Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Steve Rude - Cartoonist Survey #238






Born in Madison, Wisconsin in December of 1956, Steve “The Dude” Rude is an award-winning comic book artist, illustrator and fine artist. His career path in art started after finding the how-to-draw books of Andrew Loomis in the 5th grade. He graduated from high school in Escanaba, Michigan and took a year off before studying at the Milwaukee School of Art and Design for two years. Steve returned to Madison and furthered his training at the University of Wisconsin and Madison Area Technical College. In 1981 his career took off when together with writer Mike Baron he created the groundbreaking “Nexus” science fiction comic book series. The “Nexus” series, set 500 years in the future, featured over a dozen alien races that were designed by Steve and often dealt with themes like addiction, guilt and justice. Lasting over 100 issues “Nexus” was first published by Capital Comics; was later continued at First Comics, Dark Horse Comics and finally his own Rude Dude Productions. Steve has also worked for Marvel Comics and DC Comics where he has drawn most of the major characters including Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Thor, The Fantastic Four and many others. In his many years as a comic book artist he has earned a Russ Manning Award a Kirby Award and numerous Eisner Awards.


Steve became disillusioned with the “Modern Age” of comic books in the mid 2000’s stating that it seemed like the fun had been taken out of them. He found that he enjoyed painting models so he pursued something that was more fun for him, fine art. As a fine artist he is comfortable with many mediums such as oils, watercolor, gouache, pastel, and others. Recently he was bitten by the comic book bug again and looks to get back into the industry. In 2007 the book “Steve Rude: Artist in Motion” was released which covers his comics, illustration work, life-drawings and sketchbooks. The book also includes a how-to section showing a painting project from start to finish. Presently there is also a documentary on Steve’s life and career that is in the works by Ian Fischer.


Steve lives in Peoria, Arizona, with his wife, Jaynelle and their two children You can see much more of his work on his website and you can follow him on his facebook page and blog. To purchase books, comic art, fine art and prints, visit the Steve Rude store and also check out his auctions on eBay.


What is your favorite pen to use?

There's a certain marker that I use to ink-in commissions drawings. It's not waterproof, but I like its effects. I cut the tip with a razor blade to get a bevel effect that gives me thick and thin lines. Too bad they stopped manufacturing them.

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

Yes, I draw in pencil first.

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

I've tried both methods, preferring to use a computer to color the interiors of my books, but everything else is hand-done with actual paints and brushes, and always will be.

What type of paper do you use?

That depends on the job. For comics, it's the standard 2 ply, I guess.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?

Research on things I know nothing about is always a pain. The first issue of The Moth had custom-built motorcycles everywhere. I've never even driven a motorcycle. Thankfully, once you're into it, it's not that bad, but it does take a proper amount of time.


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

I used to buy everything from art stores in the area, but some things are always out of stock. Now, I'm finding the usefulness of mail-order catalogues.

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

I usually like to warm-up on various things in my sketchbook before I begin working, but it's not a set pattern. This can be anything from feet or hands, heads and ears, or other difficult things that may be nagging at me. Also, I enjoy drawing and studying the work of any other artist I admire, usually the old illustrators or vintage comic artists. Anything that catches my eye is game for my sketchbook.

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

Yes, I'll usually listen to Talk radio, books on tape, or CD's. They help pass the time and keep me company.

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

I read comics since the age of about 10. Always the old Stan and Jack comics from Marvel. I still think they're the best!

What is or was your favorite comic strip?

My favorite strips as a kid were the humor strips, like Family Circus or Blondie. Early on, I use to draw Charlie Brown characters at the dinner table all the time. Nowadays it would be Prince Valiant, Rip Kirby, or any of the Roy Crane strips.

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

Most kids seem to have read at least one of the classics when they were young. Me--all I remember was Rikki-Tikki-Tavi from the Jungle Book. I always preferred reading comics, which always struck more exciting, creative heights with me, or watching my cartoons on TV. During the day I would always be out playing with my friends (often talking about the cool comics or TV shows).

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

I've had degrees of formal art training since I graduated from High School. But yet---no actual degree. Once I learned what I could from one teacher, it was on to the next one who could teach me something new. I still attend life-drawing classes and painting workshops to learn from the many great teachers out there.

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

The Internet is progress. Some use it, some abuse it.

Did either of your parents draw?

Yes, I use to having drawing sessions with my Dad, whom I called "Douses". I never used to call him "Dad", since I always had different than usual names for everything. "Douses" and I use to draw animals all the time, since I had my sights fixed on being a zoologist someday.

