Sean Cliver is a legend to all of us that have ever set foot on a skateboard. If you had a cool mom, she'd let you hang the battered remains of skateboard decks on your bedroom walls both as art and trophies of past glories. And that essentially is what skateboard decks are, works of art. Whose to say that just because it's not on a traditional canvas, it can't be considered a masterpiece? Sean got his start by winning the proverbial lottery, a drawing contest that would throw him into the deep end, from the sidelines to center stage, plucked from the crowd. These analogies doing anything for you? You get the idea, it was a Cinderella story with Sean as the lead. Below Sean tells you how he does it all. For those of you that like to draw, this would be like David Copperfield telling you how he does his magic.
Society may say a man’s best friend is a dog, but mine has always been a light box. So maybe that doesn’t make me a man? Hell, in some purists’ eyes, it probably doesn’t even make me much of an artist, but whatever. I’ve relied on one ever since February 1992 when I started working in the World Industries excuse for an art room, and it’s become a staple in my design process—a tool that is required every step of the way from sketchy start to inked finish.
I’ve exclusively used this brand of pen since first introduced to them by comic artist Dennis Jensen in 1985. To be fair, he also tried to get me on a sable hair brush for inking as well, but no such dice. In grade school, I developed a painfully monkey-fisted style of holding a pencil that was far more suited to the stiffness of a technical pen vs. the loosey goosey action of a brush. I do, however, have anxiety attacks related to the fear of Koh-I-Noor going out of business and the obsolescence of these pens, so I began hoarding the 00 nibs a long time ago in full survivalist fashion.
When I said I liked things stiff, I wasn’t fooling around. Well, I wasn’t fooling around about the monkey-grip either—unfortunately so, I fear—and it has since backfired in the form of an amateur arthritis of sorts. To combat this and put my hand at just a hair more ease, I do employ a French curve for most all my handicapped inking needs. This method does leave my drawings with a very sterile feel, though, so I ultimately have to go back and mess the mechanical situation up with…
Permanent White Gouache and 000 Brush
This is the final step in all my black-and-white illustrations. It’s also probably the one that breathes a bit of organic life back into them. Thank God. Anyway, I once heard a rumor that Pushead never used Wite-Out on his work, and I have had nothing but undying respect for the man ever since.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks—at least in my case—so the end of every drawing session is celebrated with a liberal application of Arnica gel to the assorted joints in my right hand. This goop may or may not work but the belief that it does can’t hurt either. So please don’t tell me any different. Ignorance can have its upside, and my hand needs all the help it can get these days.