Saturday, January 29, 2011

Steve Artley - Cartoonist Survey #207

Steve Artley is an editorial and freelance cartoonist who lives in Alexandria, Virginia. He started cartooning professionally in the 1980s. His father Bob Artley is also a cartoonist who worked for the Des Moines Tribune and The Worthington Daily Globe before going on to write and illustrate books. Steve is a member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and his editorial cartoons are syndicated in the United States and Canada through Artizans. His work has been printed in publications such as the Washington Post, The New York Times, Newsweek, and Time. Steve draws between one and five cartoons a week and since the Spring of 2009 has been producing a weekly editorial cartoon that is featured on the opinion page of The Alexandria Times.

His cartoons have also appeared in congressional publications, text books and trade journals. He has twice been awarded the “Best Editorial Cartoonist of the Year” award from the Minnesota Newspaper Association and in 2009 received both First and Second Place from the Virginia Press Association News Contest. Steve has also participated in the International Cartoon Festival in Budapest, was a member of a team of American cartoonists who met with their counterparts in (then Soviet) Moscow and has been a guest at the White House. In addition to his editorial cartooning he creates cartoons and illustrations for advertising, packaging, websites and promotional materials and has taught classes in cartooning and theatre. Visit Steven’s
artleytoons website, read his profile at the AAEC and browse through this collection of his editorial cartoons.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I use a variety of the commercial pre-filled drawing pens. Faber-Castell PITT, Zig Millennium, Pigma Micron. They come in various fixed point sizes, as-well-as brush. All use acid free, archival quality waterproof ink (like traditional India ink).

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Yes, I sketch in pencil first, using a Faber-Castell 9000 or Staedtler Mars Lumograph with HB lead. I like the feel of a wood pencil, although occasionally will use a mechanical lead-holder as well.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
For my published cartoon work, I color on the computer. After scanning in my hardline drawing in 300 dpi or higher, I adjust levels for a crisp black base. Next, I add layers in Photoshop using a graphics tablet and stylus to hand paint in the colors. The end product is a "flattened" TIF in RGB. I let each final user do the conversion to CMYK per their own specs for dot gain, etc. I also save a copy in Gray Scale, as many newspapers and a few magazines are black & white only.

What type of paper do you use?
Mostly, I use Strathmore 300 or 400 series bristol vellum surface, 100 lb stock.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I go to an art store. It's the one kind of shopping that I actually enjoy. Sometimes, I'll take an hour to browse through the store, chatting with the owners, or other artists.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
No ritual, other than the chanting and a burnt offering. Seriously, I do some stretches, hand massage, set the lighting, turn on the radio, CD, or iTunes, maybe have a hot or cold beverage within reach (safely placed away from the art). Then, I jump right in.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Primarily, classical or jazz. Otherwise, NPR.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
For comic books, my favorites were Superman, The Flash, and Batman. For newspaper funny pages, I pretty much read every feature, other than Dr. Morgan, MD and similar of the more serious variety. My all time favorite comic satire was MAD Magazine.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
As a little kid, my favorite was House at Pooh Corner and Milne's books of poems, When We Were Six, and When We Were Very Young. Yes, I own the same ones that I had as a kid (with my added sketches in the margins).

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Some college, and various courses and classes throughout my life.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Yes. Yes indeed.

Did either of your parents draw?
My father is a cartoonist and illustrates books that he has authored and books that others have authored.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My father.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Tons of sketchbooks.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I taught cartooning and theatre (two separate courses) at a private arts school in Minnesota. Loads of fun.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Yikes! This question would require an essay for proper answering. So, in essence I'd have to say talent is the mechanism you have on hand. Passion is its fuel.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Too many things. Art, antiques, books.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
A writer, actor, musician, or scientist (not necessarily in that order).

Do you play any musical instruments?
Used to play drums. Still play piano.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
I'd say there are basically three components that comprise a professional artist: talent, skill, and knowledge. Talent you are born with. Skill you hone (develop). Knowledge you acquire. So, practice your drawing, trying different techniques and media to develop your skill and acquaint you with various media to express yourself. Take classes! Also, study life drawing and still life. Develop a diverse portfolio. Be disciplined. After a time, you will settle on a preferred medium, and will see a unique (and hopefully marketable) style emerge.

Who is your favorite artist?
There are too many high in my stratosphere of admired artists for me to elect a favorite.

Thank you very much Steve!

A special thanks also goes out to Mike Rhode from the wonderful
ComicsDC blog who suggested I send my Cartoonist Survey out to Steve.