Monday, August 2, 2010

R. Sikoryak - Cartoonist Survey #150

If anyone had told me back when I created the Cartoonist Survey in November 2009 that this project would take on a life of its own and I would eventually be posting the 150th survey, I never would have believed them. As a white collar worker by day and a leisure cartoonist wanna-be by night, my reason for creating the survey was totally self-indulgent. I was curious to learn how others had crossed that threshold into the world of professional cartooning. Creating and maintaining the blog has become a fun hobby for me. I personally have learned so much from the survey responses, but I never imagined that professional cartoonists themselves would find the sharing of information among their peers to be so entertaining and useful. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I would like to thank everyone who has participated thus far; and I look forward to bringing you many more sets of answers throughout the coming months. Please enjoy the 150th Cartoonist Survey with answers provided by R. Sikoryak.

Comic book artist Robert Sikoryak, a.k.a. R. Sikoryak was born in New Jersey in 1964. He earned his BFA from the Parsons School of Design, where he currently teaches. After graduating from Parsons, he worked as an assistant at Art Spiegelman and Fran├žoise Mouly’s RAW magazine. He sat in on Art Spiegelman’s comics classes at the School of Visual Arts, and also took a class taught by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden. It was for this class that Robert produced his first pastiche strip. In 1991 he was invited to contribute a page to the first issue of RAW’s second volume. He married the look of Bazooka Joe bubble gum comics to the nine circles of Dante’s Inferno. For the next issue of RAW he drew “Good Ol’ Gregor Brown,” an adaptation of Kafka’s "Metamorphosis" in the form of a series of Peanuts strips. For the last 13 years he has been presenting his "Carousel" series of multimedia comics slideshows in various venues in the United States and Canada.

Last September, Robert’s book, “Masterpiece Comics” hit the stores. Published by Drawn & Quarterly, “Masterpiece Comics” is a collection of his mash-ups of classic comics with classic literary works. Some of the stories include Dagwood and Blondie as Adam and Eve from the book of Genesis, “Crime and Punishment” featuring Gil Kane's Batman as Raskol and characters from Little Lulu in his version of the “Scarlet Letter.” His cartoons and illustrations have appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as well as in The New Yorker, GQ, Fortune, Esquire, The Onion, MAD, and Nickelodeon Magazine. Both The New York Foundation for the Arts and The American Antiquarian Society have awarded him artists fellowships. Robert lives in Manhattan with his wife
Kriota Willberg who is a very successful choreographer. You should stop by both his official website and his Drawn & Quarterly page.

What is your favorite pen to use?
It really varies -- for sketching, I like the archival pens that Pigma and Faber Castell make. For inking, I use Speedball pen nibs, generally. And I've recently gotten a Cintiq (an interactive pen display), which has taken over my life! My two latest commercial comics jobs were created entirely digitally, in Photoshop. But, since almost all of my work is parody, I have to be pretty flexible about the techniques I use.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I draw with whatever I have handy. When I'm inking on paper, I'll trace my final, tightest sketches onto the board with a mechanical pencil.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
On the computer, in Photoshop, almost exclusively.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Depends on the look I'm parodying. Most likely, though, I'd use colored pencils or watercolor.

What type of paper do you use?
For inking, I prefer Strathmore bristol board, 3 ply, smooth.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Hmmm.... I'd hate to draw the same style over and over again, but I can't think of a specific "thing."

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Luckily, downtown Manhattan has plenty of actual stores, and I prefer to leave the house whenever possible!

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
No, not really. When I'm about to ink, I do like to warm up a little bit, which generally means scribbling with my pens on tracing paper or vellum, placed on top of my pencil art.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
iTunes tells me I like "alternative," electronic, hip hop, rock... When I'm inking, and if I can concentrate, I like to listen to audio books. Classics, mainly. Lots of podcasts, too. NPR and WFMU are favorites.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I read lots of the daily newspaper comics. Peanuts was by far my favorite. My brothers and I also avidly read and collected Marvel comics.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Of all time? Peanuts was -- Krazy Kat is today. Although that's a really tough call.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
"Where the Wild Things Are" made a very strong impression, and I've still got a copy.
I certainly have a lot of the same comics, though mostly in reprinted form.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I studied illustration at Parsons, where I now teach. At the same time, in the late 1980's, I also sat in on some amazing cartoon and animation classes at SVA.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?

Did either of your parents draw?
No, but my father taught English, which undoubtedly helped make me a cartoonist who writes.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My family was very supportive, and my brothers and I drew comics together when we were kids. My wife Kriota loves comics and is enormously encouraging.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Not consistently, but I have notebooks that get interesting when I'm working on my own comics. Lots of scribbles and rough drafts.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes, I do, and I really enjoy it. Students can be hugely inspiring.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
That's a tough call. They're both pretty useful!

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Too many comics. Some music.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I have no idea. Sometimes I pace like the 1920's Felix the Cat. But all we really share is a walk cycle.

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Hmmm. I'd love to work in the theater, as a performer or producer. I've put together a lot of shows, such as my Carousel (cartoon slide show) series, which I still do -- but the theater has never been a viable career for me!

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
It needs organizing. It's very cluttered, surrounded by lots of reference and books that've overflowed my shelves.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No, unfortunately.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Draw more!

Who is your favorite artist?

Whomever I'm parodying today...

A special thank you goes out to Robert for taking time away from his very busy schedule to answer my questions.

The Cartoonist Surveys continue with cartoonist Mike Shapiro; next time at David Wasting Paper.


Alex said...

What an interesting survey! =)

pencil art said...

this is very interesting...

john said...

congratulations on so many survey...KEEP EM COMING....I always look forward to reading them..

P.L. Frederick said...

Would love to see Sikoryak's "Carousel" some time.

So interesting reading these responses: each cartoonist leads such a unique life. Thanks so much, Dave, and congratulations on your 150th!

P.L. Frederick (Small & Big)

David said...

Thank you everyone, I appreciate the feedback!

David said...

David, thank you for continuing to provide this catalog of artist responses.

I await the one that says, 'Don't practice, simply use this magical pen and your drawings will be cherished by millions.'

Until then, I'll need flip over another paper placemat and attempt to capture that scene over there.

Mike Rhode said...

150 - that's great! And I'm glad to see you put your real name up too. Credit where it's due.

David said...

Thanks David and Mike!