Artist Spotlight – Collaborative Art with Wayne Cummins and Herb Wood

Herb Wood (left) Wayne Cummins (right)

Inspiration is the first step for any artist, the fire starter if you will. But how does an artist seek out or find inspiration in the world? It differs for everyone. Some people find inspiration in nature, religion, or the world around them. Some people wait to be found by inspiration. For artist Wayne Cummins, inspiration found its way to him through friendship.

Cummins met his friend Herb Wood years ago living with him on a housing unit at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution. They became friends through their shared interest in artwork and sketching.

Cummins considers himself a creative artist, conveying his message through comical slapstick narratives and manga-style comics. Herb Wood describes himself as a lifelong fine-artist who found his passion for drawing early in life. “I’ve drawn all my life, started in church when I was crawling the pews. My mom wanted me to settle down, so she gave me a pencil and paper,” he says. Art has been his passion ever since.

Cummins started taking his art more seriously when he got to prison. He calls himself a drawist; he can draw the things he sees but is not great with creating original designs and following through with them to finished products.

Together Cummins and Wood create 4-panel comics about various characters they have imagined over the years. Wood has stacks of paper covered in doodles. Some of them are characters that have a recurring theme. Cummins started writing stories for some of the characters that initially seemed to have only vague relationships to one another, turning them into standalones. Cummins describes himself as the mind behind the narratives while Wood takes up much of the responsibility for the final design work and artistry. Together they have created some brilliantly clever pieces.

Their process begins with Cummins storyboarding his narrative ideas. He then hands an idea off to Wood to render the artistic representation of the idea. They then argue over the finished product before coming up with something they can both agree upon. They have found over the years that their process contains four simple yet essential steps: Initial concept, storyboard, rough draft, and finished product.

Final Product

Both artists share an interest in graphite as a primary medium. Cummins likes to incorporate colored pencils to his drawings while Wood prefers the addition of pen. Both expressed interest in electronic art media. Animating for movies or still artwork is something they are both interested in exploring upon release.

When asked why they do art, Cummins said that it provides him a purpose in life and motivates him. “It gives me something to think about and be creative within here,” he says. Wood adds that art is a way of life for him as well. His artwork is his identity. When asked what advice the pair has for any aspiring artist, Cummins answered, “get your hands on as many how-to books as you can. The mind learns from repetition and the way the brain works definitely requires tutelage.” Wood added, “enjoy what you do, do it as much as you can- like everything else, practice makes perfect.”