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February 26, 2004

{     Interview : Lance Sells     }    

We recently had the chance to bounce a few questions off a mister Lance Sells, ex-professional comic drawer-guy, now fine artist and designer extraordinare. Sells is best known online for the work at NormalNatural.net, the online sketchbook and portfolio of sorts that he maintains in his spare time. There you will find his extremely unique and thoroughly intriguing fine art, as well as a right ton of his, dare I say, more traditional comic drawings. Once I broke myself away from his site, I shot Lance some questions and then proceeded to chew on some graph paper and nervously mold my gummy eraser, hoping to get back some answers that weren't as twisted and dark as his pencil work. Read on to find out what I found in my inbox...

Crown Dozen: So, how are you on this fine morning? Sleep well?
Lance Sells: Doing fine. I slept about as well as I always sleep which isn't that good.

It's obvious by the prolific amount of work on your site that you are constatly drawing. Do you carry your sketchpad with you wherever you go, and how many do you go through? Silly question I know, but I just envision you as always drawing, morning to night, am I right?
You're fairly right. The amount of drawing I do now has been cut back quite a bit lately since client work has me working as much as humanly possible. But I do try to get at it at night before I head to sleep. Many times I fall asleep with my head on the paper.

When you do rest your weary head, I would guess that you have some whacked out visions that fall before your eyes, am I right?
For sure. For years now I sleep terribly because I constantly wake up at night, mostly in fear. So yeah, there are some visions going on.

Want to take a stab at explaining one of those visions? What the fear usually tends to be? Or is that too personal?
It's kind of hard to explain since most of the time I forget fairly soon after. Once in awhile things stick with me but for the most part they're gone by the end of the day. The most recent thing I can remember is something to do with me pushing a ghost down a stairwell only to then wake up in fear and for the first minute or two seeing everything in a sort of television static sort of way.

Do you ever just pour syrup on the table and go from there? Because a lot of your work is some serious LSD action.
I'm not exactly sure I get the reference to the syrup. I've heard that before but the funny thing is I don't do any drugs.

Possessing such a unique style, it's hard to pin down who might have been influential to you, which is good. Want to give any of that secret away?
Comic artists. Easily my biggest influence and from there it's mostly just working on things and letting myself not care as much what the outcome is. Some of the pieces I do I find ugly which is exactly what I want.

I kinda quit reading comics years ago, mainly because all the artwork had begun to look the same, and the stories were getting really stale. Since then, comics have been few and far between that interestd me. What do you think of the comic industry now?
I love comics when they're done extremely well and can't stand when they're just mediocre. I've been looking at them before I could read or write(I have misspelled artwork to prove it). I think most mainstream superhero comics are quite ridiculous once you realize what exactly is going on and what they are saying. That said, I read more comics now than I did for the past 4 or 5 years. Part of it is probably because I can afford it, and the other part is that the quality is a bit higher on some of the books. You just have to find the right ones.

How has your style evolved since working at Image Comics back in the day, and what has made it do so?
It's evolved from musclemen and trying to achieve perfect form to complete looseness and breaking the human body into whatever I want. I spent so much time learning all of the muscles and bones of the human body but now I just use that as a guideline and bend & twist them into any other shape but still keep a vague sense of reality.

That's kinda what I was getting at with the syrup thing before, it's almost like you just splatter some shapes on a page, and then connect and rework them into a more conceptual, human-like form. The figures come out feeling very pained, very tense, like they are gasping for life. What would you say it is that your figures are feeling?
I'm not interested in exploring the happy side of life so I would say the feeling is some sort of pain. I would be bored to death trying to turn out work that's otherwise.

Would you say that you're good with numbers? How about drugs, are you good with those? My money is on 'yes', but I've been wrong before...
Numbers/Pretty good. Drugs/Not good. Money/Hell Yes. I intend to live well, travel the world & retire without a care.

You collaborated with Mike Cina of WeWorkForThem a while back on some pieces. How do you know Mr. Cina, and how was it working with him?
You might be thinking of Mike Young, or TheBeards_KennyRodgers as I like to call him. I've actually done pieces with Mike Cina, or TheBeards_FriendlyMuttonChops but they've never been released to the public. Unless you know something I don't know? haha. It's always good stuff working with those two. They both do things that I would never do so it gets you thinking in different ways. I'm hoping we get enough work together to get a gallery show/installation going in the near future.

Who else have you collaborated with, and do you enjoy doing so, or are you more of a loner with a sketchbook kind of dude?
Haven't collaborated too much. Just with the WWFT boys on occasion and my friend Paul Nguyen ( link ). I've probably said yes to other people but it's never been done. Right now, I'm only collaborating with a musician (Scott Meola) on some video projects and trying to just pump out more of my own work.

Glad you brought that up. You have some stills from a 2000 video piece titled 'Prescriptive Wont' on your site. Care to tell us about your video work? And the obvious question, do you intend to make any animation?
That'll all be on my new site. I guess when I say video I mean animation/video. This year I'll be doing more and more of the video work just because it's really interesting to me to give a little more life to what I'm already doing.

Care to give me the straight dope on what you're into when it comes to music, movies, all that stuff?
Music:
Aesop Rock
A.R.E. Weapons
Punch-Drunk Love OST
Royal Tenenbaums OST
Movies:
Back to the Future
Happiness
Comics:
Y: The last man
The Invisibles
Joe Sacco Books
Jimmy Corrigan
Books:
Execution : The Discipline of Getting Things Done
Philip K. Dick

Speaking of material possessions, any retail plans? As in t-shirts, books, toys, breakfast foods, shower curtains and so forth?
Only actual pieces coming out and possibly DVDs. As far as my artwork goes I'm having a hard time with mass producing anything. That's why I haven't done any prints or t-shirts or what-not. It might happen at some time but luckily for me I've got another side of me that makes a good living in design so I don't really have to worry about selling things to stay afloat.

Could you ask yourself a question and then answer it?
Why hasn't your site been updated in 9 months? I'm just waiting to unleash a bunch of work all at one time.

So then, what's next for you, Mr. Sells? What projects are riding up on your horizons? I heard rumors of some new website action...
Yes!! Website with all new work. I've got a couple gallery shows coming up. One for basefield in Austrailia and another for Re:up Magazine in San Diego. I'm hoping to get my own show going later in the year. Once I finish up some more work.

What is your biggest weakness? I won't tell a soul.
Of course I don't have this, and if I did, I fear it would be used against me.

Ah! Foiled again! Comics have taught you well.......

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