My name is Dan Panosian. I’m a comic book artist that dabbles in graphic design and commercial art. Currently working for Image Comics, Marvel, DC Comics, Dynamite and Dark Horse Comics.
When did you first decide to become an illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
I was 14 years old and my father took me to see Conan the Barbarian. Afterwards he bought me a copy of Savage Sword of Conan illustrated by John Buscema. I always loved comic books but for the first time I thought it would be a lot of fun to draw for a living. I got a hold of the newly published Marvel Try Out Book and sent my samples in. I was lucky enough to correspond with the Submissions Editor and years later, when I was 21, he remembered me and offered me a job while I was visiting Marvel. Up until then I was working on illustrations for Role Playing Game companies and small comic book publishers.
Who do you look up to? Who are your heroes in the industry?
When it comes to art, it’s really too many to mention. Early on it was John Byrne and Terry Austin. Of course I loved Frank Miller and Simonson too. When I was hired at Marvel I was fascinated by what Homage Studio was doing. It was Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio and Scott Williams. I ate that stuff up. Jim Lee, as a hero in the industry is pretty common. He’s managed to stay on top and climb the executive ladder. Brilliant man. I was fortunate enough to work with Joe Quesada too. Another talented artist and businessman. These days I find that all the Buscema art is filtering through and, oddly enough – Mort Drucker and Jack Davis. I also channel a lot of Klaus Janson and some Jorge Zaffino when it comes to inking. Dick Giordano too. Inspiration wise, Dave Johnson has really pushed me forward. I’m a big fan of Andrew Robinson as well.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
I’m self taught. My father was an Art Director and commercial artist. He never taught me but he critiqued my work quite a bit. Very helpful. That said, I wish I had some fundamental art school training.
Tell us a little about your process. What tools do you use?
I use pencil, ink and Art Rage with Adobe Photoshop to color and edit my work. I try to stay as traditional as possible. It’s part of the fun for me.
How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
It’s not difficult with all the talent that’s out there. All I have to do is turn on the computer and hit a few art sites and I’m either defeated or inspired!
What are some of your current projects?
I’m writing and drawing my own “secret” series at Skybound, a label for Image Comics. I illustrate covers for almost every major comic book company as well. It helps me to diversify.
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
I illustrated a graphic novel or I should say Graphic Album for Le Lombard. They’re a European publishing company. The book was written by Stephen Desberg and it’s called John Tiffany. I’ve done two so far and I have two to go! It really helped me break out into a comfortable style of my own.
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
I’d love to learn how to oil paint. Possibly sculpt. But with 1 year old son, I barely have time to change my own diapers!
Any advice to the novice illustrator?
Don’t be afraid of critiques. In fact, embrace them. I still have a hard time with it, but I always take the critiques I get earnestly and try to grow from them. It’s your most powerful tool.
What makes an illustration successful?
Impact. Does your illustration, comic book page or cover have impact. Does it give the viewer pause? That’s a successful example of design. No rules. Art, specifically in the context of medias I work in, it’s about impact. Get someone’s attention, regardless of how.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
Like I mentioned, I use the internet to inspire. Or sometimes I go back and look at the old comic books that I loved as a kid. It motivates me to follow their example.
Finish this sentence. "If I weren't an illustrator I would have been a..."
And finally, what is the best thing on TV right now?
Since Mad Men is finished, I’d say Game of Thrones has my full attention.