Friday, January 7, 2011

Shoo Rayner - Cartoonist Survey #202

Shoo Rayner is a British author and illustrator. He attended the Art College in Cambridge where he was introduced to children’s book illustration. Even though he battles dyslexia he has written and illustrated over 150 children's books. Since he has had to work hard to overcome his dyslexia, he is highly committed to ensuring that his books are designed to be both easy to comprehend and entertaining for children who are just learning to read on their own. A lot of the books Shoo creates are series that are based on characters such as Viking Vik, Ricky Rocket, Monster Boy, Axel Storm and the Ginger Ninja.

Shoo is also a big proponent of drawing and encourages both children and adults to grab a pencil and get started. He runs a video drawing school where he demonstrates how to draw people, animals, military vehicles, monsters, plants and much, much more. There are also videos on lettering, drawing in perspective and how to use watercolors. I spent over an hour going through some of these videos and Shoo’s enthusiasm and love of sharing his knowledge is quite apparent. It is no wonder that he is in big demand at schools, festivals and libraries to give his talks and demonstrations. He lives in the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire, with his wife and two teenage children. Set aside some time and visit
Shoo’s website and his Shoo-Tube video drawing school.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Rotring Tikky.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?

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

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Watercolour and crayon; Winsor and Newton and Caran d'Ache.

What type of paper do you use?
I have a dwindling supply of CS2.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I'll have a go at anything. If I hate it I let it become a challenge.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Both but my favourite store is L. Cornellisen & Son near the British Museum.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I sharpen my pencil and I'm told I always wave my drawing hand in a circle over the paper while I decide where to start.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Not anymore. I like silence now or podcasts and audio books.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Thor and Iron Man.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
I liked Fred Basset when I was younger and Dune but I haven't read the papers in years.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Christmas at Blackberry Farm - yes I do.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. Diploma in Vocational Graphics (it was illustration really).

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
What! With all that reference material and new eyeballs to see my work?

Did either of your parents draw?
My mum did when she was young. Has started again at age of 85!

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Probably my old Editor Fiona Kenshole who is now a big wig at LAIKA animation and Colin McNaughton the children's book illustrator who taught me at College and encouraged me a lot.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I've hundreds of them and have several on the go for different things. I do all my preliminary work in a sketchbook and work out all my ideas too.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
See my online drawing school at and I love teaching classes, especially very young kids and oldies who think they can't draw.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Persistence is the key.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Stuff I find on walks - dolls shoes to moss and fungi.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Squiddly Diddly.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty (duh obvious).

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

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
A mess.
Do you play any musical instruments?
I used to play guitar but I haven't picked it up in a long while.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Just do it.

Who is your favorite artist?

Botticelli or Maurice Sendak.

Thanks again Shoo.


David said...

I love your youtube posted here imploring us to make one sketch a day!!!

Although I doodle on a daily basis, more structure around the practice will be helpful.

P.L. Frederick said...

Shoo has a great website. Lots of good tips. Like using a hair dryer on watercolors to make them dry faster. It never occurred to me that I could make watercolors dry faster. I thought they had to dry on their own. Duh. That tip alone was worth it. :o)