Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Keelan Parham - Cartoonist Survey #33

Keelan Parham is a cartoonist from Florida who specializes in caricatures and comic book illustration. His work has appeared in many forms of media including children’s books, magazines and comic books. A member of the National Cartoonists’ Society, he is the author of “Let’s Toon Caricatures.” Keelan owns his own company, Caricature Connection which provides caricaturing for special events, corporate functions and individuals. Don’t live in the Florida area? Don’t worry, you can fill out the online order form and receive your caricature digitally or in the mail. If you are ever at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom you can stop into one of the Caricature Connections retail locations. Stop by Keelan’s website, his blog and also Caricature Connection.

What is your favorite pen to use?
My Wacom pen on my Cintiq is my real favorite. I'm a digital guy, mostly. For non-digital work, I prefer the PITT Brush pens or the Tombow Brush pens.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I do sketch things out first. When I'm on paper, I use non-repro blue pencils to sketch with.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Definitely on computer. In PhotoShop.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Besides cartooning for clients here out of my studio, I still draw caricatures at live events sometimes ( Caricaturing is where I got my start). Occasionally I draw my work at events in color. When I do, I color them in Chartpak Ad Markers ( I love how they blend ), or I paint them with watercolors.

What type of paper do you use?
At live events, I use 100 pound card stock. When I am doing studio work and NOT drawing it all digitally ( which is rare ), I use whatever I have lying around... usually just copy paper, and scan it in.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Anything mechanical. Buildings, cars, motorcycles... anything that's not flesh and blood, I don't like to draw it. But of course I have to all the time.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I buy stuff from my local store, Art Systems, in Orlando.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Not really. Ummm, eat, maybe? I eat 5-6 times a day, so yeah, that's usually a safe answer. Or I read. I'm always reading.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Actually, I have never been a big music listener when I work. I listen to radio shows and podcasts on iTunes these days. Coast to Coast AM and FutureQuake rule!!

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Oh yeah, I always read comics. Still do. Are we talking comic books or comic strips, by the way? I was usually more into comic books, for the record. My favorite as a kid was probably Justice League, Action Comics with Superman, or SpiderMan.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Without a doubt, Dennis the Menace. I am so thankful that Fantagraphics has been reprinting all of them these past few years. Ketcham was a genius. I learn something every time I look at his strips.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
"The Little Engine That Could", which was a Little Golden Book. And yes, I believe I do have a copy somewhere. I also have a copy of the first comic book I ever owned, an issue of Action Comics.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I attended the Savannah College of Art and Design, and got a BFA in Illustration. I graduated a LOOOONNNGG time ago.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
It's been a huge blessing to me as an artist. I am constantly getting inspiration from artists I find on the Internet and I've made many talented friends through it. Plus, don't even get me started on how valuable I find it as a reference tool! I remember having "morgue" files of reference photos. Google Image is the only way to go!

Did either of your parents draw?
My Mom is actually very talented, but stopped pursuing art as a career when I was born. She still draws and paints some for fun, though. That's definitely where I got my talent from.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Both of my parents have always been very supportive, as were my Mom's parents, my grandparents. For the last seventeen years, though, the MOST supportive person has always been my wife, Barbie. That's in everything, not just my art! Now my two daughters, ages 11 and 3, are big fans of Daddy's work as well. They both have drawing talent too, by the way.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Many. Many unfinished ones. I sketch a fair bit, but I kind of have sketchbooks stashed all over my house, my car, etc. So I have a lot of them going, but it takes awhile to finish one of them.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I have taught cartooning to kids at various times over the years, and I do enjoy it. I'll probably do it again in the near future at the school my daughters go to.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion. That's an easy one. I've known a lot of talented people who never made it as working artists. Conversely, some of the most successful artists I know weren't all that talented when they started out, but just kept practicing. They had the passion, the drive, and it paid off for them in the long run.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I guess you could say I collect books, I have so many of them. Books on cartooning, comic books, and books on conspiracies and religion are my favorites.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Superman. Why not be the best, you know? But I really like Plastic Man, as well...

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty. Although, I actually draw pretty well with my left hand as well. And either foot. Don't ask. I just had to try it one night...

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I'm sure I'd be an Elvis impersonator. Seriously. I did that for a short time long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
My office/ studio is here in my home, and on it's walls are caricatures of ME by some of my friends and heroes whose work inspires me. I've got pieces by David Cowles, Sebastian Kruger, Stephen Silver, Tom Richmond, and Al Hirschfeld.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I took piano for ten years as a kid and can barely play anymore. But, I do have a nice piano right outside my studio and I like to plunk around on its keys every once in awhile.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Here's the honest truth - there are talented people all around you. You're not entitled to anything just because of your talent. You still have to work for success, like everyone else. But if you keep at it, and treat art as a real job, you CAN succeed. And I can't imagine any other job that is as fun and rewarding.

Who is your favorite artist?
I could say Al Hirschfeld or Hank Ketcham... they would both be good answers. And I do really admire them, and constantly learn from their work. But really? I have to say my favorite artist is God. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but I don't care. Every morning I see the sunrise, every evening I see the sunset, and I am blown away. The Universe and everything in it is His canvas. Nobody else even compares. Know what I mean? (Editor's note: Yes I know exactly what you mean. Nothing like being in a canoe out on a lake at 5:00 in the morning with the fog burning off and the sun just peeking over the trees...perfection.)

Thank you Keelan!

Next up will be the Reuben Award winning cartoonist/illustrator, Jack Pittman.