Interview With Clif Jackson

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Clif Jackson
Clif Jackson

I had a UFO encounter.*

When did you first become interested in art?

I’d like to begin by thanking you for allowing me this golden opportunity.

The desire to become an artist showed its smiley face when I was around seven years old. Even at that age I was already an avid reader, and very much enthralled with the art of comic books and newspaper comic strips. Each day after school, when other children were outside playing, I was in my room copying by hand panel after panel of that wonderful artwork. During the process, I learned the basics of layout and anatomy. You might say my early art training resulted from emulating the skills of those talented comic artists.

What style of art do you use most?

Today’s publishers require their staff and freelance artists to be computer savvy; proficient in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Quark Express and the like.

I have been told my parents found me under a rock in Arkansas.*

While I particularly enjoy producing science fiction and fantasy illustration, with a touch of horror thrown in, I don’t restrict myself to just those particular categories… I have also delineated a few love stories in my time ;). I am skilled both in realistic and cartoon art and I trumpet this knowledge with brochures, flyers, business cards, word of mouth, etcetera – effectively increasing potential job opportunities.

Has your style changed from when you first began as an artist?

Yes, demonstrably so. Improvement in style and technique should go hand-in-hand with your experience when engaged in a professional endeavor.

Giants = All Rights Reserved
Giants = All Rights Reserved

What medium do you use?

I definitely miss my years at the drawing board. No matter one’s profession, there is a discernible pleasure in plying your trade directly by hand. I still miss the smell of the paint, the texture of the paper as I applied pencil or ink, the T-Square and the French Curves, the hand lettering of speech balloons…

The family doctor predicted that if I lived past the age of seven, it would be a miracle.*

That said I now create most of my artwork on the computer – a device which provides all of those elements and more, but omits the human touch.

A Sensitive Man = All Rights Reserved
A Sensitive Man = All Rights Reserved

What made you choose that medium?

Pro or con, the advent of the computer, with its graphic applications, has dramatically increased production activity. Now I can accomplish in a matter of hours that which once required days of work.

Do your ideas come from life or imagination?

I would say that maybe forty percent of my ideas are stimulated by life experiences, and the other sixty percent comes solely from imagination. It has been my experience that an active imagination and the capacity to visualize are two important advantages when creating art.

How do you choose your images and colours?

As a commercial illustrator many of my assignments are ‘scripted’ ahead of time, either by the client or by me. For instance, if I am requested to create cover art or depict a scene from a novel, I begin by reading the script to get a feel for the characters and story setting. The ability to visualize the finished art before beginning the job has a positive influence on the outcome.

Without assistance, I once dispersed an angry crowd.*

Do you work in a studio?

Except for an occasional assignment requiring travel, I work at home in a spare bedroom converted for use as my studio. There’s really nothing unique about it; I am surrounded by three computers – a Mac, a PC, and a laptop (which serves as a backup system). My wife uses her computer in the same room. It’s a comfortable arrangement, and having each other’s company provides a cheerful work environment.

The Minotaur = All Rights Reserved
The Minotaur = All Rights Reserved

Occasionally – and happily so – a client will request hand rendered art, so I also have a traditional drawing board and art supplies available.

Who is your favourite artist?

Hands down, my favorite contemporary artist is the acknowledged master of fantasy, Frank Frazetta. His work significantly influenced the direction I’ve taken in the art field. And no doubt it has motivated other aspiring artists as well.

Leonardo da Vinci is my choice of past masters. He was truly a visionary who was ahead of his time.

What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?

I believe my sentimental favorite would be a drawing of Alley Oop which I sketched with a ball point pen when I was a teenager.

While still in High School I had the good fortune of being hired as a part time staff artist for the local newspaper, and they featured my drawing as a tribute to Oop’s creator, V. T. Hamlin. I met Mister Hamlin when he arrived at the newspaper facilities while on tour promoting his comic strip, and he encouraged me to pursue an art career. Much later, I incorporated the drawing in a compilation of word lampoons.

