Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Alex Hallett - Cartoonist Survey #46

Alex Hallett creator of the comic strip Arctic Circle started cartooning full-time in 1999. Arctic Circle centers on the relationship between three penguins and is syndicated by King Features in newspapers worldwide. Alex received a degree in Biochemistry and did clinical research for 9 years until she realized cartooning was her real calling. Alex also provides cartoon illustrations for magazines, books, websites and e-cards. You can learn more about Alex at her website and her blog.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Dip pen and Indian ink with whatever nib isn't playing up that day.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
2B normal pencils as I haven't found a mechanical one I like the feel of. Sometimes I use blue pencil, as then I can avoid erasing, which I loathe.

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

What type of paper do you use?
Heavyweight cartridge, though I am tempted to switch to bleed-proof marker paper, as you can trace through it.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Birds in flight, plates of food with cutlery and anything when someone's watching over me.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Eckersley's in Prahran, Melbourne. Always fun carrying a big stack of A6 paper back on the bicycle.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Procrastination of any kind - New Year's resolution was to spend less time putzing around on the Internet.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I generally listen to podcasts. Webcomics "Weekly", NPR Environment, The Guardian's Science Weekly, This American Life, BBC Radio 4, etc.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Yes - grew up in Britain reading fantastic stuff like Whizzer & Chips, but my favourite was Krazy (like MAD magazine for young kids) before I got into 2000AD in the late 70s.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
You can't beat Calvin and Hobbes, but I wish people would just buy the collections and leave room for new stuff in the newspapers. Something more edgy, like We The Robots, would be superb (

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Brendan Chase by B.B. I loved the idea of going off into the woods and being self-sufficient (ish). Yes, I think I do have a copy.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Nope - would like to find the time to do some.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Both, but more of a blessing - I get to work for a US syndicate, live in Australia and talk to my folks in the UK via Skype!

Did either of your parents draw?
No, but a grandfather did. My dad took up painting in his middle age and has progressed from bloody awful to quite nice.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My sister, Steph and a few friends who are keeping every greeting card I've ever sent them in the hope I become famous enough that they can flog them.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes, but I'm not very disciplined and go through waves of drawing. I'm enjoying one now and spent ages sketching stuff at the Melbourne Museum yesterday. Natural History is very inspiring, but unfortunately I had no ideas for Arctic Circle...

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I've done a couple of workshops. I did enjoy it, though it is important to target the right age - 7 to 12 year olds are my favourite. Tons of imagination and enough focus.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion which translates into bloody-minded perseverance.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I used to collect anything with Snoopy on it, but now I tend to go for utilitarian things like glass storage jars. I love the old Bell mason jars and one-day I'd like to have a productive enough garden to fill them with tomatoes, pickled veggies and jam (jelly).

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I'd probably be Lucy out of Peanuts, I'm afraid - it's the bossy older sister in me. Though I've always hated the way she takes away the football from poor old CB.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty, unless opening jam jars.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Writer/science journalist.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
A Formica table (thanks, eBay) with an old door converted into a sloped drawing board sitting on top and a tray of pens, pencils and other drawing paraphernalia to the side. I have an endless supply of nibs I experiment with and a lot of correction fluid in various forms.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Not now, but I was a drummer at high school in a band called the Ricochet Lemons. I gave it up when we went into a recording studio and I found I have no sense of time.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Draw what you enjoy. Draw a lot. Always have something in the mail.

Who is your favorite artist?
Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell and Alphonse Mucha in a three way tie.

Thank you for your time Alex.

Carol Lay, the creator of the strip Way Lay will provide answers for the next post.

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