Saturday, April 23, 2011

Clairefontaine Sketchbook Review


A couple of weeks ago the very nice Karen Doherty at Exaclair Inc. sent me a sketchbook to try out. It is the 8” x 8” Clairefontaine and it has 50 sheets of 120 g acid-free paper.

Click on all of the pictures to enlarge them.


I was amazed to find out that the paper used in Clairefontaine’s fine art paper is made by a mill almost 400 years old. Learn more here.


This is the back cover. Both the front and back have a nice thick plastic cover in case you get caught out in the rain.


I really like the thickness of the back because I’m usually not sketching on a flat surface.


A blank sketchbook waiting for some ink.


Various pen lines - Lamy Safari fountain pen, Faber Castell Pitt, Staedtler Pigment Liner, Rotring Art Pen, Pigma Micron, Prismacolor, Uni-Ball Vision Elite, Mars Professional


Watercolor pencils - Derwent and Staedtler Karat


Watercolors - Koi 24 color and Winsor Newton Sketchers' Box


Copic markers - they do bleed through, but they bleed through just about anything anyways.



Quick sketches to accompany some quotes from Homer...both of them.


I really like this sketchbook and look forward to filling it up. The paper takes a nice smooth pen line even though it is medium toothed and also handles watercolors well without much buckling. The heavy back cover is definitely a plus.

Head over to the Exaclair Inc. website to see more products from Clairefontaine as well as from Rhodia, Quo Vadis, J. Herbin and more. You can purchase your own Clairefontaine 8" x 8" sketchbook from any of the online retailers here or find a store near you that carries them.




Thanks again Karen!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ray Billingsley - Cartoonist Survey #221





Cartoonist Ray Billingsley was born in Wake Forest, North Carolina in 1957. He learned to draw early thanks to some sibling rivalry with his older brother who studied fine arts. He started working as an artist at the age of 12 contributing cartoons and illustrations for stories to the children’s magazine, Kids. Ray graduated from the LaGuardia High School of Music and Art in Manhattan and then went to the School of Visual Arts on a four-year scholarship. After completing his studies at SVA he began an internship at Walt Disney Studios training to be an animator. From 1980 to 1982 he drew the nationally syndicated comic strip “Lookin’ Fine” which was distributed by United Features. Unfortunately “Lookin’ Fine” was short lived so Ray began free-lancing, creating work for a variety of projects such as storyboards, TV commercials, greeting cards, t-shirt designs, graphic posters and magazine layouts and covers. He was a regular contributor to Ebony magazine from 1978 to 2007 and also produced work for humor magazines like The National Lampoon and Marvel Comic’s Crazy Magazine.

One night in 1986 he woke from a dream with the inspiration for a comic strip character that he quickly drew before going to back to sleep. The character he dreamed of was none other than the title character of the long running comic strip, “Curtis”. Debuting on October 3, 1988, “Curtis” is syndicated through King Features Syndicate and appears in over 250 newspapers worldwide. It follows the urban life of an eleven-year-old boy named Curtis Wilkins and his family and friends. Ray has been praised by fans, community leaders, educators and corporations for having the strip depict serious social and health issues such as crime, drug abuse, asthma and smoking. The American Lung Association awarded him with their President’s Award in 2000 for his storylines that have Curtis trying to get his dad, Greg Wilkins, to stop smoking. When “Blondie” celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2005, Ray featured Dagwood in “Curtis” as part of the celebration. There are two book collections of “Curtis” strips available, “A Boy Named Curtis: The Curtis Chronicles Volume 1” and “Living On Spongecake: The Curtis Chronicles Volume 2”. Visit Ray's official website and get all of your Curtis merchandise here. To see more pictures of Ray’s studio head over to the The Cartoonist Studio.

What is your favorite pen to use?

I use Speedball pens to ink with. I have been ever since I started (long time ago). I really like the feel of the linework it can produce with varying degrees of hand pressure. Mainly the "B" series of penpoints.

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, after really imaging the scene and working it out in my mind's eye first. I can actually see the panel construction in my mind before I go to sketch. I always use the non-repro blue STAEDTLER pencils.

