Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jana Christy- Cartoonist Survey #259





Jana Christy is an illustrator who grew up in Rochester, New York. She enrolled in a 4 year-college after high school, but within a couple of months realized that she wasn’t really getting anything out of it and dropped out. She traveled to England for a few months and then spent the next five years working on and off as a nanny in New York City and Boston. While working as a nanny she became inspired by the illustrations in the picture books she was reading to the children, and knew that she wanted to pursue a career as an illustrator. Her first work was the self-published comic book series “Very Vicky” that she did with her husband and creative partner John Seven. The couple worked on “Very Vicky” for three years until their two sons, Harry and Hugo were born.



Jana began to grow her portfolio by doing editorial and cover art for regional parenting papers and illustrations that appeared in The Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix and The Boston Herald. She was soon signed by an agent and now spends most of her time creating illustrations for children's books and magazines. Since being signed she has worked with most major publishing houses including, Penguin, Harcourt, Scholastic, Random House, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster and Macmillan. A small selection of children’s books Jana has illustrated includes, “How to Hug”, “Ten Items or Less”, “Love Is The Best Medicine”, “My Best Frenemy”, “Play Fair, Have Fun” and “The Smile That Went Around The World”.


In 2009 she illustrated the book "The Dream Plucker of Perrysport" for Carnival Cruises to coincide with its new family-friendly ship, Carnival Dream. The book was turned into the World's Largest Children's Book and was unveiled on The Today Show. The 15-foot high book was displayed at Rockefeller Center for a weekend featuring activities for families and children.


As mentioned earlier in this introduction, Jana often collaborates with her writer husband, John Seven. Together the two have released four children’s books, “Four Go Mad in Massachusetts”, “Happy, Sad, Silly, Mad”, “The Ocean Story” and “A Rule Is to Break”. The couple’s “The Ocean Story” was awarded Creative Child Magazine’s 2011 Seal of Excellence award.


Jana donated a kidney to her brother a couple of years back. During the time leading up to and after the operation, she wrote and drew an on-line comic journal (“The Kidney Thing”) about her experience. Read “The Kidney Thing” here and then go to the National Kidney Foundation’s website to find out how you can become a living donor.


Jana works and lives with her family in North Adams, MA. She is represented by KidShannon. Visit her website, blog and Facebook page to see much more of her work and learn more about her.


What is your favorite pen to use?
I'm digital, so most of my answers to your technical questions are going to be dull. I use an Axiotron Modbook, and the cheap pen that came with it.


Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I pencil first (digitally) using Corel Paint and the 'charcoal' tool, because it has a bit of texture, and seems more like a true pencil.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I use Corel Paint to color. Sponges, oils, pastel and charcoals are my favorite, all mixed in together in a million layers.


What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I HATE drawing the insides of any building. There's always too much to keep track of.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Ahh- the true beauty of being digital, is not having to spend a fortune on supplies, after the initial expense. I live in a pretty cut-off area of the Berkshires in Massachusetts without a good art store, so it's been a blessing.


Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Not really. Well- in the summer I usually walk around my garden as soon as I wake up and drink tea, then I come in and start work.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I always listen to music while I work. I don't what genre to call it--- Odd-Alternative-Contemporary-Music-Mostly-From-Canada-Scandinavia-and-Australia? If I need to concentrate, I play my Girls playlist; Allo Darlin, Kathryn Calder, Katzenjammer, Hanne Hukkelberg, Holly Throsby, Lisa Hannigan. They're my comfort music.

When I'm painting; The Books, Wilco, The Fratellis, etc. they wake me up!


If I need to work late- I like listening to podcasts of The Signal from the CBC- that keeps my mind busy and I feel less alone in the world. When I'm working I like music with either complicated instrumentation, interesting lyrics, music that paints a picture inside my head or is just goofy fun.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I did, but I was a total girl about it. I read Richie Rich, Casper and totally loved digging in to my Uncle's abandoned treasure trove of old Archies from the 40s and 50s in my grandmother's attic. I used to practice drawing Betty and Veronica all the time.


What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Is/was Peanuts. And I love the Moomins.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
My favorite books were AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh books. I loved Ernest Shepard's drawings and studied them intensely. I loved the teeny little scratches that were Rabbit's friends and relations- the ones at the back of the line. So tiny they must've been bugs, but were really just left to the imagination. I also loved Little Golden Books and am really excited to actually be illustrating a Little Golden Book this year!


Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I took art classes at the Creative Workshop at The Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY when I was in high school for about 6 months total. That and high school art classes.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
A blessing. I've received many job offers and inquiries based on work that art directors have seen on my blog, other folks' blogs or Facebook. Google Image Search saves me hours of research time. Facebook is a great way to not feel so isolated in my little illustration bubble, but it can also be a huge distraction.

