Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jack Pittman - Cartoonist Survey #34

Jack Pittman started out working for the Raleigh, North Carolina newspaper, "News and Observer" as an illustrator, cartoonist and also as a courtroom artist. His client list is like a Who's Who of Fortune 500 companies including Kellogg's, Time Warner Cable, Coca-Cola, Newsweek magazine and the National Geographic Society. He is a three-time winner of the National Cartoonists Societies Reuben award, twice for Best in Advertising Illustration and once for Best in Magazine Feature Illustration. He has a great website. I really enjoyed looking at the Cartoon Maps that are in his Portfolio section and his Sloth Races cartoon is now taped to my refrigerator. Make sure you also check out Jack's blog.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Gillott 290.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
For sketches, an HB. For final drawing to be inked, a 2H.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I work in both traditional media and with a Cintiq.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Winsor & Newton watercolors, and FW acrylic inks.

What type of paper do you use?
For sketches, laser copy paper. For finished art, Strathmore 500 series and Fabriano hot press watercolor paper, 300lb.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Can't think of anything I really hate to draw. I suppose drawing for clients who don't have a clear idea what they want so that many unnecessary revisions are involved.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Both, but mostly local Jerry's Artarama.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Maybe a few warm-up sketches.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Classical.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Yes, Spider-Man.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Pogo.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Thomas Craven's Cartoon Cavalcade. I still own it.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I think cartoonists are mostly self-taught. But I did take the Famous Artists Schools cartooning course and won a scholarship for the Art Instruction Schools advertising illustration course. My degree is in architecture and included drawing classes.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Very much a blessing for reference. But it has vastly impacted the artist profession and led to the demise of many print markets.

Did either of your parents draw?
Both could draw somewhat, but not professionally.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My parents and my children.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
No.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes. I've found I enjoy teaching/mentoring advanced students more than those who are just beginning.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Talent is more important for artistic rendering, but passion is more important for persevering and achieving financial goals.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Books, original art, DVDs.

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

Are you a righty or lefty?
Lefty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I also play in a blues band. I would either do that or play with a symphony.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
It's a converted dining room with French doors to the deck. My 5-foot drawing table and flat files are on one wall and my Cintiq/computer is on the opposite wall with the stereo.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I play percussion semi-professionally, and play piano and guitar for personal enjoyment.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
I generally advise young people not to go into art unless they absolutely must. There is so much rejection and difficulty in earning a living, and it requires a thick skin and self-confidence. I figure those who will ignore the discouragement will have the tenacity and passion necessary to succeed. I also advise those who are serious about it to learn as much about all types of subjects, in addition to art, because the cognitive skills will be more important in communicating to a larger audience, and also give them an edge when competing against equally-skilled draftsmen.

Who is your favorite artist?
So many... hard to narrow it down to one. Jack Davis, Walt Kelly, Mort Drucker, Heinrich Kley, Willard Mullin, Hal Foster, Lee Lorenz, Gene Colan, Bernie Fuchs, Dean Cornwell, Charles Dana Gibson, James Montgomery Flagg, Frank Frazetta, Bob Peak, Mark English, Andrew Wyeth, Alma-Tadema, Bougereau, Vermeer and Bernini.

Thank you Jack!

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.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Robert Grossman - Cartoonist Survey #32

Robert Grossman has been a cartoonist, painter, sculptor, illustrator and animator for over 45 years. He received his Bachelors degree in Fine Arts from Yale University. While attending Yale he was the editor of the "Yale Record"(the oldest college humor magazine founded in 1872).

His cartoons and illustrations have been in New York magazine, Rolling Stone, The Nation, The New Yorker and countless other publications. He also painted the classic poster of an airplane tied in a knot for the 1980 movie, "Airplane." I really like his cartoony clay sculptures, which you can see along with many of his other works on his website.


What is your favorite pen to use?
No. 101 and 102 points in a pen holder.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
No. 2 pencils.

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

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolor.

What type of paper do you use?
2 or 3 ply plate Bristol.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Haven't found anything yet.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Local stores.

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

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Jazz or classical.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
MAD.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Pogo.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Still have my Alice in Wonderland.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Art Students League, Yale.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Blessing.

Did either of your parents draw?
My father, Joe.

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

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes, Yes.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
No.

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

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty.

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

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Corner of cluttered room.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Piano, harmonica, both badly.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Practice makes perfect.

Who is your favorite artist?
Harvey Kurtzman.

Thank you very much for your time Mr. Grossman!

Up next is cartoonist, Keelan Parham.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tomas Bunk - Cartoonist Survey #31

Tomas Bunk is a cartoonist and an illustrator who got his start in Europe. Born in Croatia he studied at the Academy of Arts in Hamburg, Germany. In 1976 he started doing underground comix with his work showing up in many European comic magazines and anthologies. PARDON magazine, a German satirical magazine in the same vein as MAD, published his work on a monthly basis. Tom moved to New York in 1983 and started drawing for Art Spiegelman's RAW magazine. He also drew Topps trading cards such as Garbage Pail Kids and my favorite, Wacky Packages. Since 1993 he has been a regular cartoonist for MAD magazine. In addition he illustrates children's books, science text books and does some fine art painting. Visit his site here.
Tom now has a new blog!

