Shaun Tan is an illustrator and author who was born in Fremantle, Western Australia in 1974. He had his first illustration published in the Australian science fiction magazine, Aurealis, in 1990 when he was only 16. He graduated from the University of Western Australia in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts. After graduating he earned his living as a freelance artist working on everything from commercial work to cartoons. He is now an author and illustrator of award-winning picture books including, “The Rabbits”, “The Lost Thing”, “The Red Tree” and his most recent, “Tales from Outer Suburbia”. Shaun’s wordless graphic novel, “The Arrival” was released in 2007 and has been translated into many languages around the world. It is the story of a man who leaves his family and travels to a far away land to try and find a better life for them. “The Arrival” has won the "Book of the Year" prize from the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, the Children's Book Council of Australia’s "Picture Book of the Year" award and the “Prize for Best Album” at the Angoulême International Comics Festival.
Shaun has also worked as a theatre designer and was a concept artist on the films ‘Horton Hears a Who’ and ‘WALL-E’. This past September he was awarded a Hugo Award for the category “Best Professional Artist”. Since 2002 he has been working with a small team animating an adaption of his “The Lost Thing”. It was completed in April of this year and has received many awards. You can see a trailer of this film over on the official “The Lost Thing” website. A DVD of “The Lost Thing” was released in October of this year by Australian independent home entertainment company, Madman and is available for purchase here. Stop by Shaun’s website where you can see much more of his work.
What is your favorite pen to use?
A very cheap BIC classic fine point or similar ballpoint pen.
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Standard pencil - B or HB.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
A bit of both, but mostly (95%) by hand.
If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Acrylics, pastel crayons, oils and coloured pencils.
What type of paper do you use?
Either a 150gsm cartridge or a 300gsm watercolour paper (for painting).
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Hands from a very fore-shortened angle, feet and cars.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Not really, besides clearing out a bit of horizontal space.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Yes, and pretty broad ranging. Sometimes I also listen to audio-books.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
No, didn't really read comics as a kid, although I really liked Gary Larson's Far Side.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Calvin & Hobbes.
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
An encyclopedia of Dinosaurs I bought when I was seven, and yes, I still have it.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Mainly high school in Western Australia. I later studied art theory at university.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Did either of your parents draw?
Yes, both can draw well, but don't practice it much.
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes, to young children, which was an enjoyable experience.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion. Talent just really helps to stimulate that.
Do you collect anything and if so what?
Mainly just books, but also lots of small interesting objects.
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I am actually an animated cartoon character in my own short film, 'The Lost Thing', so I'll stick with that. Otherwise, possibly the springy dog in Toy Story.
Are you a righty or lefty?
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
An historian, critic or gardener.
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
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 to draw extremely well: practice, practice, and then when quite sick of it, practice some more.
Who is your favorite artist?
Too many to name - no singular favourites!
Thanks again Shaun.
It's hard to believe that up next is my 200th Cartoonist Survey...and what better artist for this milestone than the creator of the Strangers In Paradise and Echo comic book series, Terry Moore.