I’ve been a huge fan of Keith Garvey’s work for quite some time, so it was a real honor for him to accept an invitation for an interview. His slick, sexy, signature style have been featured in tons of books, tubes and merchandise. He cranks out amazing work in record speed and is a true marketing master to boot. Be sure to check out this website for more of “Garv’s Girls!”
How long have you been doing pinup and how did you get started?
Ever since I was a kid I’ve been interested in pin ups. One of my older cousins used to collect Playboy and hide them in his closet. Whenever I visited him, I would sneak into his closet and look at them. That’s when I first saw the art of Alberto Vargas – something just clicked; I wanted to do that. So, I’ve been drawing girls all of my life but didn’t make a living at it until about 12 years ago.
How did you stumble upon your unique style?
I’ve always been a big fan of Vargas, Sorayama and Patrick Nagel. I used to copy their style. As a result, I think my work is a reflection of all three of those men.
Is this your full time gig or do you do other things?
I’ve become a full time artist within the last ten years. Mostly pin ups but I do other things as well; portraits, logos, etc.
What is your typical process/workflow?
I get asked this a lot and it’s kind of difficult to describe. But, I’ll give you the basics. I start with an idea (style, position, attitude) then do a lot of research to find references that relate to my idea. I then do a loose sketch based on the references, scan it into my computer and paint it using Photoshop using the references that I’ve collected for the clothing, position, hair, accessories, etc.I can tweak the proportions and adjust the sizes until I get a working base for my image. The finished image often looks very different from when I started.
Who has been your biggest creative influence?
As I mentioned before, the greatest pin up artists of all time (in my opinion) are Alberto Vargas, Hajime Sorayama, Patrick Nagel and Milo Manara.
Who is your fav artists at the moment?
That’s difficult to answer because I don’t really have a favorite but I really like the work of Mark Wasyl (Drop Dead Sexy), Rion Vernon (Pin Up Cartoon Girls) and of course the Master Dean Yeagle (Caged Beagle Productions).
How do you overcome those times when the creative spirit has left the building?
It’s funny, like any other job, I get burned out. I guess it’s just a waiting game. Eventually, I get naturally re-inspired. I take some time off, play golf and get my mind off of work. I get a lot of really nice mail from people who like my work and that’s always inspiring.
What do you do when you’re not painting hot babes? What is a day in the life of Keith Garvey like?
I wish I could say that I live the life of an “International Playboy” but, that would be lying! I’m a big family man and spend a lot of time with my wife and family. I love to golf, watch sports and listen to music. A perfect day is playing 18 holes of golf and a half day of work!
Most inspirational food, drink, other? What has to be on the desk at all times for you to get into the flow?
Coffee and cigarettes are my driving force; I can’t work without either one! Sirius radio playing in the background and my cell phone at my side so that I can keep with social media.
Mac or PC? Other Hardware?
I’m pretty basic; I’m a PC guy. I don’t really have a lot of technology. I have a Wacom Board and don’t like it. I use Photoshop a lot and I’m pretty adept at that.
Current software of choice?
Photoshop CS and a scanner
Do you draw, paint traditional or just digital?
All of the above but I’d really like to do more traditional painting and drawing. Those things are much more time consuming and it’s hard to find a balance between making a living (digitally) and actually putting some paint to canvas.
What does the future hold for you? What are you working on next?
I wish I knew what the future held for me, that would make things easier! I would like to make Garv Girls a household name and make my work as recognizable as the great pin ups artists. I have an idea to create pin ups on canvas with oil paint; sort of non-traditional art done traditionally.
Is there any promotional/marketing advice you would like to offer to other artists?
I wish I had good advise for up-and-coming artists but the truth is, I can only tell you how I did it. I exposed my art to as many different places as I could. I work non-stop perfecting my style and what I do. I didn’t take no for an answer and I slowly but surely gained some recognition in the field. It’s really important that you hone your skills; try to be as original as possible and that’s difficult to do because so much has already been done. Know what you’re good at and then go after that.
Tell me about your kindle books that’s a really interesting digital strategy. How are those working out for you?
That’s funny because I’m actually about to release a new book. It’s not like releasing a hard cover book but it does reach a large audience. You take your chances – there’s no book advance or anything like that. You basically have to promote it and sell it and wait for the numbers. It’s been a great experience and they’re doing pretty well.
You also do a lot of other products. What would you say is your best selling or most successful?
The most successful thing I do is PSP tubes; (a layer if my image used for “tagging” on social media). I have a huge fan base there and it’s probably what I’m best known for. I get a lot of requests for personal commissions;. I lease my images for commercial use and my work is used for stickers, skateboard grip tape, posters, skins, etc. I think it’s important to diversify how your work is marketed
How do you handle people who steal your work and use it without your permission? What is your method for protecting your work?
That’s a very difficult thing to do. There’s no good answer to that. I try to protect my work with a watermark but that only goes so far. Sometimes you have to hunt people down and threaten them (legally) and go after the hosting company to shut them down. But I’m lucky enough to have an “army” of online fans who relentlessly seek out and defend my art. I can’t thank them enough for that – it may be the best protection an artist can have. I wouldn’t want to tangle them them…they’re ruthless!
What words of advice would you give to someone just starting out as an artist/pinup artist?
As I mentioned before, it’s really all about perfecting what you do. Get good at it and when you know you’re good, pursue any and every lead that you can find. You gotta have a thick skin in this business. Like any other art, you’re going to be criticized – some constructive, some not.
Most recent published work?
The online erotic magazine Watch 4 Beauty (Watch4beauty.com) did a piece on me. I did a lot of covers for French Kiss Magazine and Kiss Comix in Europe and my fourth book will coming out shortly from Gallery Wrapp.
Special projects you want to mention?
I can’t say too much about this but my art was recently used in a high profile music video and I’m looking into Garv Girl action figure / statues.Also, high quality hand-signed prints are currently available through escapecollectibles.com and very soon I’ll have Garvgraphx/Garv Girl logo T-shirts available.
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