Thursday, January 21, 2010

Matthew Cordell - Cartoonist/Artist Survey #51

Matthew Cordell is an editorial and children's literature illustrator who lives in the suburbs of Chicago. He grew up in South Carolina and moved to Illinois in 1999. His wife Julie Halpern who collaborated with him to create the children's picture book, Toby and the Snowflake is also an author of young adult books. Some of the other children's books he has illustrated are Righty and Lefty, The Moon is La Luna and Return to Gill Park. In September of 2009 the first book in which he did both the illustrating and writing came out entitled, Trouble Gum. Matthew has both a website and a blog, so go look around! Plus he is a Bob Dylan fan which makes him A-OK in my book.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I use Speedball nibs sizes B-5, B-5 1/2, and B-6. They tend to drive me crazy, and I often feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, but those are what I use. Love/hate, really.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I've always drawn in pencil first. I would love to go straight to pen, but I just don't have the guts yet. Ticonderoga 2 HB.

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

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolor. I typically use the junky pans (the kind kiddies use in preschool), but am considering ponying up for some better tube paints.

What type of paper do you use?
Lanaquarelle Hot Press 140 lb.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
In general, backgrounds. It's just so tedious and boring. But what're you gonna do? Sometimes, actually, I do without.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
When I lived near a decent art supply shop (Chicago), I would do the brick-and-mortar thing. It's nice to touch and feel, especially when considering new tool or product. But since we moved to Chicago's burbs, there's not one close enough. So I'm pretty much all Internet now.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Check email, sip coffee, clip fingernails, pet cat.... basically anything that's not drawing. Drawing's a scary, scary thing, man.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I have to have something going in the background. Usually music. Often Dylan. Sometimes NPR. I dig me some Terry Gross.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Absolutely. My fave was X-Men. Or Spider-Man.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Of all time: Peanuts. Of present time: Cul de Sac.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
GREEN EGGS AND HAM. Not the exact copy, but yes a copy.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I have a BFA in Graphic Design from Winthrop University (Rock Hill, SC). Plus miscellaneous art programs, classes, studies along the way. Nothing in pen and ink. Nothing in watercolor. Oh well.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
A big blessing. I wouldn't have the career I have today without the Internet. What a breeze. I mean, yeah, there are some things that are definitely unlikable about it, but I'm cool with it.

Did either of your parents draw?

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

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes. An often-neglected one, but I do go through heavy sketchbook periods.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Never have.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Hmm. I suppose talent. Although, creativity might be better. A truly creative soul can seem to make something out of nothing. Or is that the same thing as talent? Passion is good too.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I collect books and Bossons. (Editor's note: I'm pretty sure that Matthew collects those neat, chalkware head wall plaques and not the Swedish singer-songwriter's memorabilia.)

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Julie sometimes says I sound like/say things like Hank Hill. I don't think I'm quite so unyielding, but she might argue the point.

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Mail Carrier always looked pretty cool. Or Archaeologist.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I've been cluttering one of the three bedrooms in our house. I can never seem to get organized.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I once played amateur-style hand drums. Only mildly embarrassed, admitting it.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Be nice, be cool, and be patient. There's a lot of competition out there, and if you're one that's not nice, not cool, and not patient, you will be cooked.

Who is your favorite artist?

At the moment, positively, John Burningham.

Thanks a lot Matthew!

Cartoonist and illustrator Rick Geary shares his answers next.

No comments: