Artist Feature: Dave Chisholm from ‘Other Worlds’

The relationship between music and visual art is always interesting and the two art forms share many similarities. Dave Chisholm works in both mediums as a musician and graphic artist, so he was a great partner in creating the artwork for the new Sound Prints album Other Worlds.

A trumpet player, cartoonist, composer, and educator based in in Rochester, NY, Dave Chisholm received his doctorate in jazz trumpet from the Eastman School of Music in 2013. His most well-known visual project is Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in California, a 144-page graphic novel celebrating Bird’s Centennial.

What Dave came up with for the Other Worlds artwork is really unique and inspiring, and we wanted to feature his work and ask him about his creative process.

How did you get into creating comics? How does it relate to your musical work?

I’ve always bounced back and forth between these two big arenas of artistic expression–my earliest music memories are of my dad spinning Miles and Mingus and then starting violin at age 4, while my earliest reading memories are of reading comics. I’ve been drawing them for longer than I can remember. To me, it all feels like it originates from the same place, being pushed to share a story or share a feeling, combined with the pull of satisfaction that comes from having created and completed something. I’ve been very lucky to have had the support and opportunity to pursue my dreams to a high degree in both of these fields – in addition to being a published comic/graphic novel author, I also have my doctorate in jazz trumpet and even had the opportunity to perform at the Festival of New Trumpet Music back in 2012!

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there certain artists whose work you admire?

That’s a really good question, and yes, of course, I’m sure there are zero revelations in my answers, either musical or comics-related. I love well-crafted art from across genres, whether that’s jazz or rock or hip-hop, superhero comics or manga or underground comix. Some of my primary influences – and I guess heroes – are: Katsuhiro Otomo, Alan Moore, Miles Davis, Radiohead, Fiona Apple, Charles Mingus, Elliott Smith, Grant Morrison – so yeah, I mean, I’d say it’s a very typical list of someone born in the 1980s!

Your recent graphic novel, Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in California, has received widespread acclaim. How did it come together? What’s been your reaction to how it has been received?

That project originated with the Parker estate – they wanted to do something out-of-the-box for Bird’s centennial and somehow they got this idea to make a graphic novel about his time in California, set to correspond with an album of unearthed treasures from that span of time in Parker’s life. They contacted Z2 Comics, who has really blossomed into a publisher with a fantastic niche of officially-licensed music-related graphic novels and also happened to have published Instrumental, my first graphic novel. Upon being contacted by the Parker estate, Z2 reached out to me and asked me to put together a story pitch for the book. It was a perfect confluence of obsessions for me and I put everything I had into this book. The reception has been overwhelmingly great and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

For this Sound Prints release, Other Worlds, what was your process for creating the album artwork? Were you familiar with the group’s music? Did you have a certain concept in mind or receive input from Dave and Joe?

I’ve been a fan of Dave’s work for like twenty years and Joe’s work for honestly just as long. I really dig the group and so I was just thrilled when Dave reached out with this idea. He sent me the track names which obviously have this ANCIENT/COSMIC angle which immediately made me think of the works of two of my favorite comic creators: Jack Kirby and Moebius. Pulling inspiration from their work, I put together this idea about this enormous cosmic being descending to earth and the Sound Prints group playing some music for it!

Did the artwork come fairly quickly or did it go through numerous edits and iterations?

It took a little bit of conversation to find the right angle – one that wasn’t too “GOOD VS. EVIL” but maybe one that spoke more to exploration and collaboration. Once we found the right angle, it was a pretty fast process!

What future projects are you working on?

I’m currently about 135 pages into my next graphic novel, which will be 180 pages. It hasn’t been announced yet so that’s all I can say about that! I have a musical project that’s been simmering since the start of the pandemic as well – a two-person collaborative effort with a great drummer friend of mine Matt Bevan-Perkins. Not sure when we will release it but I’ve got some ideas scheming!

Check out some of the early drafts of Dave’s artwork:

Front cover, early draft:

Back cover, early draft:

Front and back cover, before adding color:

Front and back cover with some color:

Front and back cover complete, early draft of the inside panels :

Full artwork, complete:


Available to stream or pre-order here.