Sunday, May 1, 2011

Eric Orchard - Cartoonist Survey #222

Award winning illustrator and cartoonist Eric Orchard grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He started on the path to becoming a professional artist in grade school where he began illustrating stories. He studied painting and art history at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and graduated with a BFA. Eric has illustrated three children’s books. His first, “A Forest for Christmas” was published in September of 2007. The second and third, “Anything but Hank” and “The Terrible, Horrible Smelly Pirate” were published a year later. In 2010 his work was showcased at The Society of Illustrators annual exhibit. The same year he was awarded silver in the comics category of The Spectrum Awards, and his work was featured in Spectrum 17: The Best of Contemporary Fantastic Art. Eric's winning page for the Spectrum Awards comes from his mini-comic The Cloud Cave, which he is currently expanding and adapting into a full-length graphic novel, “Maddy Kettle (Book 1): The Adventures of the Thimblewitch.” Top Shelf Productions will be releasing “Maddy Kettle” in the near future.

Robot Museum is another comic project Eric has been working on and it is science fiction themed and filled with monsters and robots. He has been working on Robot Museum for the last five years and plans to self-publish it in a series of three or four books. Some of his clients include Scholastic, Discovery Channel, Raincoat Books, Orca Books, Tor Books, Nimbus Publishing and Five Rivers Publishing. Eric lives with his wife Julie and their son Henry in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Visit both his website and his blog to see much more of his work and you can purchase some of his mini-comics here.

What is your favorite pen to use?

I use a Pigma Micron marker pen by Sakura mostly, because it's convenient and holds up really well over time. But my favorite pen is probably a Hunt 102 nib dip pen.

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

I do draw in pencil first. I use a Staedtler standard pencil, 2B.

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

I go back and forth although I’m colouring by computer more and more

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?

When I colour by hand I use Winsor Newton watercolours and gouache.

What type of paper do you use?

I use a variety of papers. I like a 4 ply Strathmore paper for most stuff but if I’m going to paint I'll use Arches hot press watercolour paper 140 pounds.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?


Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?

A local shop. I almost always find something I need not on my list.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?

Not really, I just jump right in.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?

I like to have on very quiet Classical music, Bach or some late romantic stuff.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?

I did. I loved all sorts of comics. Marvel's Star Wars, Omega Men, Bloom County, Peanuts, Atari Force, Carl Barks, EC horror reprints, Tintin, Amethyst, Rocket Raccoon, Claremont's X-Men and a number of Marvel and DC superhero comics.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?

Krazy Kat.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?

Probably “The Celery Stalks at Midnight” by James Howe and yes, I still have a copy

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?

I started art lessons in junior high with a police portrait artist and later received a Bachelors in Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

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

Both! It allows me to reach more people but at the same time it's becoming a form of entertainment that takes eyes away from creators.

Did either of your parents draw?

I never met my father but according to my mother he drew all the time.

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

My mother and now my wife as well.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

Yes, I go through about one a month. Very important part of my process.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?

I taught art at the high school level for two years and found it both fun and stressful. More stressful.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?

Passion will carry you farther, I think.

Do you collect anything and if so what?

Books, mostly books with pictures; comics, picture books, illustrated books etc.

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

The Iron Giant

Are you a righty or lefty?


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

I'm not good at anything else. Maybe something academic, with lots of books.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.

Tiny chaos.

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?

Persistence is way more important than I ever would have guessed.

Who is your favorite artist?

Arthur Rackham and Quentin Blake. I can't decide!

Thanks again Eric.

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