Monday, October 4, 2010

Lars Martinson - Cartoonist Survey #172

Cartoonist Lars Martinson was born in Minnesota in 1977. He has been drawing comics since the sixth grade when he first got his hands on some comic books. He studied graphic design at the University of North Dakota and has traveled to more than fifteen countries. Lars lived in Japan from 2003 to 2006 while employed as an assistant English teacher through the JET Program (an exchange program sponsored by the Japanese government). His experiences in Japan were the catalyst for Tonoharu, his four-part graphic novel project. In 2007 Lars was awarded the Xeric Grant for Comic Book Self-Publishers enabling him to release Tonoharu: Part One. He returned to Japan in April of 2008 to study East Asian Calligraphy on a two-year research scholarship from the Japanese Government. He found these studies to be very valuable, stating that it was “a revelation, and has greatly improved the quality of my comics.” See more of his work here on his website. Tonoharu: Part Two will be in stores this December, but you can purchase one now directly from Lars who will "sign all copies and include a little doodle."

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I use a mechanical pencil with light blue lead.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
On the computer. I outline my process here.

What type of paper do you use?
9"x12" Strathmore Bristol 300 Series, Smooth.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Sprawling, complicated backgrounds (and yet my work has so many of them…)

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Local one.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Starting a stopwatch. I try to draw at *least* six hours a day, and knowing just how much (or how little) I've worked on any given day helps keep me focused.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I often listen to music, podcasts, and TV shows when I'm inking. Genres run the gamut.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I started reading comics when I was in sixth grade or so. I remember really liking the original b&w "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", and "Outlanders" by Johji Manabe.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
My grandmother had old collections of "Peanuts" comics, and I really liked those.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Hm… nothing really springs to mind. That's kind of sad.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I did my undergrad in graphic design at the University of North Dakota. I recently got back from a two-year stint studying East Asian calligraphy at Shikoku University. The latter study improved my inking immeasurably; I'd recommend it to any cartoonists/illustrators.

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

Did either of your parents draw?
My dad draws a bit.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My parents, and a high school friend. Still in regular contact with both, I'm glad to say!

Do you keep a sketchbook?

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I have not. I'd like to try it, though.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
I'd choose none of the above, and instead say persistence. It's not as sexy as "talent" or "passion", but without persistence you'd never finish a book, making any argument about talent and passion moot.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I'm trying to do the opposite actually, and pare down the possessions I already have.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Kedamono from "Popee the Performer". Actually probably not, I just want to plug that incredible cartoon. It deserves a cult following.

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Beats me!

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I move a lot, so it changes all the time. A hard surface, a chair, and good lighting seem to be the only constants.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Nope. I love karaoke, though.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Develop good business habits now. Save receipts and keep records, network, promote your work, update your website regularly, answer e-mails in a timely manner, etc., etc.

Who is your favorite artist?

Katsushika Hokusai.

Thanks again Lars.

Jenny Campbell, cartoonist for the comic strip Flo and Friends is up next.

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