Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kirk Anderson - Cartoonist Survey #187

Kirk Anderson is an award-winning political cartoonist from Minnesota. His cartoons have appeared in The Onion, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, USA Today, The New York Times and countless other newspapers and magazines throughout the world. His work has also been seen on The CBS Evening News, ABC’s Nightline, published in over 150 books and shown at exhibits and galleries including the Warhol Museum. He was the staff cartoonist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press from 1995 to 2003 and then moved on to the Minneapolis Star Tribune where his "Banana Republic" comic ran on the editorial pages from October 2005 to November 2007. In 2008 his “Banana Republic” comics were collected into a book. Kirk presently free-lances his cartoons and illustrations, both directly and through Artizans Entertainment, Inc. He lives and works in St. Paul with his wife Nancy. Stop by his Kirktoons website and then head over to his Molotov Comix Press to purchase "Banana Republic."

What is your favorite pen to use?
I ink most everything with a #3 sable brush. I used to use Winsor & Newton Series 7 #3, but they're expensive, and I've found Raphael is just as good at half the price. Also Kolinsky and, last time I was at the greatest art supply store on earth (Wet Paint), they were suggesting Escoda brushes as just as good or better. I get control, expression and line quality that I can't get with a pen, nib or computer tablet.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Yes. I don't trust myself with ink unless every line is already there in pencil. I use a mechanical pencil, just so I never have to bother with sharpening.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
All computer. Photoshop.

What type of paper do you use?
2 ply Bristol. Canson or Bienfang or whatever, although I don't like Strathmore for some reason.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Anything that needs to be sleek and graceful, like an airplane or a ballet dancer, because you either capture it or you don't, there doesn't seem to be much room for fudging. Same for anything that requires me to actually use perspective, and not just eyeball it.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I physically go to the greatest art supply store on earth (Wet Paint), just a 10 min. bike ride away. It's a small store that somehow has everything you'd ever need. There are always way more staff than seems necessary, and they are always friendly and omniscient.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Clear off my drawing table, that's a good 20 minutes right there.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
If I'm listening to anything, it's usually NPR or some news podcast. Unfortunately, more and more I seem to need complete quiet to concentrate on almost anything, so I listen to less and less music, which is a shame and a crime.

I would usually listen to rock, blues and punk. Once I was inking a violent image with lots of spattered ink, and something seemed wrong, and I realized I was listening to some Mozart fer gawdz sake! I put in Rancid's 'Out Come the Wolves', and it went much better. I listen to 'Out Come the Wolves' while drawing more than anything. Midnight Oil has also been scientifically proven to improve one's drawing skills.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I read DC superhero crap. I had awful taste. I also read Mad Magazine, which was a great influence on me & most cartoonists my age.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Calvin and Hobbes.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I don't remember, and no I don't. I of course loved Dr. Seuss books, and it was a kick to learn years later that he had originally been an editorial cartoonist, and most of his children's books are fantastic editorial cartoons with strong social messages.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
A minor in art at UW-Eau Claire.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Both, of course. Christ, how many questions do you have?

Did either of your parents draw?
My uncle drew, and my dad was very creative.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My mom and dad and wife have foolishly backed me 100%.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I do not. Isn't that terrible? Aren't true artists required to keep sketchbooks? I'm a fraud.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes I have. I enjoy helping nourish someone else's creativity, helping them brainstorm and maybe look at things in a different way. But just as often the experience sucked.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
You need talent to make a living; you need passion to make a life. Someone with few skills but lots of passion is usually going to create more interesting art than a master technician who couldn't care less.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Christ, are you going to ask me about my pets? What are you going to ask me next, what animated cartoon character I'd like to be? I sort of collect books and blues CDs. No, I don't really "collect" them, I guess, I just kind of accumulate them, kind of unintentionally.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Oh my God! You did! You asked!

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I'm interested in social work, but I know I'd be clinically depressed and burnt out after two weeks. I don't know, really. Geez, isn't that pathetic? My only aspiration in life is to draw funny pitchers? Maybe a hostage negotiator. Just dabble in it, as a hobby.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
La Brea Tar Pits. I'm pretty sure I have at least three different kinds of mushrooms growing in different dark corners. And a family of raccoons in a filing cabinet. I'm not the most organized individual.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Piano, and I've just recently been learning how to play guitar badly. I've always wanted to know how to play the guitar badly.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
You better reeeeeally like it, because you're going to be spending at least a third of your life doing it, and probably not making much money doing it. But if you know you'd be happier with a job you're passionate about rather than one that will make you rich, that's great, you are more than half way to Enlightenment.

Who is your favorite artist?

There's a zillion, but Bill Watterson is definitely one.

What, no more questions? Is that it?!

Thanks again for your time Kirk.

Illustrator John Pound is up next.