Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bob Ostrom - Cartoonist Survey #137

Bob Ostrom has been a professional illustrator for over 20 years. He finished his studies in illustration and advertising at the New England School of Design in 1985 and started his career as an assistant art director. Since then his art has been featured in over 200 children's books and publications and he has designed logos, toys and games. The list of companies he has done work for, such as Disney, Parker Brothers, Scholastic, Hooked on Phonics, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon shows that his specialty is children’s art. Bob lives in North Carolina and is represented by Deborah Wolfe LTD . He has a great website which features a How-2-Draw page filled with tutorials and other resources. You can learn even more about Bob by checking out his blog. There is very good series of Bob’s “How to Draw” DVDs that are available here at Jerry's Artarama.

In addition to his illustration work he also co-created and co-hosts the podcasts on the Creative Independence Network with multimedia designer, Chris Wilson. The Creative Independence Network uses a variety of online media including podcasts, blogs and social media sites to help “independent creatives look at their current roles and see possibilities beyond what they are doing now.” Find out more about
Creative Independence here.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I'm not too fussy about pens. Lately I've been into using a brush pen for some of my line work. Faber Castel makes a good one so does Prisma Color. I like the looseness and fluctuation in line weight.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I always sketch out my drawings out in red pencil. I start really loose with a .5 and then tighten up with a 2mm. After that I go over it with a 2b. Seems like a lot work but it actually saves me a ton of time when I bring the whole mess into Photoshop and drop out the reds. I prefer mechanical pencils. I love em. I must have at least 50 different kinds. There's nothing worse to me than a dull, nubby, wooden pencil.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I do all my color digitally. It's just the fastest most efficient way for me to get thing done.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolor mostly. It's really hard to duplicate that kind of spontaneity on a computer.

What type of paper do you use?
Cheap copy paper. I go through a lot of paper when I sketch and since I do my color on the computer that's what works best for me. I shudder to think what I'd be spending if I sketched everything out on the high quality stuff. On the other hand when I do need good paper I don't skimp. Bienfang and Strathmore are my favorites.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Anything riding a bike (I can never get the pedals right). Merry-go-rounds give me headaches and so do soccer balls. When I'm in charge all those little shapes on the ball will be changed to squares and artists everywhere will rejoice.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I get all my art supplies from Jerry's Artarama here in Raleigh. They have a great store. What I don't get there comes from my local office supply chain. I really hate waiting for stuff so shopping on-line can be a drag. Plus I love the smell of a big old art store....can't get that on line.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Nope, no time for pre-game warm ups. I usually just dive right in. When I get keyed up though I love to run or go to the gym. Helps clear my head.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Sometimes I'll listen to music but mostly I'm a big podcast fan . When I'm working late a good audio book is a nice distraction.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Peanuts, I learned to draw by tracing Charlie Brown. I also loved Mad magazine, Sergio Aragones was the best.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
It's hard to pin it down to just one strip. There are so many I love. The first place I go when I read any paper is the comics section. If your paper doesn't have comics... sorry I'm not interested.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I had this old paperback Peanuts book I found in the attic. I forget the name... might have been You're a Good Man Charlie Brown or something like that. I read that thing over and over again. I studied the art on each page until the spine finally broke and all the pages fell out.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to the New England School of Art and Design in Boston. It's now a part of Suffolk Universtiy.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Blessing. It's really hard to remember what life was like without it. Finding reference used to be such a chore. I knew these guys who used to have giant file cabinets filled with reference photos clipped from magazines and such. Interacting with people was more face to face... I miss that a little but the idea that you can answer almost any question that pops into your brain in seconds still amazing to me.

Did either of your parents draw?
No but my mother always did a lot of crafts.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
It's been many different people at different times in my life. My family has always been there for me and that means a lot. I feel it's really important to surround yourself with people who believe in what you do.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I carry a sketchbook with me where ever I go. I have about 10 different sketchbooks going right now and a bunch sitting in my attic. Every once and a while I dig them out and ransack them for ideas.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I teach cartooning classes to kids at Jerry's Artarama in Raleigh. I've also done a couple of DVD's on cartooning. It's the best gig in the world.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
It's both. One usually feeds the other but I tend to lean more toward passion. All the talent in the world will go nowhere without the passion to drive it forward.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Junk mostly. Man, you should see my desk...

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Eek the cat.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Lefty sort of. I write and draw with my left hand but that's it. For everything else I'm a righty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I'd love to be a professional musician. How cool would that be?

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Messy and cluttered. Everything I need is within arm’s reach (I can never find anything when it's tidy).

Do you play any musical instruments?
I'm a drummer. I used to play with a band called the Funk Assassins. That was a blast.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Surround yourself with people who encourage you to live your dream the rest will take care of itself.

Who is your favorite artist?
My daughter Mae. Do I have to pick one because my son Charlie is a rockin' good artist too.

Thanks very much Bob.

Howard Tayler, creator, author and artist for the webcomic “Schlock Mercenary” is up next.

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