Readers of Marvel Comics are no doubt familiar with the incredibly eye-catching work of illustrator Mike Mayhew. The Arizona-born artist has in recent years created memorable covers for titles including "The Pulse," "Mystique," "She-Hulk" and "Storm," and his work can presently be seen on the covers of Dynamite Entertainment's "Zorro" and Two Morrows' "Rough Stuff" #8.
Mayhew has a number of projects in the works, most immediate among them being the World War I-themed "Spawn" #180, for which the artist will produce not just a cover but interiors as well. Currently at work on a fully painted one-shot for Marvel and "Savage" for Shadowline, Mike Mayhew still found the time to invite CBR readers into his studio in Glendale, California.
By Mike Mayhew
My studio is in an office building in downtown Glendale, California. In the past, I worked out of my home in various locations I’ve lived for over a decade. When it came time to settle down with my wife, there wasn’t much space in our two-bedroom place. Our home is near a ton of office buildings (a three-minute walk to the one I’m at now), so I shopped around and found this one, which I’ve been at for almost three years now.
These pics were taken with a Nikon D50 digital SLR camera.
The building I’m in is almost exclusively film and TV production offices. My floor is all E! network and Style network shows. It’s a cool vibe, because it’s a business with a creative angle, so I can relate to that. I feel very professional coming here! This is a sky bridge I cross to get to my office, which is beyond the door in the background.
Along the sky bridge you can see this deck that I have access to from my floor. I’ve been shooting some of my reference pics here to get some outside lighting and to have more room to spread out. It’s also a killer place to sit and woof down a sandwich (they have a cafï¿½ in the basement where I grab lunch a couple times a week).
This is the kitchen I pass on the way to my office. It’s also the place where I clean all my brushes and get water for my jars when painting.
Here’s outside my office. You can see the edge of my bookshelf shows a James Bama book, another cool book called, “It’s A Man’s World," which focuses on men’s magazine illustration, Les Daniel’s "Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics”, and “Women of Marvel vol. II” which I did the cover for.
Here we are in the studio. This is where I’m at from 7-8am till 6-7pm Monday through Saturday (sometimes Sunday). On the left you see most of my comics in six long boxes, my computer gear in the center, and on the right is my painting/drawing area.
This is probably the most unorganized section of the studio (makeover tips, anyone?). Pictured here are some ladders I use when taking pictures, some mailing stuff, and most importantly my coffee maker (two pots a day).
This is the opposite wall, and gives a good view of where I draw and paint. I have two light boxes; one 18x25 that can accommodate double page spreads. I also have this 16x19 one on this stool. I know its strange, but I like having the freedom to spin it around on the stool, so my hand can get at any angle on the art when working. I usually have two or three pieces of art cooking on these light tables at once, and move to whatever I’m most enthusiastic about.
Another angle of my workspace. I have great lighting in here. I have windows that take up a whole wall and overhead fluorescents. I also use this Shaper Image light that provides “bright as day” light for working at night. I have lots of rulers, templates and French curves on the wall for easy access.
This is my area for all my paints. Right now I’m working exclusively in watercolor using Windsor and Newton paints and a W&N series 7 No. 4 brush. I was just finishing this painting at the left for a creator-owned book called “Savage” (coming from Shadowline in Oct 2008), so this is a good representation of how it looks when I’m working. I love these little ceramic dishes for acrylic and watercolor painting. I also use these Silicoil jars with water to clean my brushes effectively. I’ve got a bunch of mediums and thinners and masking fluid, which I rarely use. And, lots of paper towels at the ready!
This is underneath my painting table. On the left is a caddy with drawers that hold all sorts of crap. In the center is a trunk for my lighting gear for photography. To the right is my Iwata air compressor and my Iwata HPC plus airbrush.
I usually have a bunch of comps and sketches that I’m waiting to get approval on pasted above my work area. These are distorted mainly because most are for projects I can’t discuss. This one closest to use is for a cover to that creator-owned book, “Savage,” written by Steve Niles, Jeff Frank, and Dan Wickline.
This is a good look at my computer set up. I have an Epson Stylus 1280, which has been a fantastic printer for my purposes. On top is a car that the main character in “Savage” drives, so I shoot pics it for ref. I have this 17” LCD display. You can also see my scanner, an Epson 1640 XL, which is probably the most important piece of equipment I have.
Underneath the computer desk is my rusty, trusty 350 MHz G4. I know several of you are chuckling at this dinosaur, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t do the trick. I am due for a major computer upgrade this year, but I’m still determining what I want exactly. I mainly want to get a Cintiq and also the ability to do more 3D. My major baby upgrade (from 0-1) in June is going to put that off for a while.
Behind the scanner is my “garage” with some scale model cars I’ve used for photo ref. I also have two Lacie hard drives to back up my work.
Here’s the back wall of the office. On the left is a comfy leather chair and ottoman that I never sit in for some reason. My bookshelf is in the middle. Check out that copy of Steranko’s “Mediascene" newspaper on the floor from 1979 that features behind the scenes on Alien and Empire Strikes Back!
On top of my bookshelf are some props like Wolvie claws and that bi-plane (which I used for a WWI Spawn issue I have coming out in June or July. You can see how I used those little saint figurines in the Zorro art from an earlier pic on my monitor. Also are some pics of my beautiful wife, Sharlene.
Here’s a close-up of my bookshelf for those who might like to see what I have.
This is a shot of all the weapon props I have in the studio. I’ve got a bunch more at home. I’m such a tool, but I get so giddy playing with these for pics.
This easel moves around to where it’s not in the way. It holds art that I’m still working on, or just setting to the side so I can give it a sideways glance from afar for evaluation.
That’s all folks! Time to get back to my drawrings. Thanks for stopping by!
If you want an even more behind-the-scenes look into my work, I highly recommend picking up "Rough Stuff" #8, from Two Morrows publishing. It’s on sale this month! It has a lengthy interview about my artistic process, accompanied by never before seen images of my prelim art. And, it has a cover by me.
If you have any comments hit the contact link at www.mikemayhewstudio.com
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