Frequently Asked Questions
I get a lot of questionnaires and interview requests from students. It can be difficult to answer all of them, so I've compiled this FAQ.
What template did you use for your website? How did you integrate it with Tumblr?
I didn't use a pre-made template. I designed and coded the site myself, by hand. The Tumblr theme is custom CSS made to match the rest of the site. The design makes use of Typekit for fonts, Bootstrap for layout, and Expression Engine for content management.
Did you go to school for illustration? How did you get started? How long have you been doing this?
I studied graphic design. My first job was at a web design firm. I ended up working in television, where I designed logos, advertising, and motion graphics. I tried to incorporate illustration and cartoons into design projects whenever I could, and eventually realized that I'd be happier if I could draw pictures full time. In 2005 I started a blog called Drawn about illustration and art, which encouraged me to follow in the footsteps of artists I admired. I've been freelancing since 2006.
Who are your favourite artists and cartoonists?
The list is always changing and growing. Charles Schulz, Jim Henson, Seth, Roz Chast, Jean-Jacques Sempé, Ronald Searle, Quentin Blake, Lynda Barry, William Steig, Charles Addams, Sergio Aragonés, B.Kliban, Ivan Brunetti, Dan Clowes.
What tools/software do you use?
My digital work is made primarily in Adobe Photoshop. I'll occasionally work in Manga Studio, but I'm far more proficient in Photoshop. I use Adobe Illustrator for any mechanical drawing like laying out comic panels.
My comics are drawn using dip pens and india ink. I don't have a standard nib, but my favourites are the Hunt 108, Hunt 22, G-Nibs, and Tachikawa T-77.
In my sketchbook I'll draw with whatever I have lying around
pens, markers, pencils, watercolours. It's good not to be picky. A sketchbook should be treated like a playground.
What's your favourite project?
The one I'm working on now.
How long did it take to develop your style?
Style is an elusive thing. It's easy, when you're young, to get hung up on having a recognizable style, but it's not as important as having good ideas and being able to execute them. Style happens naturally and gradually. It's the culmination of years of practice and developing your own shorthand and visual vocabulary. Style is is also the product of coming to terms with your limitations as an artist, having a level of facility with your tools, and learning how to present your work in a way that lets your strengths shine.
How do you get noticed/published?
Who knows! I am terrible at self promotion. All I've ever done is make work and put it out there. Any success I've had is by putting my work online, or by selling zines at comic shows, and having the right people see my stuff.
Make good work. Put it out in the world. People will find it.
I know. Everyone says that. But if there's a magic one-step solution out there, I'm not aware of it.
What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators or cartoonists?
Keep a sketchbook. Learn some business and marketing skills. Put your work online. Have interests outside of comics or illustration. Work hard, but never let it feel like work. Be professional. Be nice.