Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sage Stossel - Cartoonist Survey #143

Executive editor of The Atlantic Monthly Online and cartoonist, Sage Stossel grew up in the Boston area and majored in English and American Literature and Languages at Harvard University. While at Harvard she drew the weekly strip about college life, “Jody” for the Harvard Crimson newspaper. After college she took a temporary job at The Atlantic Monthly and soon became a full time employee, contributing Web site reviews, authoring interviews, illustrating, hosting message boards and producing the digital edition of The Atlantic on the Web.

Her weekly editorial cartoon which appears on The Atlantic Monthly Online, “Sage Ink” was launched on Election Day in 1996. Sage’s cartoons have been featured by CNN Headline News, The Boston Globe, The Provincetown Banner, the New York Times Week in Review, Cartoon Arts International/The New York Times Syndicate, The Palm Beach Post, Nieman Reports and many others places. She has created two children’s books, "We’re Off to Harvard Square" and "On the Loose in Boston". Her work is also in, "Attack of the Political Cartoonists" and the 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010 editions of the "Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year" books. Sage works in Boston and lives in Cambridge, MA. You can see many of her cartoons on her website and over at The Atlantic Monthly Online.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Uniball Roller Grip 0.5mm

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I use standard pencils (I can’t seem to draw with a mechanical pencil without breaking the lead.)
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
By hand, but sometimes I make adjustments afterwards in Photoshop.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Usually watercolor.

What type of paper do you use?
Regular printer paper.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I especially dislike drawing cars, which I'm embarrassingly ignorant about. Earlier this year, an editor sent a cartoon back to me because I’d accidentally drawn a car's door opening backwards.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I like to go to the store in person.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I entice the cat over to keep me company.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I usually listen to NPR on my laptop.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I was into Peanuts and Garfield and the Asterix books.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Probably Peanuts.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I used to love a book called the Christmas Cat, by Tasha Tudor and her daughter Efner Tudor Holmes. I also loved Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. (I still have copies of both.)

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
No formal training, but after college (where it hadn’t occurred to me to take art classes) I took some adult education classes at the Museum School in Boston.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
It can be an addictive time-sink, and it's certainly taken its toll on the publishing industry, but I can't imagine not being able to look things up instantly, or work on projects and collaborate with people remotely.

Did either of your parents draw?
No, but my father’s mother was an illustrator.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My Dad started egging me on to do cartooning after I made him a humorous comic book for his birthday when I was twelve.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I usually have a Mead 4 x 6" spiral-bound book of index cards (blank on one side) in my bag or coat pocket.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I taught cartooning to junior high and high school kids a few years ago. It was nerve-wracking, because the junior-high kids would get crushes on each other and express it by hitting each other over the head and so forth. But I learned a lot in the course of preparing to teach them about different facets of cartooning, and gathering examples. I also learned from the kids - like about Manga, which most of them were really into. And one kid was a graffiti artist, who would tell me about the world of tagging. He wanted to develop signature characters that could be drawn with a flowing line really quickly (presumably before the police could catch him). So I brought in a book of Al Hirschfeld caricatures for him to look at, which he loved. (He was convinced that Hirschfeld must have been a master tagger.)

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
I think it takes a combination.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Nothing intentionally, though I do end up with a lot of books.

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

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
My non-cartooning job is as an editor, which I enjoy.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I sit or lie on the living room floor, with pens, pencils, erasers, and scratch paper spread out around me, and my laptop nearby.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I used to play the piano, but I don't have one at the moment.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Do other things, too, so it’s not just you and the Blank Page.

Who is your favorite artist?

I like Ed Sorel, Sempe, Red Grooms, Maira Kalman, Ludwig Bemmelmans, Winslow Homer, John Sloan, and lots of others, but I don’t have one favorite.

Thank you very much Sage.

Up next is Stephen DeStefano, storyboard artist, character designer and cartoonist.

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