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

I'm from the Old School, so I do most of my coloring by hand. But for special drawings for magazines, etc. or for a book cover I, of course, use my notebook. Most hand coloring is done with AD markers, which gives a nice even deep solid color.

What type of paper do you use?

My favorite paper to use is a 2 ply-Bristol Plate stock. Plate is so smooth that my pen literally glides over it without the bumps that Vellum might bring.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?

So far I haven't actually come up against anything that I hate to draw-with the exception of dull repetitive panels with just the characters heads talking. To me that seems boring. If you consider yourself an artist, then BE an artist and give some interesting visuals! I feel I owe that to the readers.

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

I used to like to go to art stores because I liked the whole atmosphere. The salespeople who knew their stuff about the supplies, the smells of the paints, being able to touch the pastels and charcoals. But in recent years as some of my favorite haunts began to close and disappear I turned to doing a lot of shopping online.

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

There aren't any real rituals I can think of. I've been doing art for so long it's just second-nature, as easy as breathing. Speaking freely, I just bullshit around until the ideas began to gel in my mind. Ideas are always floating around in my mind, so I might make some sketches first, but that become sort of rare. I just keep them in mind until it all comes together. Then I hit the pads to iron out the details before going to pen and ink.

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

Yes I do sometimes listen to music. Music has always been a big part of my life. I have been witness to some of the greatest names in music there ever was to the present. I don't have a specific genre that I favor most. It all depends on what mood I'm in. You ought to see my playlist. There are probably some things there that would surprise you.

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

I was a very big comics reader as a kid, but I didn't have a specific favorite. There was a series of superhero robots called METAL MEN, that few people may remember. I used to really like them. They could change their shape way before the Transformers. Growing up, there was a real variety in humor. You could appreciate underground 'toon as much as the 'legit'. I took in everything I could.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?

My all-time favorite comic strip was (surprisingly) LI"L ABNER. That Al Capp could really draw well and his characters and storylines could get really crazy funny! I miss great art and good story writing.

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

I think my favorite book was the one I won in school for drawing when I was around eight years old. It's a copy of "Winnie the Pooh". Not the Disney fluff. The original stories with the original art. It was presented to me by my teacher Mrs. Nelson, who was one of my first teachers to encourage me to continue drawing. She signed it as did the principal. I still have that book tucked away.

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

I guess my real formal art training began at the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art. At that time there wasn't even a cartooning course, so I sort of stood out. But I had the principal and my Guidance Counselor to push me on. I received a real challenge when I attended the School of Visual Arts, under the tutelage of Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman. Will really made me bust my ass.

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

The Internet has been both a blessing and curse. It has, in a way, leveled the playing field. One no longer has to wait on the acceptance of some suit sitting behind a desk to determine whether your work is good or not. You can publish yourself, as I have had to do, when mainstream continually tells you that you're not worth the effort. On the other hand, I have seen a lot of 'artists' who clearly are not or needs a lot of practical work and they put their stuff out there and call themselves 'pro'. The problem is when some of them are so egotistical that they're not willing to listen to advice that in the long run would help them become better artists. I have seen some really good artists who just haven't got a break, or being held back, and some who should certainly work more before putting their stuff out there for display. There is such a flood that practically no one stands out!

Did either of your parents draw?

None of my parents ever drew. In fact, as far as I know, none of my relatives tried their hand at drawing, even my older brother Richard. It was he that first got me interested in drawing in the first place. My father actually tried to dissuade me from following cartooning as a career. He just couldn't envision it so he didn't understand. We weren't close at all.

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

I didn't have my dad's support but my mom and my brother and sister had my back. I was so crazy about cartooning and so full of creativity that it was just something I had to do! I didn't really need any pushing. I'd do it anyway. Throughout school I got in trouble for drawing on reports, homework and test papers. It was like something I couldn't help from doing. Even as a kid, when asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I always said I'd be a cartoonist. I always knew. Most of the guys my age around my neighborhood didn't even know that I drew. I kept very quiet about it around most people. When I was an adult and well into my career, most of the cartoonists that I had admired became close friends. Mort Walker I met when I was around 15 or 16 and we've always been close. My friendship with Charles Schulz was great. I used to wonder what he saw in me. Jules Feiffer has always been a good crazy friend. There are just too many to list separately!

