Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jeff Pert - Cartoonist Survey #194

Jeff Pert is an award winning cartoonist from Maine who has loved comics and cartoons since he was a kid reading his “Peanuts” collections. He got his professional start drawing editorial cartoons for Brunswick, Maine’s Times Record. His editorial cartoons went on to be published in 5 other Maine newspapers and earned him multiple awards from the Maine Press Association. Cartooning for over 25 years he is best known for his drawings of lobsters and moose. Some of Jeff’s clients include Cedars Sinai Medical Center, NobleWorks Cards and L.L. Bean. His work has appeared in various national publications and on all kinds of merchandise such as books, greeting cards, t-shirts, postcards, drinking glasses, calendars and key chains. Speaking of merchandise, Jeff’s brother Jon owns and operates a company called Entertain Ya Mania that sells all kinds of cool things with Jeff’s drawings on them. The 2011 "Lobsters on the Loose" and "Moose Mania" calendars make perfect holiday gifts. See more of Jeff’s work here at his website and then go and buy some of his merchandise over at Entertain Ya Mania.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I use Microns and Pitt artist pens. Early on I used a dip pen, and much preferred the line variation, but between the declining quality of pen nibs, ink and paper, and some repetitive stress problems, these new-fangled marker pens are easier to use.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I always sketch in pencil first. I use the PaperMate Sharpwriter # 2, which is technically a mechanical pencil. Real pencils, like dip pens, have declined in quality over the years. (Great, I’m beginning to sound like my grandfather: “Back in MY day…”)

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Computer. Color is my Achilles Heel, and it’s far easier to make changes/corrections digitally. I dream of the day I can experiment with watercolors and other natural media.

What type of paper do you use?
Tracing paper and low grade copy paper for sketches; high grade printer paper or Borden & Riley bleed-proof paper for finishes.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Based upon previous interviews I’m going to sound like a broken record, but first thing: cars. After that, it would be caricatures. I’d rather parade down Main St. in only a jockstrap than draw a caricature.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
The local A.C. Moore, which is a chain of art/craft stores. I also sometimes go to a locally-owned store---the selection’s better but their prices are higher.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
No. I looked up “procrastinate” in the dictionary, and that doesn’t count as a ritual.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
If I’m drawing a finished piece, yes, I often listen to music. Less so when I’m sketching/conceptualizing. As for genre, anything that’s in my iTunes, which encompasses classical to hard rock to folk to alt country to big band jazz.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I assume you’re talking comic books here, considering the follow-up question. My Dad introduced me to Batman comics at the time the Adam West TV show came on (yes, I’m dating myself here). A few years later my friend Jon Dumont showed me the wonders of the Marvel universe. I love me some John Romita-drawn Spider-Man.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Was: Peanuts. Again, I sound like a broken record, as it’s been cited so many times by others for this interview. But I don’t think younger cartoonists really, truly understand the impact Schultz’s strip had. It wasn’t just a comic strip; in the mid-to-late 60s it was a phenomenon that permeated American culture---in a way, I think it’s safe to say, no comic strip ever will again.

Is: I don’t really have a favorite. The sad truth is the comics page these days is pretty pallid. It’s become like TV---targeted to certain demographics in as watered-down and safe a manner as possible. Nobody’s shaking things up. And fewer newspaper editors care about or understand comics. Thank God “new media” is coming along. Some cartoonists think it’s the death knell, but I think it’ll rejuvenate cartooning in ways we can’t yet imagine. Social media alone holds huge possibilities for creators to control and profit from their ideas with no middle-man.

Um, I seem to have got a tad off topic here.

(Re current cartoonists, I would like to mention I love Richard Thompson’s work [Cartoonist Survey #125]. I could study his drawing all day.)

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I’ve loved books since I was a boy, so I’m kind of surprised I can’t recall a specific book. What comes to mind at the moment is the Golden Book version of “Frosty the Snowman”. My great-grandmother would read it to me when I was very young, and I remember the pictures to this day. And no, I don’t own a copy of it.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Other than a couple of high school and college drawing classes, not really. When I lived in Los Angeles and worked at DreamWorks Animation (not as an artist, I hasten to add), I took advantage of the life drawing classes they offered, taught by the best teachers in L.A. That was a real eye opener and showed me how little I really knew about drawing. If you can accurately draw the human body, you can draw anything.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
It can’t be anything but both. A blessing because it has mountains of info at your fingertips, and allows people to communicate in ways they hadn’t been able to previously---I’m thinking here, say, of a mother who via Skype can video-talk with her son stationed in Iraq, or a shut-in who finds a community on a bulletin board or chat room. A curse because it’s allowed anyone a platform to shoot off their mouth, no matter how ignorant they are. I mean, just look at how I’m droning on here!

Did either of your parents draw?
Not really, though my Dad did some cartoon doodles that impressed the hell out of me when I was a boy.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My Dad. When I was in my early teens, he came home from work one night and gave me a package that had arrived in the mail that day. It was a copy of Jack Markow’s “Drawing & Selling Cartoons”. I hadn’t asked for it. He’d ordered it without telling me.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I have a few, with about five pages used in each of them. So I guess that would be a “no”.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I have, with mixed results. Some kids latch right on and get it, and that’s exciting. But some kids have trouble, and I’ve even had one or two who demeaned their own work---at 10 years old! Also, generally, teaching kids takes more crowd control skills than I have talent for.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Neither. Perseverance is key.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Books and rejections from women.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I’d like to think I’m Bugs Bunny, but I’m probably closer to Droopy Dawg.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty, but I hold nothing against lefties.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Write novels and screenplays---an even more difficult line of work than cartooning.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Cluttered drawing board with lightbox, cluttered computer table w/ honking Macbook Pro laptop and second monitor.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No, but I sang in a garage band in high school and college. There are folks who witnessed that who are still in therapy.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
I have no advice. If I did, that would indicate I know what I’m doing, and believe me, I don’t. And I’m not being facetious here.

Who is your favorite artist?
There’s not one specific person. There are a bunch, all for different reasons. I’ve taken enough of your time, so I won’t go on.

Click the calendar of your choice below to be brought directly to the Entertain Ya Mania order page.

Thanks again for your time Jeff.

Writer and comic book artist Nick Abadzis is next.


john said...

Good one !

P.L. Frederick said...

Yes, this was a very good read. Thank you, Jeff! Your "Who-farted?"-lobsters-in-a-tank cartoon is hilarious.

Jeff Pert said...

Thanks, John and P.L.!