What is your favorite pen to use?
Gillot's Crow Quill, Superfine #850.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Regular pencil.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Everything by hand, so far.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolor,acrylic,colored pencils, and sometimes if needed airbrush.

What type of paper do you use?
Strathmore Bristol 500.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
There is nothing I hate to draw.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I prefer to go to the store and see what I buy.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Checking e-mail and the radio program.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I mostly listen to the radio, usually some German or French Canadian station on the computer.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I was crazy about comics. I grew up in Croatia, and we read comic magazines that had American, Italian and French comics.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Prince Valiant and Tintin.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I loved Golden Books illustrations and have some still with me.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to the Art Academy in Hamburg and studied stage design. At the same time I taught myself to draw comics.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
It’s a blessing. Especially Google where I can find almost any reference picture for my work.

Did either of your parents draw?
My father was a serious painter.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Whoever enjoys it.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Only when I travel.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I did long time ago.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
It depends, every artist is different. Both is helpful to have but hard work is essential.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Mostly books and music.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Maybe some Tex Avery character like Droopy.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Nothing.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
My studio is in the attic, quite small and very messy.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Once I played guitar.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
3 things: draw, draw and draw.

Who is your favorite artist?
There are many: Dubout, Jacovitti, Elder, Wolverton, Dix, Grosz, Bosch, Westerman, Nutt and Breugel to name only a handful.

Thank you Tom, I just dug through one of my dressers to find my Wacky Packages.

Tomorrow's post will feature answers from the New York artist, Robert Grossman.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Flashback, Christmas 1966. Note the Etch A Sketch on the right.
Christmas 1969. I can't believe that 40 years have gone by. Look at the glee in my eyes over the Lite-Brite. Operation is there too and those tubes had jigsaw puzzles in them. Also of note are the white books in the background. They are "The New Book of Knowledge" encyclopedias. There was no Internet then, you had to "look it up."
What is up with those bangs!


I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.
Keep that child you once were in your heart!

Dan Reynolds - Cartoonist Survey #30


Dan Reynolds is a cartoonist who didn’t even start drawing until he was 30 years old. Now his cartoons are seen in magazines, Reynolds Unwrapped book compilations, greeting cards and even on television shows like the Sopranos. His cartoons are a constant in Reader’s Digest and have also been on the cover of a National Lampoon book collection. Over the years I have purchased many American Greetings brand Recycled Paper Greetings cards that feature his cartoons and I bet you have too. Dan recently had a battle with cancer and he is “using humor to fight the tumor”. He donates artwork to fundraising benefits and gives the money subscribers send to receive the daily emails of his Reynolds Unwrapped comics, to help with the fight against cancer. Visit Dan’s website here.

You can subscribe to receive 365 daily Reynolds Unwrapped comics and help fight cancer by sending at least $10 (cash, check or money order) to:

Dan Reynolds
PO Box 444
Brewerton, NY 13029

Make sure you include your email address!

Dan sent these Christmas themed cartoons of his for your viewing pleasure. I really like the Starry Night one.



What is your favorite pen to use?
Rotring or Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen. I also use pig pens when I draw farm animals.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a
mechanical one?
I use a number two pencil to start. Then liner, and blush. Oh, I mean…just a plain old number two pencil. I think they’re number ONE.

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

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Pastels, professional markers and colored pencil.

What type of paper do you use?
That’s a kind of personal question. I use Scott two-ply, quilted. Oh, artist paper? I use Bristol.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I hate to draw a bath. I prefer showers. I like to draw anything else.

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

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I usually shower. I do some of my best thinking in the shower. That’s no joke. If you think I’m kidding, I’ll send you my water bill.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Usually not, though I’m not opposed to it. When I paint, I like to listen to music…though sometimes the canvas gets in the way of the dashboard.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Yes. Henry, Peanuts, and Beetle Bailey.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Tough to pick one. I liked Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes. I like Flying McCoys, Speed Bump, and others.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Where the Wild Things Are. Yes, I have a copy.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I have no professional artistic training. How else do you think my work has become distributed internationally?

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Yes.

Did either of your parents draw?
No. Though my grandfather’s name was “Art”. I’m not joking.

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

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I do not. I don’t use a sketchbook. I just start drawing and massage it with an eraser as I go.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes, I did a stint in an afternoon program in an elementary school. It was okay, but I enjoy producing new work on my own.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Two sides of the same coin.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Not really, unless you count my originals. I have the world’s largest collection of my work to date.

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

Are you a righty or lefty?
I am left-handed and, of course, in my right mind.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Major League Baseball player.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I have a drawing table, but I’m known to draw anywhere.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Learn to accept rejection. It’s going to be part of your life. And draw EVERY day.

Who is your favorite artist?
Van Gogh.

Thank you Dan.

Tomas Bunk sent in his answers and I will post them right after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Marisa Acocella Marchetto - Cartoonist Survey #29

Marisa Acocella Marchetto is a cartoonist for The New Yorker and Glamour magazine. Her work has also been published in The New York Times, Modern Bride, ESPN magazine and many other publications. Her first graphic novel, "Just Who the Hell Is SHE, Anyways" was published in 1995. In 1998 her cartoons started appearing in The New Yorker magazine and still do.