Do you keep a sketchbook?

I do keep a sketchbook. In fact I have very many sketchbooks compiled from over the years. From large to pocket-sized. Carrying a pad was a habit that started with me by the time I was twelve.

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

I have "taught' cartooning for quite a few years. What I do is actually help a cartoonist structure his artstyle, panel construction and work on their writing. But I am kind of tough on students. Usually they come to me and ask if I can be of help. I tell them that before we start, he or she has to be committed to the task, and willing to listen and take advice. Usually, the egotistical will drop right out, because they have all the answers and don't want to listen. But the ones that stay get homework, sometimes have to redraw entire strips and rework their writing skills. I don't have time to screw around with anyone who thinks they know it all. I think so far I've had like thirty or so artists. It's always a great feeling when they see just how far they have come or improved. When they feel they're ready, or I feel it's time for them to 'leave the nest', off they go to try their hand at the industry.

Do you collect anything and if so what?

I collect several things. Original comic art from friends in the industry plus some from artists that I think are really good. I didn't start out collecting old comics but I still have a lot of old comics and humor books from when I was a kid. My mom didn't toss 'em all out! I also collect works of art like colorful sculptures and authentic cultural art pieces. I enjoy crystal and lead glasswork. And, of course, music. I believe a person's favorite music comes from the time they began getting laid, so my collection of music starts back in the late '70's to now.

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

If I were a cartoon character, no doubt I'd be like Bart Simpson. No doubt!!

Are you a righty or lefty?

I am a righty! You do mean in drawing, right?

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

I have never given serious thought as to what I would do if I wasn't a cartoonist. I used to be very good in science, especially chemistry. Dug astrology. And I really like animal life. Maybe I would have worked with dolphins. I had a fling with music and performing but knew early on that it was too much work for too little respect and pay. Plus I knew that lifestyle rarely lasts.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.

My drawing area is a bustling array of messy papers and creativity...It may look like a hurricane has struck but I know where everything is!


Do you play any musical instruments?

Yes, I play several musical instruments. I was lucky that I seemed to catch on to them pretty quickly. The trumpet, trombone, had a time with the bugle, drums, the synthesizer, I sung and was learning the bass and sax before I hung up music as a career.

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

My advice would be to work very hard, find your voice and stay committed to it. It's a big sacrifice but well worth it. There's nothing better than having a stranger tell you how much they've enjoyed your work, your vision. Never be afraid to throw away a gag or plot that isn't working or one that is overworked. It should come and feel natural and smooth. And experiment! Put it down and walk away from it for awhile and then come back to it with a fresh eye and mindset. Do it from a way that you didn't think you could! Try your vision from a different point of view, push your own limits for in art there should be very little limitations. That's why it's called "Art".



Thank you very much for your time Ray!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inking Tutorial by Anton Emdin


2011 Reuben Award nominee Anton Emdin (Cartoonist Survey #128) has posted a great tutorial here on inking with a brush. Definitely worth checking out!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Paul Madonna - Cartoonist/Artist Survey #220






Cartoonist, illustrator, painter and writer Paul Madonna was born in 1972 and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He attended Carnegie-Mellon University and became the first art intern at MAD Magazine while in his senior year. After graduating in 1994 with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts, he moved to San Francisco. In order to get his work out to the masses he began self-publishing a series of mini-comics and leaving them for free in cafes and other public places. He launched the first version of his Paul Madonna Studio website in 2000 which was basically an online portfolio. In 2002 he began posting a weekly cartoon which he sent to friends and family. When Hank Donat requested cartoon submissions for his MisterSF website, Paul submitted his pen and ink-washed All Over Coffee strip. Featuring detailed depictions of San Francisco architecture, All Over Coffee (AOC) ran for six installments at MisterSF. The San Francisco Chronicle picked up AOC in 2003 and began running it in February of 2004. AOC continues to run every Sunday in the San Francisco Chronicle and at SFGate.com. Two collections of this work have been released, “All Over Coffee” (2007) and the just-released “Everything Is Its Own Reward: An All Over Coffee Collection”.

