Monday, December 21, 2009

Jan Eliot - Cartoonist Survey #27

Jan Eliot writes and illustrates the comic strip Stone Soup. Stone Soup, originally titled Sister City, has been syndicated for almost 15 years and runs in about 200 newspapers in 6 countries. Jan has also had her work published in magazines, humor collections, parenting guides, text books and greeting cards. Stop by her website and take a look. You can follow Stone Soup everyday here. And If you want to get caught up on the strip Amazon sells all seven of her collections.
What is your favorite pen to use?
I use a Gillott 303 nib for inking, micron pens for lettering, a Japanese brush pen (cartridge) for fills.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I sketch in pencil with a Tombow B (standard drawing pencil) and then ink on a fresh piece of paper using a light table. For a compete description, I've posted about my method, with photos, on
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I color in PhotoShop.

What type of paper do you use?
A coated stock, such as Quintessence or Productolith, obtained from print shop.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I'm not good with cars...
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Both. I don't need much... but local art stores do not always carry nibs and ink like they used to, so I often order in quantity online.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
iTunes, pandora, rock, jazz, whatever my assistant puts in the playlists...

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I didn't read comic books. I read the daily funnies and magazine cartoons. I loved Saturday Evening Post cartoons, New Yorker, Playboy...

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Calvin & Hobbes tied with Doonesbury.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
The Secret Garden. Yes.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I took private art classes in high school, majored in art for two years at Southern Illinois University.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
I think it's great. But you have to be disciplined with your time. And of course, it's destroying the newspaper market which is my bread and butter... but things change, technology evolves, it's inevitable. And I love being able to read the work of cartoonists from all over the world. Madam and Eve (South Africa)... Michael Leunig (Australia)... Claire Bretecher (France)...

Did either of your parents draw?
Both grandmothers.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My grandmothers.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes and no, not really. I'm not really a teacher, I've learned.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Sorry, it's a tie. Really, you need both.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Cartoon art, stamps in my passport.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Graphic design. In another life, I'd like to write sitcoms.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
10 x 16 room with a vaulted ceiling, lots of windows, storage room attached, cluttered with artwork, two workstations (drawing / computer), cheerful. Again, see pics at

Do you play any musical instruments?
Piano, sort of.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Prepare yourself for criticism and rejection. You need a thick skin and a belief in yourself, and a love of what you are doing. If you can't imagine doing anything else, you are halfway there.

Who is your favorite artist?
Van Gogh.

Thank you Jan, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer the survey.
Dan Piraro, creator of the very funny cartoon, Bizarro will have his answers posted next.

1 comment:

P.L. Frederick said...

I love Jan's line work. It's so expressive.

According to her website, there are only about 250 cartoonists, and less than 20 of them are women. Yikes.