Saturday, February 13, 2010

Drew Friedman - Cartoonist Survey #71

Illustrator and cartoonist Drew Friedman attended New York’s School of Visual Art where he studied under Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman. In the early eighties he wrote and illustrated alternative comics whose characters included old celebrities such as Abbott and Costello and Tor Johnson (wrestler turned “actor” who was in many Ed Wood movies). During this period he often collaborated with his brother, Josh Alan Friedman, having their first published work appearing in RAW magazine. Through the eighties and early nineties his comics were published in Weirdo, Heavy Metal, National Lampoon and High Times. There were two collections of the Friedman brother’s work published, titled, “Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental” and “Warts and All.” Drew is well known for his "stippling" style of caricature that requires thousands of pen marks to create a very realistic look. His work has appeared in all of the major publications including, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, MAD and Esquire. In 2000 Drew was honored with the National Cartoonist Society Newspaper Illustration Award. Recent books by him include, “Old Jewish Comedians”, “The Fun Never Stops!” and “More Old Jewish Comedians.” Visit Drew's website and follow him on his blog. Go here to buy his fine art prints.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I ink/paint with Grumbacher brushes.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Yes, I do a detailed pencil sketch first with a mechanical pencil, then paint over it. Mechanical because you never have to stop to sharpen it.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Everything by hand, the old fashioned way. I'll touch up a tiny bit if need be on the Computer when I'm done.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolor paint/ink, and I touch things up with color pencils.

What type of paper do you use?
Smooth Bristol.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Attractive, young people, especially self-loving Hollywood actors. I get the most pleasure from drawing old people with lines in their faces, their lives depicted in their faces. Especially Old Jewish Comedians. Also, ugly republicans.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I mainly order from the Dick Blick catalog but always stop in art supply stores when I visit New York.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Not really. Basically that I've had breakfast, run the beagles, and can relax and concentrate on whatever the work is at the moment.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Mainly I listen to NPR radio during the day. Or the local Collage radio station. I never work at night anymore, even on a tight deadline. Too depressing.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Sure, when I was a kid, any comics, including Archie & Superheroes. I loved the New Yorker for the cartoons, EC comics, Warren magazines (Creepy & Eerie) and My bible as a kid was "MAD".

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Too many to pick one. Some faves, mostly dating way back include Popeye, Krazy Kat, Dick Tracy, Nancy, etc. My very favorite was/is Peanuts, especially from the fifties and mid-sixties.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Favorite? Not sure, too many to pick from. Edward Gorey's books and Maurice Sendak's were particular favorites. Possibly a Dr. Suess book, but can't pick a favorite. I loved my fathers novels (Author, Bruce Jay Friedman) when I first read them as a kid (and still do).

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I attended the School of Visual Arts in the late seventies/early eighties in NYC. I was in the cartoon program with a lot of famous cartoonists as instructors.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Mixed blessing. I try to limit my time on it as I find it too addictive and distracting. Over all, I think it's a plus.

Did either of your parents draw?
My mother used to paint and draw a bit. Not my father.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Both my parents were always very supportive, sending me to art classes as a kid, keeping me in art supplies, taking me to museums, buying me art related books. Now my wife is the most supportive.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I used to but no longer. When I'm not working on a piece, I really don't even want to THINK about drawing.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
No, I haven't.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Gotta have both. I've known a lot of people with passion for it who went no where, as well as people with amazing drawing ability who also went nowhere.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I used to collect old toys, books, movie posters, and comics. But my passion for collecting fizzled a few years back. I still have a lot of the stuff, but I don't seek it out. People tend to send me things they know I’ll be likely interested in.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I've always identified with the Go Go Gophers.

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Figure Skater or Grave digger.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
It's surrounded by books, old movie posters, old toys, reference files, etc. It looks cluttered but it's actually in great order.

Do you play any musical instruments?

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
It's tough right now for commercial illustration, which is what I mainly do. Magazines and Newspapers are really cutting back. I haven't really had a problem because I've been doing work for many years now and have carved out my niche. Art directors and editors come to me because they know exactly what I offer. Again, back to passion. If you have the passion and can deal with the potentially long breaks in work, go for it.

Who is your favorite artist?

A long, long list but I always come back to Robert Crumb.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer Drew.

Children's book illustrator, caricaturist and cartoonist, Martha Gradisher is next.

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