Stay Loose: A Six Pack with Henry Jones
Displaying fluidity and motion in static form is not an easy task. However, Henry Jones’ illustrations are able to beautifully encapsulate the movement of skateboarding with minimal line work—making it look deceptively simple. I’m a big fan of his loose markings—and subject matter—so I hit him up for a quick six-pack of Q&As.
Michael Sieben: When you’re drawing people skateboarding, do you use reference images or does everything come out of your head?
Henry Jones: I try to never reference a specific image. I think I have been exposed to so much skateboarding media and actual skateboarding that it's pretty easy for it to all just mash together in my head and for me to visualize what I'm thinking about.
Do you remember the first time you drew somebody skating? Did you have an ah-hah moment?
I remember drawing an early iteration of one of my characters doing a kickflip that really accentuated the flick and focused on how compact and contorted the figure's body became at the peak height after popping the board. I think that particular frame of a trick is something that I've been fascinated with the most.
What’s your favorite trick to draw?
Frontside noseslides, frontside bluntslides, backside tailslides and backside noseblunt slides—all because of the way the figure's upper body has to turn in almost a grotesque sort of way to be able to keep control over the momentum and also the way the figure's non-sliding foot will position itself to delicately guide the board through the trick.
I love your animations. What was the impetus for learning how to animate your drawings?
I think it's been a part of the natural progression of this style of art for me. I've had a good number of folks tell me that my illustrations work really well in capturing motion, so it's definitely something I felt the need to find out for myself and explore a little more.
Do you think you spend more time drawing pictures of people skateboarding than you do actually skateboarding these days?
Fortunately, no. Although recently I've been doing some larger watercolors and filling out the page more, so it might be getting close, but that doesn't mean I'm skating any less. I'll be 30 in June and I feel like I am still getting better, just maybe not jumping down as much stuff anymore.
What are you most excited about right now?
My girlfriend Hannah and I have been trying to orchestrate a move out to the West Coast from Pennsylvania for the last couple years and, after a few snags and bumps in the road, are looking to actually make it happen later this summer—pending no major Earth-altering catastrophic events.