She battled breast cancer from 2004 to 2005 and created a graphic memoir about that battle titled, "Cancer Vixen: A True Story." Marisa donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of "Cancer Vixen" to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. She is also a strong advocate for early breast cancer detection and founded a fund that provides free mammograms for uninsured women called the Cancer Vixen Fund at Saint Vincent's Comprehensive Cancer Center. So far she has raised over $1,000,000 for cancer research.

Now more than ever it is vital that women get proper screening for this awful disease. Especially with this garbage about The United States Preventive Services Task Force raising the age to have a mammogram from 40 to 50. Women who detect breast cancer early have a 98% chance of survival!

Check out Marisa's website here. The Cancer Vixen Fund site has information about the fund and has ways to donate. You may also go directly to the Saint Vincent's Comprehensive Medical Center to contribute. A few more important sites related to breast cancer are, BreastCancer.org , The American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen For The Cure.

Sorry to get all preachy on you, but especially at this time of year when we all gather with friends and family, it's important that we all take a minute to be thankful for our blessings, including our health.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Rapidographs since I was a teenager.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
No, Rapidograph, and then if I need to, I trace.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Both, although I am loving painting in color again--love seeing the hand in the art versus the machine.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolors.

What type of paper do you use?
Heavy vellum.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Animals aren't my favorite.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I physically go to Sam Flax. I need to hold the tools in my hand that I will be working with.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
A cup of tea and a prayer.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
No. Silence. But when I am on a New Yorker deadline, sometimes I watch CNN on low and let topical events seep in my head.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Not really.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Tiffany Jones. It was a strip in the Newark Star Ledger. She was a fabulous fashion photographer in swinging London in the late 60s-early 70s. Then I would read Brenda Starr, and then the sports page to see how the Knicks and the Yankees were doing.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Harriet the Spy. I just got a new copy a few years ago. I am Harriet. If Harriet grew up, she'd be a New Yorker cartoonist.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Yes. Started at 4. Then art classes all through school. I even started drawing from a live nude model in life drawing when I was 11. I went to Pratt Institute.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Both. It's a blessing because you can research everything in seconds.

Did either of your parents draw?
My mother was a shoe designer for Delman, the Bergdorf Goodman line. She would draw fabulous women drawing her spectacular shoes. I imitated her and here I am.

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

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Always. I go through one a month.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I did. I didn't like it. I would rather do than teach.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
All is important, but I hate that bad drawing seems to be OK when I have worked so hard at my craft. It pisses me off.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I would animate myself.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I have a fund where I raise money for women who are uninsured so they could get mammograms. Maybe I would do that, or maybe I would have a column about truth. I hate when people bullshit me. Come to think of it, good cartoons do tap into our subconscious truths, in a way.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Male-female relationships. Women. Fashion.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Piano, guitar, bass guitar.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Get your ass in the seat and work.

Who is your favorite artist?
Paul Cezanne. The Father of Modern Art.



Thank you very much Marisa.

Christmas Eve's post will have answers from Dan Reynold's, who was nice enough to provide some Christmas related cartoons.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dan Piraro - Cartoonist Survey #28

Dan Piraro, cartoonist, illustrator and painter is also the creator of the hilarious single-panel cartoon, Bizarro. Bizarro is published in over 350 papers worldwide. I have quite a few of his cartoons pinned to my cubicle wall at work. Dan has toured with his one man comedy show called “The Bizarro Bologna Show” since 2001. He is a strong proponent of veganism and has a lot of information about that on his website. He was awarded the National Cartoonists Society’s Best Newspaper Cartoon Panel Award in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

Dan has a blog and very fun website that offers many items for sale. I want some of those trading cards!

What is your favorite pen to use?
I use a small brush and india ink for my published cartoons. In my sketchbook I like to use a Koh-I-Noor rapidiograph.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Mechanical.

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

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
For things other than published cartoons, I use watercolor.

What type of paper do you use?
Average bristol board in pads, from an art store.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Crowd scenes are a hassle but can actually be fun if I have the time to get into it.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Some online, some from the art store at Pratt, which is a few blocks from my house.

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

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I either listen to music, usually indie rock, or I watch sports on TV because I can listen and only look up when something good happens.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Yes. Tumbleweeds was and is a longtime favorite. Great character design.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Get Fuzzy is my current fave. Very funny almost every day.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Hard to say. One Fish Two Fish by Dr. Seuss springs to mind.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Nope. I went to Washington University at St. Louis on a fine arts scholarship and quit after one semester. Too restrictive.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Love it. Wish I could find a way to make money on it, though.

Did either of your parents draw?
Both have better-than-average art skills but neither have ever used their skills for anything other than the occasional hobby.

