Frank Scicchitano is a New York based illustrator and designer. His love of drawing and painting began as a small child and continues to this day. Fortunate to have very encouraging parents, he was introduced to the comic art of Jack Davis and Bruce Stark by his dad. After discovering Walt Disney through Preston Blair’s book “Cartoon Animation”, he soon began studying the work of Disney’s “Nine Old Men.”
When Frank was seventeen he met painter, teacher and former Norman Rockwell student, Harold Ransom Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson ran the Stevenson Academy out of his home in Sea Cliff, Long Island. Under Stevenson’s tutelage Frank was taught values painting (light to dark to reflected light to cast shadow) and the Munsell color system. Stevenson also instilled in him and all of his students the importance of constant study and practice. Frank followed that advice by studying both painting and drawing at the Arts Student League of New York.
Frank has been working professionally in art for almost thirty years. Throughout that time he has done layout work and story boarding for art studios and ad agencies; created artwork, cartoons and humorous illustrations for book jackets, magazines and children’s books; and painted sports and celebrity portraits. His sports figure paintings have been used by all of the major sports card companies including Topps, Donruss and Upper Deck. He even has a painting he did of one of my favorite sports legends, Ted Williams, which is housed at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Copyright Upper Deck Co.
Lately Frank’s focus has been on humorous illustration and cartooning. He recently illustrated Lynn Hefele’s children book, ‘Ziny’s Driving School’ which you can read more about here. Be sure to set aside some time to visit Frank’s Tano Studio website, where you can see many more examples of his work and learn more about his creative method.
What is your favorite pen to use?
I use black ball points to rough out my work, followed by poster white until I find the forms I'm looking for. Then I usually use a brush for the line work in the finish. A Winsor & Newton #3 or 4.
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I rarely use pencils until the finish, they smudge too much, and when I do, they are all mechanical. A great one, given to me by a student, is a Kuru Toga, from Japan.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I do all my work by hand. I really enjoy the tactile sense of drawing and painting.
If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
I use a lot of different water media, starting with light washes, followed up by designers gouache and inks when I need to add chroma and correct mistakes. I'm always trying to get back to where I started as a youngster, using purely transparent colors. Winsor and Newton pans or Dr. Martin's Transparent WC, but I also like painting with gouache. Holbein and WN are what I mostly use, when I do. I also love magic markers and wonder what took so long to develop the Copic Wide. All my work in gray is done with those beauties.
What type of paper do you use?
Mostly cold pressed Bainbridge 80 for finishes and Ingres Gray pads for my roughs.
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Things that involve straight lines.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Both. Pearl Paint downtown or the Utrecht store by my apartment. When I order a lot of stuff, I usually use Jerry's or ASW. I think they are the same place.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Yup, take a deep breath, crank up REO Speedwagon's 'Roll With The Changes' and 'just do it'.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
A mix of a lot of things, like 3rd Force, Tom Grant, Dave Mason, Kevin Toney, and Pat Matheny. A lot of sweet guitars and pianos.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Superman and Batman a little, but I did love Hal Foster's 'Prince Valiant' because my dad loved it. My all time favorite was MAD magazine, not too sure that's a comic book.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Wizard of Id and BC.
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
'Stone Soup', and no, though I wish I did.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Not really in the sense of 'formal' like an art college, but I did have a great teacher when I was young for several years and have spent much time with some wonderful instructors at the Art Students League, a very cool place.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Though I don't use a computer for my work, I have seen many students use it effectively. It is indeed, a blessing. For someone like me, the capacity to reach millions is truly a remarkable experience.
Did either of your parents draw?
My dad loved to draw and left great cartoons on my desk, and my mom, who is very creative, used to encourage me and fuel my imagination with dinosaurs. They were both a big part of my childhood.
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
I've been very fortunate. My whole family has always been very supportive. My parents always encouraged me as have both my sisters. In fact, my older sister used to take my work around and got me my first print jobs and my little sister, to this day, is still my biggest fan. I'm very fortunate.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes, it's the most fun part of my work.
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
When I was in school, a girlfriend had a sister that set up guest speakers for the local high school, and she asked me to participate in a cartoon class lecture. I loved it, though at the end, only one or two boys stayed to ask questions. I love teaching young people and try to do it as often as I can.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
My teacher, a wonderful man and a great painter, never really believed in talent. Nor do I. I would say passion for anything is a great start, and definitely more important than innate talent.
Copyright Upper Deck Co.
Do you collect anything and if so what?
I used to collect coins and stamps with my dad, a great period of my childhood, and now I collect trading cards because of my work. I also love collecting some of America's greatest illustrators.
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Are you a righty or lefty?
Sadly, I'm a 'righty'.
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
A paleontologist. To know animals like this once roamed the earth is still so mind boggling. I really do love dinosaurs.
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Felix Unger takes care of my studio, and Oscar Madison takes care of all the rest! :)
Do you play any musical instruments?
No. But I really love a great guitar.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
To study hard and be persistent, nothing takes the place of constant practice. And I'd give them the link to Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis.
Who is your favorite artist?
My ALL TIME favorite cartoonist would be Jack Davis. I think he's the greatest!
Thank you very much for taking the time to participate Frank!