Name: Jeff Balke
Birthday: July, 31 1979
Where do I Live: Chicago
Like most kids at a young age, I doodled with pretty much anything you put in my hand (crayons, markers, pens, pencils, chalk, rock on pavement…). Nothing could have made me happier.
In 1993 I went to my first comic book convention "Chicago Comic-Con". This was the turning point in my life. I met the man himself…Mr. Stan "THE MAN" Lee! He was so full of energy and talked to everyone who wanted his autograph. When I got up to him, I put down Amazing Spiderman #41 and he signed it along with a Polaroid of him and I. I'll never forget what he said to me right before I left his table..."Keep pushing true believer, dont give up, it will happen", all with a smirk on his face and a slight head nod. I never really knew what he meant by that until later that day when I realized I wanted to work in the comic book industry.
All throughout high school, my work has been published in magazines, businesses, banners, brochures, fliers and schools. In 1998 (just one year after I graduated Warren High School), I was invited back to Warren High School to show the students how to draw the comic book way, or at least the way I do. For 2 weeks I taught the art classes my style. It was a huge success and was invited back to be a guest speaker for the art classes from time to time.
Up to about mid 2005, all I wanted to do is illustrate comics. This was until I found myspace. I posted a few black and white illustrations I drew on my profile and received a few good comments (which was pretty cool). Then I was asked if I had any "colored" work. I didn't at that time, but I colored one up right away in Photoshop and posted it. I got more comments on my colored work than on my b/w illustrations (that was great)!
Thats when I got my first gig on a comic called Foxwood Falcons (After Hours Press). This was the beginning of my professional career.
In 2008, I’ve created something called Sketch Coloring. This is where I take a sketch cover of any comic book and color right on the actual cover with special markers. This is my way of creating a sketch. Since most colorists really don’t sketch “traditionally” (like Jim Lee, Micah Gunnell and so on…) I wanted to come up with my own way to give something to the fans so they can take home and have a “one of a kind”. Sketch Colorings do just that. No two Sketch Colorings are alike (even if I color the same cover 100 times for 100 people). Check out the Sketch Colorings page to see what I'm talking about. It may be easier if you see what I'm saying.