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

Most everyone I met seemed to be supportive. Comics were the cool thing in art college and everyone loved them. The cool people were always part of the comic’s crowd.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

At present, I'm up to number 28.


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

Yes, I've taught anyone who's ever inquired about how to learn, and enjoy passing on what I know to those eager to fill in their "missing gaps". Several single-session workshops have been taught in many places over the globe.


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

It sure helps.

Do you collect anything and if so what?

I haven't collected actual comics in probably 20 years, but I still find an old Marvel or work by Jack Kirby that still provides a missing section in my collection. Kirby's canon of work seems limitless.

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

Well, in comics, the character I most wanted to be was Spider-Man. He could beat up thugs with or without a costume and had a gorgeous blonde girlfriend around his arm.

Are you a righty or lefty?

I'm right-handed. Always have been.

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

Hmmm...I'm currently drawing a blank on that. Something unconventional or non-conformist, I suppose.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.

In the early days, it just consisted of a small desk and a table lamp. Now I have a whole large room to myself, with all the required necessities for "finger-tip access", as I call it.



Do you play any musical instruments?

Nope. But I've always fancied the drums were I to play in a band.

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

My advice: Perseverance--and know that you yourself are always the final arbitrator of your path.

Who is your favorite artist?

Jack Kirby in comics, with John Gannam, Harry Anderson, and several others from that school, in Illustration.



Thanks again for your time Steve!

A thank you also goes out to Mike over at The Comic Archive for posting the tour of Steve's studio.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tony Cochran - Cartoonist Survey #237


(Click strips for larger size.)




Syndicated cartoonist and artist Tony Cochrane was born in Dayton, Ohio. He has been drawing since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He graduated from Carroll High School in 1972 and then studied at Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio earning a degree in Fine Art. He started out as a fine artist and his paintings were exhibited at various local art galleries in Ohio and also at the Columbus Museum of Art. Unfortunately fine art didn’t pay the bills so he spent 15 years working as an auto-body repairman. One day while drawing in his sketchbook he created Agnes, the character that would become the star of his comic strip.


Tony’s strip Agnes was launched on March 8, 1999 and has now been running for over 12 years. Syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Agnes follows the adventures of an elementary school-aged girl who lives with her grandmother in an Ohio trailer park. Even though she is poor and not the most attractive girl, she is still optimistic and dreams of better things. Unfortunately for Agnes, her best friend Trout and her grandmother constantly bring her back down to Earth by pointing out the harsh realities of life. There have been two collections of Agnes strips, "Agnes: I'm Far Too Young to Look This Hot" and "I Have Tampered With the Divine Plan".


Tony has been a celebrity guest on NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me," and has also been a guest speaker at the Erma Bombeck Conference on American Humor. He is a strong supporter of community projects including those working with the physically and mentally challenged, literacy development, and pet rescue. Tony is a member of the National Cartoonists Society and lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife Vickie. Read Agnes daily at GoComics.com.


What is your favorite pen to use?

Micron 08.

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

Mechanical (cheap throwaway).

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

Hand.

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

Cheap markers.

What type of paper do you use?

2 ply Bristol.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?

That part between the nose and the upper lip.

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

Utrecht.

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

Pour cup of coffee.

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

No radio, no TV, nothing.


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

Sugar and Spike.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?

Dondi.

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

"A Wrinkle in Time".

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

Columbus College of Art and Design.

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

Necessary curse.

Did either of your parents draw?

Mom painted.

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

My wife.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

Yes.

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

Never taught.

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

Passion.

Do you collect anything and if so what?

I build crazy electric guitars. The ones that don't sell, I collect :)

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

Deputy Dawg.

Are you a righty or lefty?

Righty.

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

Rock star.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.

I have a big drawing board in a sparse yet unkempt three room office. The rest of the space has stuff I think I need but don't.

Do you play any musical instruments?

Harmonica.

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

Be prepared to eat cheaply and wear the same clothes for a long time.


Who is your favorite artist?

Jasper Johns.

Thanks again Tony!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Strathmore Bristol Visual Journals Review

I received a package from Jeanette at Strathmore Artist Papers filled with all kinds of paper to review. There were quite a few types included so I will break them down into a couple of posts.

