Monday, May 24, 2010

Anton Emdin - Cartoonist Survey #128

Anton Emdin is a freelance illustrator, animator, designer and cartoonist from Sidney, Australia who was born in April of 1972. He began freelancing full time in 1995 and graduated from the College of Fine Arts (Paddington, Sydney) in 1997 with a BFA. Since graduating Anton’s work has been featured in magazine illustrations and comic strips, newspaper cartoons, web, print and logo design and television animation. He has been involved in the Australian underground comix scene and published his own title, Cruel World, which ran for 8 issues. Over the years he has continued to produce work for the underground scene that has appeared in books and comic anthologies such as Sick Puppy, Phatsville, Blackguard, Pure Evil and Blood and Thunder.

With his influences including artists Will Elder, Harvey Kurtzman, and Jack Davis it is no surprise that he would end up drawing for MAD magazine. Other magazines that have published his work include People, Penthouse, FHM and the Australian edition of Rolling Stone. Anton has also provided illustrations for the Graphic Classics series including works featuring Ambrose Bierce, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson. In November of last year he was awarded the Stanley Cross "Stanley" award from the Australian Cartoonists' Association for Best Illustrator. This year he has been nominated for the National Cartoonists' Society’s Reuben Award for Magazine Feature/Magazine Illustration along with Ray Alma (Cartoonist Survey #124) and Tom Richmond (Cartoonist Survey #89). We’ll only have to wait a few days to find out who wins as the Reuben Awards dinner is this coming weekend. Anton lives in Sydney with his wife, their two children and Corkey the dog and Johnny the cat. He has both a website where you can see more of his work and a blog that has this great tutorial of his illustration process.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I like a sable #2 brush. I like brush pens, too for sketching.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Definitely pencil first unless I'm doodling. I use traditional and 3mm clutch pencils - soft 6B for shading and thicker lines and 2B for details.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Almost all of my commercial work is coloured digitally. I enjoy colouring by hand, but really only for personal work and sketches.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Ink wash, gouache, watercolour, pencils.

What type of paper do you use?
Smooth bristol board or Arches watercolour paper – smooth.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I don't really hate drawing anything, but obviously organic shapes are more fun than geometric ones.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I buy what I can locally. If I'm too busy to go in I'll get it delivered by the store. Anything I can't source from them I buy online.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I do a few warm-ups in the sketchbook or scrap paper. If I'm working digitally, I'll do a few on screen to get the feel. But I draw so much that I'm ready to go from first thing in the morning. When I was young I used to be so picky about what I did before I drew, what time I could start inking etc. - all the planets needed to align before the brush hit the paper. But as I got busier I learned that you gotta draw any time; day or night.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Occasionally I'll put on something rocking (I'm a Van Halen tragic) or some funk, jazz or hip hop... but most of the time I'll listen to the news radio and topical comedy podcasts. I don't get a lot of time to read the paper, so I inhale the news aurally.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
As a kid I started on Richie Rich, Casper the Friendly Ghost and the like, and moved on to MAD magazine when I was around nine. My dad was (and is) a big fan and had most of the issues, dating right back. They were pristine until I tore out all the posters and stamps and stuck them to my wall in the summer of '85. Sorry dad.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Underworld by Kaz - great style and offbeat humour.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
The Magician Who Lost His Magic. Still got it. In fact, I read it to my son, Miles, just the other night.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to Art School (College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Australia) where I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts. What this actually means is that I learned how to drink copious amounts of alcohol. I really feel I am self-taught, as my teachers were more interested in art theory than the practice.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Blessing, blessing, blessing. Although it sorta sucks that every idea you think of is thwarted when you check it on Google.

Did either of your parents draw?

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My mum and my wife. My wife, Ash, is normally supportive. My mum is on steroids supportive. She would frame my napkin doodles if I were to let her.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes. The first few pages are always beautiful - with thoughtful studies and interesting sketches - but very quickly it degenerates into drunken doodles in front of the TV and testing pens and warm-up scribbles.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I did a lesson to school kids once. It was OK, but I'd rather be doing actual work. I recently did a talk to industry colleagues and that was quite enjoyable. I think mainly because I had an audience that was happy for me to talk shop - something I don't get to do much around regular folks.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Honestly, you need both. Passion (or energy) will probably get you a little further than talent alone.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I'm trying not to be so much of a collector any more, but I do enjoy pens - fountain pens in particular. I have quite a few of the Nintendo Game and Watches from the 80's, too.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Gardener. I don't know anything about gardening, but I think it would be nice to work outdoors.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
My studio is in our house; a bedroom next to my kids'. My dog (a pug named Corkey) sleeps at my feet. I have a some prints and art on the walls, but not nearly as much as I'd like. I sit at my grandfather's desk which I had refurbished, and have a mixture of old world and technology. Out of necessity I use the computer with Cintiq for most of my paid work, but I love brush, ink and paper, which I use for my sketches and personal art.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Bass, piano, and guitar. Not very well any more... really out of practice!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Hone your craft, and try to ditch the day job. A partner with a steady job helps!

Who is your favorite artist?

The great Will (or Bill) Elder from MAD... a great draughtsman in any style or medium. And Jack Davis for the best natural cartooning style around. Oh, that's two. Sorry.

Thanks again Anton and good luck at the Reubens!

Up next is Scooby-Doo and Cartoon Network artist Scott Neely.

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