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

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Sort of. I don't draw in it all of the time or obsessively, but I do enjoy it from time to time. Just weird stream-of-consciousness kind of stuff off the top of my head.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Never done it. Applied for a job at an art school once but they wouldn't hire me because I have no degree.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
You’re dead in the water if you don't have both, so it's a toss up.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I abhor collections of any kind. It’s just more stuff you have to drag around if you move.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I'd like to be Superman so I could rid the planet of assholes.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Right.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Play/sing in a band. I know that's not a "real" job, but neither is cartooning. : )

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I usually sit on the couch and draw on a board on my lap. I don't have a special area.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Practice a lot and do work that appeals to you. Oops, that's two.

Who is your favorite artist?
Impossible to say.

Thanks a lot Dan. I've really enjoyed your work for years.

Next up is Marisa Acocella Marchetto.

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 www.stonesoupcartoons.com.

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?
Coffee.

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?
No.

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?
Righty.

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
www.stonesoupcartoons.com

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.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ed Choy Moorman - Cartoonist Survey #26

From Chicago comes Ed Choy Moorman. Ed is a cartoonist, designer, writer, editor and a publisher. Go to his site, http://edsdeadbody.com/ and check out some of his comics. Then click on the Bare Bones Press store and buy something. I like the "Chris Ware Paper Musician." He also has a blog called Sinew and Bones .

What is your favorite pen to use?
My favorite brushes are the Windsor & Newton Sable Series 2, size 2,and the Pentel Pocket Brush with Rapid-draw Rapidograph ink dispensed into the cartridge with a straightened paper clip. I love the Japanese G-nibs. I recently started liking the Uniball "Vision" Micro pen for sketching. Copic Multiliner pens are also good for dead-weight lines.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Yes, always. I work in many layers of newsprint, scrap copy paper, but mostly tracing paper with final inks done on Bristol. I use standard gray pencils for underlayers and sketching, and I use the Prismacolor Col-Erase Light Blue pencils for penciling the final layer, lightboxing the last process layer, onto Bristol. I hate erasing.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
A mix. I don't feel super qualified to answer that because I haven't done very much color work lately, besides designing stuff. So none of the color stuff I've been doing have been comics. I'd like to get into watercoloring since I've fallen in love with the WC work of Hellen Jo.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
For sketching, colored pencils. Watercolor, Windsor & Newton watercolors, until I run out of those and then I'll probably switch to the cheapies. Cheap acrylic paints.

What type of paper do you use?
Copy paper, graph paper or newsprint for the first layer of pencils. Tracing paper for the next one. That's a trick I stole from Zak Sally, who inks on vellum, largely so he can move compositions and images around easily. I like to do the same thing. The final layer, as I said, is on Bristol.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Anything in mathematical, correct perspective. I'm lazy.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I find myself relying more and more on the Internet, because of the always-rising cost of art supplies, the difficulty of finding some of my favorites (like the Pentel, which I hear is choking out its death rattle... eeuughh), and the awfulness of the Illinois sales tax (something like 11%).

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Usually get coffee, put on music or... oh. The next question.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I listen to music often when penciling and occasionally when writing. When I ink I listen to audiobooks (I particularly like Sedaris, Vowell, Steve Martin's autobiography... right now it's Bob Spitz's Beatles book) or podcasts, This American Life, and Woody Allen movies I've seen many times. My theory is that left- brain stuff, talking, totally occupies that side of my mind and allows the inking, spatially-oriented right-brain to do its thing unhindered. As far as music goes, I like anything that keeps my spirits up. Very important. What that means varies though. No One Cares by Frank Sinatra can do this as well as all those great Hank Williams "lonely-heart" songs.

Did you read comics as a kid, and if so, what was your favorite?
Comics and cartoons, as well as Animorphs books and Zoobooks, were my entire world as a kid. I loved Calvin and Hobbes, hand-me-down Mad Magazine paperback collections (especially Don Martin), Peanuts, and B.C. I identified very strongly with Calvin, who was an imaginative, bratty, whiny kid with no real friends (though I had a couple). I didn't think about it that way at the time. I just knew I really loved the later Sunday strips in which Watterson often used open panel format to show Calvin escaping from school and drudgery into fantasy.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Comic strips, specifically, would have to be Peanuts, Krazy Kat, and Popeye. That's my "street cred" answer.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
See the 'did you read comics' as a kid answer, and no, they all went to a garage sale. This happened during that midpoint in your adolescence when you decide everything you liked as a kid was childish. Later I rediscovered C&H after I dusted the chip off my shoulder, and wished I'd never let them out of my bedroom and onto a card table on the front yard.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Art classes in high school, pre-college comics program at SVA during high school, four years of art school (BFA "Comic Art" '09) at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. So I never had to stop. Lucky, lucky, lucky. So lucky I didn't have to work in a steel mill when I was eight, or sell drugs or my body to make a living, or any of that like so many people do. Resources! They'll get you everywhere. This is where I've had arguments in the past with some conservative folks and where my bleeding-heart liberalism shows (well, it shows everywhere, I practically scream it from the rooftops). Ambition AND resources will get you places. Ambition alone won't always do it.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Blessing! It's a tool, like everything, so it can be horribly misused. As an adolescent, like many, I used it as a crutch to support an empty inner life. That's its main danger, just like television or drugs or drinking. But for artists and anyone who likes cool stuff, it's a godsend. I recently fell head over heels for Tumblr. A spot where you can collect cool images, videos, links, quotes, text, audio? And share it, as well as look through others? In an ever-expanding gallery? And you can customize the design? Geeeeez! Here is Ed's Tumblr. I love that the Internet makes archives of the past available. Old Czech book covers, cute photos of Lincoln and Truman Capote, footage of Sinatra, are all a click away. Same goes for new and astounding work by current artists. I would have never discovered the brilliant young cartoonist and animator Rebecca Sugar, as well as many others, if not for the Internet. And I know some people have found my work through the net. And my policy is if anything benefits me, I'm for it.

