Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Larry Johnson - Cartoonist Survey #167

Larry Johnson is a cartoonist, illustrator, fine artist and sports talk show host. He was born in Boston, MA and graduated from the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts. In 1969 he became the Editorial Sports cartoonist for the Boston Globe and The National Sports Daily. His sports cartoons have also been featured on and Since Larry is also a fine artist and commercial illustrator, he has illustrated many books and had his original paintings purchased by individuals and corporations including Vernon Jordan, Adams Mark Hotel and Oprah Winfrey. He co-hosts the Mustard and Johnson Show on sports radio WEEI in Boston; talking about my beloved Bruins, Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics.
Last December, his second book of illustrations, “Out of My Mind” was released. Combining his sport cartoons with writings from some of the country’s top sportswriters, “Out of My Mind” is a celebration of Larry’s career. A member of The Society of Illustrations in New York, he has also illustrated over 20 children’s books. On top of his art and radio work he spent over 25 years as a youth minister, helping kids make the right decisions in life. See more of Larry’s work here, here, here and here. You can listen to him on the radio, weekends on 850 AM, 103.7 FM or streamed live on

What is your favorite pen to use?
Micron. They come in different nib sizes. I prefer .5 and .8.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Pencil first and then the pen.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Right now by hand, but I would like to master Photoshop better.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Inks and markers. Remember, in most instances you are under a deadline so you can't waste a lot of time.

What type of paper do you use?
Believe it or not, regular Staples copy paper.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
It's not so much hating to draw anything as much as having the time to do it.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I prefer the smaller stores. Many times when you go in an art store you think of things that you normally would overlook on the Internet. The other problem is if all of the Mom/Pop stores go out of business the larger chains can create a Monopoly.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I think most artist see it in their minds first and teach their hand to respond to what they see.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Interesting question. If it's a sports cartoon I have sports radio on. When I do a fine art painting I prefer something like jazz, Johnny Mathis. Streisand...

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I think every artist loved Superman, Batman and the ability in which they were drawn. People assume that an artist can draw anything and in most instances they can, but it's very hard to switch styles like comic book art.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
The Wizard of Id and B.C. They were both drawn by Johnny Hart. The drawings were great, but his wit was even better. Like me, he too was a Christian and often had a quiet message in the strip.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
By far, Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I loved the stories. Great to illustrate and for bringing the words to life in a picture I loved.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
The Boston Museum School of Fine Arts. No matter where you go to school, nothing beats practicing when you don't have to.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Like anything else in life it can be both. From a marketing standpoint I think being able to create a website that you can send to someone quickly is great:

Did either of your parents draw?
No. Actually, my father was a famous musician who was the lead trumpet player for Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My mother was always supportive. But my high school art teacher, Donald A. Quincy helped me to find my purpose in art.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I used to. Most artists will tell you there's a part of art that you do to make a living. I LOVE doing fine art (Sargent, Monet) but I always have to put that passion aside to pay the bills.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
The only reason I never did would be the process of telling people how to get there. I could teach the process of a concept and how to arrive at the idea. As you know art is subjective, so the drawing part I would never try to get someone to execute the way I do.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
I think talent gets you on the bus and passion gets you to your final destination. In all fairness, I may like to sing, but if I don't have the God given talent then it doesn't matter how much passion I have. The problem with art is most people love to draw and they will find plenty of people to tell them they are good. The litmus test however is when people start paying you for your work.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I used to collect matchbooks from every place I traveled until people started using them to I collect in my mind.

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

Bugs Bunny. Probably because he seems to have it all figured out.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty. They say Rembrandt could draw with his right hand and shade with his left at the same time...

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Musician. Mostly because, unlike art you get instant reaction. The sad part about art in most instances by the time people acknowledge your're dead!

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
A space in need of order; and yet I know where everything is.

Do you play any musical instruments?

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Learn the various computer programs. People can say what they want but until you are making enough money to support your family it is very hard to travel both roads. I have found if you can find something in the art field that you like and you can pay the bills without being mentally drained then you can buy time to still chase your hearts dreams. Go on some of the job sites and you will see that most job offers are dealing with computer based programs.

Who is your favorite artist?

Can't give just one because I am a Cartoonist, illustrator and fine artist: Cartoonist, the late Jeff MacNeely. Illustrator: Bernie Fuchs. Fine Artist: tie, John Singer Sargent and Monet.

Thanks again for your time Larry.

Up next is comic book creator, cartoonist and illustrator, Richard Sala.


john said...

This was very interesting...Its nice when someone takes the time to answer the questions with more than one word answers...
Keep em coming David I look forward to readng them..

David said...

Hey'll enjoy the next set of answers with Richard Sala as well...and thanks for being a loyal reader.