Sunday, March 28, 2010
Paul Szep - Cartoonist Survey #101
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist, Paul Szep was born in the summer of 1941 in Hamilton, Ontario. His first printed cartoons ran in his high school paper, the Hamilton Spectator. His first submissions to the Spectator were sports cartoons but he soon moved on to political cartooning. After high school he attended the Ontario College of Art where he specialized in illustration. As most boys growing up in Canada Paul dreamed of playing hockey for the NHL and he did play for awhile under the Detroit Red Wings franchise. Paul freelanced as an illustrator before he was hired by the Financial Post to do cartoons and illustrations. In 1967 he was invited to try out at the Boston Globe as a political cartoonist. He landed the job and ended up being their chief editorial cartoonist until 2001. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in both 1974 and 1977. In 1978 he was the National Cartoonist Society’s, Editorial Cartoonist of the Year and in 1987 he tied with Bill Gallo for the NCS’s Sports Cartoons Award. He has been honored with many other awards including the Thomas Nast Prize in 1983. Paul’s cartoons have been syndicated to hundreds of newspapers worldwide. He has also been a contributor to Golf Digest (he’s quite a golfer himself, as are a lot hockey players) and he has written more than a dozen books. His regular cartoon, “The Daily Szep”, appears in the Huffington Post and he is presently syndicated by The Creators Syndicate. Visit Paul’s website and see his political cartoons at the Huffington Post.
What is your favorite pen to use?
Staedtler pigment liner, Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen, Montblanc.
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Yes I draw in pencil first with a mechanical one.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I color by hand with colored pencils and watercolors.
What type of paper do you use?
Bienfang watercolor paper.
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I dislike drawing caricatures of attractive women.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Most of my supplies are bought at Staples but there is a great local art store in Tampa when I need special items.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
My ritual is hitting golf balls every morning at my club and then running on a treadmill.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I love classical music on when I work.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I did read and trade comic books as a kid but can't recall my favorites.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
I did love POGO.
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Pinocchio was my favorite book although I do not have a copy of it.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Spent 4 years at THE ONTARIO COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN in Toronto Canada studying illustration.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
The Internet has been great for me but it has impacted newspapers and thus cartoonists in a negative way.
Did either of your parents draw?
Neither of my parents draw, but my late grandmother was a clothes designer in her native Hungary.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
I do not keep a sketchbook.
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I taught satire at Harvard but have never taught cartooning and frankly don't think it can be taught.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion and talent are both required to succeed plus some luck in what is a very competitive field with fewer opportunities right now.
Do you collect anything and if so what?
I have collected way too many putters over the years that did not make me a better putter and are now being tossed.
Are you a righty or lefty?
I'm right handed.
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I played pro hockey and now play tournament golf so I probably would be a hockey coach (of course I would have to move back to the frozen tundra in Canada) or a golf pro-teacher.
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
We call my work area the wreckage room because it is jammed with books, drawings and golf clubs. People have gone in and never been seen again.
Do you play any musical instruments?
I would have liked to play the violin, but sadly no.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
My advice to someone wanting to draw for a living would be to learn to do it on-line, that is the future.
Who is your favorite artist?
I have many favorite artists. In my own field, Ronald Searle, Daumier and of course Pat Oliphant, who is head and shoulders over every one else.
Thank you very much Paul.
Illustrator, caricaturist and animator, David Cowles, shares his answers next.