Becoming a professional artist by Peter Bergting

Full circle. Back where I started. That’s where I ended up. Sort of.

I began my career at the age of five, by copying comic books using waxed paper (the kind you can see through), sprawled on the floor of our summerhouse. Most of my childhood was spent that way – drawing. All the time.

I learned how to draw the mouth of superman that way, using only a line with two smaller lines flanking it to make the dimples.

I began to create my own comic books, making up stories and characters that I was convinced would one day take over the world. Fame and fortune was just around the corner – or so I believed. I was eight at the time and the four or five people that bought my severely overpriced magazines didn’t exactly make for the success that I had anticipated. It would take almost 30 years before I turned my attention to making comics again.

Undaunted I continued to draw and in 1989 I got my first professional gig (unless you count a strip I managed to get into the Swedish Garfield comic book when I was 12). This did not come easy. I was at a game convention and having a miserable time. I had enrolled in a competition displaying my art and some painted miniatures and the competition was severe. My friends were up in the middle of the night fencing with sleeping rolls and plastic Coca Cola bottles. One of my friends decided to take a leak and found himself in the men’s room with a producer for a Swedish role playing games company. Having learned who he was my friend quickly persuaded him to take a look at my artwork. He was unimpressed but told me not to give up. I didn’t. I sent him 50 drawings every day using snail mail (yes, this was way before email was widely available). Finally he caved in and gave me my first gig. One thing led to another and I worked with them for several years after that.

FASA Corporation saw my art in Mutant Chronicles and picked me up to work on Shadowrun and Battletech, White Wolf came shortly after and I worked on Vampire, Mage, and Werewolf. By this time I was working full time illustrating just about everything that came my way. But the “creative” work was going nowhere and I I wasn’t evolving at all so I took a job as in house artist at a web bureau and moved to Stockholm. I stayed with that company until I was tired to death of doing web and got offered another job as in house artist at a computer games company. Doing conceptual art was the rage at the time and I really believed I had found my dream gig. But I hated my job there. Believe me, I know how dearly people want to get into that business but it was not for me. I dreamed of becoming a comic book artist and quit after about a year.

I began drawing The Portent and submitted the first eight pages to Image Comics and that was it. The Portent led to my work with Rick Remender on Strange Girl and Frazetta’s Creatures and eventually Gangwar that became a #1 best seller in Sweden. At the moment I can pick and choose what I want to work on but I still work 14 hour days. Or nights I should say, most of my days I have no idea what I’m doing. With two kids around I find that work is becoming harder and harder which means that I push my working hours well into the wee hours of the night to get anything done. But I like it that way. The house is quiet, everything is dark and I’m back where I started. Except that I’m not lying flat on the floor using waxed paper any more. Not all the time at least.

Peter Bergting is a comic book artist based in Sweden. Peter also provides illustrations for childrens books and art for publishers all over the world like Hasbro, Paizo Publishing, Aschehoug, White Wolf, Penguin, Bonnier Carlsen, Rabén & Sjögren and many, many more. His artwork appears in Stranger Comic’s THE UNTAMED, available soon from Stranger Comics. You can find out more about Peter at bergting.com.

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