Did either of your parents draw?
My dad, http://jimchristy.com is a very accomplished watercolor artist, who receives a steady stream of portrait commissions and shows his work in galleries in Rochester, NY and New Smyrna Beach, FL.


Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My mom and dad have always been supportive. Neither really expected or pushed me too hard for me have a Real Job. When I was in high school, I was voted "least likely to ever have a real job." Spot on!

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yep! Though because I'm digital- it's not necessarily in pencil and I call it a blog.


Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
No, I haven't.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
I think passion often comes first- and talent can be a byproduct. If someone is passionate about something, this means they’re willing to sacrifice time from other aspects of their life to devote to it. Spending time devoted to one thing will often allow you to master it.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Skulls and bones that my family and I find when we're hiking. The prize is a monkey skull.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Sally Brown- easy. "All I want is what's coming to me! All I want is my fair share!"


Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
When I was young, other than becoming an artist, I wanted to be a fisherman or forest ranger--- I would still like to do something outside- I'd love to be a landscaper. I often feel too chained to my work and hanker to be outside digging and transplanting stuff. A couple years ago we dug up our backyard to create a massive garden- in summer it can be really hard to go inside and draw. Chickens will be a part of our garden this year--- I don't know how I'm going to get anything done. I think my blog will fill up with chicken illos.


In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
I work on a couch in the corner of my dining room. It's not a romantic art studio, but it's super comfy and warm in the winter- unlike the rest of my house, and it's really all the space I need.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I have a ukulele, banjo, 2 guitars and a broken accordion. I can only play about 3 chords on each, but, damn it's fun! We vacationed in a house with a pump organ a few years ago- it was AWESOME for making squeaks and groans on. I want one of those, too.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Turn off the television. Seriously. Get rid of the distractions and just draw. Start a blog, and put up new art every week. Contribute art to Illustration Friday. Draw for free, draw because you love it, figure out what you draw best and do it constantly.

Who is your favorite artist?
Oh, that's hard. There are so many different forms of art. Okay- I'll narrow it down to my favorite field- children's book illustration-- Alice and Martin Provensen are my heroes. I love the work they did for Little Golden Books, but really adore their later work- The Glorious Flight, Shaker Lane... they're gorgeous.


Thanks again Jana!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Charles Beyl - Cartoonist Survey #258





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?
Righty.

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!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Paul Weiner - Cartoonist Survey #257





Paul Weiner is an illustrator and Flash animator from Boston, MA. His love for drawing and painting began when he was a young child and has continued to guide him towards his career in the arts. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art with a BFA in Illustration. Paul specializes in electronic illustrations, using Illustrator CS2, Photoshop and Flash. Since 1995 he has created artwork for numerous magazines, education publishers, design studios, and IT companies. His illustration style ranges from bright, colorful, humorous drawings to realistic black and white renderings.


A few of Paul’s many clients include, Macmillan/McGraw, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, E Retailing World Magazine, Little Brown & Company and Oxford University Press. In addition to illustration he has been an academic instructor at Montserrat College of Art and New England School of Art. He was also a guest speaker at Wentworth Institute and has given private instructions in the art of electronic illustration. When not drawing, Paul enjoys playing a wide array of musical instruments including, the guitar, accordion and harmonica.


Visit his website and blog to see more of his work. You can also follow him here on Facebook.


What is your favorite pen to use?
Micron pens and Faber-Castell's.


Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Most of the time it's a mechanical pencil.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Coloring is done on the computer.


If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Using brushes with acrylics.

What type of paper do you use?
Strathmore or Utrecht brand.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Tight or technical images.

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

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Drink coffee, music and exercise.

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


Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Yes, Wizard of Id, Dennis the Menace, Dogwood, BC.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Too many. I like Broom Hilda, Adam, Get Fuzzy, Dilbert, Mother Goose and Grimm, Non Sequitur, Cul De Sac.


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

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

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
The Internet is amazing and great.

Did either of your parents draw?
Not really, no.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
No one really until I attended Mass College of Art and met artists.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I have many sketchbooks.


Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
No, I am sure I would enjoy it.


Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
It certainly helps. I would say both.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Yes, I try to collect my thoughts.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
A jelly bean.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Give tours on a remote Caribbean island.


In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Quiet, remote and just enough room for me, a pencil and pad.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Several musical instruments.


If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Draw, draw some more and draw even some more.

Who is your favorite artist?
Too many artist to mention just one (Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Howard Pyle, Rackham, Froud, Dulac, etc).


Thanks again Paul!