Did either of your parents draw?
Yes, my mother sketches, does some collage work and painting, and has some art training. It's a hobby more than a serious thing for her but her line has a nice loose quality to it. My sister paints rarely but judging from a third-grade watercolor of a canyon on our NJ home's bathroom wall (she's 20 now), she has a lot of innate talent. She seems to have had even then, a good eye for solid forms and depicting a clear space.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My parents, number one. They put me through art school. I can't imagine a bigger show of faith. Not only art school, but majoring in making comic books. Comic books. It boggles the mind. I can't remember them ever even questioning it. Other than them, my friends, especially my friends Molly and Rachel.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes, and I draw and write in it religiously. If I look at it and see that I haven't done anything in it in for a day or two, I'm disgusted with myself.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I've taught a lot, and yes and no. There's aspects of teaching that I love and parts that drive me crazy. I love interacting with kids, because of their energy, fresh perspective, and enthusiasm. I love to have them make autobiographical comics. Those are fascinating to me. The drawing of very young children is really interesting. They press hard with the pencil and are confident in their mark-making. When they get a little older they'll usually get more tentative and self-conscious. Gary Panter said at last year's MoCCA talk, "All artists know, you can't compete with children and crazy people," and he's right. Paul Klee was on the right track when he let himself be influenced by his son's drawings. His work has a special balance of simple geometric forms and expressiveness.

To get back to the question, it really depends. I like working with kids one-on-one, but not directing them and often disciplining them from the front of the class. I like working with older kids, like middle school / high school age, because their ability to grasp gray concepts is higher. The worst part about teaching is all the work you don't think about. Lesson planning, all the stuff that means the job doesn't end at the end of the school day. And anyone who needs time to make things knows, a job that makes your free time not free is the kiss of death.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion utilized in the form of hard work, practice, and learning will trump talent anytime.

Do you collect anything, and if so, what?
Bookmarks, records, books, prints.

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

Are you a righty or lefty?
Right.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Publisher, art director, singer.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
This, here but messier and with more pens and materials.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No, but I sing for pleasure.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Work, learn, look, read, and be critical of everything but especially yourself. I'd give that advice to anyone doing anything.

Who is your favorite artist?
Can't pick just one. Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez, Ben Shahn, Egon Schiele, Auguste Rodin, R. Crumb, David Mazzuchelli, Naoki Urasawa, Osamu Tezuka.

Thanks Ed, I really enjoyed checking out your comics.

Jan Eliot, creator of the Stone Soup comic strip, shares her answers next.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Derf - Cartoonist Survey #25

John Backderf, better known as Derf, is one of the most widely published alternative cartoonists. His comic strip, "The City", which debuted in 1990, is published in over 50 weekly newspapers across the country. He attended high school with Jeffrey Dahmer and turned that experience into the comic book, "My Friend Dahmer." Working as the guy riding the back of a garbage truck for a year gave him the material for his graphic novel, "Trashed." Both "My Friend Dahmer" and "Trashed' were nominated for Eisner awards. His illustrations have been on CD's and t-shirts and have appeared in many publications including, Playboy, The Wall Street Journal and Guitar Player magazine. Derf has won numerous awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for cartooning. He has a really fun website http://www.derfcity.com/ that you need to visit.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Microns and Sharpies. Given my druthers, I'd still use Rotring Rapid-o-liners. They were rapidograph pens with disposable point and ink cartridge inserts. Never clogged, like the old rapidographs were prone to do. But the company stopped making them. The cheaper Microns pushed them off the market. Microns are OK. The archival ink is nice, but the points are crap and wear down way too fast.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I use mechanical pencils.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I've done both, but the past few years its all PhotoShop color.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Gouache paint.

What type of paper do you use?
Strathmore bristol, vellum finish.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I don't "hate" to draw anything! Some things are more difficult than others, but I view this as a challenge. Crowd scenes are tough, but I enjoy them. So are store interiors, with shelves lined with goods. I've never mastered that. Water is hard to render.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I usually buy from Dick Blick online. If it's an emergency I'll go to Utrecht, but I'm not a fan of that store.

