I have written about our Warrior Bunny, Reggie. He is funny, mischievous a little pushy at times but we love his spirit. Almost a month ago, we had a scare. Reggie came down with something. He stopped eating, and started losing weight. He became lethargic. So we took him to his vet, Dr. Riddle. He got an injection of antibiotics and an additional 7 day supply of antibiotics to take home. It took almost 7 days before we saw that he was making a recovery but he is doing awesome now and from this experience he has become more affectionate and sweet. He will come up to me and ask me to pet him. if he is in his little hiding place under his chair and I need to see him, I call him and he comes out so I can pet him. This experience brought us closer together. I realized then I wanted to get a portrait done of him. I have never been able to paint or draw rabbits but when my husband’s Friend, Bruce Hilvitz, who is a very talented artist donated a pet portrait for the yearly Humane Society of the North Bay’s Barkitecture, I asked Bruce to make a portrait of Reggie. It was an easy process. We sent Bruce a hi-resolution photo of Reggie and he sent us back a digital file of Reggie within the week. It was really fast. He really captured Reggie’s essence. As I am looking at Reggie’s portrait, these questions about Bruce’s art started flooded in my mind. How did he develop his style? Does he believe he has to suffer for his art? So I decided to ask the artist himself. Here is a short interview I did with Bruce:
Did you take formal art classes?
Bruce: One month in art school was all I could muster. Back in those days, where I was, there wasn’t any respect for cartooning in art school. Although, I did grow up within an arts community, via my Mother, so way before High school, I had experience in virtually all disciplines of art.
What was the defining moment when you realized you wanted to pursue your art as a career?
Bruce: I can’t recall one, per se…I’ve always drawn, played with paints, clay, whatever was handy at the moment. I’ve always relied on visuals, be it art, toys, cars, buildings…anything that I enjoyed looking at.
How do you describe your art?
Bruce: My art and career has been based on comic art mostly. Something I’ve been drawn to my whole life (no pun intended). It can run the gamut since I’ve had to learn to wear many “hats” in order to make a living … comics don’t pay very well, and they are time consuming. Illustrations a bit better, general graphic design, hourly, is the best. Special projects, here and there are also nice when there’s that opportunity…like book design, and editing, limited edition print production.
What artists influenced you when you were developing your style?
Bruce: Early on I was weened on MAD Magazine, of course…guys like Basil Wolverton, Jack Davis, Wil Elder, Harvey Kurtzman. I had a very short lived love affair with super hero stuff…I appreciate that stuff more now, than I did then…but my true love came to light when I first laid eyes on a Robert Crumb comic, and it finally struck me with the thought that ANYTHING is possible. And so it is.
How would you describe the medium you work in?
Bruce: These days it all seems to be based on digital technology. I sometimes start with a regular ‘ol drawing that I scan then work out color or details in a vector based program, usually Flash or Illustrator. I don’t draw “on paper” as much as I really should, digital art doesn’t have the tactual satisfaction that paper does…no originals to really drool over. You can see who has “chops” when you see an original drawing on stiff white bristol board.
Do you agree you have to suffer for your art?
Bruce: No, but it helps. Truthfully it’s a tough profession, if you are not willing to sacrifice common things in life, then you better think of something else to do.
When did you decide to start doing pet portraits?
Bruce: I started this past holiday season…I live in a neighborhood with many, many dogs, I figured someone might be interested…just another “hat” to wear.
Do you have any animal companions?
Bruce: The best dog on earth…a reformed runaway name Aristotle. A black Pekingese, only an Anti-Pekingese…he doesn’t bark, maybe twice a year, if that…he does sneeze, and fart a lot though…I can’t blame him, he’s in the neighborhood of 14 (years).
Any advice for aspiring artists?
Bruce: Don’t do it!!! no…just learn, work hard, be honest with yourself… The best advice I try to follow, not sure who said it, in the lines of… “Do art as if your parents are dead.”
Can you expand on that philosophy- “Do art as if your parents are dead.”
My interpretation is ‘don’t be afraid of what other people think…just do it.’ Criticism, and especially self-criticism, is the death nell of art. Even though it’s hard to avoid, or listen to.
For anyone interested in having you create a portrait for their pets how can they contact you?
Bruce: Easy as going to my site…