Urban Anime Lounge had the pleasure to interview the very talented illustrator and comic artist, Marcus “TheVisual” Williams. If you’re an aspiring artist or just a fan of his work, this article has everything you need!
UAL: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? When did you start drawing?
Marcus: I was born in Louisiana, but raised in San Diego, Ca. I enjoyed drawing from as early as I can remember (like 3yrs old).
UAL: What is your biggest goal as a creator?
Marcus: Create entertaining characters and stories that resonate with others. I’m most content when an idea comes to fruition as intended.
UAL: Of course, who is your favorite anime character and why?
Marcus: That’s a tough one. My first thought is Spike from Cowboy Beebop because of his nonchalant, drifter attitude but I think I actually would befriend Ashitaka (from Princess Mononoke) if I actually could meet the two in real life.
UAL: Do you have a personal favorite work that you hold dear/means a lot to you?
Marcus: At this point, definitely Tuskegee Heirs. I’ve never worked on something that impacts such a wide array of people. I can only hope to continue to create such properties moving forward.
UAL: What projects are you currently working on? Any upcoming events?
UAL: Which original character of yours is your favorite and why? Do you self-identify with any of your original characters?
Marcus: Slip and Able from Tuskegee Heirs. I like Slip because he’s a way to release the rebel inside me (but in a non destructive way lol). Able is that Luke Skywalker character that is just naturally talented and somehow knows WAY too much for his age. I don’t think I’ve created a character that I self-identify with 100% just yet, but there’s still time.
UAL: What inspires your work?
Marcus: Creating cool and interesting characters excites me to draw, for sure. Beyond that, seeing other creatives do the same really makes me want to start creating.
UAL: What does your process look like? Do you have your own mental guideline(s) of how a piece should look from draft to finish?
Marcus: Everything starts with sketches. I don’t really like to over think my process with stringent guidelines personally. There are some artist that have to use what looks like “art math” to begin visualizing their ideas and I would hate if I had to do that. Very loose, energetic sketch lines is the way I like to start building my images. Nothing is guaranteed though, and things can still not come out as I initially concept them to, but when I find the image I’m looking for it’s all worth it.
UAL: How long does it take you to finish a piece on average?
Marcus: If it’s a digital sketch that I’m coloring, about an hour and half. If it’s clean digital inking and careful coloring, 3 hours plus depending on the composition of the piece.
UAL: What is your favorite app and tablet to use for drawing?
UAL: What do you think is a good digital to traditional ratio for your art?
Marcus: I lean heavily on my digital process to move as quickly as possible from idea to idea. I would actually love to draw on paper far more than I do currently. I still enjoy drawing in my sketchbook, but due to deadlines and workloads, I rarely get the chance…but that’s just an excuse lol. I can make time if I really wanted to. See, that’s my adult in me talking.
UAL: Do you have any anatomy errors that you struggle with when trying to convey the angles that you use?
Marcus: Heck yeah, perfect symmetry on faces. I can’t stand that my brain won’t just get with the program on this issue! If I’m drawing on paper, I really find it difficult to mirror exact features from the side I started with. Thankfully, using digital solutions, I can flip the drawing to see how off I am and quickly fix my fails.
UAL: What steps do you take to overcome the mental doldrums that incite art block, lack of motivation, etc. as a creator?
Marcus: Pinterest. I find it super effective to peruse top tier illustrators and digital artist when I don’t quite have the mojo to start drawing. It’s like watching someone else play basketball and you start getting into watching their game. After a while of watching, your like, “I got next!” Lol.
UAL: As an artist and individual, what struggles do you endure that might’ve helped push your boundaries and pencil to be as well-known as you are now?
Marcus: Hmm…I actually love solving problems creatively. I love figuring out a way to do something in a new way when others say it can’t be done. Wanting to be a better business person and entrepreneur has really pushed me to solve the issues of being a creative in what feels like an ocean of creatives. Being a father of two, and self employed tosses all kinds of struggles at you lol. Energy management of ones’ self is key daily, and it doesn’t get any easier as time goes on.
UAL: What do you think makes you stand out from other artists in the game?
Marcus: Not sure really, but if I had to take a guess, I would hope it’s my ability to breathe new life into popular fan favorite IPs. That, and the charge to create attractive young characters for a new generation of youth that is being starved of self-esteem from all directions in American society. There truly is very little representation in the entertainment industry as a whole, and we as creatives, have to stop waiting on others to create what our youth need to see today and tomorrow.
UAL: What inspired you to take your illustrations to a small business level?
Marcus: Same thing as most budding entrepreneurs I guess. I wanted to make a living doing what I loved. Along the way, I found a lane that is really rewarding and enjoyable.
UAL: Have you faced any obstacles within the industry especially being a Black comic creator? If so, how do you deal with it?
Marcus: Thankfully, no, because I’m not really working in the “industry.” Being an independent creator is like driving on an access road that’s next to the freeway lol. I don’t have to deal with any interactions that I don’t want to so I’m pretty happy about that.
UAL: What do you feel about the state of POC content when it comes to comics, movies, and other media?
Marcus: I’m not surprised by the lack of it throughout the industry now that I understand who funds and creates it. I don’t blame someone that wants to create “their content” the way “they” want to with “their money”. Heck, I plan to do something very similar, except I’ll consciously include diversity from the jump when I get to that point (animation, film, video games, etc.).
UAL: Have you been approached by the “Big Two” comic book publishers to do any work? How do you think you’d react if you were approached?
Marcus: Not just yet. If all the parameters are sound, I’d be happy to work on some stuff here and there.
UAL: What advice would you have for your past self, knowing what you know now?
Marcus: Set a Daily drawing schedule! Draw from reference like five times a day. Draw WAY more mechanical stuff. Force myself to draw backgrounds and landscapes.
UAL: What advice do you have for beginner or intermediate illustrators?
Marcus: See the last answer lol. Seriously though, if you wish to improve your skills, draw from reference daily. The more you practice daily the better. It shouldn’t come from your imagination as this doesn’t put new information into your visual memory. That and watch YouTube drawing videos that show master artist drawing from sketch to finish. This works to answer the mysterious questions of how you can build your art better.
UAL: What has been the most memorable fan interaction experience you have had so far?
Marcus: All my young fan interactions are the best, seriously. I see myself in just about every single young aspiring artist that sees my work and wants to ask a thousand questions. It’s very fulfilling to have those conversations.
UAL: What is something you would like your fans to know?
Marcus: Ummm…I really miss playing video games all night lol.
UAL: And lastly, what can we expect to see from you in the future?
Marcus: Lots of things that I’ve never really done before. Animation, 3D Art, Video Games, Toy design, merchandise design, and even some inventing here and there. Thanks for the great questions!