Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chris Gash - Cartoonist Survey #209

Chris Gash is a freelance illustrator who lives and works in Edison, New Jersey and has been working professionally since 2000. He has a retro drawing style that is heavily influenced by illustrations of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Chris’s work includes everything from spot illustrations and covers for books, magazines and newspapers to illustrating children’s books. His client list is a who’s who of publications and includes, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Newsweek, Golf Digest, USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Nickelodeon, Scholastic and Science Times, just to name a few. Chris is also an instructor of illustration at Montclair State University and has even had one of his courses included in the book, “Teaching Illustration” by Steve Heller and Marshall Arisman. See more of his work at his website and follow him on his blog.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I am a brush guy mostly, but I keep very fine Microns on my desk to touch up a line here or there (and I love a Sharpie on vellum).

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I lean on my pencils pretty hard and most mechanicals are just too brittle. I do all my sketches in black or indigo Prismacolor pencils.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I used to watercolor everything, but in order to be able to take on more work, I started coloring in Photoshop. Now the only painting I do is in my sketchbook.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Winsor & Newton watercolors, gouache and FW acrylic colored inks.

What type of paper do you use?
When I painted for work, I always used Fabriano watercolor paper. Now, since I am simply scanning the line art, I work on marker rag, trace or vellum.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I don’t know if hate is the right word, but I’ve always struggled with four-legged mammals, or most of them anyway. It doesn’t matter if I spend hours looking at the anatomy or how much I try to simplify the shapes; it’s always a miserable task.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I don’t think I’ve ever bought supplies online. I like going to the store and so far I’ve managed to live near a Pearl or a Jerry’s for the past 15 years.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
No ritual, but this makes me think I should have one.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Sometimes music, sometimes NPR, sometimes I put a movie in, something I’ve seen a hundred times that I don’t need to pay attention to…Harvey, Summer Stock, Rear Window, Royal Wedding. When it’s music it’s old - Artie Shaw, Hoagy, Bix, Cab, King Oliver; I could put Sweet Lorraine and Moonglow on endless repeat and be very happy.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I had only a handful of comic books as a kid; my real love for comics came much later, during college.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
I loved Peanuts from a very early age, although I didn’t understand why it was so wonderful until many years later. It would be difficult to pick one all-time favorite, but Sam’s Strip is definitely up there near the top.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I can’t honestly say I remember a favorite book as a child, but I do have the contents of my entire childhood bookshelf about three feet away from where I’m sitting, so if I did have a favorite, I do still own a copy.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I have a BFA in illustration and I’m looking at Hartford for my MFA. I also had a three-year internship with Steven Guarnaccia, and I couldn’t possibly sum up how much I learned about comics, cartoons and illustration while I was there.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Google Image Search does make life easy. And the Internet unquestionably has made some work-related processes much easier and faster, but the constant communication and information can be tiresome.

Did either of your parents draw?
Neither. My closest relative who could draw was my mother’s cousin.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My mom always wanted me to be an artist. Anytime I even considered something else she always seemed so disappointed. Later on I had a handful of instructors who were extremely supportive throughout college. And my wife of course, she tolerates my artistic jealousies and other assorted mania beautifully.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I have several sketchbooks on my desk and in my bag, but I hardly draw in them every day. I always want to be one of those guys drawing on the subway that has to date their many volumes of sketchbooks, but it’s just not me.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I currently teach Illustration Concepts, a sophomore level illustration course and I love it.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
This is a tough question - does talent mean preternatural drawing ability only? I think driving passion, vision, and good ideas will take a so-so drawing a lot further than the other way around.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I collect those old boxed novelty gifts, the ones that say “Do it every morning, do it every night” with an amorous couple in bed and then you open the box and there are toothbrushes inside. And I have amassed quite a bit of vintage Santa Claus stuff. Comics goes without saying, I guess.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
The elf who wanted to be a dentist.

Are you a righty or lefty?

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I have no idea what I would do, honestly, that scares the heck out of me to even think about.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
There’s a small space in the center of my table for actual drawing, the rest is covered with supplies, books, assignments stacked in the order in which they have to be done, sketchbooks and the mountain of shavings spilling out of my pencil sharpener which I never empty, for no good reason. My computer and scanner are behind me at my non-drawing desk.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I played bass in a few bands when I was younger, and it was a lot fun, but then put it away to focus on illustration. I’ve been thinking about the ukulele, it has a beautiful sound.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Draw. And don’t be lazy.

Who is your favorite artist?
How about a few favorites, in no particular or logical order – Wayne Thiebaud, Claes Oldenberg, Lowell Hess, Charley Harper, Dan DeCarlo, Will Eisner, Gluyas Williams, Herge – I can keep going but I could never pick just one.

Thanks again for your time Chris.

Another thanks to Mike Rhode over at the
ComicsDC blog for suggesting Chris. Good thing I don’t get paid for doing this or I’d owe him some money.


Mike Rhode said...

Pah! I'd owe you money for doing interviews with people *I'M* interested in knowing more about.

David said...

Thanks again for all the suggestions Mike! Matt Wuerker's answers will be next

zillustration said...

Chris! I loved the Hartford MFA program! Murray and crew are the best! Great work, and terrific interview.

Dave Pantos said...

Chris Gash is the best ever.

Mr.Gash said...

Paul - thanks for nod to Hartford, and the kind words!