March 16, 2007
Dave Dorman was born in 1958 in Bay City, Michigan; the middle child of two stoic New Englanders, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jack Dorman and his wife, Phyllis. Along with his younger sister Nancy and older brother Jeff, Dave endured a typical military brat upbringing. While his father worked at the Pentagon, Dave lived in Michigan, the Azores, Texas, Florida and Hawaii before finally settling in for his high school years at Friendly, Maryland High School.
While attending high school, Dorman was a renowned defensive lineman football player who, in his junior year, helped take the team to win their first state championship in Maryland’s history. In his senior year, a serious knee injury forced him to reconsider football scholarships and focus on his art.
Today, Dave Dorman is married to Illinois native, Denise Dorman and together, they have one son, Jack. Recently, I had a chance to meet up with Dave and his wonderful family in his home/studio and to ask him some questions about his career and art.
I am going to lump questions one and two together to save time and space! My interest in art began when I was a kid in the late 1960’s reading Marvel comics. I really loved the art, rarely READ the stories. I started to copy the art I saw in the panels. I found a lot of action and fun in the drawings and thought I could do that myself (little did I realize how tough that turned out to be!).
From there, I taught myself a lot of the basics of art, looking at other artists work, studying books, etc. I did not have any real training until after high school. I made the decision in my senior year in high school that I wanted to pursue art as a career. I looked around for schools that could teach me what I wanted to learn, which was illustration as opposed to fine art, and something that was affordable. I ended up in St Mary’s college of Maryland for a year. Even then I still did not feel I was learning what I wanted. From there I went to one year at the Joe Kubert School in New Jersey. This was a school for artists interested in getting into comics. I thought at this point it was the path I wanted to follow. However, I had started teaching myself how to paint during the previous few years and after one year at the Kubert school I felt the need to follow the painting rather than the comic book style line drawing. So my year there I dropped out and spent the next few years with part time jobs and spending all the rest of my time working on my craft, painting and drawing. Then in 1982, I took my portfolio to New York and hit most of the major comic and Science Fiction publishers to see if I could get some work. Fortune smiled on me during that trip and I got two commissions for work. That was the start of my professional career. From there the ball kept rolling and within 2 more years I was making a living through my art.
So, where or who do you draw most of your inspiration from?
I draw a lot of inspiration from film, music, TV, comics, books, other artists, and the world around me. Life is so filled with wonderful things if you stop and take a look. Nature, in itself, is a major inspiration. And I think it takes a great understanding of the world around you to be able to create the world that exist in science fiction, like Star Wars.
What was your initial reaction to Star Wars when you first saw it?
I have been a film buff since I was very young. I read journals of filmmaking, magazines and fan publications whenever I could get them. During the time prior to the first SW film opening there was a number of mentions in the fan press about the new sci-fi movie coming. The mentions were very enthusiastic and got me excited about seeing it. Then in December of ’76 the novelization of the film came out (a full 6 months before the film opened!). I picked it up and read it. WOW! If they could capture half the excitement of what I read onscreen this would be a killer film! So come mid-May 1977 I got in my car, drove 2 hours from St. Mary’s in southern Maryland to the Uptown theater in Washington DC to catch the first showing of this new film Star Wars! Well I didn’t get into the first showing but caught the second. And had to pick my socks up off the floor afterwards, because the movie knocked them right off!! I knew this was a film that would forever change the way films are made, as well as the way I looked at film. And the influence on me artistically moved me closer to where I have ended up today.
When did you first start working with Lucasfilm? Did they approach you with a job, or did you approach them?
I stared working with Lucasfilm, through Dark Horse Comics, during late 1989 when I was contacted to do covers for the Indiana Jones series “Fate of Atlantis” I produced cover work for them and they were very happy with my work. So When DH started publishing Star Wars comics (specifically Dark Empire to start), they asked me to do the cover art for the series. Lucasfilm had already approved me as an artist they liked so I got the initial job on those covers and have never really stopped since then! Since that time I have worked with Lucasfilm, and their licensees, on hundreds of pieces of Star Wars and Indy paintings.
Which character from Star Wars do you truly enjoy illustrating?
You know, that is a tough question because I enjoy the Star Wars universe as a whole. It is very diverse in its characters and that is one of the main things that is keeping me interested in doing Star Wars art, it never gets boring! You can always find one more interesting thing to do with a character you have painted 10 times before!
I understand you’re working on some new Star Wars related posters, is that correct?
I have at least two more SW related paintings in the works at the moment. They are in various stages; neither is finished. One is to be released for the Star Wars Celebration IV this May, and the other one is for SWC Europe in July. I will be posting more information on my website as I move further along with them. (And if I get approval from Lucasfilm to do so prior to the shows)
That must be an incredible undertaking. How long does it usually take to illustrate something like this?
For an average piece, say for a book or comic cover, I usually like to take about 5-7 days painting time for the piece. For a bigger piece, like the widescreen style Sandtroopers painting, that takes about two weeks.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Be patient. Learning your craft will take time, and it will not come overnight. Learn to draw everything . . . don’t just do comics, or manga, or anime. Learn to draw well first, and then specialize. You will find there is a bigger world out there for artists who are diversified in their work. But the big thing is . . . draw all the time. The more you draw the better you will get. Period!
Thank you for taking the time out of your very busy day, Dave. Will you be attending Celebration IV or Celebration Europe?
I will be attending both the U.S. Celebration in May in Los Angeles,
and the European Celebration in London in July. Looking forward to
seeing my fans and all Star Wars fans out at the shows! May the
Force be with you all!