Wednesday, February 10, 2010

John Hambrock - Cartoonist Survey #69

John Hambrock originally wanted to be a marine biologist, however his aptitude for drawing led him to a career in art. Voted the most artistic male in high school, he put away his dreams of becoming the next Jacques Cousteau and got a degree in Graphic Design from the Ringling School of Art and Design in Florida. He took first place in the Philip Morris National Marketing Competition while still in college, earning him a trip to the Philip Morris headquarters in New York City to accept the award. In 1986 John started working at The Hirsch Design Group in Chicago where he got to work on the Keebler cracker and cookie account. Drawing Ernie the Keebler Elf gave him the drive to start cartooning. After 10 years he left Hirsch Design and started his own agency called In-House Communications. On November 12, 2006 King Features Syndicate launched his comics strip, The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee. As John says on his website, The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee is, “a pinch of science, a drop of politics and a grain of absurdity.” You can find out more about The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee, here. Be sure you click on the Lab Notes and the Behind the Scenes tabs for John and his wife Anne’s blog entries.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I actually do all of my line work with a brush and a bottle of ink. I use a #3 Rapidograph for the lettering.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I use standard Papermate #2 pencils.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
My wife Anne does all the color for Edison Lee on her Mac.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Sometimes I'll ink an illustration and then I'll overlay it with watercolor washes.

What type of paper do you use?
Bienfang smooth bristol.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I can't think of one thing I hate to draw... sorry!

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Both. I order all of my paper from Blick. I buy my brushes, ink and miscellaneous other supplies from an art store that happens to be next door to my studio.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Not really, I draw at all times of the day or night—whenever I get in the mood.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Blues, Jazz, Classical, occasionally classic rock. I spend most of the afternoon listening to various NPR programs.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
MAD magazine, lots of the MAD and Peanuts pocket books. I loved reading BC in our newspaper.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
That's a difficult question, because I love so many of them for various reasons. I would say Peanuts had the biggest influence on me growing up in the 60's.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
"Let's Play Train," and yes, I still have it.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I'm a graduate of Ringling College of Art.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
A little of both. I can work right up to deadline, and in minutes deliver the digital files of the strip to the syndicate. It'll be a tremendous blessing when comic strip artists are able to get their work behind more pay walls.

Did either of your parents draw?

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
For years, my wife Anne encouraged me to pursue my comic strip dream. Both of my parents were very supportive growing up, as well as numerous teachers. I consider myself lucky to have had lots of support.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Um... no.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Last year I spent an entire morning teaching my daughter's class how to draw, and I loved it. Their drawings are posted in my lab notes on the Edison Lee web site.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion. Drawing is feeling, not just a technical exercise. I don't believe you need a lot of talent to enjoy drawing.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
When my kids were young, I collected old trains that we would play with. Now I collect original cartoon art.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I'm not sure... probably something from Chuck Jones' imagination.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty, although I draw with both hands.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I'd own a bakery.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
My studio is filled with all kinds of fun stuff—original comic art, tons of books, and right now, lots of pencil shavings and eraser bits on the floor.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I played mandolin in a bluegrass band my first year of college, and I'll occasionally pluck around on a tenor banjo when I have the time.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Draw all of the time. Challenge yourself to draw even the things you have no interest in drawing.

Who is your favorite artist?
Grant Wood.

Thanks a lot John.

Illustrator, author and television producer Dan Yaccarino is up next.

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