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Ronald Wimberly: The Pursuit Is The Goal

"I don't keep track,” Ronald Wimberly says. “Ideas go into the scrap yard. But you never know when you will be able to use those scraps."


Ronald Wimberly is not only a top-notch illustrator, he also makes us laugh. “Often I have to convince someone to pay for my ideas in order for them to come to light,” he says. “Sometimes it’s easy, but when it isn’t, lying about my intentions helps.”

As articulate as his drawings are precise, Wimberly seems to think in pictures and sounds. Always offering just the right visual (or musical) metaphor, he says, “potential is like those 8-bit video game platforms that disappear. If you don’t keep moving towards your goal, you’re gonna plummet into the abyss of actuality. You have to keep moving… with each step your evolving potential will support you until you reach your goal.” This is how he’s built up his career, finishing one project after the next, earning awards, accolades, and commissions. One of his most recent large projects was illustrating a graphic novel about the comic book and graphic novel writer, M.F. Grimm.

Some of Wimberly’s greatest frustrations come from the market where he is trying to give his ideas voice. This resistance, he posits, exists “probably because the market is built to run ideas into the ground, before introducing fresh, commercially viable ideas. This is frustrating.” Like many artists, Wimberly struggles with “producing art while supporting an environment conducive to producing art without compromising my art.” This is a challenge he’s constantly trying to solve. “If I figure out a final solution,” he says, “I may tell in future interviews, if the telling doesn’t neutralize the idea’s equity.”

When asked what sort of conventional wisdom he’s defied, Wimberly offers the Cam’ron lyric, “Cause the streets is a short stop. Either you slanging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot.” Well, Wimberly found a third way out: comics. It became clear to him while in school that comics were the best way for him to illustrate and give voice to his ideas. Ideas, he admits, that aren’t always the easiest to sell. “The values of our culture are market values. By disguising my esoteric intentions as marketable ideas I’ve managed to get a few ideas through.”

And how does Wimberly stay organized?

“I gotta work on this,” he admits, but to the extent that there is a method to his madness:

  1. Deadlines.

    “Deadlines create a sense of urgency. Creating solid deadlines will get things done. Also meditating on the fact that one has only SO much time to complete anything creates a pretty strong motivation for me.”
  2. Visual and Musical Stimuli.

    “I also surround myself with my work as well as the legacy of the artists that I admire. My studio is like a pantheon. The walls are book shelves and clippings.” Some of his influences include: Warhol, Paul Bruno, Basquiat, Leutrec, Hokusai, Bowie, Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Run Dmc, etc.
  3. A Good Memory.

    “I don’t keep track,” Wimberly says. “Ideas go into the scrap yard. But you never know when you will be able to use those scraps. I keep my sketchbooks and files, that’s about it. I was blessed with a great memory for scraped ideas and inspiration that remixes and samples from my past works real time.”

Wimberly is an artist who works because the work itself is what fuels his soul. “The pursuit is the goal,” he says. “The means justify the ends.”

Comments (1)
  • Trismegistus

    Note to the editor: That wasn’t a Cam’Ron lyric, it was Biggy Smalls Lyric, from “Ready to Die”…I think it was “things done changed.

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