Ariel Diaz is appearing all weekend at Terrificon at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut following a series of sought after cover illustrations for Dynamite and IDW. Diaz’s published cover artwork has featured fan favorites such as Vampirella, Red Sonja, and Baroness. She took some time out of her busy day in between meeting fans and completing commission requests to tell us about her work, her artistic process, and her upcoming projects.
How did you first get involved in cover art and comic art in general?
Ariel Diaz: I had been a hobbyist for a while when my first opportunities came along. It started when some retailers contacted me and said, “Hey, we like your work and we want to see if you can do some covers for us.” I had been told for many years that I should have gotten into comics, but I thought you had to do both covers and interiors. And I didn’t want to do interiors. Then it dawned on me when someone wanted me to do a cover. I thought, “Oh, so there are artists who just do covers!” I’m more of an illustrator, so I don’t do sequentials. It started from there, and I said, “Alright, I’ll go for it!”
So, most of your art was online, and then people reached out to you from there?
Diaz: Yes, pretty much from my website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. I would post my art on social media and it grew from there.
Did you begin by creating digital artwork, or did you start by using pencils and inks?
Diaz: Actually, they first sought me out because of my traditional work. I discovered digital artwork ever since I was 18. I was a hobbyist before that.
Do you have a digital format which you prefer, or do you see the strengths in all of the digital formats?
Diaz: I see the strengths in a lot of the programs, but my go-tos are pretty much Photoshop and Procreate. With Procreate you can use brushes and they have some streamlined technology that is very smooth, very textured, With Photoshop, it’s the whole manipulation of colors and the shading and textures as well. It has some good program features.
Who are some of your influences who inspired you to be an artist?
Diaz: There have been a lot of influences, so I can’t say for sure. But my biggest one would be Michael Turner. I started out looking at his work when I got into comics. It would have been a nice opportunity to have met him.
Can you tell us about your work with Dynamite and IDW? Do you have any favorite pieces that you’ve done for them?
Diaz: The work I did for Dynamite were my first covers that I did. I also did G.I. Joe with IDW. My favorite piece would definitely be the cover I did for Vampirella #10. Of course, it’s also my most popular one… especially with books. It’s been an all time favorite. The Baroness cover for G.I. Joe was my very first one. My very first cover.
What are some new projects you’re working on now?
Diaz: I’m working on a cover for Miss Meow at the moment. It’s from a publisher called Merc Comics. They’re a very nice group. They sought me out to do some cover work. They were introduced to me by a mutual friend.
When you’re asked to illustrate a new character for the first time, one that you’ve never drawn before, what is your process for deciding how you will approach the piece?
Diaz: I start out with sketches, preliminary sketches. I ask whoever I’m working with, “What is your theme? What are you looking for with this piece?” Most of the time they say, “Oh, artist’s choice!” Things like that. “Just do your own thing on it.” And I just do something that will fit the character, or something that would be fitting as far as theme goes. Then I send out some preliminary sketches and see which ones they prefer the most. And then I start from there.
Who is a character you haven’t illustrated yet that you’d really like the opportunity to do?
Diaz: I definitely would love to do some more stuff with IDW. Or with Marvel, DC, things like that. One cover I’d like to do would be April O’Neil from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I haven’t seen a cover for April in a while, so it would be nice to see her on a cover.