another purpose. Whether its drawing or writing, I can always find a way to work my idea’s into something.
Let’s explore your source of inspiration behind some of your previous work’s; specifically your comics. You’ve described Tha 90’s as your baby, where did you have to go in order to create the look and personalities of these unique characters?
I didn’t have to go too far, most of them are born within my family. A lot of my characters are based off of ideas, and past events that me, and my family had growing up. Tha 90’s are a reflection of my past, the things we did, and some of the thing’s we explored as kids.
Talk about how you create your comics, because in a world of all things digital, the way you create your comics is the tried and truest form of the craft.
Most of the time I’ll start with a rough draft of your basic stick figures. I then get the inking down, and once I get the basic idea of what I want I’ll take it to the digital form of inking, and coloring. It’s just the basics style of comic stripping with me, pencil, and paper 1st, and the go to the digital world last.
Going back to Tha 90’s for a second, would it be safe to say Tha 90’s was your 1st comic that took off, or is there some other pieces of work that you haven’t released that you would say is on the level of what you consider Tha 90’s to be?
I always have comic strip’s that I’m working. Tha 90’s has been the most time consuming I would say. I don’t have anything, as of right now besides Tha 90’s in the works.
According to http://listverse.com/2013/07/03/the-10-greatest-syndicated-comic-strips-in-american-history/ Krazy Katt (George Herriman 1913-1944) Liberty Meadows (Frank Cho 1997-2001) Garfield (Jim Davis) Li’l Abner (Al Capp 1934-1977) Opus (Berkeley Breathed 2003-2008) Doonesbury (Garry Trudeau 1970-) Peanuts (Charles Schulz 1950-2000) Pogo (Walt Kelly 1948 -1975) The Far Side (Gary Larson 1980-1995) Calvin and Hobbs (Bill Watterson 1985-1995) these are the 10 greatest syndicated comic strips in American history. I remember back in the day reading the Sunday comics (after church of course) and my favorite’s on this list are Garfield, and Calvin and Hobbs. I wasn’t much of a fan of Peanut’s, and was huge fan of Dennis The Menace.
What would you like your comic’s to be known for, say 20 years from now?
I just want to leave a positive mark. I look at Ray Billingsley and a lot of black comic strips that have really inspired me to do more with my talent. I don’t want to just be apart of the culture, but I would like to start the trend that you can do something beyond yourself, and leave a positive mark people will talk about for years. Peanuts is one of the comic strips that’s still syndicated, and the creator has been long gone. You want to leave something positive, and inspiring for generations to come. At the very least, you can leave your mark on those around you with your gift / talent.
Let’s talk Douge Hamage, your legacy, and the future generation of cartooning. Douge Hamage was created to help bring awareness to the cause of anti- bullying which is the cornerstone of what Deep Nerd is about; from the anti-bullying organization, to the underlying message of Deep Nerd Magazine. How easy was it for you to go into the mind of Douge Hamage, and turn his thoughts into a work of art?
Douge Hamage was very interesting to me because it was the 1st comic strip that challenged everything I knew, and grew to love about comics. It was the 1st comic strip I ever did in black, and white. Secondly, it was the 2nd comic strip I had ever done to bring awareness to someone who was opposite of myself growing up. It was a little difficult to jump into his mind, but once I got there, I really explored what it felt like to be on the opposite side of being bullied. Having people dislike you for no reason, then finding Douge’s inner strength, and showing him becoming comfortable in his own skin. Working on Douge Hamage is a rollercoaster, and I’m enjoying it.
Since the introduction of Douge Hamage, there has been an evolution taking place. Share with us what the transformation of Douge Hamage has been, and why this is significant.
Douge Hamage, when he was 1st introduce was someone in a costume hiding behind the image of a hamburger. Once you get to know Douge you find out he is a very interesting person. Douge is more than the teenager you see holding a sign in a hamburger suit. Douge has more to offer the world than an invitation to eat at a burger restaurant. Douge has a lot more going for him than what most people see. That’s the message behind Douge Hamage, sometimes we pass people, and we think we know them because of the way they look, and we stereotype them because of what we think about them. Douge Hamage breaks the mold when it comes to knowing who person is. are.
History has a way of catching up with everyday reality. What would you like for those who will come to know Douge Hamage, whether it be through Deep Nerd Magazine, future anti-bullying messaging, and apparel to say about what it meant to have been able to see him grow into a relatable character?
What I would like for people to realize is Douge Hamage is all of us. All of us have social awkward moments, and characteristics. All of us at one time or another won’t know what we are going to do, how we are going to fit in with a certain crowd or with those in a different social circle. I want us to see Douge Hamage in ourselves, and see that we can all learn from adventures of Douge Hamage.
The interesting thing about how the world works, is we are all unique; uniquely created, uniquely gifted in one way or another. Conversely, there will always be other talented individuals who will look at those who have gone before them for inspiration. What advise would you like to leave to those who will dare to dream, and who dare to tap into their inner gift in order to create the outward expression (also known as art) from the seed planted inside of them?
I would just say always believe in yourself, that’s one thing I can honestly say I’ve always done. I take advice from people, but I know no one can dream my dream, but me. If you are a dreamer, just keep dreaming until you make it a reality. Don’t let letters of rejection stop you from dreaming because they may come. Learn to love what you do when people done like what you do. Learn to love what you do even when you don’t understand why you are still doing it because it will pay of in the end.