Publisher George Vega sat with me for the second part of his interview series. See Part I here. I had some questions already lined up, but we didn’t use those. George was too excited about Vegamation’s new release called Introducing…Vol 4. George explained that Vol 4 is a super project that took the creative talents of five artists. I threw my questions out of the window and started asking about the business of being the boss of Vegamation Press…
Q) George, you seem pretty excited! What’s happened?
A) I am very excited about our latest release/project called Introducing… Vol 4. It showcases five artists and is VegamationPress’s flagship title. Here is the Line-up!
Andrew Tunney from the UK
Shawna Mills from NY
André Araújo from Portugal
Alessandro Micelli From Italy
George Vega (that’s me!) from NJ
Q) How did you put together such a super team of talent? That must be one big coordinated effort to pull all of that together?
A) It was a combination of things that brought us all together! Let me explain.
Andrew: I watched him on DeviantART and asked him politely and he said yes, enthusiastically. Shawna: I met her at New York CC through a friend and I saw her work, then I recruited her. André sent me some fabulous artwork because he was looking for a publisher and I let him know that we had a spot in Introducing and we could put in some of his work in the book. Alessandro is from DeviantART, too. He joined as a member on our DeviantART group and his artwork got my attention. And, last is me…I actually refrained from putting in my artwork for three years because I knew the time was not right until now.
Q) Do you get together and brainstorm ideas before you started putting concepts together?
A) The formula is simple. I give them a title page to do– any ID image like a logo, self portrait or anything. In the other seven pages, they can use any image they want, maybe a three page story and some pinups or all pinups (except copyrighted material). Believe it or not, our first volume had images from Marvel that they allowed us to use since that artist asked permission from her editor. There is some Vamperila stuff, too, in Volume 2 where they gave us permission. Some people talk about the EVIL big guys but it seems like I got lucky, maybe? Some of us send our sketches to each other, which I encourage– not for me to art direct, but to get a group dynamic going.
Q) As a publisher and as an illustrator, what do you look for in talent, George? Any specific things?
A).Talent-wise I look for different things. Different styles. There is no question that they must know all the basics and that their art just ROCKS. I need different styles in the book so I do my best to get artists who appeal to different tastes. Maybe a guy or gal is very anime, eastern or western, possibly a painter, or even an abstract artist– or rather, one who distorts on purpose and with control. All the people I work with are immensely talented, but some are just not “names” yet!
Q) For all those young artists out there, what do you turn down straight away? Is there anything that really annoys you?
A) Heh! What “annoys” me? Sometimes, I look longer at “annoying” to make sure it’s not genius. If basic skills are not there though then, yes, you will be turned down very quickly.
Q) Do you ever have to reject good work because it’s just not what you want?
Q) Can I ask, what made you start Vegamation? How did it come about?
A) I started with a friend from graphic design school. A few years after graduation, he still had my phone number. I was owner of a small printing company and he wanted to know if I could print books. I told him “no,” but I figured I knew enough people in the printing industry that I can get it done somehow. So we met for coffee and talked for hours. I saw his artwork and was floored. At that time, I barely drew anything; but I still had an eye for the GOOD stuff.
His name is Coran Stone (aka Kizer on DeviantART) and he is a very popular and well-known artist. He said he had some friends that wanted to do something together as a book. So we brainstormed– I did the homework and used my capital to put the first Introducing book together. With my webdesign and business background, I had VegamationPress up and running in no time. I have a funny story about when we met in school. Don’t know if this is too off topic?
Q) I’d like to hear it!
A) I was at my graphic design school using the computers. It was a dark room and someone jumps in the chair next to me and I was about to chop his neck. It’s this dude, about 20 years old with a mustache that didn’t quit. I mean like a cigar on his upper lip. It was Coran. He says, “I hear you’re good.” I was like, “I’m OK…” Then he said the teachers were talking about me so he wanted to meet me.
I relaxed and then I noticed he was a smart and talented guy who wanted to know who’s who. Years later when we met at the coffee shop, I asked him what happened to his ‘stache and he laughed and said he got rid of it. I asked him, “Why did you have such a mustache, dude?” He said, “I used to love Magnum P.I.”
I still laugh! Who loves Magnum P.I. that much?
Q) I loved that show as a kid! That’s pretty funny, George.
A) Yes, I thought it was funny. I hadn’t seen a “Tom Selleck” since Tom Selleck!
Q) Okay, so how do you market your work?
A) I market our books through social networks. DeviantART is one major part since a lot of artist like to buy artbooks and support other artist when they can. I do everything from Twitter to FB to walking to Comic Book Stores and making deals with them. I also encourage the artist to share the information about the book they are in.
Q) Is Vegamation a profitable business? People say that publishing does not make money anymore. Would you agree with that?
A) Profitable? No. Am I losing money? NO. Do I love doing this? YES. It’s been tough for the big three in comics to make it– imagine what it’s like for the little guy? I have a great relationship with Amazon, so I can move books to break even. Amazon is my major sales portal and Facebook is an amazing sales tool.
Q) I don’t think Facebook’s full potential has been realised.
A) Yes, I agree. It’s building up slow. The faster the build up, the more risk you have to take.
Q) What is next for Vegamation? Any big projects coming up?
A) Well, we do have a volume of Introducing every year so. By the end of this year, we will have Introducing…Vol 5. I’m looking for submissions, folks! I am in talks with some great artists to publish their books for the convention season, like we have in the past. I’m also thinking of a graphic novel– it will be the first for Vegamation press, but if it’s right we can make it happen. I personally have been developing a story for a few years now and have characters planned and the “world” created. So maybe we can release an anthology but only of completed stories or arcs. There are too many incomplete books out there and, as a writer, I am sure you would agree with that.
Q) Certainly, good ideas are lost like the bubbles in wine. It’s a shame, but that’s just the name of the game. I’m sure you’ve lost good art work too.
A) Yes, in a way. Sketches of stuff I could develop. That’s why my graphic novel is in a series of notebooks and sketches. I keep notebooks just for developing the book.
Q) Well, thank you for your time, George! This has been another fun interview with you!
A) No problem, Nick! Always fun!
George went back to his busy schedule– lining up another bestseller for Vegamation, no doubt. Not only is he a great illustrator, talent finder, and businessman– George is a visionary, and I think all you artists reading this should approach him. If you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best.