Monday, May 3, 2010

Kevin Spear - Cartoonist Survey #118

Kevin Spear is an illustrator, cartoonist and designer. His cartoons have been published since 1986, and he has been designing books since 1991. He spent 9 years working for a publishing company as an illustrator and book designer. While there he worked on Alpha Publishing’s “The Complete Idiot's Guide" series. In 1998 he created his own company Speartoons Inc. which provides illustration and design for the print publishing industry including digital, humorous illustrations for children's and religious publishers. Since 2002 he has worked for Warner Press as a graphic designer and illustrator, mainly for children's products. At Warner he creates coloring and activity books as well as children's picture books, teaching resource books and church supplies. Kevin wrote and illustrated the book, "What's a Bathtub Doing in My Church?" which was released in 2006. You can see more of Kevin’s work at his website.

What is your favorite pen to use?
For sketching, I like Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine. For my finished artwork, it's the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I use whatever pencil is in front of me. It can be a #2 Ticonderoga or some cheap mechanical pencil. Lately, I've liked using a clutch pencil/lead holder. It holds 2mm pencil leads. It's like a mechanical pencil but used in drafting. I also like the Ebony brand pencils.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I draw the finished art and color all on my computer. Adobe Illustrator is my tool of choice, though I also use PhotoShop.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Water soluble Prismacolor pencils.

What type of paper do you use?
I use whatever is at hand. Sometimes, it's bond paper. Other times, I'll sketch a rough on 3" x 5" index cards. I like the cards because I can glue them in my sketchbook and keep them organized.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I'm not big on detailed backgrounds. I like to focus on people. And what is it with bicycles? They seem fine until you draw a person on them!

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I miss having a local art supply store. I usually buy from the local Hobby Lobby or Michael's chain stores.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I like to read the newspaper, listen to the news or check out a news web site. I get more out of the human interest or weird news stories.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I like to play Russian roulette with or I lean towards adult alternative like U2 and REM. If I'm sentimental, it's the Beatles.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I loved racing to get the newspaper before my dad. "Peanuts" were my favorite. When I was in junior high, "Garfield" debuted. Jim Davis inspired me since he was a fellow Hoosier.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Ooh! That's like choosing your favorite son. Ever since I worked in a corporate environment, "Dilbert" has made me laugh. He finds the absurdity in office life.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
The book that sparked my imagination was "Andrew Henry's Meadow," by Doris Burn. I can still see that bright green cover. I wonder what ever happened to it?

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I took fine art classes as a teen. I graduated from Anderson University with a bachelor's degree in graphic design.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
It's simply a tool. What we choose to do with it makes it a blessing or a curse. I have gotten many jobs through the Internet. I have also wasted a lot of time on the web. It can be such a great resource. How else could someone from South Africa or Indonesia write and tell me they liked my cartoons?

Did either of your parents draw?
My mom loved to doodle. She has taken up painting since my sister has become a painter and art teacher.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
It's a toss-up between my mom and my wife. I met my wife when we were both taking graphic design classes at the university. She's the best critic and encourager all rolled into one. I've found you need both.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I have a bookcase full of them in my garage. They go back from my college days. It's a blast to pull one out and see early ideas and drawings I first made of my children. I go through about ten sketchbooks a year.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I've been a guest teacher for public school art classes. I love to teach now. The first experience was a nightmare. I was just out of school and had no idea I was supposed to control the classroom. The inmates ran the asylum. Now I know how to keep the interest of a class and keep them focused.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion is far more important. Talent is the fuel, but passion is the fire. Passion will keep you going when times are tough and you're discouraged. It also keeps you going when you are on your thirtieth illustration for a picture book.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I love books. I collect picture books, comic books, and pretty much any nonfiction book I take a fancy to.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Some days, I'm Sponge Bob, some days I'm Squidward.

Are you a righty or lefty?
I'm a lefty unless I'm using scissors or a mouse.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I'd be a teacher. I get a charge from the energy of kids.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
It's a small swirl of objects surrounded by an iMac. The desk is rather tidy, but the mess is on my Mac's hard drive.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I played the clarinet in high school. That must be why I sometimes find myself being uncomfortably like Squidward.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Work hard at it like you would any career you would want to succeed in.

Who is your favorite artist?
Another hard question. If it's a picture book artist, I'd choose Mo Willems. He is a great cartoonist and his picture books are hilarious. Even kids in rural Indiana know you shouldn't let pigeons drive the bus thanks to him.

Thank you very much Kevin.
Next time on David Wasting Paper is Belgian cartoonist, Lectrr.


David said...

Thanks for your thoughtful answers.

Kevin Spear said...

Thank you, David, for thinking of my on your blog. This is a great resource you've set up.