Art of The Shepherd: An Interview with Jake Minor
Jake Minor works as a creative director for an ad agency in Metro Detroit. By night, he moonlights as an illustrator. He has worked for a number of comic publishers and trading card companies on popular entertainment licenses.
Jake is a Lucasfilm approved artist. He also has two children’s books to his credit (A Day in the Life of Peanut and Bosco (https://www.schifferbooks.com/a-day-in-the-life-of-peanut-bosco-6510.html) and Amelia’s Story (https://www.schifferbooks.com/amelias-story-6929.html)—both with Schiffer Publishing).
However, my first exposure to the work of Jake Minor was in 2017, and from afar. In fact, it was because of this image which I first encountered on Facebook or Instagram (I honestly can’t remember which):
To put it simply, I was blown away. As I read some of Jake’s related posts, I learned that this artwork was part of a forthcoming supernatural western Jake was doing with his brothers Matt and Kevin entitled, No Rest for the Wicked. It was eventually published by Source Point Press in April 2019. I knew right away that I wanted to commission Jake to do something for The Shepherd. This was the result:
This piece has always been popular with fans of the Shepherd, so Roberto and I knew that we had to interview Jake about its creation.
ANDREA: Our understanding is that you studied art at the University of Michigan. How did you get into art originally? In other words, what is your artistic “origin story”?
JAKE: Yes, I studied at U of M but, my creative endeavors started long before then. Since I was a kid I’ve always been drawing or doodling in some form or fashion. My mom says I was an easy kid to raise. Just give me a pencil and some paper. That would be enough to entertain me for hours. Still a proven formula as an adult. At an early age I knew I would be following a creative path.
ROBERTO: Feel free to tell me I'm wrong, but it feels like your take on Legio (the wolf-wraith) is influenced by Chinese art depicting dragons. Is that an accurate assessment and, if it is, does that reflect a cultural interest of yours?
JAKE: You are wrong but, I can certainly see why you would make that assumption. I think my intent for Legio was to make him appear ethereal. In doing so he has a lot of wispy and curling details. It gives him some very distinct stylization that could certainly be interpreted as having some cultural influence.
ROBERTO: I am intrigued by the way that the purple-colored mist from Legio wraps itself around The Shepherd, who seems to exude a black mist. It is almost as if the two characters are engaging in some sort of mystical dance. How did you conceive of the relationship between these characters as you set about creating this piece?
JAKE: Absolutely. I wanted these two to “commune” in a sense. The Shepherd is a tortured character in many ways. He is tortured even more by the dark influence of Legio. Making them intertwine in a mystical sort of dance illustrates their dynamic push and pull. Conceptually I just kept the idea of “ethereal” in mind and that lead to the concept of the sweeping mist that envelops them.
ANDREA: Can you comment on the color choices, particularly the rich blue colors of the background and the use of purple for Legio? We love these choices but we can certainly say that they are unique among the art pieces we have commissioned over the years.
JAKE: Hmm…I’m not sure I can. Slight confession: I collaborated on the colors with my brother Kevin. He did some of the heavy lifting on this piece. I know together we discussed a couple of approaches for this piece. Esthetically I know we wanted cooler tones and colors for the environment and Legio because they would be a nice contrast with the Shepherd. There was a little back and forth between us on this one. Common practice working with Kevin. We do a lot of work on projects together which I guess is a nice little lead into your next question.
ANDREA: Lastly, we are very familiar with your graphic novel for Source Point Press, No Rest for the Wicked (https://oxeyemedia.com/collections/graphic-novels/products/no-rest-for-the-wicked-dead-mans-hand). It, like The Shepherd, is a supernatural tale. You really seem to have a knack for supernatural themes. Is that true or do you prefer working in another genre?
JAKE: Thank you. No Rest for the Wicked was a lot of fun. A good ‘ol western with a supernatural twist. I worked on it with my brothers (Matt and Kevin). Together we crafted something that I feel is pretty unique. We were all happy with how it was received. I feel there’s always an edge to supernatural stuff. There can be a real a darkness associated with supernatural themes. You can play on a lot of existing conventions and lore.
If I have a go to genre it would be fantasy. As a kid I consumed things like Conan, D&D and Tolkien. All huge influences. Found myself drawing a wide array of creatures and characters that inhabited these worlds. As much as I love it and have an affinity for it I haven’t done too much fantasy based work as a professional.
See more of Jake’s work on Instagram @jake_minor_art AND http://www.universe-m.com/index.html
We also HIGHLY recommend No Rest for the Wicked (see the link above).