Friday, October 1, 2010

Vanessa Davis - Cartoonist Survey #171

Illustrator and cartoonist Vanessa Davis has been drawing since she was a little kid. Originally from West Palm Beach, Florida she now lives in Santa Rosa, California. She studied art at Washington University in St. Louis, Maryland Institute College of Art and the University of Florida. Vanessa started out in the comics business by self-publishing and selling her comics at small press fairs and conventions. Her autobio comics are drawn from her daily diary and are beautifully illustrated and colored with watercolors. In 2005 Buenaventura Press published her first collection of comics, Spaniel Rage and just this week her second book, Make Me a Woman, was released by Drawn and Quarterly. Some of the comics from Make Me a Woman were serialized over at Tablet Magazine (“a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture”). Her comics have also appeared in numerous anthologies including Best American Comics, Kramers Ergot, Pappercutter, Stuck in the Middle and Ivan Brunetti’s An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories. Be sure to check out Vanessa’s website for more of her work. You should also take a listen to this recent podcast with her on the Ink Panthers Show with Mike Dawson and Alex Robinson (Cartoonist Survey #169).

What is your favorite pen to use?
I like using these big Maritime nibs, or manga nibs that my boyfriend orders from New York Central Art Supply. I still haven't figured out my favorite nib.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I use a mechanical pencil and B or 2B lead.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I usually color with watercolors but am starting to branch out and have been using the lasso-and-paintbucket technique a lot lately.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
I use Winsor and Newton pan watercolors, tempera cakes, and a Series 7 sable brush.

What type of paper do you use?
I like the Arches Aquarelle watercolor blocks, the hot press. Though they're very expensive.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Any time I don't really know what the subject looks like, I hate drawing it.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I go to two local independent shops and then sometimes get stuff at/from
New York Central Art Supply.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Many hours of devoted procrastination. Also I have a hard time drawing when housework is undone.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Tons of eurotrash pop music and the Savage Love podcast when I need to marathon it.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I read Archie a lot and I loved all the old comics in there because of the fashion.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Probably Peanuts. Also I tried to make myself like LuAnn for a while, but I hated her hair.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I loved The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches by Alice Low, and it's still at my mom's house. But they re-illustrated it and it's horrible now.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to an arts magnet middle- and high school in West Palm Beach, and then I studied art in college, at Washington University in St. Louis, Maryland Institute College of Art, and University of Florida (I transferred a lot). I also took lots of summer classes and programs within those years as well.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
I like it!

Did either of your parents draw?
My dad drew and was a professional photographer, and my mom always liked art. She'd wanted to be a fashion designer but when she was young a teacher told her she couldn't ever be one because she didn't draw well enough.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Definitely my parents. And teachers. And friends. Pretty much everyone, I'm lucky.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes! I don't draw in it as much as I should.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I've spoken in a couple of classes here and there and really liked it. Hopefully I will get to teach someday.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Discipline is the most important. A billion people are talented, talent is no big whoop.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I collect cardigans, antique postcards, and weird syrups, liqueurs, and extracts. I also have a lot of scarves that I never wear.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I'd want to be Krtek, but who knows.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty. I'm starting to get tendinitis in my left hand and that makes no sense to me. But it's probably from typing.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I'd love to be a lawyer or doctor or some other very well-paid and passionate executive.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
It's in my living room; it's cluttered and very insufficient.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Absolutely not, and I'm offended by the question. (Not really.)

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Be good at computer stuff.

Who is your favorite artist?

I love Alice Neel, David Hockney, Pierre Bonnard, Kevin Blechdom, Jaime Hernandez, Lynda Barry and about a million others I am blanking on, and who probably illuminate what I'm into and about even better than these ones I just listed.

Thank you for your time Vanessa.

Up next is cartoonist Lars Martinson.

1 comment:

Robin Cain said...

Once again, thank you so much for the interview! I love Vanessa's work so it's fun to get a little inside info on her.