Thursday, 29 March 2012

Tea In The Tardis (S1) - A Picture Paints A Thousand Words...

March is drawing to a close and I find myself on the third of my ‘Tea in the Tardis’ series.

For this latest instalment I’m joined by Michael David Key of Mike’s Star Trek and Doctor Who Art.

Mike, stars and signed pictures
I was first contacted by Mike back in July 2010 following him seeing a picture of me with Jeremy Bullock (Boba Fett from Star Wars). Mike had a request for me, if he mailed me some of his pictures would I be able to get them signed by the stars when I was at events...

That was 20 months ago, since then I’ve got a number of drawings signed for him and been able to witness some great reactions to them. Mike now also has his own Facebook page, that has now grown from a few followers to a highly popular place that contains not only Mike’s standard drawings but also a number of cartoons and other illustrations as well.

So with the introduction finished let’s talk pictures!

MH: Easy one to start off Mike, what made you first get into drawing?

MDK: I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. I guess I must have been about 5 or 6 but I can remember sitting with my Granddad and asking him to copy the pictures from a Superman Annual I had back then, he was my hero (my Grandad not Superman!). Maybe I wanted to be as good as him?

Karen Gillan aka Amy Pond
My parents didn't draw or paint so who knows where the talent came from? At about 15 I asked my Dad to buy me a tin of 72 Rexel Derwent Studio Pencils like those that a friend used, I'm still using that same tin 27 years later! (Obviously I had to replace the most common colors quite a few times since then.)

I used to look at the drawing on the front of the tin and wonder if one day I might be able to draw as well as that one, I'm still practicing! I guess that's what a lot of it is really, I've had a few years practice now and I'm getting quite good!

MH: I’d say quite good is an understatement! The pictures you do really are amazing, so tell me how long does it normally take to do a picture?

MDK: The coloured pencil portraits I draw are about A4 in size and they take me between 4 to 6 hours usually. The more detailed the picture the longer the drawing takes. For example I remember both Captain Kirks taking about 4 hours each, whereas the Quark from Deep Space 9 took at least 10!!

I do like to get them done in one or two sessions really, I don't like them hanging around. Not always possible though.

Nicola Bryant - She had to be mentioned :)
MH: Wow, to produce pictures of that quality in that amount of time is really fast, I was imagining the pictures taking weeks! When not producing artwork, what do you do?

MDK: I have three very demanding young children so they keep me busy. Doing a drawing has to be done when they've gone to bed or at an agreed time with me locked away as they don't leave me alone! I love spending time with them and my lovely wife.

I'm into Sci-Fi and Cult TV and films in general so I'll often be have on in the background; an episode of Doctor Who, Star Trek, The Avengers, Blake's 7 or Torchwood or something although when I'm locked away it's nice to get the peace and quiet. Love them all as I do, it's important to have some time to yourself and that's where I find mine.

MH: I can imagine that the drawings take a good deal of concentration, it’s always good to have a hobby that lets you have time to yourself, I find painting works for me. So tell me, have you ever sold any of your pictures of is it purely a hobby?

MDK: I've drawn a few as thank you’s to friends for getting a drawing autographed for me and over the years a few people have asked me to draw their children (or dog!) and I've done that for them, they gave me like 20 quid or something I can't really remember. Really, no, the Star Trek and Doctor Who drawings have just been my hobby for the past 14 years (gulp!), drawing them and getting them autographed by the person in the picture, it's just for fun.

Sheldon Cooper as the Sixth Doctor
MH: Wow, 14 years! That is a long time. What about commissions? If someone wanted them to do a picture for you what’s the best way for them to get in touch?

MDK: I haven't done but I guess I could! Now that there is a message feature on the Facebook page people can contact me there in the first instance.

MH: What are peoples (stars) reactions when you hand them a picture to sign?

MDK: They all have been flattered. You've had a taste of this yourself getting a lot of my Doctor Who drawings signed for me over the past couple of years. I was born and bred in England but we emigrated to New Zealand 6 years ago and although we have an excellent show (Armageddon) a few times a year there isn't the wealth and variety of guests that there are in the UK so you've helped me out greatly there, I really am truly grateful!

MH: It’s been a pleasure getting them signed for you Mike.

David Tennant as Ten
MDK: People can see David Tennant’s reaction in a video on your blog and on my FB page. The couple I remember most are the wonderful George Takei "Oh my! I recognize this fellow! You are a very talented artist!" and Armin Shimmerman "You drew this?? Good Job!! I don't care if I have to pay for it myself I'm not going to collect on this!"

Meeting the late Majel Roddenberry and James Doohan was also an honour. Jimmy had been ill for a while and I hadn't seen any recent pictures of him so I was shocked when he came walking very slowly out with his cane looking so much slimmer than Scotty in the movies. He very carefully and slowly signed my drawing. He looked so fragile that I was afraid to shake his hand but reached out to shame mine and said "Fantastic". Amazing man! I think that was his last visit to the UK.

MH: Here’s a tough question for any artist, do you have a favourite picture that you’ve done?

MDK: Aww don't ask me that! There are so many I can't just pick one. There would be favourites for different reasons... For example I love my drawing of Arlene Tur (Dr. Vera Juarez from Torchwood Miracle Day) it's a favourite because of her reaction and mention on her page. I like my drawings where the likeness is really good like a photograph maybe Riker, Quark, Neelix, Tom Baker or K9!

Freema aka Martha Jones
MH: I remember Arlene’s reaction, she was stunned, she called her partner over so that he could have a look! Moving away from your drawings and onto the cartoons that you’ve been recently doing, where do the ideas come from?

MDK: From the things I like to watch, Big Bang Theory and two other Sci Fi shows I can't quite remember. They kinda just come to me really. I usually do a google search first before I draw a cartoon or alter an image in Photoshop as really most of the ideas have already been thought of!

MH: And finally, are you surprised by how popular your drawings have become with the Who community on Facebook?

MDK: Yes, I really am. I started the page just over a year ago thinking perhaps I was just being a bit vain and nobody really would like them, I mean it's just little old me and my silly drawings. I never dreamed that one year on over 1,500 people would have liked them!!

The page has inspired me to do the other things like the cartoons, the quotes and the Photoshop funnies. It's really thanks to pages like your own and Doctor Who and the Tardis by Craig Hurle that have helped my page on its way. I am forever indebted to good people like him and yourself. The page has also led to other unexpected opportunities like colouring backgrounds for the amazing Doctor Stew team, judging a competition for wonderful Comic Who and perhaps even getting some illustrations published in a children's book!

Doctor Who and the Tardis by Craig Hurle
It really has been an amazing year, I'm so busy with it all now - be careful what you wish for eh? Great to talk to you Matt, you really are a great friend to me (although we've never yet met! I do consider you to be a true lifelong friend rather like an old fashioned pen pal I guess) and the best 10th Doctor look-a-like out there. I'm truly grateful for all your help with the signatures. 

Thanks Matt!

MH: It’s been a pleasure Mike, I look forward to getting many more pictures done for you, at some point I’m going to have a make my way over to New Zealand so we can finally meet in person!

MDK: Oh no! I’ve just realised I’ve not mentioned Nicola Bryant in our interview!!

MH: Oh, don’t worry, there will be a reference somewhere, wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t and anyway you just did!