Brian Stelfreeze, the Art of Storytelling, and the End of Dragon Con ‘08

Mary Jane by Brian Stelfreeze

Mary Jane by Brian Stelfreeze



By the end of Dragon Con I was battered and weary. For four days I hardly slept, having gone to numerous panels, classes, and portfolio reviews. Even though I was tired I was still artistically energized. I really couldn’t wait to go home and start drawing and painting with all the newly discovered knowledge and advice I had received. Before leaving though, my friend Matt Essary, needed to go pick up a Batman drawing he had commissioned earlier in the weekend from Brian Stelfreeze, a comic book illustrator known for his Batman watercolors. 



Matt Essary with Brian Stelfreeze and his new drawing

Matt Essary with Brian Stelfreeze and his new drawing

Going to visit Brian Stelfreeze turned out to be an amazing end to my Dragon Con ’08 experience. When we showed up to Brian’s booth we discovered that he had not yet had time to do my friends drawing. Without bating an eye Brian whipped out a piece of paper and started drawing Batman. He proceeded to ink the piece right before our eyes. It took him about 20 or 30 minuets to finish the drawing, and in that time my friend and I had the opportunity to talk with Brian, who is a super nice guy! So nice in fact that when he found out it was my friend Matt’s birthday he gave him the drawing for FREE!


After Brian was finished I asked him to look at my portfolio, and he said he’d be glad to. He then proceeded to give me feedback that perfectly summed up what all the other artists had been telling me over the weekend. His first comment was that I understood color, how to draw, and he didn’t need to tell me about execution. He said the flaw in my work is that I wasn’t telling stories. Brian explained that I needed to view each illustration as a story and that one element should draw the viewer into story, then they let them play around in the world for a little while. One thing should be more intense than anything else; each picture should be a narrative. My current works were pictures, not illustrations, and not stories.

In such a simple an elegant way Brian brought together everything I had learned from the weekend. I love stories, “draw what you love.” Make one thing more intense to draw the viewer in, “Pay attention to your values.” It all made so much since. I was a storyteller, and it was time to begin telling others my stories!


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