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

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I often listen to college radio, whatever show sounds interesting. The genres are all over the map. I also run movies on my Mac while I work. If I'm writing, though, I opt for silence.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I was a total comix nut starting at age 8. I was a voracious reader of comic books until I was 22 or so. Then I stopped reading comics and started making them. I'd have to say Jack Kirby was my favorite, especially that amazing first year of his Fourth World titles in 1971. So strange and goofy and creative. I was also huge into Mad magazine, particularly Don Martin... and also the early EC stuff, which was endlessly reprinted, especially Kurtzman-Elder. I somehow got my sweaty hands on some Robert Crumb books around age 11 or 12 and those blew me away. And the National Lampoon comics were also very inspiring, particularly Vaughn Bode.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Hmmm. The first strip I remember really liking was, of all things, Dennis the Menace. I was maybe 5. After that it was Peanuts until I was a teenager. Then Doonesbury for a few years. Then I stopped reading comic strips.

My favorite strip of all time was Up Front by Bill Mauldin. (OK. It was a panel, not a strip). Well before my time, of course, but Mauldin was such an amazing character, a guy who wasn't a genius, as far as sheer talent goes, but through brains, hard work and a knack for seizing opportunity became the cartoon voice of his generation, maybe the first cartoonist to achieve that status. And his work itself, the combination of comedy, pathos, relevancy and satire, was unlike anything that had come before. And then he returned home from war, scrapped everything and started over as a political cartoonist.... and AGAIN became the top cartoonist in his field. Amazing.... and inspiring.

Many of the creators I admire most-- Kirby, Crumb, Schultz-- are gods, people whose sheer talent is far beyond us mere mortals. But Mauldin was a regular guy. He worked his craft constantly to improve, It never came easy to him. And when he got his break, he made the absolute most of it. He's a guy I can relate to.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Peanuts Treasury, a big Charlie Brown coffee table tome, acquired from the Book-of-the-month Club when I was 7. I do indeed have a copy. I have also re-collected all the comic books I had as a kid, especially from 1970 when I was 10, when I went from being a casual reader to an hopelessly obsessive reader of comics. So I have them all: from superhero titles I plucked off the spinner rack at the corner drugstore, to back-issues I found at garage sales to the free give-a-way minis that came in cereal boxes . All NM and many are pedigree copies.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for a semester. Then I went to Ohio State, but never took an art class. I was a journalism major. I was, however, the cartoonist for the school newspaper, The Lantern, for nearly 3 years. That was far better training than any art class.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
It's both.

Did either of your parents draw?
No.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My wife, mainly because her 9-5 job and steady paycheck has allowed me to have a career in art.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Not really. I've tried at various times, but I can't keep it up. When I'm working on a graphic novel, however, I write and do preliminaries in a sketchbook.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes I have and yes I do.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
You need both, but I think the most important thing is the desire to work your craft, to constantly tinker to improve. There are lots of talented people out there who are total hacks.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I've always blown way too much money on my various goofy collections.
1.Comic books. At one time I had over 20,000. Now I have just a few thousand. Only my favorite titles, all NM. Have a lot of EC Mads and a nice collection of 1st-print undergrounds, Crumb, Bode, etc. Lots of Kirby, Adams, Ditko.
2. I have a sweet collection of Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightnings from 1968-71.
3. I have a lot of punk rock memorabilia: original posters, picture-sleeve 45s, and promo stuff. I collected 1st-edition books by favorite authors for years, from the time I was a teenager, but I haven't bought anything in 10 years or so.
4 Fab Fifties furniture, particularly Heywood-Wakefield pieces and Majestic Boomerang lamps.
5. A small collection of original art. A two-page Kirby spread from Mighty Thor is the prize there.
6. My favorite collection is a dozen original Ed Big Daddy Roth hot rod monster models (Rat Fink, Mr. Gasser, etc), all built up and painted by me, and in the original boxes.


If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
He-Man, Master of the Universe.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
The only other job I ever had was garbageman.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Cluttered and cozy.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I was a tuba player in high school. Still have a sousaphone.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
The future, whatever it is, and that is still very much up in the air, of cartooning is online. And it will move. Learn web-building and animation programs.

Who is your favorite artist?
Can't name just one.




Thanks Derf for taking the time to respond. Sending you positive thoughts of good health for the New Year!

Next up will be Ed Choy Moorman.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Shannon Wheeler - Cartoonist Survey #24

"Too Much Coffee Man's" creator, Shannon Wheeler won the prestigious Eisner award for Best New Series. He's had his comic published worldwide in newspapers, comic books and magazines. There has even been a "Too Much Coffee Man" opera! He had a weekly strip, "Postage Stamp Funnies" that ran in the Onion, and can be purchased as a mini-book compilation and some of his work was published in The New Yorker this year. Next month an Omnibus edition of his "Too Much Coffee Man" comic, appropriately titled, "Too Much Coffee Man Omnibus" will be coming out. You can check out many of his comics over at his site; http://www.tmcm.com/.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Depends what I'm drawing. Mostly I use a hunt 108 dip pen. I also use technical pens for lettering and borders.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I use an architecture pencil. It's a lead holder. Sort of between a mechanical pencil and a standard pencil. I use to use a blue pencil. Sometimes I'll pencil but use a light table to ink - just to save time because then I don't have to erase the pencils.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Most of my coloring is on the computer. Lately I've been using water colors on the originals before I sell them.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
It's a tiny little travel water color set.

