Earlier this year we were introduced to the work of Eric “Pepperink” Maruscak when we saw the time lapse video of the chalk drawing he did of Ivan Reis’s Green Lantern art for C2E2. Now we are thrilled to be able to show you the custom art and video Eric has made for Convention Scene.
Want to see more of Eric’s work? Check out the interview below for details on where you can find him at Comic-Con International: San Diego, and here are some links to some of his other pieces:
Green Lantern | C2E2 2011:
Yu-Gi-Oh! | New York Comic Con/New York Anime Festival 2010:
Lucasfilm | Star Wars Celebration V:
You can learn more about him at this link or by reading our exclusive interview below: http://www.pepperink.com/about-me/
Convention Scene: How did you get started doing chalk drawings?
Eric: It started around 2004. I had always been know as an illustrator and artist in my home town, so the local Little Italy Community asked me to take part in a street painting festival they were trying to organize. The original street painters got started in Italy and were called “Madonnari”. They would perform in front of churches in the hopes that they would be hired to come inside and work as mural artists, or would recreate murals they had already painted inside the building to get more money from passers-by as a street performer. This history is why many Little Italy Communities have such festivals.
It was a hot weekend, painful to work on the pavement, and I loved every minute of it. It took me a while to realize that it was the performance aspect that I enjoyed so much. Artists are solitary people for the most part, toiling away at our art tables, canvases, or computers with most people never seeing the work in progress, only the finished piece. Talking with people while I worked, answering questions and watching them return over and over again to check on the progress of the art was amazingly fun for me as an artist.
I did more festivals after that, and made the choice to start focusing my work on my love of comic book art. I feel that comic book illustrators get a bad wrap and are really some of the most talented artists working today, but I was worried that people coming to the festival would think of it as “kids stuff.” I was totally wrong, and the art was a hit, in part because the characters were iconic and immediately recognizable. So I continued making comic murals as outdoor chalk art while I worked on my traditional and digital art separately.
Then, in the Spring of 2006 I was at Wizard World Philadelphia wandering the floor showing my portfolio. I was talking to a wonderful artist named Franchesco who is a regular at shows, and he was critiquing my stuff when he came across a photo of one of the chalk murals that I’d just happened to tuck in there. He stopped, turned the portfolio to someone standing next to me and said “He should do this stuff at shows.” Turns out the random person next to me was the Director of the Wizard World shows at the time. He handed me his card and said “Let’s make it happen.” It took several months of e-mails and calls, but my first convention appearance was that summer at the 10th Anniversary Wizard World Chicago Show. It taught me a valuable lesson, be nice to EVERYONE you meet at a convention, you never know who might be standing next to you.
Since then I’ve worked at building publicity and have amassed a large collection of appearances including 11 Wizard World stops, multiple New York Comic Cons and New York Anime Festivals, several appearances at the Penny Arcade Expo, stops at the Otakon in Baltimore, Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando, and finally this summer an appearance at the San Diego Comic Con!
Convention Scene: Which chalk drawing has been my most challenging to do?
Eric: That is a difficult question as many have had unexpected difficulties that I’ve had to work around. The Watchmen piece I did for DC Comics/Warner Brothers at the New York Comic Con in 2009 was my largest so the sheer scale was hard, a Marc Silvestri X-Men: Messiah Complex cover recreation I did for Wizard World Texas was really difficult because I had to recreate the look of Mr. Silvestri’s sketchy pen-and-ink style and crazy cross-hatching in black and white chalk! There was a “Summer Blockbuster” piece I made at Wizard World LA featuring Ironman, Batman and Indiana Jones that was my most beat-up piece with it getting torn, walking on it, a baby throwing their juice cup across it and one man spilling a whole coffee onto the upper portion. But probably my most difficult was my first convention piece ever, Wizard World Chicago in 2006. Not only because it was new in every way, but because I wasn’t sure I was even getting permission to make the piece until I was 5 hours into my 13 hour drive to Chicago (that was a leap of faith). Also the city had just come off a killer heat wave (literally 8 or 9 people died in the days before), and I made the piece outside in 90+ degree heat for three days, the sheer physicality of it was tough to pull off. The crowd response was amazing though, and I knew many more shows were ahead of me.
Convention Scene: Which one was the most fun to do?
Eric: I have to say that the Star Wars piece I made at Celebration V last summer was the most fun I’ve had, and there were a number of reasons behind this. First, I was making a STAR WARS piece… for LUCASFILM… c’mon, that was a dream come true. Then there was the fact that I was the person who was to introduce Savage Oppress (Darth Maul’s brother) to the crowds at the show, and be the first artist to ever draw him in a public venue. Sure, George Lucas made the announcement first during his interview with John Stewart, but less than a third of the convention was able to see that or watch it on close-circut TVs in the center, so for the rest of the convention goers my drawing would be their first glimpse. But I think the biggest reason is simply because everyone there was so damn happy, all the time. It was the most positive and upbeat convention I have ever been to. Everyone was there because they love Star Wars, and they were getting so much out of it. I was proud to be a part of that experience and for people to see the creation of that mural (which took 33 hours over 4 days.)
Convention Scene: Anything else I want to add?
Eric: I’ll be appearing at San Diego Comic Con for the Nintendo event directly across the street in the Marriott hotel. Nintendo is always great, and this is the second piece I’ve made for them. Last year I created a Metroid: Other M mural at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle. I will be drawing a beautiful piece of artwork they have provided, and again recording a time lapse of the entire process. If you are coming to the show, be sure to stop by because it is going to be amazing! I am really honored to be appearing there as I’ve always wanted to create one of these at San Diego Comic Con. Sure, I am not right on the main floor… yet…. but as I have found each appearance opens doors to other shows and people who have never seen my work, so hopefully next year I can get right on the show floor for an amazing piece of art.
I’ve done a lot of work in the Comic Book, Anime and Video Game arenas… so now I am also reaching out to Horror Conventions. Yep, that’s right. I am a big fan of horror, and would love to create something at many of the horror cons out there. The artistic possibilities of the imagery (something horrific and awful and amazing) blown up to 15 feet tall gets me excited each time I think about it, so I am hoping to make some contacts with Horror Shows soon and see what we can create!
And lastly, even though I am mostly known as a chalk artist… I do a lot of illustration work, concept art and sequential drawing too (when I get the time between appearances) and I am hoping to make that a much bigger part of my daily work in the very near future. When I do get the time I like to share images on my Facebook fan page Pepperink: The Home of artist Eric Maruscak, and on my blog at www.pepperink.com.
And if you ever see me at a show, don’t hesitate to say hi…. I love talking to people while I work, and that is all part of the performance aspect of the art I create.