Sunday, March 7, 2010

Eddie Pittman - Cartoonist Survey #91

Eddie Pittman is an animator, character designer, illustrator and cartoonist who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Georgia State University in 1989 and worked for a while doing caricatures, sometimes working with Tom Richmond (Cartoonist Survey #89). In 1997 he started working in the animation department at Walt Disney Feature Animation in Florida where he was involved in many films including Mulan, Tarzan, Fantasia 2000, The Emperor’s New Groove and Lilo & Stitch. Eddie enjoys sharing his knowledge so he spent time teaching at the Ringling School of Design and running his own very popular drawing classes for animators in Central Florida. He also directed the very first animated full-dome movie created for planetarium dome theaters, “Legends of the Night Sky”. He now lives in Orlando with his wife and daughter, providing a variety of services including storyboard and illustration work. Recently he launched his online graphic novel, Red’s Planet. The story is about a young girl who ran away from her foster home, gets abducted by aliens and is left on a deserted planet where she encounters some diverse characters. Learn more about Eddie here at his website and catch up on Red's Planet, here.

What is your favorite pen to use?
The only time I use a pen these days is when I sketch with a fountain pen. I use a Delta fountain pen that a student of mine brought to me from a trip to Italy and I fill it with Parker's Mocha ink — which is unfortunately discontinued and I am quickly running out of. It makes a wonderful brown line with subtle thicks and thins.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I do draw in Col-erase pencils for my rough character designs —Blue, violet, Orange, or whatever feels right at the time—then tie the drawing down in wooden HB graphite pencil. For print work I used Col-erase Light Blue.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
These days I tend to use PhotoShop for all my coloring. It's faster and more forgiving.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
When I color by hand I prefer Prang semi-moist Watercolors. The cheap ones.

What type of paper do you use?
I sketch on regular copier bond and my comics are on Strathmore series 400 Bristol.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Our biggest art store here in Orlando just closed so I usually by online (the prices are better) but occasionally make the trek to a local store when in desperation.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Make coffee.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I occasionally listen to movie scores but most of the time it's am radio and podcasts.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I loved comics as a kid! Neal Adam's Batman and John Romita's Spider-Man were my favorites!

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
My favorite comic strip of all time is Walt Kelly's Pogo.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
There was this great Wizard of Oz book that I had, but I don't remember the illustrator's name.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I took a few drawing classes while I was attending Georgia State University many years ago. It was a strange art department with a heavy leaning towards abstract art and the head of the art department was rumored to be allergic to paint. There were only two instructors, Alan Loel and Ralph Gilbert, who I actually learned anything from. Both were amazing draftsmen and inspired me to draw from life.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Both. It's a blessing because I spend countless hours researching my projects and being inspired by other artists; it's a curse It's a blessing because I spend countless hours researching my projects and being inspired by other artists.

Did either of your parents draw?
My father is an artist though his primary skills were as a photographer. I was always inspired by his drawings as a child.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
I have always been blessed to be surrounded by people who support my art. Currently by biggest support comes from my wife Beth and daughter, Ginny.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes I do. I don't sketch nearly as much as I would like, but I have found recently that my sketchbook is a great place to work out visual problems I face in my work.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I have taught both cartooning and life drawing in a local community art center and at the college level. I taught a very fun figure drawing class for artists interested in careers in animation in the late nineties and many of my students landed a job at Disney Animation (I'm very proud). I have also taught for The Academy of Art University's online course and the Ringling School of Art and Design. It isn't that I enjoy teaching as much as I am passionate about learning and love to share what I have discovered with anyone who will listen.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I can't afford to collect anything. Plus I've moved so many times in my life and I hate lugging all my stuff around.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Probably Grumpy, though I'd rather be Baloo or Popeye!

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Write or teach. Though writing isn't always easy for me, I enjoy the process of telling stories. I also have a passion for teaching (or maybe it's just hearing myself talk).

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I used to play guitar, but I sold them to pay my gas bill twenty-five years ago.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Draw everyday and seek out the best artists as your inspiration. Set your goals high or, to paraphrase Robert Browning, let your reach exceed your grasp.

Who is your favorite artist?
Today it's Walt Kelly. Ask me again tomorrow.

Thanks again for answering Eddie!

Illustrator and co-creator of the strip Baldo, Carlos Castellanos is up next.

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