This first review is of the Strathmore Bristol Visual Journals. So what exactly is a Visual Journal? Quoting from the Strathmore website, "...it's whatever you imagine it to be. It’s an inviting canvas. An open and comfortable place where pens meet paintbrushes, colored pencils meet glued photos, markers meet magazine clippings, and found objects find a home." The Visual Journals come in three sizes, 3.5" x 5", 5.5" x 8" and 9" x 12". They also come in six types of paper; Bristol – Smooth and Vellum, Drawing, Mixed Media and 90lb and 140lb Watercolor.

(As always, click on any of the pictures for a larger view.)

For this review Frankie volunteered to help out.


The 9" x 12" Vellum Bristol.



The 5.5" x 8" Smooth Bristol.





This shows the thickness of the Bristol Visual Journals. The Vellum Bristol one has 24 sheets and the Smooth Bristol has 28 sheets.



All of the Strathmore Visual Journals have wire binding that allows the journal to lie flat and open up 360 degrees.



There is a nice looking hard cover under the paper one.



An inviting blank sheet of paper...



...waiting for ink.



This shows the line weight from different writing/drawing instruments on the Vellum Bristol.



Here is the same as above but on the Smooth Bristol.



This was done on a single sheet of the Vellum Bristol while still in the Visual Journal. I drew it up, inked it and quickly colored it with colored pencils. I then used an X-Acto knife to cut around the drawings and folded them up to make a scene from one of my favorite seasonal cartoons, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown".



Halloween is only a couple of months away so I also did some quick monster drawings. These were drawn in the Smooth Bristol Visual Journal and inked with a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen size F.



The Strathmore Bristol Visual Journals have great quality paper, are very sturdy and look like they would hold up well under any creative endeavor. The 9" x 12" Vellum Bristol lists for $14.99 and the 5.5" x 8" Smooth Bristol lists for $8.59, but if you head over to Dick Blick you can purchase all of the Strathmore Visual Journals for 49% or more off the list price.

I want to thank Jeanette at Strathmore Artist Papers again for allowing me to try these out.

Check back for additional reviews of the remaining Strathmore Artist Papers, Faber - Castell Pitt Artist Pens/Brushes and of course more Cartoonist Surveys.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rod Hunt - Cartoonist Survey #236





Rod Hunt is an award-winning illustrator and artist who is based in London, England. He graduated with a BA in Illustration from the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University in 1994 and has been working as a full-time illustrator since 1996. Rod is well known for his for retro tinged illustrations and detailed character filled landscapes. He has created illustrations for UK and international clients in advertising, publishing, design and new media such as iPhone Apps. His client list includes The Economist, FHM, Maxim, The Observer, Random House, Barclays, British Airways, the BBC, Royal Mail, Kellogg’s, Vodafone, the Syfy Channel, IKEA, Time, Inc. and many others.


Rod is also the illustrator of the very popular “Where’s Stig?” books for the BBC's hit TV show ‘Top Gear’. The “Where’s Stig?” books are sort of like the “Where’s Waldo” series of books where you have to find hidden people and items in different scenes and locations, but instead of Waldo they feature ‘Top Gear’s’ resident racing driver The Stig. “Where’s Stig?” is not limited to books, there are jigsaw puzzles, a journal, poster, mug and even iPhone and iPad Apps. Rod is the current Chairman of the UK Association of Illustrators, which was established in 1973 to advance and protect illustrator’s rights and encourage professional standards. As Chairman, he regularly lectures in the UK and internationally on subjects including Self Promotion for Illustrators, European Illustration Market, Protecting Your Work Online, and his own career. Visit his website to learn more and see other examples of his work, and follow him here on his blog.

(Be sure to click on all pictures for a larger view!)


What is your favorite pen to use?

When I’m working on ideas & compositions I use a fine black Bic Biro, doodling in an A5 sketchbook. These are very quick and throwaway so I don’t get stuck into the detail as this stage so as to keep the ideas flowing. After that it would be my Wacom pen. I work in Adobe Illustrator drawing on a Wacom Cintiq screen tablet for all final artwork these days.


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

I always draw a finished pencil drawing before going to the computer, using that as a guide in a background layer in Illustrator. I use a standard 2B pencil which I sharpen with a craft knife as I prefer the irregular drawing tip.



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

As everything is created in Adobe Illustrator & vector based, all colour is applied on the computer.

What type of paper do you use?

I draw my pencil drawings on 220g heavy weight cartridge paper.


What thing(s) do you hate to draw?

If you hate drawing something, maybe that implies you’re not good or confident at drawing that thing? There’s nothing I hate drawing, & if something is difficult surely it is better to rise to the challenge & improve your skills?

