-By Petar Meseldzija

Recently, I went to Ghent in Belgium to attend a convention. I have been signing my Tarzan book at the Dark Dragon Books booth. Attending comic conventions is a relatively new thing for me, because I haven’t been doing that for more than 20 years. During such a convention I spend most of my time drawing. In every sold copy of the Tarzan book I did a little sketch. Most of these sketches were simple and relatively quickly done; therefore they were for free. The copies of the book that contained a more detailed and complex drawing were sold for an additional price, which depended on how detailed the drawing was.

At the convention I am usually surrounded by comic artists, which is quite normal, it’s comic convention after all. For some reason there are not many Dutch illustrators attending these conventions. I have to say that illustration, as an art form, is generally speaking a little undervalued in the Netherlands, in spite the fact that Rien Poortvliet, a creator of the world famous book “Gnomes”, and Anton Pieck, a wonderfully unique artist, hugely popular within a certain segment of the Dutch population, but not very known outside the country, are both Dutch. I think I should do a post on their art in the near future.

Contrary to that, the comic market is quite developed here, and it seems that these days new comic conventions pop up all over the place like mushrooms after the rain. I guess that the situation in neighboring Belgium is pretty much the same. Anyway, all of these comic artists from different countries who attend the comic conventions, apparently spend their days drawing. They are always in good shape, as far as drawing is concerned; they are highly skillful, imaginative, and many of them are extremely good.

I am a painter and an illustrator. I don’t draw every day, I paint every day! Painting is my cup-of-tea. And to be honest, it’s quite intimidating to sit for a couple of days next to these gifted and hardworking guys, who can draw with such a great ease and speed. I get frustrated every time I watch them draw.
Why I am frustrated, you might ask…? Well, for the past 15 years I didn’t spend enough time on drawing. Sometimes I did not draw for months. Therefore I lost the touch and routine, and I developed a kind of fear of drawing. Until recently, I got nervous every time I saw a blank sheet of paper in front of me. Perhaps you don’t believe me…but it’s true!

Therefore the first convention day is always quite frustrating for me because during that day I try to regain my drawing skills and self-confidence. Usually it gets better the next day. After I have made a number of bad drawings, I finally make one or two good ones, which helps me feel more relaxed. I even start to have fun, for my convention drawings are all silly. For some reason I enjoy drawing silly things. In spite of all the troubles I somehow manage to remember how to draw by the end of the convention, and I often go home sufficiently satisfied with my achievements. But at the same time I realize that I need to spend more time on drawing. I have to practice more. I tell myself that I must draw every day, at least for half an hour, perhaps at the beginning of every working day…I just need to draw more, I need to get better. Long time ago, when I was a comic artist, drawing was my second nature. It would be great to awaken that state of mind again, and to regain that level of skill. Well, I guess I just need to practice more…

In the meantime, here is a selection of my recent convention sketches, and post-convention drawings (more detailed ones, most of these were done at home). I apologize for the blurry images. They were made with a cellphone.

Drawing in progress