Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mark Burrier - Cartoonist Survey #239

Mark Burrier is an award-winning illustrator, cartoonist and designer who was born in May of 1979. He studied illustration and drawing at Frederick Community College and Shepherd College (now Shepherd University) and was heavily influenced by the DIY independent music scene of the 80’s and 90’s. Using that DIY spirit, he has been independently self-publishing and distributing his comics for over a decade. In 2007 his comic book ‘Noose’ was nominated for an Ignatz Award in the “Outstanding Mini Comic” category. Mark’s comic work has also been published internationally and has appeared in various anthologies and magazines such as Brainbomb, The Drama, Kramers Ergo, EXPO and Studygroup 12.

Mark’s illustrations have been shown in galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Denmark, France and Tokyo. Last fall he had his first solo show of illustration work at Artique Underground in Frederick, MD.

His illustration work has earned him awards from the Society of Illustrators, the American Advertising Federation, HOW Magazine, Communication Arts, 3x3 Magazine, Print, STEP Inside Design and American Illustration. Mark has been an avid skateboarder all of his life and has been able to combine this love of skateboarding with his art. His illustrations regularly appear on skateboard decks and clothing for Coda Skateboards.

Since 2009, Mark has been creating illustrations for his drawing blog, Rare Words. The Rare Words blog is a collaborative space where readers submit words that become the creative starting point for his drawings. Each illustration is an interpretation of the word(s) and is posted with the name of the submitter. There have now been over 200 posts and last September a full color hardcover book, “Rare Words Volume 1” was published that contains 100 illustrations that appeared on the blog.

Mark lives in Frederick, Maryland with his wife. Visit Mark’s website here to see more of his work and purchase prints, postcards, books and more. You can also purchase Mark’s wares from his Etsy shop. You can follow him on his blog and twitter. Finally, check out all of the Rare Words illustrations at the Rare Words blog.

What is your favorite pen to use?

I’m actually a brush guy. A #1 Windsor-Newton Series 7.

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?


What type of paper do you use?

Standard smooth bristol board.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?

Cars. Unless I’m looking at photo reference, they come out looking like a clown car.

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

A little of both. Dick Blick online. Plaza locally.

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

I wet my brush with my mouth. That’s probably not good for me, but I always do it.

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

This depends on the drawing. Sometimes metal or punk when I’m drawing skateboards. If I’m working on a comic, I tend to like instrumental work (indie rock and classical).

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

Captain America and Spectacular Spider-Man.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?

Peanuts. I’m a huge fan of Charlie Brown.

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

“How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” and yes, I still own it.

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

I took drawing and illustration classes from Frederick Community College and Shepherd College.

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

Blessing. It’s an amazing tool for research and has leveled the playing field for the big guys vs. the little guys when it comes to getting the word out. Money is no longer the deciding factor.

Did either of your parents draw?

Not really, but my dad has a design eye.

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

My mom and dad. They still encourage me and are happy I’m pursuing my dream.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

Yes, 2 or 3.

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

I’ve been a guest speaker at some Universities, but haven’t been a formal educator. I’d like to give it a try.

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

Passion will show in your work. Nothing is worse than a talented person squandering their potential because they lack passion.

Do you collect anything and if so what?

Comics, books, art, and vintage Peanuts stuff when I find it.

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

Charlie Brown, of course.

Are you a righty or lefty?


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

Librarian, archivist, or shelf stocker.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.

My studio is a small, cozy room on the top floor where I’m surrounded my full walls of art, full shelves of books, and skateboards. It’s a creative space for me.

Do you play any musical instruments?

I used to play trombone in middle school and took piano lessons, but I don’t play anything currently.

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

There are a million ways to create an image. No one way is right. Don’t be distracted by the success or criticism of others and draw in the way that feels the most fun to you. Good things will come.

Who is your favorite artist?

Charles Schulz.

Thanks again Mark!

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