Monday, January 4, 2010

Joe Bluhm - Cartoonist Survey #37

Joe Bluhm is a caricaturist, character designer, illustrator and painter. He got his start working for Kaman's Art Shoppes where he was a live caricaturist. Now he is one of the world's best caricature artists. He has been invited to be the seminar presenter at the National Caricaturist Network (NCN) international caricature convention on multiple occasions. In 2003 he was awarded the highest international caricature recognition, the NCN's 'Caricaturist of the Year'. Joe has traveled the world, including as far away as Tokyo, demonstrating his caricaturing process. His book, "Rejects" is a must see. Last year when I was taking a cartooning course, "Rejects" was referred to repeatedly. He started his own publishing company, Art Squared Publishing, that put out his newest book, "Sketch Infectus." You can find out more about Joe at his website, his blog and his publishing company.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Currently it's between the PENTEL POCKET BRUSH PEN and the PILOT HI TEC C. They both do very different things and both are very enticing.
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Sometimes I use pencil (less than I used to), but when I do it's typically a cheap 'middle-school grade' soft #2.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Both. I love to paint in Acrylic and Oil, use colored pencils, design markers (PRISMACOLOR), and markers. I also like to illustrate and paint in Adobe PhotoShop with a Wacom Cintiq.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
(See above)

What type of paper do you use?
ANY and ALL.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Good question. I'm not too partial to dragony, wizard, pixie concept art. I also hate Manga.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Both. There is a nice local art store where I currently live, as well as Michael's and Hobby Lobby. I also do some shopping online when I can. When I was in New York (just moved away) there were more options that were very unique, and I really like that. Localism for businesses is great, if you've got art stores in your area.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Warm up. Doing a sketch before you commit to an illustration or design loosens my hands, gets my sight in line and gets me ready. Every time I draw, it takes a couple sketches to get really ready and warmed up, so it's important to get through those relatively 'bad' sketches before the paid work or work that I am really focusing on.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Almost always. Blues, rock, indie rock, classical, etc. I also like talk radio and audiobooks, sometimes movies or TV shows that I'm VERY familiar with so I don't have to pay attention.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Wow... I really liked Calvin and Hobbes and many other Sunday strips. I also really like a lot of current stuff. With recent and current work (as far as ART goes) I like Bill Sienkiewicz, Carlos Nine', Tom Richmond and Hermann Mejia of MAD magazine... I don't keep up with comics as much as I'd like to, so names are not coming to me right now. As for writing, I really like more ridiculous stuff like SCOTT PILGRIM. Online comics also are getting very popular, my friends Lar deSouza and Danielle Corsetto do great work.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
That's tough. I really like Scott Pilgrim, but was really into classic stuff like Calvin and Hobbes. BONE is also a great comic with amazing line work and inking.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
"SCARY STORIES to tell in the dark" creeped me out as a child, and if you find that series of books now with the original illustrations, they really hold up today. Expressive, creepy and wonderful.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I attended the Cleveland Institute of Art and left early to do live caricatures and start doing freelance illustration. I probably learned more on the job doing caricatures and starting on my own than I did in 3 years of school.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Both. It changes the 'game' which is always tough, but if you do a little extra work and keep up with things, it can really help an artist's exposure.

Did either of your parents draw?
My mother is an amazing artist but did not pursue it. She is very proud and was (and is) my biggest fan and critic.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My mother and my art teacher in Elementary and High School.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Several. I'm not very organized, so I have a lot of them laying around, half or a quarter full. I don't sketch as MUCH as I'd like to, but I keep trying.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Very little, but yes. I have trained caricature to artists across the world, and that's where I probably was most qualified at the time. I like teaching, but I'm hesitant to take it on in a bigger scope until I feel I have more experience to impart. Young teachers are often good, but they lack the years and experiences, which I feel, are crucial. For practice, I've given many seminars and presentations on caricature, illustration and my work, to various groups like caricature organizations and art students. I also do podcasts and record my digital art processes for others to see at

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Both breed each other. Passion is more important than anything.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Some artwork. I can't say I collect anything enough to say that I'm a "collector". Maybe reference and art books.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Oh. um.... not sure. Me.

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Not sure. I have interests in LOTS of areas. A golfer? A designer... a business man... maybe a physicist. Actually, I'd probably go into some form of publishing. I've already started a small company, "Art Squared Publishing" (here) and really enjoy the process. I also like attention to detail, so supervising and directing is natural to my logistic brain.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I love character, the figure, animals and objects with personality. I typically focus on characters and character in illustration, animation, and fine art.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar, bass and drums. I used to play the clarinet as a kid, but that didn't stick.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Do it every day and be receptive, open-eared and fearless.

Who is your favorite artist?

THAT is tough. Perhaps James Jean, Peter de Seve or Sebastian Kruger. I like too many artists to have a 'favorite'...

Thank you Joe.

Winner of the National Cartoonists Society's 2009 Newspaper Panel Cartoon Award, Mark Parisi, will have his answers posted next.

1 comment:

David said...

Joe's podcast is great. Amazing to see his drawing process and use of technology.