Our Honor The Force Feature Spotlight today centers on Steven Ira Birch. Steven is a fantastic artist who has been doing big things with his talent. He took some time out of his busy schedule to let us pick his brain a little. Wanna know more? Read on...
Honor The Force: Tell us a bit about your background. What got you into art?
Steven: Alot of cartoon shows, TV shows and movies that had a toy line to go along
with them (Transformers,G.I.Joe, Star Wars,He-Man,Thundercats). Those were in my life everyday when I was 4 and 5 years old, even more so now. Those really made me pick up a pencil and start drawing what I was seeing and they still do.
Honor The Force: Who are some influential artists that inspire your work?
Steven: The sketch card Artists who constanly blow my mind are Julio Naranjo(NAR), Erik Maell, Rihannon Owens, Artsy OpticNerve, David Desbois, Karen Pollock Hinson and the list goes on. Everyone should check them out they are some of the best in the business and best artists PERIOD in my opinion. Norman Rockwell,Basil Gogos, and Shawn Barber are a few that have always been a favorite of mine too.
Honor The Force: Do you have a formal art background or did you simply learn on your own?
Steven: Besides art class in High School I learned on my own mostly, with alot of inspiration and tips from fellow artists.
Honor The Force: How did you get into making art professionally?
Steven: I first started painting in 2012 doing commissioned portraits of peoples family members plus loads of Fan Art.
Honor The Force: What inspired you to begin making Star Wars artwork?
Steven: Everything about Star Wars Inspires my art I've drawn over 500 sketch cards for Topps and I know I have a few Thousand more in me. I love Star Wars.
Honor The Force: How did you begin working for Topps? What led you there?
Steven: The First Sketch Card I ever made was Darth Maul for a customer. At the time I didn't even know what sketch cards were. Once I spotted Topps Star Wars cards on ebay I knew I had to get Topps Attention. I submitted art samples every two months to Topps of newer and better stuff each time for around two years before I got a chance to create for them.
Honor The Force: Are you currently working on any other projects that you could tell us about?
Steven: I just finished up Thunderbirds are Go and Space 1999 for Unstoppable cards. I have a few card sets in the works now...Sherlock Holmes and a WW1 set and a few I cant mention yet. I will be opening up my commissions list soon and concentrating on those as well.
Honor The Force: How difficult is it to work within the Star Wars realm?
Steven: I love doing it, There Isn't much difficulty for me ,there are so many types of characters, ships, droids to keep my imagination flowing. I would love to officially draw characters from some of the Star Wars books. Maybe that will happen soon, If someone gets the rights for them but no one has done that yet.
Honor The Force: What is your favorite medium to work with?
Steven: Right now copic markers with colored pencils and ink highlights are my favorite and what I use on most of my pieces.
Honor The Force: What are some struggles that you have when creating a piece?
Steven: Originality. I work from Photo Reference most of the time. There can be a thousand drawings of that same scene or pose and I try to do it different, giving it my own style and making it stand out from the rest.
Honor The Force: How long does it take you to complete an individual artwork?
Steven: My sketch cards for trading card companies usually take between 1 hour up to 4 hours. Larger pieces like comic covers, 8x10s and canvas paintings can take a few days to finish.
Honor The Force: Are there certain characters you enjoy working on more than others?
Steven: Luke Skywalker has always been my favorite and drawing him is a good challenge. His nose, lips, around his eyes and the overall look of his face are slightly different in Episode IV than his appearance is in Empire and Return of the Jedi due to Mark Hamill's auto accident. And of course Boba Fett is one of the best bad guys ever.
Honor The Force: What is your dream piece?
Steven: I would like to draw a cover for Marvel comics New Star Wars series, and to create/help create an official Movie Poster for one of the new star wars movies.
Honor The Force: What advice can you give aspiring artists?
Steven: Just keep Drawing, draw everything you can think of and draw more after that. Take in all knowledge and advice you can gather and don't be discouraged by negative feedback, just keep drawing.
Honor The Force: Thanks for the interview, Steven. You have an awesome talent!
You can check out more of Steven's work on Instagram @stevenburchartworx or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PowerOutageStudio