Comicosity is picking the brains of a pro who is killing it in the comics industry, and for this round I was lucky enough to talk to Jose Pimienta! Jose’s work can be seen in the newly released Suncatcher, Soupy Leaves Home, The Leg and more! He was kind enough to let us have a glimpse of his creative process below:
What does a typical day in your life look like?
My first activity of the day is to clean my apartment: Dishes and sweeping for the most part. Then I sit at my desk and either answer e-mails or get straight to work on the day’s tasks. These days it’s mostly comics, but in the past it use to be either storyboards or designs. I take breaks throughout the day, whether it’s going for a walk, enjoying a small meal or researching something. My day runs until nine or ten at night and by then, I either catch up on some reading, pluck at an instrument or watch something.
What time of day do you do your best work?
The early afternoon is usually pretty awesome, but then I get a second wind around six or seven PM.
Comics is often a collaborative medium. How do you work with your editors/others on your projects?
The best collaborators, for me are the ones with whom communication is clear. When I’ve worked with writers, I usually write down as many questions I have and just ask them, so I can draw my take on their words as close to their satisfaction as possible. With editors, we usually set up check points, so I send them what I’ve done and receive their feedback. We engage on discussions and I listen to their suggestions. Their input is crucial, so it’s good to be attentive. As you mentioned, it’s a collaborations, so the better the communication, the better the process.
How do you manage your to-do list?
I have long-term activities and daily activities on separate lists.
The daily to-do lists are the one I pay more close attention to, and I also curate those each day. I ask myself it’s possible to get to certain tasks that very day. If the answer is no, they I just put it back on the long term list. The day’s to-do list is for things I can get to, keeping in mind that the day has its own limitations.
What is your workspace like?
My workspace is a decent sized desk where I try to have access to all my drawing tools. What makes it work for me is that, even though I try to keep my apartment as clean and tidy as possible, I draw facing a wall that is visually loud and stimulating. I’m constantly adding and removing stickers, postcards and other things. My desk is also next to a window, so I get nice natural light and a nice view of my neighborhood.
What tools are essential to your creative process?
Sketchbooks for taking notes, my mechanical pencil, Bristol board, brush pens and software for digital coloring. Also a Cintiq for digital work.
What do you love most about creating comics?
I think the most, is that comics are visual. Even the words are visual. I love that the medium can be as distinct as its creator.
What is your favourite phase of a project?
Currently, my favorite phase is the penciling. That’s where I have the most opportunity to let the characters develop their personalities and play on their acting. It’s also the phase where I get to play the most with background elements and insert any easter eggs I’d like to have fun with.
What do you listen to or watch while you work?
That depends entirely on the stage. When I write, it has to be music that I’m familiar with, so it is only for enhancing the environment. Same for when I’m thumbnailing. But for penciling, I listen to as much as I can. Podcasts, movies, albums, or video essays. I love informative podcasts on current event or on history and social studies. I also love musicals and concept albums. But sometimes I just want to listen to playlists on shuffle or revisit favorite TV shows and movies.
When you aren’t creating comics, how do you like to spend your time?
I love walking and cycling. So, I like going on long walks or going to city centers and landmarks. I also love socializing and being around other people, so, if I can visit a friend or go for a meal, that’s a great day. I also like going to events, so, even though right now those aren’t available, I use to love going to concerts or public events.
Networking and meeting other creators & editors is an important part of the business. What is your preferred way to network?
It is, yes. My preferred way was to meet up at conventions, but at the moment, that’s not available. So, there’s several creators who are doing monthly hangouts via digital platforms or e-mail. I often Skype or Discord with friends, so, it’s something, but I much rather meet in person when possible.
What comics are you reading right now?
I just finished Trung Le Nguyen’s The Magic Fish, and it’s amazing. Same as with Lucy Knisley’s Stepping Stones.
I finally got a chance to read Colleen Af Venable’s Kiss Number 8 and it’s immediately turned into my favorite book.
And I’m waiting for Evan Dahm’s The Harrowing of Hell.
Right now-right now, I’m actually reading a long non-fiction book, but before that one, I was reading a lot of graphic novels (Jalisco, Tata Rambo, Slowly but Shirley, On a Sunbeam), and my to-read pile is staring at me.
What do you hope to see in the industry in the future?
I would like to see more recognition to colorists and letterers, more acknowledgment of different storytelling methods and a bigger embrace of diversity in readers and creators.