As an April Fool’s joke in 2004 the San Francisco Chronicle ran another of Paul’s strips, Small Potatoes, in place of his All Over Coffee. Paul went on to create a website to post his Small Potatoes strips in 2007 and two years later they began running weekly at The Rumpus. Another of his projects is his art book series Album. The first in the series was released in November 2009 and the second volume is scheduled for the Fall of 2011. Album is filled with wonderful drawings and water color paintings of mostly childhood toys such as balsa wood airplanes, Fisher Price record player and my favorite, the Mattel Electronic Baseball game. He also illustrated Eric Maisel's “A Writer's Guide to San Francisco”.

Paul covered the 2009 Presidential Inauguration for the San Francisco Chronicle and his work from this was published in several international newspapers including the South China Morning Post. His drawings and prints have been reprinted in various book collections and publications and have been shown in galleries, museums, cafes and restaurants. He has served as "cartoonist-in-residence" at the San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum and teaches drawing at the University of San Francisco. Paul lives with his wife Joen in San Francisco. Visit Paul’s website to learn more about him and see more of his work. Go here to purchase prints and originals of his work.

What is your favorite pen to use?

Depends on the drawing. For All Over Coffee I use a rapidograph, which I first learned to use in 8th grade. But I'll draw with anything, and I love ballpoint for cartooning.

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

I don't pencil anything first. I prefer the immediacy and commitment of going straight to ink.

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

By hand. I do as much by hand as possible.

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

These days I'm playing with colored india inks, but I've used watercolor and gouache as well on All Over Coffee pieces. On Small Potatoes I often use markers. And with other series I've painted with acrylics and oils. Depends on what kind of pieces I'm working on.

What type of paper do you use?

Again, depends on the project. For AOC I use Arches watercolor.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?

Fire escapes.

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

Both. I order materials that I use a lot online, because I know what I'm getting and can buy them in bulk for cheap. Anytime I'm experimenting with a new material, though, I go to the local art stores so I can inspect what I'm getting and see the range of what's available.

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

No rituals necessarily, but I do have to put myself in a certain frame of mind. I have to calm my mind and focus, slow myself down. This is part of the pleasure I get, too. It isn't meditation, but it's meditative. I generally feel better after drawing for a couple hours. Relaxing on site can sometimes be difficult, though, since I've drawn in hectic places like narrow busy lanes in China.

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

I don't listen to music when I'm drawing on site because there's enough stimulus as it is, and I need to focus on what I'm seeing. But when I'm back in the studio and doing more painterly work with ink washes, I sometimes listen to music, but mostly I listen to audiobooks. I listen to at least two books a month in the studio. As for music, right now I'm really into the Rolling Stones albums from the seventies, also DeerTick. Love DeerTick right now.

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

I read newspaper comics obsessively. My uncle, who loved comics too, used to laugh because I'd even read strips I hated. I'd read one then complain that it annoyed me, but I still couldn't not read it. I discovered MAD Magazine when I was eleven, but I never read super hero comics. Then in my late teens I discovered the underground comics from the sixties and seventies and dove into that stuff, which led to the new underground, people like Chester Brown and Julie Doucet. I really love a lot of the alternative comics that were coming out in the early nineties.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?

Peanuts was my favorite until Calvin and Hobbes came along.

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

I had a lot of books that I loved, but, shockingly, no favorite is coming to mind. I loved collections of cartoons and strips. I loved having all the different collections. They used to publish those Peanuts softbacks that were like 5x7 inches or so and cheap newsprint, with all the strips arranged vertically. They were very modern in a design sense, the way the panels bounced around on the page. I'd read those over and over. Any softback cartoon collection like that I would read, even if I'd never heard of the series. I've always had a thing for series.

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

I studied fine art at Carnegie Mellon University.

