“I always knew I wanted to be an artist,” illustrator Robert Stull ‘85 said to a packed MLK room.
The assembly, part of the Speaker Series for Black History Month, took place on Tuesday, Feb. 11 during A, B, C and D-blocks.
In addition to founding his own comic book, magazine and print-based media studio, Ink on Paper, Stull has worked with numerous publishers, including Marvel and DC Comics, in creating illustrations for “Spider-Man Adventures,” “Iron Man” and “Wolverine,” among others.
During the assembly, Stull described the strong support which, coupled with self-determination, paved the way for his success. His talk highlighted his inspiring journey as an African-American artist.
The core of Stull’s talk relayed his progression as an artist, a journey that began in the early days of his childhood.
“In all the homes that we lived in, we had incredible artwork on the walls,” Stull said. “ was done by some famous artists, some world-renowned, but most of it was done by local artists.”
The artwork in his home was a source of his interest to pursue art as a career.
“We all draw from these sources and they help nurture everything that is rumbling under the surface, and I could see those examples on the walls of my folks’ house when I was young,” Stull said. “This was magnificent art and it made me realize that is what I want to do. That is what success is to me.”
Stull’s own career was not always easy or lucrative. He spoke about some of his difficulties, as well as the critiques he received while attempting to break into the highly competitive industry of comic book illustration.
“When I would go to conventions and show my portfolio, my biggest criticism was that there was no discipline,” Stull said. “I was all over the place. I was trying too hard to impress everybody.”
Stull began to seriously envision a future in visual art in high school. However, his interest in comic books began as a child and he knew, even then, that he wanted to work in that industry.
“I was always a comic book guy,” Stull said. “I tried the video games, but I never could move past the comics.”
This love for comics, including the Marvel and DC franchises, played a major role in Stull’s career.
“I got a call from a Marvel editor for a one-shot, and I passed on a living in the advertising world,” Stull said. “I passed on full-time employment and a good salary to do this one-shot with Marvel.”
Stull centered his talk around his drive as an artist and his ever-evolving style. In fact, it is his desire to develop unique work that has kept him going throughout his career.
“It has always been important to me to be different in how I express myself artistically. I don’t want people to be able to instantly compare my stuff to something that they have seen before,” Stull said. “I want it to resonate with them and stick out and say, ‘That thing that Stull did was different.’”