I first learned about Dan Berry due to my insatiable hunger for comics podcasts. Make It Then Tell Everybody consists of intelligent and insightful conversations with comic creators you may or may not be familiar with, each a great lesson in art, storytelling and the process of making sequential art. From Make It Then Tell Everybody, I branched out to Berry’s comics. I was impressed by the stories that felt iconic and the watercolors that showed the benefits of creating art by hand in the digital age.
What prompted Make It Then Tell Everybody?
In 2012 a British artist asked me to host some panel discussions at a festival. I said yes and we did two panels discussions and they went really well. Someone said, “Oh, you should podcast these!” I took his advice and in the weeks following decided to carry on.
Has it had a noticeable effect on your career?
Oh, yeah. Way more people know who I am [laughs].
What do you think of the Patreon model. Do you find it viable?
Yeah, absolutely. It’s been essential to what I’m doing. I talked about doing a Kickstarter on the podcast, which I guess is a really good model for a book, but for these enduring projects I need that slightly slower burning funding model.
I love the way you have different tiers offering the same thing. I found that really clever.
[Laughs] Well I’m basically giving it away for free. No one really gets anything. It’s really about this idea of altruism. It’s people’s own good will that I’m spending here.
What are your general thoughts on digital art, both in terms of your own work and the work of others?
What do you mean by digital art?
Anything done on a computer. Something done on a Cintiq, for example.
Oh, I find it great. It’s absolutely great. I don’t have any problems with digital art. My background is nearly entirely digital I only came to working with ink on paper much later on. I like working traditionally because I feel I can do it faster.
I think this is a psychological thing for me rather than anything to do with the technology but I find when I’m working digitally and have the infinite safety net of the undo button I’m going to keep using it over and over again. I think my style has developed not from avoiding my mistakes but embracing them and making them part of the style. I have a very loose what I hope is a spontaneous and expressive style and I can’t get that same level of spontaneity [digitally] because I know there’s a safety net there. Whereas with traditional media forces you but also embrace them.
I don’t think there’s any artist I can think of who would lose more from working digitally than you. Your work is so natural. Do you think you could achieve anywhere near the same effect on a computer? Especially the watercolors?
Oh not the watercolors. I’ve tried a bunch of different watercolor brushes for Photoshop and it’s not the same. At all. I haven’t found anything that vaguely approximates what you do with watercolor. There’s an element of chaos that you can’t really control and I really like that. You don’t get that chaos from a computer.
You don’t sell your comics digitally, do you?
I do a couple of PDF downloads and I think there’s stuff on ComiXology.
Oh, you do. I didn’t see any when I looked.
It was with a British publisher named Great Beast. My book Carry Me was with them and they had it on ComiXology and they recently folded shop so I think it might have gone down now.
Are you planning on putting it back up?
Yeah. I’m trying to figure out what to do with that at the moment because it’s reaching the end of its print run. It sold really well and the digital stuff seemed to pick up pretty well. I had a lot of excellent response from the ComiXology stuff. I might reissue it under my own name I might collect a bunch of things as an anthology I haven’t really decided yet.
How long is it?
24 pages, I think?
You said you’re going to work on a longer project in the near future?
Yes, I am.
Is that an adjustment, after working on so many shorter ones?
Not really. It all feels pretty much the same at this point. My schedule doesn’t change depending on how long the project is because I don’t really take breaks between projects. So I’m just basically always working so I don’t see any difference.
You don’t get impatient?
No. I used to. I used to want it to be finished and it to be done but I think as I get older patience is one of the things I’ve managed to develop. I think patience and being able to sit down for 4 hours at a time and do one thing.
I have one final question, the one everybody hates to be asked on Make it Then Tell Everybody: where do you get your ideas from?
All over the place [laughs]. Basically I like to fill my head up with as much stuff as possible. I like to listen to nonfiction and fiction books, audiobooks in the car, I’ll read articles, I’ll talk to people I’ll try to experience as much stuff in my head because I know that the more stuff I have in my head the more ideas I’m likely to have and once I’ve had an idea I have to capture it. If I don’t capture it dribbles out my nose while I sleep and its gone forever. So it’s not so much having ideas or where they come from I think it’s taking the beginning of an idea and turning it into something that’s the difficult part. Having ideas is relatively straightforward relatively easy I don’t have any problems with that it’s finding the time to do something with it or actually doing something with it.