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

Both, like anything else. But probably 51% blessing, 49% curse.

Did either of your parents draw?

No.

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

All of my family was and has been supportive. I think because they're just supportive people. It didn't really matter that it was art that I was interested in, they would have been behind me no matter what I liked to do.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

I keep a notebook, which I have with me 24 hours a day. I sometimes sketch in that, but I don't sketch as a regular practice. I have in the past, but I go to my finished drawings as I would sketches. I go to the page and draw and call it done. But I keep a notebook for ideas, because those are the things I'm always working out.

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

I'm actually teaching drawing at the University of San Francisco right now and I love it. I don't necessarily want to be a teacher as a profession, but it's wonderful at the moment to help people learn to see and develop their drawing skills. I'm learning a lot myself about what I think I know and how to articulate that.

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

I think they're both important at different stages. Talent is helpful to have at the start. It lets you know the skills you have above other skills. After that, passion is good because it allows you to define why you do it. Then after that comes drive to keep going, and then, probably most important, the discipline to work your ass off. So yes, talent and passion are necessary, but without drive and discipline they mean nothing.

Do you collect anything and if so what?

I collect books and postcards. I still love series and collections. I collect art materials, too. I often dream of building a studio and library for myself.

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

Mix Calvin's petulance with Charlie Brown's anxiety and that would be me.

Are you a righty or lefty?

Righty.

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

Drink coffee and read––oh, wait, they don't pay for that?

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.

Organized.

Do you play any musical instruments?

Guitar.

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

Don't do it unless you have to. And if you absolutely have to, work your ass off.

Who is your favorite artist?

Changes all the time. I'm really into Gary Panter right now, but I love Raymond Pettibon.


To purchase either of the All Over Coffee books click on the links below.




Thanks again for everything Paul!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jim Hunt - Cartoonist Survey #219




Cartoonist and illustrator Jim Hunt grew up in Southeastern Massachusetts and attended the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. His first published cartoon, an editorial cartoon for The Charlotte Post, was in 1989 and Jim has been free-lancing ever since. His award-winning editorial cartoons have been reprinted in The Christian Science Monitor and The Washington Times. This marks the 7th year in a row that his cartoons are published in the “Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year”. In addition to political cartoons his work includes: caricatures, illustrations for magazines, books and greeting cards, comic strips, logo designs, cartoon maps and much more. Some of the clients Jim has done work for include MAD Magazine, Hershey’s, NASA, Carolina Panthers, Boston Bruins, Western Union, Kmart, MSNBC and NASCAR. Even though he now lives in Annapolis, MD with his wife and two daughters, he is still a huge fan of my beloved Red Sox and has created artwork for a great charity, Kevin Youkilis’ Hits for Kids. To see much more of Jim’s work visit his Jim Hunt Illustration website.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Paper Mate Flair.

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

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

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

What type of paper do you use?
Regular.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Bad cartoons.

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

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

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
All types of music.

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

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Calvin & Hobbes.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
No favorite.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Mass College of Art.

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

Did either of your parents draw?
No.

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

Do you keep a sketchbook?
No.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
No.

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

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Vintage Cartooning Kits.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Wile E. Coyote.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Hubble Telescope tester!

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
A large drawing table in my home office.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No.

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

Who is your favorite artist?
Mort Drucker (MAD).


Thanks Jim.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fishing For The Blues

Some of you may know that I am a big fan of the Blues. A couple of weeks ago I saw a great concert down in Foxborough, MA at the Showcase Live at Patriot Place. It was none other than the great Blues guitarist Walter Trout. He put on quite the show and if you are a fan of the Blues, you should definitely check out some of his music.

I created a caricature of him based on the pose from the cover of his album, "The Outsider".


This is the inked version.

This one is colored in Photoshop, but...
I think I like the watercolor version better.