How well do you take criticism?

Frequently, due to time constraints, I can complete an illustration a matter of hours. But the amount of time will understandably vary depending on the complexity of the job.

I appreciate all well-intentioned criticism. ‘Constructive’ criticism, when provided by one’s peers, is even more appreciated.

What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?

As a rule I seldom experience ‘blocks’. Should one occur while trying to meet a deadline, I find that taking a short ‘research’ break is time well spent.

Oops = All Rights Reserved
Oops = All Rights Reserved

How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?

I consider a piece of work finished when it meets or exceeds my client’s expectations. I rarely have the luxury for second guessing before the job is delivered.

Have you any exhibits in galleries planned for the future?

The prospect of brick and mortar gallery representation appeals to me; however the preponderance of my work falls into the illustration category (as opposed to art, per se) and is not typically found in an art gallery… moreover, once delivered the art becomes the property of the client (unless other considerations have been granted).

What are you currently working on?

I am currently preparing a single panel cartoon series to submit for newspaper syndication. Between art projects, I take the opportunity to refine my creative writing skills.

Into the Black Hole = All Rights Reserved
Into the Black Hole = All Rights Reserved

What are your plans for the future?

I am continually seeking new career opportunities and keeping abreast of current art trends.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

I will always be grateful to V. T. Hamlin for the following words of advice:
“No matter your chosen profession; remember that discipline, perseverance in the face of obstacles, and a genuine love for your craft are the keys to success.”

What advice would you give new artists?

First and foremost, have faith in yourself and let nothing and no one dissuade you.

Charles Schulz, creator of the popular comic strip PEANUTS, had a history of experiencing rejection – which began with failing every attempt to sell his ideas. Before succeeding in his endeavor; he received many rejection slips with no encouragement from syndicates and major magazines. Yet, he persevered and you know the rest of the story.

Set your goals and pursue your dreams – when creating your art, follow your heart and it will guide your hand.

Have you done any courses to help you?

I am an alumnus of the Famous Artist School, as well as the Institute of Children’s Literature.

What do you do to market your work?

Although I am now retired, I have kept an active list of clients who regularly require freelance art. I also have a personal website in addition to my Fine Art America gallery, and my work is on display at

Do you use social networking in your day to day life?

I have opened an account on Facebook, but it has remained inactive. Actually, I don’t have sufficient time to manage it properly, so I don’t see it being beneficial right now. Should my situation change, I will certainly reconsider social networking.

Ghostwriter = All Rights Reserved
Ghostwriter = All Rights Reserved

Are you available for work (commissions)?

Absolutely; here are some of the patrons who have benefited from my services: NASA, the Pentagon, U. S. Air Force, United Nations Command, Pan American World Airways, Alan Duncan Advertising Associates, Warren Publications, Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, The Panama City News Herald, WJDM Television (Panama City Beach, Florida), WCOV Television (Montgomery, Alabama).

Now retired, I am pleased to continue offering my services on a freelance basis. Much of my career has consisted of providing contract proposal material for companies in the Aerospace Industry. In addition, I have been privileged to share my talents with comic book publishers.

If my capabilities appear compatible with a company’s publishing needs, I encourage them to contact me so that we may discuss a mutually rewarding working arrangement.

Batman and Robin = All Rights Reserved
Batman and Robin = All Rights Reserved

Have you got hobbies?

As a mental exercise and for relaxation, I write poetry. And, allotted the time and opportunity, I enjoy building miniature wooden outhouses.

Where are you based?

I reside on the Space Coast of that little strip of Heaven called Florida.

* Three of the four Quotes above are actually true.

Isabella FA Shores
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Isabella FA Shores

Founder at 1stAngel Arts
I live in Sale, Cheshire, England, and am happily sharing my life with a mental budgie, two Alsatian puppies, and a long-suffering, sculptor-boyfriend . . . not necessarily in that order. 🙂 Often accused of being an insufferable know it all, I often do, but more often do not.
Isabella FA Shores
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