What type of paper do you use?
Pentel Paper for Pens. I used to use Illustration Board but it got too expensive.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Women are tough to draw but they're also fun... hate? Coffee shops. I'm really sick and tired of drawing coffee shops.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
There's a small locally owned shop down the street from my house. Though if there were a big chain store down from my house I'd probably shop there.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I clean my desk... sometimes I clean my whole room.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I mostly write at a coffee shop. I listen to audio books while I draw. Right now I'm listening to the Twilight series. I'm on the 3rd book. I like the werewolves.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I loved Garfield until I found Fat Freddy's Cat. In 4th grade my neighbors turned me on to the Fantastic Four. The Sub Mariner always appealed to me and the X-Men.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
I started with Garfield... and ended with Calvin and Hobbes.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
There was a book about finding a place to live. A family tried living on a boat, in a cave, in a tree... they ended up back in their house. It's still at my mom's house along with One Monster After Another. My first chapter book was the Star Beast by Heinlein. Venus on a Half Shell by Kilgore Trout was my favorite book in High School.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Just Architecture.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
On even numbered minutes it's a blessing, on odd numbered minutes it's a curse.

Did either of your parents draw?
They're both artists.

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

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I go through 2 a month.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I've taught many times. I love it.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Talent. I've seen too many talentless people try and never succeed. But if someone enjoys creating comics they should do it.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Nudie Playing Cards - pre 1970.

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

Are you a righty or lefty?
Depends on how I put on my underwear. I draw with my right hand.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I like writing.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I have a tiny drawing table in my bedroom.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar - but not well.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Go in hard and fast. Give it everything you've got. Learn as much as you can.

Who is your favorite artist?
Edward Gorey or Duchamp.

Here is a cartoon that Shannon was nice enough to let me post. This one really is funny, but then when I think about it, it's also kind of sad. (right click on it with your mouse and choose "Open Link in New Window" to see it full size)
Here are two of Shannon's books I have on my wish list...


Thank you Shannon.

Hopefully I will be able to post the next batch of answers tomorrow. They come from Derf, who collects as much stuff as I do!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chris Ayers - Cartoonist/Artist Survey #23

Chris Ayers is an artist who specializes in character design. His work as a character designer and concept artist was used in such movies as, "Men in Black II" and "Fantastic Four." In 2005 Chris was thrown a curve ball and was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer (AML). Chris's battle with this terrible disease re-energized his passion for creating art.
On the one year anniversary of his diagnosis he started a sketch book he called, "The Daily Zoo," where he set out to draw one animal everyday. This sketchbook went on to become the book, "The Daily Zoo: Keeping the Doctor at Bay with a Drawing a Day." What I found so interesting about this book besides the wonderful drawings is the commentary provided by Chris about his experience with cancer and some insight into his creative process. The second volume, "The Daily Zoo Year 2 " is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Do yourself a favor and pick these two books up. They would make a very nice Christmas gift for anyone. AND a portion of the proceeds goes to fund cancer-related charities and research. I can't wait to read the second one!

Please stop by Chris's website;
http://www.chrisayersdesign.com/ and his blog; http://chrisayers.blogspot.com/.

You can help to rid the world of cancer by making a donation here; http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/hm_lls.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Recently, I've been getting a lot of use out of Staedtler Pigment Liners and Pentel's Stylo (a great "dual-nib" which is great for fluid sketching). Uniball Visions are a great workhorse too.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I like experimenting and playing with all kinds of media. If a piece is to be inked, I will usually start with pencil sketches before inking, though I also enjoy the challenge of the unforgiving nature of just sketching in pen sometimes too.

I'm currently having a love affair with the various pencils made by General's. Faber Castell's 9000 series are also rather juicy and the Technalo 3B by Caran d'Ache has also provided some fun sketching times of late. For detailed work I will sometimes pull out a mechanical pencil.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Both. Much of my professional work as a character designer for the entertainment industry requires extremely fast turnaround times and maximum flexibility ("We love it!...Except can you make his shirt blue?") so I usually end up coloring that work digitally. The computer is an amazing and powerful tool, but I also enjoy the messiness, happy accidents, and hands-on aspect of adding color by hand. Much of the time it ends up being a mix of traditional and digital media.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
It all depends on what would work best to communicate the idea, story, or personality of the piece...or if it is personal work, whatever media I'm in the mood for. I enjoy colored pencils, markers, pastels, and I'm trying to become more comfortable with watercolor and gouache.

What type of paper do you use?
I like to try out new surfaces all the time (different weights, colors, and textures) but I do use a lot of Bienfang Graphics 360 Marker Paper. Many of my preliminary sketches are just done on 24 lb. copy paper.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Big, grandiose environments and hard-edged vehicles have always been more challenging (and frightening!) for me to do.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Typically, I prefer to hold something in my hands and maybe even test it out before buying it, so I try to shop at local stores as much as possible. I do order specific items from online sources when I can't find them locally.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
For freelance work I like to let the design brief stew in my head for a few days before actually putting pencil to paper, although often this is not possible within the allowed time frame.

For my daily animal sketch, I have a variety of brainstorming tricks to fall back on when inspiration is elusive. One of them is a grab bag of scraps of paper that sits within reach of my desk - each piece inscribed with a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb - and I will pull out a few to get the creative juices flowing (for example: "disgusting," "turkey," and "throne" were the selections one day which led to the creation of a grizzled turkey king.)