Friday, April 8, 2011

Joey Weiser - Cartoonist Survey #218




Cartoonist Joey Weiser was born in April of 1983 and grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. He attended the Savannah College of Art & Design from 2001 to 2005 and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Sequential Art. Joey’s comics have appeared in many comics anthologies such as “Put the Book Back on the Shelf: A Belle & Sebastian Anthology”, “Jabberwacky”, “Strange Eggs” and the Harvey Award winning “Flight” series. His first graphic novel titled “The Ride Home” was published in 2007 and is about the adventures of a gnome named Nodo who is searching for his lost house. His next book, “Tales of Unusual Circumstance” came out in 2008 and is a compilation of short comics he created between 2004 and 2007. Last May Joey’s newest book, “Cavemen in Space” was released. This 248-page graphic novel tells the story of a caveman named Washington and his tribe, who get removed from their era and placed aboard a futuristic space laboratory.

His latest undertaking has been a series of self-published mini-comics that feature Mermin, a mysterious green fish-boy who washes up on a beach and is discovered by a group of young school kids. Joey just finished the 5th issue of Mermin which completes Part 1 of the series. All five issues of Mermin are available for sale over at his Tragic-Planet store. Joey also draws the weekly gag comic strip inspired by Japanese Kaiju monsters, Monster Isle, which appears both online and in print. A new full-color strip appears online every Thursday and a black and white version is printed in the “Marquee” section of The Athens Banner-Herald in Athens, GA. Joey lives in Athens, Georgia with his wife Michele, who is also an artist, and their cat Eddie. Check out his Tragic-Planet website where you can see much more of his work and can purchase all of his mini-comics, books and more. He also has a blog where you can find his tutorial on creating a comic page.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I prefer a brush, a Raphael Kolinsky Red Sable Fine Pointed Round Brush Series 8404 Size 2.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
For my final art I draw with a light blue Col-Erase pencil.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I color in Photoshop, typically in channels.

What type of paper do you use?
I use Strathmore 400 Series Smooth Bristol.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Probably a cliché, but I still have a lot trouble with cars. I have a few that I can draw from memory and in “my style” but outside of that, they tend to give me trouble.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I go to a local one when I can, but for some of my supplies I order online.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Not really, I just get in there and start drawing!

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I like a variety of music, but in the past few years have really become hooked on drawing to podcasts.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I read comic strips for as long as I can remember, and in 4th grade started getting into X-Men comics, and then around 6th-7th grade started getting into indie/alternative comics through The Tick and Bone. And in middle – high school I got into manga such as Ranma ½ and Dragon Ball.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
As a kid my favorite comic strips were Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County. Now probably Peanuts and Popeye.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I liked all sorts of books as a kid. My favorite book as a kid that I still have is probably "The Woodland Folk in Dragonland". That book’s world and its illustrations sucked me in and I would often imagine my own stories within it.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I majored in Sequential Art at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Blessing. I love the Internet. Hi, Internet! I love you.

Did either of your parents draw?
Nope!

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My wife Michele Chidester is a big supporter, of course. And I have a group of very supportive friends in Athens, GA where I live.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I have a sketchbook that I do sketches for stories and thumbnails for pages, but I don’t do a lot of sketching for sketching sake.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I’m very shy, so I have some trouble with it, but I’ve attended some cartooning events where I’ve done some informal instruction in small groups or one-on-one.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion! Talent is nice, but how many times have you seen something that you think “It’s drawn well, but so what?”

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Books, I suppose. My library is growing out of control.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I don’t know, I’m always bad at these kinds of questions…

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty!

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I can’t imagine it. Cartooning is my greatest passion. Probably work in a library or book store.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I have a drawing desk with a lamp. Next to it I have all my art supplies and a calendar on the wall with all my deadlines.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I played tenor sax and a little bit of bassoon in high school, but I was never really into it.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Draw as much as you can, as often as you can! Also, do finished work even if you don’t feel like you’re “ready yet.” If you don’t do anything, you have nothing!

Who is your favorite artist?
Impossible question here! I think the three that I tend to think had the greatest impact on me are Jeff Smith, Akira Toriyama, and Charles Schulz, coming from the three different areas of cartooning that I am most interested in.



Thanks again for your time Joey!

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 ...is 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.



Here's Marcellus performing one of my favorites, "Laughing With You".




Thanks again Marcellus.