Alumni Spotlight recognizes a chosen Kubert School alum showcasing their work and journey after The Kubert School.
- Alumni Spotlight
- Shane Davis
- Garry Brown
- Brandon Vietti
- Eric Shanower
- Cliff Rathburn
- Anna-Maria Cool
- Rob Tornoe
- Dan Duncan
- Kevin Colden
- Warren Martineck
- Kevin Mellon
- Thomas Yeates
- Henrik Jonsson
- Tayo Fatunla
- Grant Miehm
- Carli Ihde
- Tamra Bonvillain
- Gary Fields
- Elisa Feliz
- Jerry Wilson
- Jeff Brennan
- Emi Yonemura - Brown
- Adam Pedrone
- Rian Miller
- Eric Schock
- Steven Pennella
- Jason Quinones
- Clayton Cowles
- Mark Gonyea
Talent from The Kubert School
Interview by Michael Kraiger
TKS: Do you remember when you started drawing, or perhaps drawing better (or more) than the other kids?
Grant Miehm: I recall drawing as early as kindergarten. I was drawing more than other kids by the second grade or so, when I began to be asked to do art for projects around school, or the yearbook --- things like that.
TKS: What were some of your earliest artistic influences (e.g., storybooks, animated cartoons, comics, whatever)?
Grant Miehm: All of those prompted me to draw. I spent every Saturday morning of my childhood in front of the TV watching cartoons and drawing anything from them that fired my imagination. I also read books on mythology or biographies of pilots, explorers and so on. Reading stirred my imagination as well.
TKS: Is there an artist whose work at some point you realized you recognized and that it was a single person drawing it?
Grant Miehm: I devoured most of the sixties Marvel comics as I grew up. I became aware that there were different artists on each title when I
was around six. The first real “name” I connected with was Jack Kirby without a doubt.
TKS: Who were some of your earliest artistic influences?
Grant Miehm: In addition to Kirby I was totally into John Romita, Sr. Later on artists like Wally Wood, Gil Kane, Russ Heath, Hal Foster,
Burne Hogarth and Roy Crane, among others. When I found Joe’s Tarzan, it was a big milestone of discovery for me as well.
TKS: At what point did you realize that being an artist was a career choice you were moving towards?
Grant Miehm: As a birthday present I received a copy of the hardcover Tarzan of the Apes book/graphic novel that Burne Hogarth drew in the early seventies, and was absolutely blown away by it. That’s what made me realize that being an artist was something I wanted to do.
TKS: How or why did you decide to come to The Kubert School?
Grant Miehm: Most adults I knew while I was growing up seemed to hate what they did for a living, so I was determined to do something I loved. I was a professional musician for several years, and when that didn’t pan out, I decided to get serious about a career as an artist. Definitely the best life choice I ever made.
TKS: Was there any type of cultural shock when you arrived in New Jersey and got to the school?
Grant Miehm: It was unbelievable. The New Jersey and New York City area was a completely different world. Exciting, but with an edge of uncertainty that made me determined to make the most of it.
TKS: Is there any particular class or lesson that stands out from your three years at the school?
Grant Miehm: For me, the school seemed to be about how each of the instructors left their individual ideas with me, rather than a single class or lesson. Joe, Tex Blaisdell, Mike Chen, Ben Ruiz, and others – all of them were more important than I can ever put into words.
TKS: You were a good student but I wonder… did you ever doubt you'd made the right choice coming to the school?
Grant Miehm: Not at all. By the time I graduated I was feeling that I wanted to continue studying art in some way, but I also knew it was time to start making my daily bread as an artist, so off I went and began freelancing.
TKS: Did you ever doubt your abilities?
Grant Miehm: I’m not sure I had any sort of “level” in mind that I didn’t get to, and therefore I never felt any doubt. I just sort of “started” at
the school, and let things unfold as they did. Joe once told me that he thought my greatest strength as a student was that I competed with myself, by being dedicated to doing better on each subsequent assignment. I’m still using that same motivation all these years later.
TKS: What's the best trick or most valuable bit of advice you received while at the school? (Maybe from an instructor, fellow student, or artist you may have met at a convention or so on.)
Grant Miehm: Well, a ton of drawing advice, obviously, but there were a couple of simple pieces of career advice that I think are just as important:
From Hy Eisman (I’m paraphrasing): “This job has so many ups and downs that you have to learn to laugh at them or it’ll drive you crazy.” Not the first time I’d ever heard something like that, but it came at a moment where it really stuck, so I always remember that one.
