Wednesday, December 2, 2009

William Stout - Cartoonist/Artist Survey #9

Today's answers are from William Stout. I usually write a couple sentences before the Q & A to introduce the artist. When I sat down and looked at the Bio on his website, I immediately realized there was no way to properly summarize his accomplishments in just a few lines.

I've always been a fan of his dinosaur drawings and paintings, but I didn't know dinosaurs were just the tip of the iceberg. He has also been involved with Tarzan of the Apes newspaper strips, Playboy and Heavy Metal magazines, movies such as Conan, First Blood and Pan's Labyrinth, companies like Disney and Lucus Film, and the Royal Ontario, Smithsonian and the British museums. He's won a gazillion awards and oh yeah, he also spent three months in Antarctica, diving and climbing volcanoes.

For the full story check out the "brief" biography on his site; then immediately go to his store I have my eye on his print, "The Gangs All Here"!

What is your favorite pen to use?
Hunt #102 crow quill.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I do tight pencils, never using a mechanical pencil (too sterile a line). I pencil using any random 3H pencil. If the drawing needs more detail I might go over it again slightly harder with the 3H or use an HB pencil for darker lines.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolor, colored inks (never dyes) and Prismacolor pencils. If I know I'm going to hand color a piece I will draw and ink it on Crescent extra-heavyweight cold press illustration board. The extra heavy thickness reduces warping.

What type of paper do you use?
If the finished piece will be black & white, no color, I work on Strathmore 3-ply bristol board, kid finish.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Anything involving rulers or detailed, on-the-money perspective; hard edge technical stuff. I love organic shapes and forms.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I shop and spend locally.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Just ruling in my work area on the page. After I roughly lay out the page I like to ink the panel borders and then do the lettering (that way I don't draw myself into a corner by not leaving enough space for the lettering).

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Always. Genres: blues, classical, Scott Walker, 1960s/1970s and some contemporary rock, mostly. I try to choose a music that's appropriate to the subject matter or mood of the piece.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I began reading Classics Illustrated (8 years old; they were "safe" and officially approved by my parents), moved on to Archie comics, then the Superman family (elementary school), then what is now known as Silver Age DC. Then I got into Marvel not too long after the creation of Spiderman and the Fantastic Four (junior high; initially I was put off by the "crudeness" of the Marvel art; now I'm pretty nuts about Kirby and, especially, Steve Ditko). I didn't start buying EC comics until I was in art school. Now I've got them all.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Gary Larson's, Far Side. Hal Foster's, Prince Valiant and Tarzan. Segar's, Popeye and Matt Groening's, Life in Hell.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
The Poky Little Puppy, as well as Little Black Sambo, both Little Golden. Books by Gustaf Tenggren; also the Big Golden Book by Tenggren of Big Brown Bear. I have first editions of all and The Poky Little Puppy in its original dust jacket.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I got my Bachelor's Degree at the California Institute of the Arts in 1971. I was an illustration major. I studied painting and drawing privately with my best instructor there, Harold Kramer, for about twenty years after that.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Both, but mostly blessing. It's sure playing havoc with copyrights, though.

Did either of your parents draw?
My dad drew poorly, which I found highly entertaining as a child.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Both parents (much to their great credit, they didn't flip out when I announced that I was changing my major from Science/Math to Art my last semester of high school. I was originally planning to be a doctor), my Aunt Phyllis (she was my algebra teacher. Although I never had her for such, she also taught art and helped me to decide where to go to college) and my fifth grade teacher, Eliot Wittenberg. He caught me drawing in class when I should have been listening. Instead of punishing me, he asked if I had any more drawings. I brought some in the next day. From that moment on he began to assign me extracurricular projects that involved drawing. I dedicated my first dinosaur book to him. Russ Manning, Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder were incredibly supportive when I was apprenticing under them, as well as for the years subsequent. Ultimately, though, you have to be the most supportive person of your art. I'm my own biggest fan. I can't wait to see what I'll do next.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes and yes. I take the job of teaching much too seriously, though, to do it full time. I informally teach figure drawing every Sunday at my studio. I also lecture at Art Center and other schools.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion is much more important. Passion combined with hard work will eventually trump talent any day. I've met loads of talented people who did nothing with their talents.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Much too long a list to answer! Basically, art books on late 19th century artists; books & magazines on early 20th century American illustrators; early 20th century illustrated children's books; blues music; 1960s/1970s rock & pop music; animal art; pictorial reference books; books on the Symbolist movement and Art Nouveau; and original drawings, paintings and sculpture by artists from the previously listed subjects.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Probably Adam Strange. I like exploring exotic locales and cultures, I like beautiful women and I like solving difficult problems. I was well on my way to becoming Homer Simpson before I caught myself, though.

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Writer or musician.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I work on a cluttered dining room table. Although I have a studio (away from my home) with some very nice drawing tables, I wanted my kids to see that what I did was work, not something that magically appeared at the end of the day when Daddy came home.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Harmonica, piano, guitar, drums, bass --- all pretty mediocrely, except for harmonica; I've had some good (or lucky) recording nights with that instrument.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Work, work, work. And always, no matter what you're being paid, give every job 100% of your very best effort. You'll never have to look back at a piece and sadly say, "If only I'd worked a little harder on that piece..."

Who is your favorite artist?
I've got several: John William Waterhouse, Thomas Moran, Charles R. Knight, Bob Kuhn, Bruno Liljefors, Antoine Louis Barye, Jean "Moebius" Giraud, Mark Schultz, Doug Henderson and Frank Frazetta immediately come to mind. There are many, many others.

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