Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dave Whamond - Cartoonist Survey #107

Dave Whamond is an illustrator and cartoonist who lives in Calgary, Alberta. He studied visual communications at the Alberta College of Art and Design. While still in college he freelanced at The Calgary Herald as an editorial cartoonist. After five years at the Herald he started freelancing full-time doing magazine illustrations. Some of the magazines his work has appeared in include, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated and National Geographic. He also provides illustrations for a monthly feature that runs in Sesame Street magazine.

Dave has worked on advertising campaigns for companies such as Domino's, Chrysler, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Disney, NASA and many others. He has worked on several children’s books, “They Did What?’, “Secret Agent Y.O.U” and six books in the series “The Adventures of Hot Dog and Bob”. In September of last year he released, “My Think-A-Ma-Jink”, which he wrote and illustrated. The National Cartoonist Society has nominated “My Think-A-Ma-Jink” for this year’s Best Book Illustration Award.

From 1997 to 2006 Dave taught illustration at the Alberta College of Art and Design. He is also the cartoonist for the syndicated panel cartoon, “Reality Check”, which is distributed worldwide by United Feature Syndicate. “Reality Check” just celebrated its 15th year of syndication on the 3rd of this month. Plus, it was recently nominated by the National Cartoonist Society for the Best Gag Cartoon Award. We will have to wait until Memorial Day weekend to find out if he wins. Visit
Dave’s website here and read “Reality Check” everyday, here.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Crowquill. Love the crowquill.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Standard 4H pencil, then I use 2B for submitting roughs.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
A little bit of both. For newspaper cartoons, it's all digital but I prefer working in watercolor.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Mixed Media, mostly watercolor, some Prismacolor pencils, gouache.

What type of paper do you use?
Peterborough illustration boards.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I'm not comfortable with horses or anything with 4 legs that needs to look accurate. Even if I have reference, it is difficult. Obviously, if it's a cartoony horse, it's not a problem.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I buy from Swinton's art supplies, which is a local art store. I went to school with the guy who owns it, Doug.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
This isn't original but I like to get my mind going with a giant Tim Horton's coffee. I think the best in the morning and probably draw the best in the evenings. I need to have music going while I work or talk radio... whatever I'm in the mood for.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I love a lot of different music with the exception of country, although there are some bands out now that have a bit of a country flavor that I like. Mostly alternative music.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I loved so many it's hard to pick one. I remember waiting for the newspaper to arrive every night and especially on Sundays so I could read the color comics.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
I really enjoyed Calvin and Hobbes in it's day and the art in Liberty Meadows and now I like Bizarro and Glenn McCoy's comic and editorial work. Love Jeff MacNelly and Ramirez too.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I loved Dr Seuss and have rediscovered them now with my own kids. I also loved the Mad pocketbooks.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to the Alberta College of Art and Design and took a 4-year program in Visual Communications. I also later taught there for 9 years.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Definitely a blessing. I know the newspaper industry is still trying to figure it out and how to find some revenue but I use Google all the time for reference and it's so much easier sending files than having to rely on couriers, etc. It extends deadlines too... I don't have to meet the 5 PM Fed Ex cutoff anymore.

Did either of your parents draw?
My Dad did a bit but nothing serious.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My parents were very supportive when I was younger. They seemed to realize this is what I would be doing. It's funny, they told me a few years ago that they expected I would be an artist living at home for the rest of my life when I graduated but were willing to accept that if it made me happy. And, of course, my wife is very supportive and encouraging. She also keeps me grounded. All good.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I used to and I preached this all the time to my students but, I can't lie, I don't as much anymore. I draw 8 or more hours a day, sometimes on weekends so when I do get some downtime, that is the last thing I feel like doing. Sometimes I will take on a fun project that forces me to try something new like a sketchbook sometimes forces you to do. I would recommend keeping one though, especially if you're just starting out. Sometimes your best work and ideas comes from a sketchbook. I recall many students who didn't exhibit a lot of talent in their project work and then I would see the wonderful things they were doing in their sketchbook and asked them why they weren't doing that for their projects. "You mean you can do this?" they would reply. It was like the clouds parted when they realized this.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
As I mentioned, I taught at ACAD for years and loved the students. It also forced you to be a better illustrator and keeps you young. It was also rewarding, seeing students start out and evolve in the 4 years and then on to success in the real world. I found the other side of teaching difficult... tons of meetings, committees and other things you were expected to participate in and I just didn't have the time for it anymore. Someday, I may go back to it but for now I am just enjoying drawing.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
I think passion... I love what I do but there are many people who have so much more talent that me and they aren't doing it because they don't have the drive. I think you need a bit of both to succeed as an artist. That is what is tough when you're an artist because many of us aren't wired that way, to go out and put on that business hat and pursue work. Agents are good for this sort of thing, if you don't want to do it yourself.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Books, mostly. I've never been a collector other than hockey cards when I was a kid. Years later I realized I had a small fortune in the cards I had collected, only to find that I had autographed all the cards, making them worthless. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I think I'm getting more and more like Homer Simpson all the time.

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Probably teach. If not that, I would definitely be in business for myself. I don't think I could do the suit and tie, nine to five cubicle job.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Chaotic, looks like a bomb went off but yet, I know where everything is.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I love music but never took the time to learn an instrument. I hated taking piano lessons when I was a kid so that might be the reason. I was sort of in a garage band when I was a teen but never really mastered the bass guitar and singing at the same time. Completely forgot anything I learned.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Don't give up. There were many times things looked bleak but I look back and think, what would have happened if I quit then, right before this happened or that break happened? Also, there will be a lot of people telling you that you can't do something in life. Don't listen to the nay sayers! Unless, they have good advice, of course.

Who is your favorite artist?
Too many to list. If I had to pick just one, Bill Watterson.

Thank you Dave and good luck at the Reuben Awards dinner!

Caricaturist, Illustrator and MAD magazine artist Ed Steckley, is up next

1 comment:

Oswald Macleod said...

Dave, Your book "Oddrey" is a complete hit with a good friend of mine named Audrey. She related to all the comments in the charming story.
Would it be possible to have you sign a copy for her. She is sure you have met her and that is were you got the inspiration for Oddrey. But as was stated in review all "weird girls" see themselves in Oddrey!
My friend Audrey turns 61 this year. Your readership is diverse as your volume of work work