From Joe Kubert (I’m paraphrasing here as well): “Do this work because you love it. It’s not about money, fame, or notoriety. It’s about the fact that you know you don’t want to do anything else, period.” That one runs through my head almost every day, usually as I sit down to work and realize that I do this for a living and I love it so much.
TKS: What was your first professional work after attending the school? How did it come about?
Grant Miehm: I penciled a few issues of Elementals for Comico, after meeting Bill Willingham when he visited the school. Those characters were exciting to work on, and allowed me to indulge that kind of dynamics I really enjoy in storytelling.
TKS: You’ve done quite a bit of comic book work for Dark Horse, Marvel and DC Comics. You also regularly post examples of commercial illustration jobs you’ve done. Do you prefer one type of work to the other?
Grant Miehm: I’d much rather draw comics, of course. I’ve always found it valuable, though, to take on different kinds of work in much the same way we were required to do a wide variety of assignments as students. It helps keeps the creative batteries charged because the differing assignments provide a greater artistic stimulus.
TKS: Do you work with an agency for your commercial assignments or is this something you pursue as an individual?
Grant Miehm: I pursue it as an individual. I’m sure there are tremendous agents out there, but I’ve just never come in contact with any of them. I would seriously entertain working with a good agent regularly if that opportunity came up.
TKS: Since 2000 you’ve been the artist on “Scouts in Action” in BOYS’ LIFE magazine. This was always one of my favorite features of the magazine. Were you a scout yourself?
Grant Miehm: Yup -- a Cub Scout. And – surprise! – I had my artist’s merit badge. I found it again a couple of years ago in an old box. Got that badge when I was about seven. A portent of things to come, yes?
TKS: How did you get the “Scouts in Action” job?
Grant Miehm: I’ve continued to send out packages over the years – now e-mails with a multi-page PDF – to prospective clients / editors / art directors, etc. I knew someone who was freelancing for BOYS’ LIFE and they suggested I send them some material. The package I sent landed on the art director’s desk the same day they needed to fill the slot on SIA. Right place, right time – another thing Joe used to say regularly. So now, the better part of 15 years later, I’m still writing, drawing, inking, coloring and designing “Scouts in Action” and “More SIA”, and I’m very happy to be doing so.
TKS: What's a typical workday like for you?
Grant Miehm: It starts early, around 6 or 6:30 AM. I work through the morning, dealing with phone calls, answering e-mails, or sending out proofs as needed. Lunch is usually around 11:30 AM for about 45 minutes, and then back to work until 6 PM or maybe a little later. A day that ranges between 10 to 12 hours, six days a week, is normal for me. And of course longer if the workload requires it.
TKS: What are you working on now?
Grant Miehm: “Scouts in Action” and “More SIA” are the main jobs at the moment. I’m also working on a special project for the BOYS’ LIFE website, and anything else that the editors at BL send my way. I’m still fielding illustration jobs for ad agencies as they arise, and there’s a terrific, potential ongoing assignment for a leading magazine, which I can’t say too much about now, but --- the future’s always exciting, yes?
TKS: What's next?
Grant Miehm: Doing “the freelance shuffle” – looking for new work, as always. It never stops. Digging for work is a regular part of the freelancer’s job, just like doing the work itself. There are a couple of potential long range projects which, if they happen, will be really enjoyable. But in the meantime, the hunt for new assignments continues.
TKS: Any bit of advice you'd give to a first year student or someone considering coming to the school?
Grant Miehm: The school is the best place to make art-related mistakes because you have instructors who will help you get past those blunders. Make as many mistakes as you can while the help is available, because out in the field, that same help is far, far less available. And don’t go to the school looking to prove what you know. Trust me, you don’t know anything. I didn’t. Ultimately, everyone comes to the school for one reason: To learn.
TKS: Anything you'd like to add about Joe Kubert?
Grant Miehm: Joe was a genuine mentor, a great artist, editor and creator. He was the single most important influence on my career as an
artist. His legacy, for those who were graced by his teachings, are the careers we now enjoy, and the benevolent mandate he gave us to inspire others the way he still inspires all of us.
Marvel Comic, DC Comics, Dark Horse, Boys\' Life
Ravage, The Shield