Sunday, April 3, 2011

Marcellus Hall - Cartoonist/Artist Survey #217

Marcellus Hall is an illustrator and musician who was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He spent two years at St. John’s University in Minnesota before transferring to the Rhode Island School of Design where he earned a BFA in illustration. He moved to New York in the early 90's with two goals, to establish himself as an illustrator and to form a rock band. While working part-time, he started sending out mailers to art directors and dropping off his portfolio at various magazines. He received his first illustration job from Screw magazine. During this time Marcellus was publishing small books of his writings and drawings and produced the comic strip, ‘Bill Dogbreath’ for weekly newspapers from 1990 to 1993. In 1990 he became a founding member of the band Railroad Jerk. They released four albums on Matador Records and toured the US, Europe and Japan before breaking up in 1999. Two years before Railroad Jerk broke up, Marcellus and the percussionist from Railroad Jerk, Dave Varenka, formed the band White Hassle a play on the name of the White Castle burger chain. White Hassle recorded and played live, including a European tour, through 2005.

As an illustrator, his work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, Nickelodeon Magazine, GQ, Reader’s Digest, Spin, Time and The New Yorker, for which he has also illustrated covers. Marcellus illustrated children’s books with titles including, "Because You Are My Baby" (2008), "City I Love" (2009), "Because I Am Your Daddy" (2010), “The Cow Loves Cookies" (2010) and “Full Moon and Star” which will be released in August 2011. He continues to make music and recently released his solo debut album, “The First Line” through Glacial Pace Recordings. I’ve listened to quite a bit of this album and my immediate favorites are, “Laughing With You” and “One Drop Of Rain” that has an early Dylan feel to it. Marcellus lives and works in New York, NY. You can see more of his work on his Marcellus Hall website. He also has a blog that features a lot of his drawings. While you are on his blog, you should definitely go through all of the Letters From Uncle Marce…it’s a fun read. Spend some time listening to his music here.

What is your favorite pen to use?
When I am sketching I like to use Uni-ball Vision pens. They withstand watercolor. Occasionally I'll use Hunt 101 quill nibs for illustration work, but usually I use brush and ink.

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

For sketching on the subway I use a 90% cool gray Prismacolor pencil. But for finished illustrations I use a 4H pencil (any brand) to first make a light outline.

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

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
I use Winsor & Newton watercolor in tubes.

What type of paper do you use?
For sketching on the street, I use Strathmore Drawing paper or Japanese-made Holbein spiral-bound multi-drawing books. For watercolor illustrations I use Arches 140lbs cold press blocks.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I'm not crazy about drawing cars.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I go to either Blick, Utrecht, or New York Central art stores in New York. Sometimes I buy watercolor blocks from Jerry's Artorama online.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I don't do any rituals before I draw.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I listen to classical music or opera, when I'm not listening to WNYC. I used to listen to music with lyrics, but I now find that it distracts me.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I worshiped Mad magazine as a child.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
I wasn't a fan of comic strips per se. But Robert Crumb's comics turned my world around when I was a teenager.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I don't remember if I had a favorite book.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I took summer art programs as a youth. Then I majored in art at St. John's University in Minnesota. But when the teacher's assistant told me that, as freshmen, we weren't ready yet to draw the female nude, I transferred to Rhode Island School of Design to earn a BFA in illustration.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
The internet what it is.

Did either of your parents draw?
Neither of my parents draw for themselves, but my dad drew sometimes with me when I was very young.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My high school art teacher, August Schauer, was very supportive. And my uncle, Tom Egerman, being an artist himself, was a role model for me.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I carry a sketchbook in which I make drawings from life.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I taught basic drawing to sophomore cartooning majors at the School of Visual Arts for a year. I didn't enjoy the experience because I took it personally when students weren't into it. I had no preparation for how to deal with delinquent students. But some students took the class seriously and that was rewarding.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Talent and passion are important if you plan to make a living in drawing. Talent is not important if you draw for enjoyment.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I collect postcards.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I am an animated cartoon character.

Are you a righty or lefty?
I am right-handed, but I shovel snow left-handed.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
If I wasn't doing art, I would probably return to my job at Chippendales as a dancer.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
My drawing area is both organized and cluttered. I draw on a large board that is propped up by a few books on a steel table (to create an angle). My roommate at the time found the board and the table on the streets of Brooklyn when we first moved to New York after college.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I play harmonica and guitar, and I sing. My latest album is out on Glacial Pace Recordings.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
If you aim to have a career in art, you should draw as often as possible.

Who is your favorite artist?
Besides myself - my favorite artists include Ben Shahn, George Grosz, Rockwell Kent, Saul Steinberg, Franz Masereel, Ernst Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Ronald Searle, Ralph Steadman, Al Hirschfeld, Pieter Bruegel, Paul Klee, Aubrey Beardsley, Raymond Pettibon, Will Elder, Harvey Kurtzman, Sue Coe, Maira Kalman, Marc Chagall, Robert Crumb, Peter Max, Hiroshige, Utamaro, Hokusai, Currier & Ives, and Honore Daumier.

Thanks again Marcellus.


Kanesha @it's a full nest said...

Nice interview, Marce and David. :-)
Our family enjoys City I Love and Because You Are My Baby.

jptoons said...

David, I finished the survey:) Can you send me your email so I can send it to you.

All the best,
Jorge Pacheco

copper77 said...

I am going to try and draw the trout It is so cool