Monday, December 3, 2012

Evan Palmer - Cartoonist / Illustrator

Album Cover for High Octane, 2012 Ink and digital media
Evan Palmer

Name: Evan Palmer
City/State: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Email: evan.g.palmer at
Twitter: @evantickles
Etsy Page:

I'm originally from Louisiana, but I've been living in Minneapolis and freezing my butt off for the past 8 years. By day I'm a digital media producer at PUNY ( working on games, animation, and banner ads, but by night, I transform into a freelance cartoonist and illustrator. I've been making my own, self-published comics ever since graduating from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2008. Before my current position, I spent a year as a ghost artist doing backgrounds for well known cartoonist, Peter Gross (, on the Vertigo titles Fables and The Unwritten. I occasionally participate in group gallery shows and have been featured at the Light Grey Art Lab and the now-closed Pink Hobo gallery.  

To the Witch's Hat, 2012 Ink and digital media

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

I'm hugely inspired by adventure sci-fi and fantasy from the 70's and 80's and I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to recreate the feeling that some of that stuff leaves me with. My work uses a combination of hand-drawn techniques and blown out, over-the-top digital psychedelia while trying to maintain a sense of clarity and deliberateness that my weirdo scientist brain demands. I'm always working on a few freelance illustrations for rock bands or RPG game designers and a few just for fun. I also have this weird blog where I draw a monster every few days and write a little blurb about it called Sucker Monster Creatures ( which has been really fun inventing a world where all these weird things live together with connected histories while also letting me practice my inking.

My big beautiful baby that I'm in love with right now is my first full-length graphic novel, The Godins, which I've been releasing in chapters as I complete them. I'm currently working on part 4 (of 11) and the final version will be a full, approximately 300-page fantasy adventure with goblins, wizards, knights, talking dogs, and spaceships. It's not a huge departure for me, but I am super proud of it and I can't wait for all the cool kids to be reading it.

Fungus Forest, 2011 Ink wash

How did you decide to become an artist?

As the son of two artists, I was kind of born into it and I'm thankful for that. I can't remember a time where I wasn't drawing and I've just never stopped. I remember sitting next to my dad on the couch while we both drew Ninja Turtles when I was like 5 years old. I have other loves like science and cooking, but it all comes back to creating things and telling stories. I took the long way around to land on comics as a focus, thinking early in my career that I would be more of a painter/fine artist, but I fell back in love with storytelling and world building in college and am comfortable saying that I'll be here all my life.

Since becoming a "professional" I've dabbled in just about everything from paper sculpture to animated gifs. I think it's great to keep looking for new sources of inspiration and keep the artistic spark alive. There's always something relevant to learn in getting out of your bubble that you can bring back to your "home base."

Cover to The Godins, 2011 Ink and digital media

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

I can't remember exactly who said this, but I've lived by it for so many years: always make the thing you're working on right now the best thing you've ever done. If it's not, then you have to find a way to make it the best. I'm always trying out new techniques and materials and I use each piece as a learning experience and stepping stone for what comes next. I look at art that inspires me and try to reverse-engineer it to try to see how they made it and try to incorporate what I've learned into my own work. It's impossible not to be influenced by other artists and that influence should be embraced, but never stifling to your own vision.

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?

I'm lucky enough to have a day job so that I don't have to spend a lot of time marketing myself. Of course that also means that I'm not as well-known as I want to be, but at least I can pay rent. For cartoonists it's super important to go to conventions and talk to people face to face and get to know your fellow creators who can then send people your way. I've only met a few jerks in the industry and most people are so excited to chat and talk shop. I usually go to 3 or 4 conventions a year locally and around the country. Each offers a new and unique audience and you run into a lot of creators you admire or should admire. Every convention kind of has its own vibe and its good to know which conventions work with your style. Stumptown in Portland is all about the hand-made and grungy-cool stuff while TCAF in Toronto caters more to the super-produced glossy candy books, both of which I love. I make most of my money from comics at conventions or from people who saw my stuff there and went through to my Etsy shop ( I sell all of my original drawings since they tend to clutter up my studio and I keep all my work digitally. 

Tumblr has proved to be a huge game-changer in the community and its starting to be my main focus. Its a beast all its own, but there are several rising stars coming out of it and I'm just trying not to be late to the game with my own ( It's a great way to get a following and connect to people doing similar things.

The Page of Pentacles, 2012 Ink and digital media

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

I'm strangely lucky to be friends with all of my favorite local artists. I both love and am intimidated by all of these people in no particular order:

Kevin Cannon (
Bill Ferenc (
Erik Krenz (
Francesca Buchko (
Anna Bongiovanni (
King Mini (

(I'm forgetting more people than I'm remembering)

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
If we're talking comics, I'd start at Big Brain in downtown. It may be the best comic shop I've ever been to and they carry work by local artists and the guys there really know their stuff. And it's always worth it to stop in next door at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts either for classes or just to see what's on display for some truly unique book-related art.

Heading north a bit, CoExhibitions ( has had some amazing shows and I try to make it out there whenever there's something going down. Altered Esthetics ( in Northeast has been a pretty big supporter of the comics community, so it's always worth a visit.

Going across town, we'd give MCAD some love and see what's going on in the various galleries there. The yearly Jerome Fellowship show is always worth checking out, not to mention the yearly Art Sale for amazing student art overload. Lastly, I'd pop in next door to the Light Grey Art Lab ( to either hang out with my favorite new group of people or see what cheeky nostalgia- or geek-inspired show is going on now.

Septembeer Poster Illustration, 2012 Ink and digital media

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? 

My all-time favorite soucrce for weird stuff is Monster Brains ( post is my favorite.
Ski-ffy is also another amzing blog of lost treasures (
Go look at everything coming out of Study Group Comics ( 
Tumblr is a hugely powerful outlet for artists and is the first place I go for inspiration. I get really bummed when an artist I love doesn't have a Tumblr.  Behance is another place I go to drool over new stuff. (

Cover to Time Jerks, 2012 Ink and digital media

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
Yes! I have a piece featured in the upcoming show at Light Grey Art Lab, Girls: Fact & Fiction on December 7th. It features over 100 artists depicting they're favorite real-life and fictional ladies. I chose Ellen Ripley from Aliens (here's a preview). All of the pieces will be put together in an awesome book that's available now for pre-order here.
Evan Palmer

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