Monday, July 26, 2010

Noel Ford - Cartoonist Survey #147

Noel Ford is a cartoonist who was born in December of 1942 in Nuneaton, England. He had always wanted to be a cartoonist but while attending Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts was told that he could never make it as a full-time cartoonist. He left school and spent a couple of years touring as lead guitarist for a traveling rock band and writing fiction for magazines and BBC radio. In 1975 Noel changed his focus and became a full-time cartoonist. He started sending out cartoons to various publications and was determined to be published in Punch. After submitting 10 cartoons a week for a year he finally saw one of his cartoons printed in Punch. He soon became one of the magazine’s regular contributors and went on to illustrate over 30 covers for them. Noel became an editorial cartoonist on the Daily Star in 1979 and continued working there until 1992. In addition to the Daily Star, he has also been the editorial cartoonist for the Church Times since 1989.

His cartoons have appeared in Spectator, Truck & Driver, The Golfer, Private Eye and many other magazines. He has done advertising work for clients such as Guinness, Mercedes Benz, Digital, British Telecom, and Coopers & Lybrand. Noel has illustrated hundreds of books for others and has written and illustrated many of his own, including “Golf Widows”, “Business Widows” and the children’s books, “Nuts”, “The Lost Wag”, “The Greedy Ghost”, “Limeroons” and “Diary of an Alien”. Most recently he has co-authored two books for New Holland Books, “Draw Cartoons” and “Draw Caricature”. He has won numerous cartooning awards and is a member of The British Cartoonists Association (BCA), The Cartoonists Club of Great Britain (CCGB), The Federation of Cartoonists Organisations (FECO) and The Cartoonists Guild. In 2003 he was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society for Arts. Since 1998 he has worked completely digital using a Macintosh and Wacom tablet; sending out his work via email. In 2000 he moved to the Welsh countryside where he still resides. Visit
Noel’s website to see many more examples of his work.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Wacom Digital Stylus.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I work entirely digitally (and have done for over ten years). I will often do a rough layout on a layer and then do the finished artwork on a new layer.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Everything on computer, using Corel Painter.

What type of paper do you use?
Working digitally, I don't normally use paper. On those occasions that I need hard-copy (exhibitions, cartoons for presentations, etc.) I use either a water-colour inkjet paper or photo paper.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Used to be horses and cats, but I got over it.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I buy most consumables online but also use a local retailer on occasion.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Just coffee.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
No. Where music is concerned I'm more a player than a listener. Music distracts me when working.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Beano, Dandy, and my favourite, ironically, was the Wizard which was mainly stories (written, not drawn!)

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
My favourite would have to be The Creature Feature by my late friend and colleague, Dave Follows. Not because he was a friend but because it was a wonderful strip.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
"Raiders of the Fells" by Arthur Waterhouse, published in 1948. I recently managed to find a copy and re-read it. Still like it. I also loved Richmal Crompton's "Just William" books.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I did attend Birmingham College of Art, very briefly. Cartooning was strongly discouraged and I was told that I could never hope to earn a living drawing cartoons. I left and, after a few years playing music, have been drawing cartoons for a living since 1975.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
A blessing! I used to waste hours in libraries trying to find references, and I love being able to deliver roughs digitally and receive instant feedback. Same goes for delivery of finished art. And how else could I do several topical editorial cartoons working from home?

Did either of your parents draw?

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My wife, Margaret.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I helped create, run and tutor a distance learning cartooning course. I enjoyed it but it was much harder work than just cartooning.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Talent but, even more so, persistence and luck.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Vintage guitars.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
It's a horrible thought, but, apart from the gender, I might easily be Marge Simpson!

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Play guitar.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
A home office, with a window overlooking open countryside. Computers at the window end but an ever-advancing music area rapidly encroaching from the other.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Did I mention the guitar?!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Do it part time while gaining lots of experience which will be invaluable if you are ever able to make it a full-time occupation.

Who is your favorite artist?


Thanks again for taking the time to answer Noel.

UK Cartoonist, illustrator, animator and journalist Matt Buck provides the next set of answers.

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