Thursday, April 19, 2012

Anders Nilsen - Cartoonist Survey #266

Award-winning artist and graphic novelist Anders Brekhus Nilsen was born in New Hampshire in 1973. He studied painting and instillation art at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. In 1999 he put together some comic strips from his sketchbooks and self-published them as Big Questions #1 and #2. That same year he moved to Chicago to do graduate work at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 2000 Anders received a grant from the Xeric Foundation which allowed him to publish his first book, “The Ballad of the Two Headed Boy”. He soon dropped out of graduate school to work on his comics full time.

He received another grant, this time from Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, and was able to publish three more issues of his Big Questions comics. He continued to work on Big Questions, which was eventually picked up by Drawn and Quarterly, until the end of 2010 when the final issue (#15) was released. Last August Drawn and Quarterly published a collection of his Big Questions comics. Weighing in at almost 5 pounds, this 658 page graphic novel just won the 2012 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize.

Two more of Anders graphic novels have won awards. In 2005 his “Dogs and Water” won an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Story, and his graphic memoir “Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow” won an Ignatz for Outstanding Graphic Novel in 2007.

Other works by him include “Monologues of the Coming Plague”, “The End” and "Monologues for Calculating the Destiny of Black Holes”. His work has been translated into several languages and has been shown internationally. Numerous anthologies have also showcased his work such as, “Mome”, “Best American Comics”, “Kramer’s Ergot”, “The Yale Anthology of Graphic Fiction”, “Best American Non-Required Reading” and others.

Anders currently lives and works in Chicago. Visit his website and his The Monologuist blog to see much more of his work. You can also purchase trading cards, prints and posters at his Picture Store.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Staedtler pigment liner.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Sometimes I do. Standard. 7H usually.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Preferably by hand. Occasionally for illustrations I color in Photoshop.

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

What type of paper do you use?
Depends. For actual comics 2 ply bristol, smooth. Otherwise whatever's around.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I'm really bad a caricature. Portraits: great. Cartoon versions of an actual face? Nightmare.

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

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Burn a goat.

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

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Tintin and X-Men.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Newspaper? As a kid Farside probably. Or Bloom County.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
That's tough. Maybe The Magician's Nephew, C.S. Lewis...probably have one around here somewhere...

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Yes. MCAD here in Minneapolis when I was a kid, The University of New Mexico for Undergrad.

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

Did either of your parents draw?
My Dad and stepmother were/are both artists.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Parents. All four.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Doing it for the first time, now. Yeah, I like it.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
There's no such thing as talent. If 'passion' makes you work at it hours a day, year after year, after a while you'll have talent. Being an interesting person with something to say is helpful.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Found playing cards, found toys, spheres.

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

Are you a righty or lefty?
Hand: Right, Politics: Left.

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

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Windows on two sides. Plants. Ostrich egg. Slightly cluttered, but spacious.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I clack my teeth rhythmically.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Work hard, do what you love.

Who is your favorite artist?
Split: Daniel Higgs and Herge.

Thanks again Anders!

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