Joe the CEO, 22, also known as Joseph Seal is an artist/author from Springfield, Massachusetts. He’s been drawing characters for years and has even created his own variations of superheroes. It just doesn’t stop there either, homie even wrote TWO books! I had a chance to read the first one and I’m anticipating reading the second book. I caught up with him at his cozy abode and we sat down and talked about his projects.
So lets talk about your art first, ya feel me?
I started drawing at the age of six, I used to draw Bart Simpson on the walls actually.
[Laughs] For real?
Yeah at my old house, there were Bart Simpson drawings all over the walls…
You got your ass whooped for it?
Oh, of course! [both laugh] and then I made my way to paper, of course, and then my sister and I used to share a computer [as to where] I discovered Microsoft paint, so I started drawing my characters as stick figures. Over time of just growth and development I just expanded my drawing knowledge.
I see that you use a lot of graphic art-
So, It basically came from using Microsoft paint and now what do you use?
I still use paint, but as of 2018 I use an iPad. I use an app called procreate. For a lot of my recent drawings and the Apple Pencil cause Microsoft paint is a very distinct style, it’s very sharp and edgy as compared to the procreate.
When did you decide to take your artwork seriously?
I made this profile on this website called Deviant Art. You can find me as JoeProCEO and I uploaded—looking back on them now they’re really bad drawings—That was 2009.
Thats when you were like “Yo, I’m serious about this”
Well, I was like serious, but 2009 is when I showed it to the world.
Would you ever look into animating a series, comic book, etc?
The answer…yes! If given the opportunity. I would like to just be like a writer and just have people animate my characters. Kinda like Seth McFarland.
Favorite cartoon when you were younger?
Teen Titans, Justice League, a lot of nickelodeon shows, Cartoon Network shows, Disney… all cartoons ? So many… Thats a hard question!
So, if you had a gun to your head and you had to choose your favorite childhood cartoon!? CHOOSE NOW!
[Laughs] TEEN TITANS!
Who is someone you look up to when it comes to your art?
I always found superheroes more fun to draw cause they have flashy colors, stuff like that. Thats all it really is, I’m just a giant nerd to be honest.
Its okay, I’m technically a nerd too.
Black nerds, what do they call it “Blerds”?
I never heard of “Blerds”…I guess I’m not that hard of a nerd…
Yeah, thats a new level. Yeah but, I used to get action figures when I was little, and I would draw my action figures. Then make my own characters from the action figures.
So, there is no one you would say influences you ?
No, if they have a cool character. I gotta draw them.
Do you still watch Cartoons, favorite cartoon(s) out right now?
I don’t watch a lot of cartoons, but one of the top ones out right now is the Amazing World of Gumball and Teen Titans GO! As a fan of the original, I hated it at first, but after tuning in—
That show is mad funny when you’re high!
That show is mad funny! That show is not for kids, that’s all I gotta say.
How do you feel about others categorizing your art into fan art?
Well, I DO do fan art, if I’m tryna get like views and stuff. But if its just like a drawing doing just to draw, I just consider it just [art].
What do you think about growth? When it comes to art?
I think there’s always something new to learn.
Definite. Just being inspired by other people, going on instagram just following a whole bunch of art people. You just get to see different styles. Then you wanna have your own style, so you can either try to match their style or to keep doing your own stuff, but IMPROVE your own stuff.
What would you say to anyone into drawing? any artist reading this, would you say to actually learn more? I feel like there no such thing as being at one level, I feel like you have to evolve.
I say to just keep drawing everyday, there’s always room for improvement. Even if you think you’re at your best, you can always do better.
You also wrote two books, can you explain what they are?
The first book I wrote is titled “The 100 Year Wind”, it was released in March 2017. At the time of this interview, it’ll be the one year anniversary. The second book I just released in February 2018, “The 100 Year Wind II: Rise of the Antisha”. Although, I started the first book back in 2015, I finished the initial draft in a month, then over the next two years I tried to give it to people to just read for free. Then I decided that no one’s gonna read an email so I tried to make it more legitimate and so I went through amazon and published it and it sold over one hundred copies.
How did you come to start writing “The 100 Year Wind”?
at first, it was just going to be a comic book. It was a lil something-something I did on the side, but then its very hard to try to write and draw something at the same time.
It is, I’ve tried making comics myself…
Yeah, so I definitely just stuck to writing it. I wrote the prologue, I sent it to my friends and they gave me feedback. It’s kind of like… I was the main writer and my friends helped inspire me to change the story and shift it so its good. By the end of it, I didn’t tell them how it ended, so when they read the ending, that was the final decision. So, I left them speechless.
How long did it take you to write the books?
I’d say, two years. When I was editing it in 2017, I was a much different writer than I was in 2015. So I learned structure and all that, so I had to go back and change a lot because that 2015 copy was rough.
It be like that.
Everyones first project is like kinda shitty— a little rough. With my improved knowledge, I took a creative writing class, all that extra stuff. It just helped me with the character descriptions, setting the scene, dialogue.
Was it easier writing the sequel to 100 year wind?
Yes, it was a lot easier to write the sequel because—actually I was editing the first one and writing the sequel at the same time, so I changed some stuff from the first book to match the second book— but yeah, it was easier because I already knew the feedback from some people who read it beforehand so I was like “I need more of this and less of this”, so that is how I did it.
So what audience are you trying to capture with “100 Year wind”?
Anyone that likes a good story. People like to read all the time, I feel like this is a series I can get them into reading again. Its from someone they know, someone local— Springfield, mass—like the book is all about people of color. Recently, I heard of the term afrofuturism. You heard of that?
Afrofutruism: a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of history that explores the developing intersection of African/African-American culture with technology (via Google).
Kinda like what Black Panther is, like that futuristic, sci-fi, African-American idea. I didn’t know that term [while] writing my book, but after seeing stuff like Black Panther come out, its like all of my characters are like afrofuturistic.
Do you hope to inspire young kids with your art?
Yes, I hope [the] representation matters. I’ve been leaning on creating people of color, because growing up there weren’t a lot of characters of color on TV. I grew up watching Cyborg [Teen Titans], Static Shock…like three black superheroes!
I had to put my little brother on to Static Shock.
Yeah, that show has to comeback. Representation; all of my characters in my book are people of color.
So, you hope to show the kids that there are characters doing cool things who look like them?
Yeah, theres one thing to read it, but if you see what they look like in my drawings its like “Okay” [with contentment].
Should we be expecting any new projects?
I got something in the works!
Where do we look?
Follow me on my Instagram and my Deviant-Art profile. Also, possibly a third book! A series of short stories related to “The 100 year Wind”, its goal is to focus on the minor characters from the series. Also, please go on Amazon and buy my book!