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Oftentimes, yes. My musical tastes run the gamut (though not a lot of country, rap, or opera) so I will often just put iTunes on shuffle. Instrumental film scores or classical are a nice choice when I'm in a particular mood or when I'm writing.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I was a huge comics fan. My poor parents would drive me to the comic shop and then patiently wait for what seemed like hours while I browsed the shelves. The height of my comic craze was in the 80's and I was a big fan of X-men, but my all-time favorite title was Alien Legion by Epic. Fantastic designs, characters, and stories! Who's with me? Anyone?

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Calvin and Hobbes, hands down. Bill Watterson's genius took the reader from skewering-yet-hilarious satire to nostalgic reminiscence to poignant social commentary to the bewildered awe of childhood innocence to tender love...all the while exploring alien planets and escaping the menacing jaws of Tyrannosaurus rexes! Plus the guy could DRAW!

Gary Larson's The Far Side is also a work of sheer creative genius...or madness...maybe they're the same thing.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I had many, many favorites as a child. Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Richard Scary, Babar...but I think the bedtime story I requested most often from my parents was The Whingdingdilly by Bill Peet. If you're not familiar with his work, his artwork and stories are a thing of magic and beauty.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I majored in Graphic Communication at St. Norbert College, have taken individual courses in computer animation and character design at various places, and learned quite a bit on-the-job over the years. For nearly the past ten years I've been fortunate to work among a very talented community of artists here in Los Angeles and I try to absorb as much as possible from their collective wisdom.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
While it can be a real timesuck and is increasing our addiction to instant gratification, overall, I feel it's a blessing. Keeping with the theme of the previous question, there are amazing resources (tutorials, advice, feedback) available online. I've also been introduced to extremely talented artists from all around the world which probably would not have happened without the Internet. Thanks Al Gore! :)

Did either of your parents draw?
Not really, but they both expressed their creativity in different media; my dad's is wood, my mom's are her gardens.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
I've been fortunate to have my passion for art be encouraged and supported by many, many people throughout my entire life. I never had anyone asking me, "OK, you like to draw - but what do you want to DO for a living?!" Teachers, friends, relatives, colleagues, clients (sometimes!), and sometimes strangers have all fueled the fire at one point or another, but my parents, sister, and wife have been the most consistent and prolonged source of unconditional love and support. For that I am grateful.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Absolutely.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I recently started teaching a character design class and found it to be very rewarding and challenging (in a good way).

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
I think they kind of go hand in hand. I drew all the time when I was a kid; I imagine I did this because I was so passionate about it. I could turn on that inner faucet of joy and float away for hours by just picking up a pencil. Because it provided such entertainment, I did it almost constantly which helped develop the skills and creative thinking that has gotten me where I am today.

Some things come easier to others, but it is still work and requires putting the time in. Practice! Practice! Practice! Passion is what gets you to pick up the pencils again after you've thrown them across the room when the process becomes frustrating and overwhelming.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Over the years I've had many collections such as comic books, armadillos, ticket stubs, stamps, belly button lint (yes, you read that correctly), and baseball cards (including ones that I made myself). Currently I try to "live light" and my main collection is books, which I just can't seem to resist. I justify each new purchase with the thought that it is "necessary" reference material, but my bookshelves are already sagging in protest.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I WISH I were like the wise turtle in Kung Fu Panda - he seems to have things figured out. My friends might say I'm the Dudley Do Right type, but the ones who really know me would probably opt more for a cross between Elmer Fudd and The Family Guy's Stewy.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty, though sometimes I like putting the pencil in the left hand to shake things up a little.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Tarzan, protector of the Mighty Jungle, though with a less-revealing "uniform."

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Messy. Very messy.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No, but I have great respect for those who do.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Do what you love and love what you do. After battling cancer, I realize just how precious and unpredictable life is. If your passion is drawing, throw yourself at it. Enjoy all that life has to offer (it will keep your inspiration tank on full) but draw, draw, DRAW! And be brave...try new things...experiment...PLAY! And be willing to fall/fail - because you will - but be determined to get back up, sharpen that pencil and keep on drawing.

Who is your favorite artist?
Waaaaaay too many to list. I will say that anyone whose work stops me in my tracks, gets me to experience something in a new way, or makes me cry out, "Holy crap! I hope someday I can do something as beautiful/poignant/witty/heartfelt as that!" has my utmost respect and admiration. A gorgeous piece of art emits both the warm glow of immense inspiration and the slicing wind of wanting to just throw in the towel and start selling insurance. Peter de Seve, Claire Wendling, Bill Watterson, Arthur Rackham, Bill Peet, Gary Larson, Norman Rockwell, Steve Brodner, Sebastian Krueger, James Gurney, Herman Mejia, Ralph Steadman are just a FEW of those who seem to elicit that reaction in me quite frequently.


Thank you so much for answering Chris. I really enjoy your work!

Answers from Eisner award winning cartoonist Shannon Wheeler, the creator of the comic "Too Much Coffee Man" will be posted next.