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

Being mostly digital these days I buy considerably less materials than I used to. I usually use a local stationary shop for my pencils & the London Graphics Centre for paper & sketchbooks.

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

When I’m thinking while working on ideas I need silence, but I do listen to music while producing final artwork. Everything from alternative rock, rock, beats, hip-hop to electronica. These days pretty much everything I listen to at the studio is via Spotify rather that listening to iTunes or CD’s.

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

Comics were a big influence on me, the reason I got into drawing & why I decided a career in the art was for me. Apart from the Beano & The Dandy which are more child orientated, 2000AD was the one which really inspired me. The sci-fi concepts & very British black humour has always had the edge for me over American comics. A lot of the major British comic creators started in 2000AD before moving onto the US - Alan Moore started out doing Future Shocks for the title amongst many others. I’ve been reading 2000AD since I was 5 years old & still get every week.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?

Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper & Nemesis The Warlock from 2000AD were the classic strips that resonated with me in my youth, Judge Dredd especially. Here’s hoping the new movie isn’t rubbish & truer to the source material. At least there’s no Stallone in it this time.

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

Richard Scarry’s books have always stayed in my mind from when I was a kid. Unfortunately I’ve no idea where they all went. They probably fell to bits due to over use or passed on to my nephews.


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

After an Art Foundation at Bournemouth & Poole College of Art & Design, I did my degree at the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University graduating in 1994.

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

The Internet is a blessing & has completely changed the way that I work, from researching reference, delivery of artwork to promotion. I now have a worldwide reach for my work in a way I could never had 10 years or so ago. I can be commissioned by a client in LA who found my work via the web, communicate with them from London pretty much for free, then deliver the job instantly when complete. Of course the Internet can be a distraction while working too if you let it. It pays to turn it off while concentrating on a deadline.


Did either of your parents draw?

Neither of my parents drew. My grandmother was an amateur artist though, so creativity is in the genes somewhere in the family.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

I used to keep a sketchbook & draw from life regularly, but not so much these days.

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

I’ve never taught drawing & cartooning, though I have done workshops for a few primary schools (5-11 years), usually setting a book cover project - Harry Potter & The Lord of the Rings seem to get children going, & boy can some of those kids draw!

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

Talent has to be a big part of drawing if you want to make a living as an artist, but that should go hand in hand with passion if you want to be the best you can. I can’t imagine doing this as a job if I wasn’t passionate about it.

Are you a righty or lefty?

Righty, except I hold a knife & fork the wrong way round like a lefty, so I must be a bit confused.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.

Easier to show you I think.



Do you play any musical instruments?

I used to play Saxophone & percussion, but I’ve let it all slip in the last few years as I’m so busy. I don’t like being just “ok” at something, & couldn’t give the hour a days practice I used to do. I also played trumpet as a kid as well.

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

It’s vitally important to educate yourself about the business side of things. Understanding pricing, copyright, contracts, etc is just as important as the drawing if you want to be successful & sustain your career for the long term. The Association of Illustrators in the UK is there to help with advice & all aspects of developing your creative career. It pays to get advice from the professionals.

Who is your favorite artist?

Difficult to pin it down to one artist, but Edward Hopper has been a huge influence.



Thanks again for your time Rod!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pilot Art Supplies Review - Part Two

I'm still working my way through the box of Pilot art supplies that Amy and Robin at Pilot Pens sent. I figured I would combine the following three mechanical pencils in the review since they all use the same size lead (.05mm HB).

(As always click on any of the pictures for a larger view.)

The first in the bunch is the Pilot REXGRIP .05mm mechanical pencil.


Second is the Pilot G2 .05mm mechanical pencil.


The last one is the Pilot H-325 mechanical pencil.



Here is the Pilot ENO .05mm HB lead refill.


I also received this box of replacement Pilot mechanical pencil erasers and needles.
The three pens and the lead refill.


A closer view.

Sketchbook drawings using the Pilot mechanical pencils.


Closeup of the Pilot .05mm HB lead line.

All three mechanical pencils worked well. The .05mm HB lead didn't even break once while using the pencils, which is unusual because I don't have a light hand while drawing. The REXGRIP was my favorite, followed closely by the G-2 and then the H-325. Any of the three would be a great pencil to bring along for sketching. However, because the erasers are on the small side, either don't make any mistakes or be sure to carry along some refills.

Thanks again to Amy and Robin for sending these out. Click here to see the entire line of Pilot products.

Check back for additional reviews on the remaining Pilot products, plus Strathmore paper and Faber-Castell Pitt products.