Painter, sculptor and comic book artist Paolo Rivera was born in Daytona Beach, Florida in 1981. He moved to Rhode Island, after graduating from Mainland High School (Daytona Beach) in 1999, to study at the Rhode Island School of Design. While at RISD, he studied under comic book artist and writer, David Mazzucchelli and spent his junior year studying in Rome. By his senior year, he was creating covers and pin-ups for writer Jim Krueger. He had previously met Jim at a MegaCon in Orlando, FL while he was in high school and had shown him his artwork. Paolo graduated from RISD with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003.
He has been working almost exclusively for Marvel Comics since 2002. His first painted cover for Marvel was 2003’s Iron Man #63. Since then he has painted covers and interiors for most of the Marvel Universe characters including, Captain America, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, The Twelve, Hawkeye and more. One of the best known projects Paolo has worked on was the Mythos series of Marvel origin stories. This six issue series of one-shots written by Paul Jenkins and featuring beautiful paintings by Paolo, ran from 2006 to 2008. The Mythos stories were collected into a hardcover edition in 2008.
Paolo’s most recent work includes the re-launch of Daredevil, which he has been working on with writer Mark Waid and artist Marcos Martin. Though he started out primarily as a painter, he now regularly does penciling, inking and coloring as well. See much more of Paolo’s work at his The Self-Absorbing Man blog. Many of his posts discuss his process in drawing, painting and sculpting including my favorites, the Wacky Reference Wednesdays. To purchase Paolo’s original artwork click here.
What is your favorite pen to use?
I'm more of a brush guy. Winsor & Newton Series 7 #6 (#2 for small stuff)
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Right now, I'm using a Pilot .7mm blue pencil, followed by a Uni Kuru Toga .5mm pencil with 2B lead, and a 2mm lead holder with B or 2B lead, sanded to a chisel tip.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Both. I paint when I can, but for most of my sequential work, I color in Photoshop. Lately, though, I've been working with colorist Javier Rodriguez.
If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolor, gouache, and Acryla Gouache, usually Holbein, and mostly with a Silver Brush "Black Velvet" #12.
What type of paper do you use?
Marvel board for all my pencils, Strathmore 500 Series 3-ply bristol, vellum surface for fully rendered paintings.
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I love everything in moderation. Things only get to me if I have to draw the same intricate subject from many different angles, over the course of many pages.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
It's a mix. Wherever I can find good deals. I use to live nearby a great store, but I moved this year.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I like doing warm-up sketches, but that doesn't happen often enough. Lately, I've been trying to sculpt digitally with Sculptris when I can.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I often do, mostly I just hit "Quick Mix" on Pandora and go from there. Pretty much everything and anything. Somewhere between alternative rock and rap.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I did, but it was an eclectic mix. I grew up mostly on cartoons, so Ninja Turtles, X-Men, The Tick, and Batman were my favorites. Once I was old enough to work and drive, I could go to the comic store. Mostly, I would buy anything by Alex Ross and Joe Madureira.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
I was a big fan of X-Force by Peter Milligan with Mike and Laura Allred. That was probable the last time I bought every issue of something.
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Amazing Spider-Man #33. I had that one book and I read it over and over again. Don't know what happened to it, but I do have a copy in a Marvel Essentials collection.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating in 2003 with a BFA in Illustration.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
It's a lot like life: it depends where you go.
Did either of your parents draw?
Both. My Dad actually inks me on Daredevil now. His day job is painting custom motorcycles.
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My parents, without a doubt. Professionally, I'd have to say Jim Krueger and Joe Quesada.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Not officially. I've given a handful of lectures and demos over the years. Most definitely. I might do it on a regular basis some day.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
I feel like they're one in the same. If not, they're so inextricably intertwined that separating them serves no purpose. Each feeds the other.
Do you collect anything and if so what?
The last thing I actually collected were a lot of Ninja Turtles toys.
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Righty, though in certain situations I'll do primitive drawings of my right hand with my left.
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Let's hope it never comes to that.
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Metal drawing board at an angle. All my tools have magnets on them. 27" iMac to the right. If I'm painting, a Sta-Wet Palette on a turntable to my left.
This video is from Mike Furth's wonderful, The Comic Archive website. Head over to The Comic Archive now for much more on comic creators and their methods.
Do you play any musical instruments?
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Can I give two? Find a balance between passion and practicality. And if you want to be a professional, compare yourself to nothing less than the best in that field.
Who is your favorite artist?
It changes, day to day. Today, it's a brawl between Milton Caniff, Alex Toth, and H.J. Ward.
Thank you very much Paolo!