With the publication of his first coloring book – Cthulhu’s Coloring Book and Necronomicon of Sunny Day Doings – Phil Velikan adds a bit of geek to the coloring book landscape ala Howard Phillips Lovecraft. We interviewed Phil to see how he came by this love of horrifying creatures and fun coloring activities.
One of my favorite shows as a kid was Kolchak the Nightstalker back in ’74. Recently, I was surprised to find it lasted only one season. I assumed it lasted for years due to the influence it had on me.
Phil has been drawing monsters for as long as he can remember. Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock, and various other monster books also influenced his artwork.
Q: Do you work entirely digitally, or do you prefer pen and paper when creating?
Phil: I have always created. I just recently got a Cintiq monitor that I draw on. It is wonderful. It cuts my time in half, easily. I used to draw, scan, alter, print, draw, scan, alter… now I can do it all digitally. The downside is everything is not real. It’s all zeros and ones on a DVD. When I’m done, I have a book, but no art!!! I just finished my 5th children’s book and it’s the first one done digitally, (Let’s Make a Difference: Learning About Our Ocean.) The Cintiq literally saved me hours by not having to repaint every time I screwed up my watercolors (and I screw up a lot.) I think this book is the best one yet!
Q: What made you decide to sell art in coloring books? Do you make/sell other kinds of art?
Phil: A friend of mine hosted a small convention and wanted me to show my sculpture (I sell sculpts and paintings), he told me to have something cheap to sell. So I made a calendar of monster art. It did not sell well, but lots of acquaintances wanted one. So I made a coloring/activity book out of it with a Cthulhu theme. Cthulhu is a monster in the public domain and the fans went for it! I published it on my own as VIGpublishing.com and have ideas for more books.
Q: When coloring your art, what is your favorite medium? What color or colors do you most love to work with?
Phil: Colored pencils (I just discovered the baby oil trick, amazing!) and good old crayons. I love love love scarlet red for some reason – and purple. Sometime I want to try painting some of my work.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your art. Do you have a favorite piece that you created?
Phil: I love line art, and I love vector art. Marrying those has been amazing. I like seeing how people interpret with colors the art I’ve created. Right now, Cthulhu’s coloring book is my fave thing I’ve done. I’m starting work on a “Monsters of the United States” book and I’ve found some freaky creatures to put in it! It’s going to be more “scene” oriented with backgrounds.
Q: Other than creating coloring book art, what interesting hobbies or activities do you enjoy?
Phil: I am a sculptor. I make monsters and model kits. You can see a lot of them here www.facebook.com/vig.illustrationgraphics I love sculpting, it’s just not as accessable to the public as a coloring book is. People are always impressed, but not dozens of dollars impressed. Coloring books are more affordable.
Q: Have you had any memorable responses to your art work from collectors?
Phil: I had a bout with cancer and my client at the time was St Mary of the Woods in Indiana. They loved the children’s book I did for them and I was in the middle of turning it into a coloring book. They had all the nuns praying for me. It apparently worked, because I recovered and got their coloring book done and am very grateful.
Q: If you had to choose one superpower, what would it be?
Phil: Definitely invisibility. Artists are notorious introverts. Plus I could eat everywhere for free.
Q: Who is your favorite artist?
Phil: Daniel Brereton has been on my radar for some time. He paints in watercolor and does some comic books. I just love his colors. Stephen Bisette (artist for Swamp Thing which I loved as a child), Gene Colon (artist for Dracula Comics, another childhood comic), Ray Harryhausen, Frazetta, Cho, the list goes on.
Q: Is there some person, place or thing that inspires you when you are creating your art?
Phil: I need solitude and music. I fluctuate from zydeco, country legends, blues, and classic rock. I get enough pop from my kids… Sometimes when I’m just sketching, I’ll sit in front of the TV because I can’t just sit and watch, I always have to be doing something. One of my guilty pleasures is black and white monster movies. I have quite a collection and play them while I work. And yes, I have the Kolchak series on DVD!