Monday, January 25, 2010

Taylor Jones - Cartoonist Survey #55

Taylor Jones is a caricaturist, political cartoonist and writer. His cartoons and caricatures have appeared in many newspapers worldwide including the Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Courrier Internationale (France) and Ma' Ariv (Isreal). Taylor is also a frequent contributor to magazines such as U.S. News & World Report and The New Republic. He illustrated a series of "How to Talk.." sports books which include Baseball, Basketball, Football, Golf and three others. In addition to the sports book series he also wrote and illustrated, "Add-Verse to Presidents" which lampoons the U.S. presidents. Taylor has even done work for Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central. His website features a "caricature of the week" with this week's being none other than Massachusetts' own, Scott Brown. Taylor also has a great blog over at Cagle's Cartoons.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I have largely abandoned dipping pens and the finest inks for markers called Staedtler Pigment Liners. This is for two reasons: First, many of the "fine" art materials are now manufactured in China. "Quality control" does not exist there. The nibs and inks they produce are unreliable crap. Secondly, back in 2007 I had a terrible fall from a ladder. I was unable to work at all for a month, and was confined to a wheelchair for another two months. Unable to get up out of my chair to wash out pen points or brushes, I tried some Staedtler markers that were sitting in a drawer in my studio, unused. Not only do they produce line work that's just about as good as fine pen nibs, but you can paint right over them with ink wash or colored inks without smearing! They've been a godsend, and I hoard them now so I will able to keep working during the Apocalypse.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Yes, and given a chance, I'd ONLY work in pencil. 2B's: Tombow, Staedtler, and Derwent -- whatever's available in the pencil bins. (Sorry to mention Staedtler again -- I don't want to be seen as a shill for the company).

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Like many cartoonists my age, 57, I still draw nearly all my work by hand. However, I do scan all work into digital form, do much of my lettering in PhotoShop, and make occasional corrections electronically as well.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Mostly Winsor-Newton colored inks and some watercolor. I'm not really a painter.

What type of paper do you use?
Mostly Strathmore 500 illustration paper.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
"Hate" is a strong word. I'm NOT GOOD at drawing mechanical objects, including cars, as I have no mechanical ability whatsoever. So rendering machines of any kind is always a struggle for me.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
So far I've only made one purchase of art materials online. How does one buy a $35 watercolor brush without physically examining it first (and discreetly pointing the bristles with some spit)? Someday, no doubt, actual art store buildings will vanish entirely. Then I'll do my shopping online.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Digestion and excretion.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I listen to a wide range of music. However, I learned from Garrison Keillor that it's best not to divulge one's musical tastes, so as to avoid puzzled stares or ridicule. Or, worst of all, discover some musical "soul mate" who wants to talk your ear off about his or her favorite music.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I only leafed through comic books while waiting for haircuts at my local barbershop. In that context, I guess my favorite was the Green Lantern. Otherwise, I paid zero attention to comic books or comic strips, or even political cartoons, as a young child. I did enjoy the TV version of "Batman," however.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
(See previous answer).

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
If I had a favorite book, it was probably "Pagoo," by Holling Holling. Yes, that's right -- Holling Holling. It was illustrated by his wife, Louise Holling. It was the story of the life cycle and "adventures" of a hermit crab, beautifully and very scientifically illustrated. I purchased a copy of the book for my daughters, but they couldn't have cared less.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
No, but I should have. I was a political science major in college.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Both, of course.

Did either of your parents draw?
My father was a fine illustrator and ad man in New York. Unlike me, he could draw and paint anything, and could sculpt as well. I grew up on Long Island, surrounded by superb art produced by my father and his friends, as well as wonderful art books, and I met many famous illustrators of the 1950s and early 1960s. Sadly, I took it all for granted. Clearly, I inherited whatever talent I have from him, but had little interest in drawing as a child. I preferred to explore the outdoors with my butterfly net, catching insects. By the time I began to take drawing seriously, when I was in college, it was too late for him to teach me anything. At age 20, children have little patience for parental mentoring. Too bad -- my loss!

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
No one, really.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I've purchased numerous sketchbooks over the years. Haven't filled a single one.

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

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Talent? Passion? I see it more as an ability to meet deadlines.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I do. Never did before I turned 50, but now I do.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Nate the nudebranch. (Pronounce nood-a-brank). There is no such character, but there should be.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Are any cartoonist lefties?

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

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
What had once been an illegal studio apartment in my house, under previous ownership, serves as my actual studio.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I drum on my drawing board -- sometimes frantically.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Be smarter than me. You'll go farther.

Who is your favorite artist?
The cave painters of Lascaux.

Thanks a lot Taylor.

Up next is Reuben Award winning cartoonist Drew Dernavich.

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