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Interview with Marvel Artist David Yardin

We were lucky enough to be given some footage of the live street art installations taking place in Sydney and Melbourne in support of the release of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War in cinemas on April 28.

These amazing installations were designed by Australian Marvel Comic Illustrator David Yardin and a team of street artists, together they have created large format comic strips which can be seen in our latest video.

David Yardin is a Marvel Comics illustrator who has worked on A+X, Magneto and Thunderbolts.

David kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to let us ask him a few questions.

Kapow: How did you get involved with the Civil War Street art event?

David Yardin: Well I think I've pretty much been the only Australian artist, doing regular work for Marvel since 2004, and I've had a working relationship with the Marvel guys here in Australia, for a few years now too, so when they were working out the promotion for the Captain America: Civil War movie, they asked me to be a part of it.

They had this concept of these large comic art panels, to be painted as murals in both Sydney, and Melbourne. There was also a social media aspect Marvel wanted to incorporate, to get the fans to actively participate in the street art event. By sharing photos of the murals, and pledging their allegiance to either #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan, the fans would decide the word balloons in the panels. So that all sounded pretty cool to me, and I was more than happy to jump on board.

Kapow: What’s it like getting your artwork seen by a nontraditional audience?

David: It's great having my work seen by people who are not regularly exposed to it, or even exposed to comics in general. I think there's definitely been a proliferation of geek culture, and fandom, into the mainstream over the last few years, with all the superhero movies, tv shows and video games, so there's some crossover, but still I think comic books themselves could use a little more exposure. So it was great to have the opportunity to bring the art I do in comics books, into these public spaces that get a lot of thoroughfare from the general public.

Not only that but seeing my artwork at that scale was pretty awesome too. I think the Surry Hills mural in Sydney (Cnr Foveaux and Crown St) is 10 metres high, and the one in Melbourne Central (Knox Place) is 28 metres long. So it's great to see my artwork have impact, not only with the high exposure, but with the scale of the work too.

Kapow: Do you have any new projects with Marvel?

David: Right now I'm doing covers for Civil War II: X-Men for Marvel. The first two issues have been solicited, so they should be on shelves in the next couple of months, and I'm working on the third cover right now.

Kapow: I heard you went to an advanced screening of Civil War, how was it?

David: Yes I did. It was pretty phenomenal! I wrote a lengthy non-spoiler review on my facebook and tumblr pages, but in short it's got lots of cool superhero moments, lots of awesome action, and some fantastic interpersonal drama. It's also beautifully shot, and the script is really tight. It's also a whole lot of fun! I hope I'm not coming across as a shill for Marvel, because it really was that good.

My top three Marvel movies (in no particular order) are Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and The Avengers... now I'm going to have to make room for Captain America: Civil War.

Kapow: Who’s your favourite Civil War character to draw?

David: From the movie? I always love drawing Black Widow, and Black Panther's movie costume is pretty awesome too. As far as likenesses go, Jeremy Renner's face is the easiest to do, since he has so much character in his features, but bows and arrows can be tricky to draw, especially with extreme foreshortening, so I'll stick with the aforementioned.

Kapow: Any tips on those looking to work for a big publisher like Marvel?

David: If you're a writer, write, and if you're an artist, draw. That may seem like too simple an answer, but you really have to put in the work to get to a top class, professional level (in anything really). You may have heard of the 10,000 hour rule, where you need to put in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice into something, to become world-class at it. With artists we equate it to doing 10,000 drawings. You're drawings are going to be awful most of that time, but once you get past those bad drawings, you will improve immensely.

The biggest artistic leap I had in my abilities, was while I was training as an amateur artist under my mentor, Whilce Portacio, in the Philippines in 1999. I did nothing but draw the whole two and a half months I was there, and my artistic abilities increased exponentially. Before I got there, I thought I could *maybe* get a job in comics, but after I left I *knew* I could get a job with any of the major publishers. Please don't take that as cockiness either. The self confidence instilled in me, by seeing the results of the work I put in, was very apparent to me when I returned back to Sydney, and sure enough I got work soon after. Talent and passion will get you so far, but drive, and work ethic will take you much further.

Having an online presence also helps. If you are an aspiring artist, an online portfolio of your work is essential. With writing it can be a little harder to show your work off. Most of the big publishers like Marvel, don't hire people who don't have experience (especially writers), so you'll either need to self publish first, or get published by a smaller publisher. There are also a lot of editors, and fellow creators online, so it can be a good place to network, and have your work seen.

Kapow: And the last and most important question are you #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan?

David: I can't choose. I was on the fence before seeing the movie, and I am even more torn now, after seeing it. I think the movie did a really great job exploring the motivations for all the characters, so it was hard not to empathise with all of them.

Art by David Yardin

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