Charles Beyl is an illustrator, designer, cartoonist and educator who was born in April of 1961. He studied fine arts, graphic design, illustration and advertising at Washington State University and received a BA in 1984. He furthered his art education in 2006 when he earned a Masters degree in Illustration from Syracuse University. Charles’ illustrations and cartoons appear in numerous books, newspapers, magazines and advertising campaigns. A partial list of his clients includes, Johns Hopkins University Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, McGraw-Hill, Viking Penguin Inc., Houghton Mifflin Inc., United States Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Teachers Association and Land's End.
His humorous illustrations are a perfect fit with books designed to target children. “Learning to Slow Down and Pay Attention: A Book for Kids About ADHD”, “Blue Cheese Breath and Stinky Feet: How to Deal with Bullies”, “My Parents are Divorced Too: A book for kids by kids”, “Annie's Plan: Taking Charge of Schoolwork and Homework”, “Mind Over Basketball” and “Learn with Yoga ABC Virtues” are just a few of the more recent publications that have had his illustrations grace their pages.
Charles is a member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, and he draws a weekly editorial cartoon that is published by the Lancaster Sunday News. The cartoons are also uploaded here on his blog and the Charles Beyl Illustration Facebook page.
When he isn’t working at his studio located in a 19th century farmhouse, he teaches illustration and graphic design at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design. Charles, his wife Tracy and their family live in Mountville, Pennsylvania. Head over to his website to see much more of his work and follow him on his blog and on Facebook.
What is your favorite pen to use?
I use Kuretake brush pens. A student of mine turned me on to them a couple years ago and so far, I think they are the best.
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I always draw with a pencil on paper first. Prismacolor blue and black.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I use the computer. An iMac with a big, glorious screen.
If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
I like to use gouache, Dr. Martin's dyes.
What type of paper do you use?
Strathmore tracing paper, Strathmore 500 series bristol.
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Bad ideas, mine or other people's.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
We have a couple good local stores. If they don't have what I need I shop online.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I turn on my favorite radio programs or music.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I listen to a huge variety of music, plus tons of NPR news shows. I am a news junkie.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
When I was 4 my grandparents gave me a subscription to Disney comic books and I looked at them even before I could read. From there it was on to Archie comics, then a clandestine relationship with MAD. I also loved CARtoons when I could find them.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Two comic strips were always must reads when they existed: "The Far Side" and "Calvin & Hobbes." Now my favorites are: "Dilbert" and "Bizarro."
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
My favorite book was "Moby Dick" illustrated by Rockwell Kent. I own reprint now but I'd love to own a first edition. Kent was the man.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to Washington State University for my undergrad degree and Syracuse University for a Masters degree in Illustration.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Of course it is both. You can get sucked in and waste tons of time but it can just as easily put you in touch with information, cultures, ideas, and people that you'd never be able to meet in one lifetime.
Did either of your parents draw?
Not in a professional way. My dad would draw plans for wood working projects. He loved to work with his hands.
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My mom and dad were very supportive. Dad would bring home paper from his office that was blank on one side and I kept a stack in the family room. They always encouraged me to draw.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes, but it is not as elaborate as many of my artist friends sketchbooks. I am so jealous. My books are mostly filled with rough ideas of things I want to turn into cartoons.
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I teach at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design in Lancaster, PA. I love telling students about my experiences and helping them learn how to make art their life's work.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
That's a great question. You won't make it without both.
Do you collect anything and if so what?
My wife and I love to buy art and over the years we've collected pieces we absolutely cherish.
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I was a big fan of Jonny Quest and would have loved to been him. His dad and Race were super cool. They had their own plane and jet packs!
Are you a righty or lefty?
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Professional surfer or high adventure guide.
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
A cozy island with everything I need within reach. Including my two dogs.
Do you play any musical instruments?
Not really. I have a harmonica that when the spirit moves me, I'll pick up and try to jam with whatever music I have on. It's not for human consumption though.
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 possibly can. Study your heroes in art. Be a student of the world and never stop learning.
Who is your favorite artist?
There are so many to list but here are a few: Rockwell Kent, N.C. Wyeth, J.C. Leyendecker, Ben Shahn, Pablo Picasso, Pat Oliphant, Gary Larson, Robert Patierno, Bill Peet, Margret and H.A. Rey, Ed Roth, Thomas Nast, Maxfield Parrish, Saul Steinberg and many, many more.
Thanks again for taking the time to participate Charles!