Interview: Doug P’Gosh
Hopefully, you guys had a chance to read our article on the one and only Doug P’Gosh as well as check out his work to see why we were so hyped. Trent and I had the opportunity to pick his brain a bit to see what makes his art truly one of a kind. Here’s what he had to say:
Your style is very unique, does it ever seep into your more corporate work?
I stopped doing corporate work some years back. I wanted the opportunity to develop my own style and paint what I was excited about. Life was flying by and I felt if I didn’t take a chance at pursuing my own work, I would look back with a lot of regret. Also, my wife had started a company that was growing and growing- and it was a good time to make a life change and pursue what we loved.
How was working for Disney? What kind of work did they have you do?
My experience wasn’t just with Disney. I spent about 15 years designing licensed consumer products. For some years it was freelance, then with a corporation that created giftable items. I worked with dozens and dozens of different licenses and properties. Star Trek, Barbie, Harry Potter, Coca-Cola, Marvel, Disney, you name it. Every day was different. I would spend a few months designing a line of products: figurines, bookends, Christmas ornaments, cookie jars, decorations, you name it. Every contract called for a different group of products. My job was to take the characters and create a product that delighted the end consumer. Lots of rough sketches, final drawings, and detailed full color comprehensives for the sculptors. The job also gave me the chance to travel to many corporate headquarters as well as around the word to get the products manufactured. There was a lot more to the job, but that gives a thumbnail sketch of what life was like. It was a great experience, but I wanted the chance to develop my illustration and art techniques far more than I ever would be able to in the fast paced world of licensed products.
What piece or works that you’ve done did you dislike the most and why?
Dislike? That’s a question I haven’t gotten before! I would say I’m not crazy about the work I did my first couple of years. I was getting my drawing and painting skills back. I look at the work now and I see a lot of areas I could improve on. However, people seem to love a lot of those paintings and still buy prints featuring the work. At this point, if I’m not in love with the painting I’m working on, I just stop working on it. This rarely happens, since by the time I’m ready to paint the final art, I have lived with the concept a while. If I don’t love it, I don’t want to spend a month of my free time painting it!
I follow a very traditional method of creating a painting: initial idea, thumbnail concepts, rough concept, gather photo reference and model shoot, final comprehensive drawing, color comp and then final transfer to the illustration board and painting the final art. If I skip a step, I’m never as happy with the final painting as I could be. So don’t skip steps!
Can you elaborate on your inspiration for your art?
It’s the same stew that a many artists my age site: Mid- 70’s to early 80’s tv including Batman re-runs, Creature Features on Saturday afternoon, black and white tv and movies, Famous Monster of Filmland magazine, old comic books, in my case EC comics, pulps, trading cards, movie posters, paperback books, Aurora monster model kits, and Disneyland, to name just a few. I was also heavily influenced by my Dad and my Uncles that grew up in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Their love and stories of vintage cars, hot rods, movies and pop culture was fascinating to a 10 year old kid. Whatever it all was, it warped my brain in a way that I never get tired of painting cars, zombies, monsters and tiki scenes.
When painting with acrylics, how do you do most of your blending?
Lots of thin layers of paint! I treat acrylics the same way I would oils. But one has to work much faster with Acrylics, and, for my style of painting, they do not take well to thick, fat layers of paint. I start with an underdrawing on illustration board. Then a layer of umber and sepia for shadows and dark areas. Then color is painted in. Finally the highlights, which are often the only solid opaque layers I add. It all creates a nicely blended effect.
Any plans to create a painting tutorial video? If so, you can sign me up.
Ha! Not yet! A book would be great though!
How has the internet impacted your career? (Both good and bad)
I don’t have much that is bad to say about it. I’m old enough to have worked professionally before the internet and photoshop and illustrator. Believe me, the internet and computers are a miracle. What can be created and accomplished in a day would have taken me the better part of a week using traditional art materials. Reaching an audience with my work, communicating with customers and fans around the world, showing a “work in progress” pic and getting immediate feedback- I can’t say enough positive things about it. Then there are the tutorials, connecting with other artists, finding art materials, finding obscure reference photos immediately at your finger tips. It all helps so tremendously. I have created commissioned work for customers around the world- all because they stumbled upon my work on my site or Facebook.
If there is a drawback to it all, it’s that you have to compete on an international stage. There is SO much great stuff out there, so many artists fighting for work. You better be doing something interesting, unique and eye catching to stand out in a very, very large crowd.
When painting digitally, we have the ability to include unlimited layers, blending modes, and the use of an undo button. What tips do you have for a digital artist who would like to work with traditional mediums?
Use both! I do! The computer is great for finding references, scanning in your thumbnails and comps and adjusting your composition easily. I also use photoshop to work up quick color comps and make numerous versions to try different color solutions. It’s also great for taking a tight, smaller, sketch and printing it out at actual size for transferring to the final board. Finally, if you are really unhappy with areas or colors in the final painting, scan it in and make additional adjustments in photoshop. If I ever really got into trouble with a painting, I would give it a try rather than throwing away weeks of work.
When I met Basil Gogos, I was a bit shocked to find out that he paints in complete silence. Are you the same way or do you listen to music or have any other painting rituals?
I always have something to listen to: podcasts, NPR, music, soundtracks- whatever works to set a mood or get me into a zone. It usually isn’t anything too distracting. Background I find, is best. Unless I’m really painting a dramatic scene, then I might find music complimentary to what I’m creating. I’m currently working on a Batman ’66 50th Anniversary painting. I was gifted a Japanese soundtrack to the show from my sister this past Christmas. Perfect music for what I’m working on.
When you aren’t creating amazing art, what can you be found doing?
My day job is working at my wife’s company Retro-a-go-go.com. I do 95% of the design work for the products and promotions. It keeps us extremely busy!
For fun I love to track down vintage toys, tiki items, monster and halloween antiques, old magazines, pulps, comics and movie posters and just about any odd item that catches my eye. My wife and I like to hit everything from antique shows to estate sales. The hunt is a great hobby- and way more fun than e-bay. I also like to track down art related books. I’m either gathering them or reading them.
It all comes back to the visual arts. From the antiques, to the books to my own art- my life is all about the visual arts.
Just in his responses to our questions, you can tell that this man is driven and passionate about what he does. You can find more of his work at http://pgosh.com or friend him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/doug.pgosh. And Doug, if you’re reading this, thanks again for taking the time to answer our questions. It definitely means a lot to us!