Monday, April 26, 2010

Cedric Hohnstadt - Cartoonist Survey #115

Cedric Hohnstadt is a freelance illustrator specializing in character design and toy design. He began freelancing while studying for his BFA in Illustration at Minnesota State University, Moorhead, MN and has been self-employed ever since. He has worked on hundreds of projects as an artist and a project manager including advertising, editorial, animation, curriculum packaging, corporate, toys and games. Some of his past clients include Hasbro, Crayola, Disney, DreamWorks, Scholastic, Canon, Exxon/Mobil, Hewlett-Packard and General Mills. He has done work with such licensed character properties as Winnie the Pooh, Cars, VeggieTales, The Jetsons, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Monsters vs. Aliens and Goofy. Cedric designed toys for Disney and Hasbro and was also the character designer for NBC’s animated TV series 3-2-1 Penguins! He has illustrated numerous children’s books including “Day of the Field Trip Zombies”, “What Your Nose Shows”, “Tried and True Job” and “Scratch & Sniff”. In 2006 Cedric created and illustrated an 8-page cartoon Gospel tract for the ministry of Living Waters. This tract has been translated into over a dozen languages and has had almost 3 million copies of it distributed in English. You can download the tract for free here. Cedric is a member of the National Cartoonists Society, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Ad Fed and the Creative Talent Network. He lives in Minnesota with his my wife and two daughters. Stop by his website and read his Cedric’s Blog-O-Rama.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I draw everything digitally on my Cintiq. But when I do use a sketchbook I like the Pilot rolling ball pens.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
For client projects I sketch everything out first using some free pencil brushes for PhotoShop that I downloaded here. In my sketchbook I like to draw in pen. Not being able to erase forces me to think faster and be more confident in putting down my lines.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Computer (PhotoShop and occasionally Illustrator).

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Drawing machinery, cars, etc. doesn't come naturally to me. I also am not crazy about drawing backgrounds and environments though they are sometimes a necessity. I specialize in character design and toy design, which means that I can often focus on the figure and not have to draw a lot of backgrounds or props.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Being all-digital like I am means I rarely by art supplies anymore. It's all software.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I sometimes do warm-up sketches and/or look at other art blogs for inspiration to get my brain focused and "in the zone".

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I'm not a huge music guy. I mostly listen to talk radio, podcasts, and listen to TV shows or DVD special features (i.e. commentaries) while I draw. Since I work alone all day, its nice to hear other human conversation in the background. Helps me feel a little less isolated.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I was a huge Superman fan and also read a lot of Batman. But I rarely read comics anymore.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Bloom County, The Far Side, and Calvin and Hobbes are classics I still read. Berkeley Breathed had brilliant comic timing. Bill Watterson's Sunday art is breathtaking. One of my favorite current strips is "Speed Bump" by Dave Coverly.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I've never been a big fiction reader. I prefer nonfiction. I've always liked to read up on and learn about topics that interest me. Believe it or not, when I was a kid I read the Bible a lot. Still do, actually.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I earned a BFA from Minnesota State University, Moorhead. I've also taken a week-long workshop at the Disney Institute summer program (now defunct), and recently I took a character design class from Stephen Silver on
. It was fantastic--I highly recommend it.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Like most things it depends on how you use it. It's insanely easy for a person to waste time or indulge certain vices. But its also super helpful in doing research, networking, self-promotion, and studying the work of other artists.

Did either of your parents draw?
My Mom had some talent in high school but never developed it. My dad is a great guy but doesn't have an artistic bone in his body.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
I was fortunate in that my parents and grandparents were all very supportive. I also had a terrific art teacher in high school who did a lot to push me and encourage me.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I own several sketchbooks but lately I haven't used them very much. I've been too busy working on client projects, which I guess is a good thing.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I've given a few lectures but I don't think I'd enjoy teaching on a regular basis. I'm too much of an introvert.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Both. They are like two wings of an airplane.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I own a lot of art books and animation DVD's.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I don't know if there's anyone that IS me, but if I could become any character I think I'd choose Popeye.

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I'd love to be a writer but I'm no good at it. I suppose I'd try to be an art director or maybe a filmmaker or photographer.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I have a desk in the corner of my studio with a Cintiq and a large flat-screen monitor. You can see photos of my studio here.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I played piano and trombone as a kid but haven't touched either in years. I'm not a very musical guy.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Practice, practice, practice. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to getting around the hard work that leads to success.

Who is your favorite artist?

That would be a pretty long list. A few that come to mind are Norman Rockwell, JC Leyendecker, Disney's Nine Old Men, Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, and John Byrne are a few of the "masters" that have influenced me. In recent years there's been an explosion of art blogs which have exposed me to dozens of other modern geniuses. You can find links to several of the art blogs I follow at my blog.

Thanks again Cedric.

Illustrator and one of this year’s Reuben Award nominees, Randall Enos, is up next.

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