John Martz is an award-winning Canadian cartoonist, illustrator and designer. He is also the editor of one of my favorite cartooning and illustration blogs Drawn! John studied graphic design at Conestoga College in Ontario from 1997-2000. He then worked in the television industry where he created logos, animation and graphics. Some of the television stations he produced work for include CityTV, Space (Canada’s sci-fi channel), Bravo! and MuchMusic.
In March of 2005 John launched the blog Drawn!, which focuses on illustration, cartooning and animation from around the world. I already mentioned that it is one of my favorite art blogs, and I’m not alone. Drawn! was chosen as one of TIME Magazine's Coolest Websites of the Year for 2006. Over the last seven years, I have been introduced to the work of some very talented people…most of whom I would never have discovered if not for John’s wonderful resource!
John left the television industry in 2006 to become a full-time illustrator. His comics and illustrations have appeared in Kayak, Canada’s history magazine for kids, as well as numerous other magazines such as Jamie Oliver’s Jamie, chickaDEE, Uppercase and Maclean's. Hallmark, No Brow Press, Yahoo!, First Second Books, CTV, La Pasteque, Koyama Press and Egmont are just a handful of John’s other clients. In July of last year, John’s work started appearing in Canada’s largest circulated national newspaper, The Globe and Mail and he is now a regular contributor.
His comic work has been nominated twice for Doug Wright Awards and at last year’s Joe Shuster Awards, John’s comic book ‘Heaven All Day’ won the Gene Day Award for self publishers. A member of the National Cartoonists Society, John lives in Toronto with his wife, Lindsay and dog Gary. Visit his website here to see more of his work and to purchase prints and mini-comics. You can follow John over on his blog and his Facebook page. Also, be sure to set aside some time every week to check out some of the coolest comic and illustration work that John showcases at Drawn!
What is your favorite pen to use?
For sketching I'll grab whatever's nearby. I tend to have a new favourite every few months, and impulsively buy different pens whenever I see something new.
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I'll use either. I use a lightbox for my non-digital work, so sometimes I'll use a pen or, again, whatever's handy, since I trace over my roughs on the lightbox rather than having to erase my initial under-drawings.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I like to play around with watercolour and gouache, but I'm not proficient enough with it yet, so my colouring is all done on the computer.
What type of paper do you use?
I'm not picky. I buy pads of illustration paper or bristol board -- usually the higher end brands since they tend to take ink better without bleeding. For roughs, and even for final art sometimes, I'll use cheap printer paper.
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Horses on bicycles.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I sometimes buy pens from websites like Jetpens simply because they have a broader selection, but otherwise I'm lucky to have several art supply stores within walking distance from my house.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Is procrastination a ritual?
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Not while I'm doing any comics work that requires writing and thinking, since I need to be clear-headed. But for doodling, sketching, and inking, and doing final art, I listen to music or podcasts, or I'll have movies/TV on in the background. Something that doesn't require much attention. Musicwise, my last.fm profile can probably better define my tastes better than listing a few genres: http://www.last.fm/user/robotjohnny/.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I didn't read a lot of comic books until I hit high school, but I loved MAD Magazine as a kid.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
My favourite was and still is Peanuts.
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I still have copies of all my favourite childhood books. I don't know if I can pick just one, but certainly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl was a favourite, as was Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs & Ham, and a book of poems called Alligator Pie by Canadian poet Dennis Lee.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I studied Graphic Design in college, but I didn't have any formal art or illustration training.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Certainly it's both. It's a wonderful resource and Twitter is a great way to keep in touch with other cartoonists throughout the day, but it sure is a distraction.
Did either of your parents draw?
Neither of my parents draw, but my grandmother painted, and my mother is very crafty.
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My parents always made sure I had plenty of drawing tools and paper, and always signed me up for cartooning classes, art lessons, and even computer animation camp.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Absolutely. It's the single greatest tool in an artist's arsenal. I have several on the go at all times, and have several bookshelves full of my completed sketchbooks.
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I taught cartooning at a library one summer long ago, but I was woefully unprepared for it, so I don't think it counts. I'd do it again if given the chance and if I had the opportunity to really think about lesson plans and methods.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
You won't get very far without passion. I don't know if I really believe in talent -- you just keeping doing, and you get better at it. Cartooning is a honed skill.
Do you collect anything and if so what?
Books, mostly. Our house is overflowing with books. Books books books.
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I'd like to say Bugs Bunny, but I think the more truthful answer would be Daffy Duck.
Are you a righty or lefty?
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Gosh I don't know. I don't have any other marketable skills. I'd have to do medical testing for money.
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Currently, due to the layout of my apartment, it's split between two rooms -- I have a room with my computer and Cintiq for digital work,
and another room with my art supplies and drafting table for non-digital work.
Do you play any musical instruments?
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Keep at it! Nothing happens overnight. Keep a sketchbook, never stop drawing, and just concentrate on enjoying the process of discovery and play. That's when the best things happen.
Who is your favorite artist?
I couldn't possibly choose, but it's an even tie between Charles Schulz, Jim Henson, Chuck Jones, Ronald Searle, Jean-Jacques Sempé, Seth, B. Kliban, and the list goes on!
Thank you again for taking the time to participate John!