Friday, April 28, 2006

Friends of the Fiend 13: Patricia Storms.

It's hard to believe she can find the time to do so, but in addition to the cartoons, the illustrations, the book illustrations, the greetings cards, etc, etc, Patricia Storms also blogs the very popular Book Lust.

CF. Hello, Patricia.

PS: Hey there!

CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?

PS: Hmmmm... well any kind of work is exciting for me, because, well.... it's work! I find getting paid to be very exciting. But if you want specifics...I recently finished some greeting card projects and am in the middle of working on some spot illustrations for a kid's mag that is published by Scholastic Canada. Lately I've been getting some work illustrating articles for The National Post, one of Canada's national newspapers, which is nice. I also just signed a contract with John Wiley & Sons to illustrate a small gift book about dogs; I'm very excited about that. Last year I wrote and illustrated a little gift book of my own, and I've got a NY literary agent who is out looking for a publisher for the project; I would be thrilled to bits if it got accepted by a publisher, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much.

CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?

PS: It was definitely a gradual process for me. I always loved to draw cartoons, but it really didn't occur to me that one could earn a living doing this until I was in my mid 20s. My art teachers in highschool didn't really encourage the cartooning stuff; they kept wanting me to turn my energies to 'finer forms of art'. And I haven't mentioned this too much before, but it really had a major impact on me regarding my artistic career: as a teenager I dated a guy who was also a cartoonist, and for whatever reason he continually criticized my talent, in both writing and drawing. It really affected me and for a couple of years in my late teens and early 20s I pretty much gave up art completely. I had zero confidence in myself. It was a cartoonist instructor that I met in my mid 20s who really helped me out; he had so much faith in me, gave me the push I needed to get my work out there. And I cannot say enough about how the people I met on the Wiesenheimer helped and encouraged me as well. I'm still utterly amazed that I earn my living doing this. And I still struggle with the confidence thing, every day.

You can see more of Patricia Storms cartoons and illustrations at her website.

CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?

PS: I hate showing my roughs, because they really are such a mess. I'm a very messy worker. I tend to push my pencil much too hard on the paper, and there's always lots of eraser bits all over my drawing table. It's very embarrassing. If I have a good window of time for a project, I will do a fair amount of pencil roughs, and then use tracing paper to transfer the final image for inking and colouring (I know, I really should get a light table!). The work I've been doing for the National Post does not really afford me the luxury of doing too many roughs and using tracing paper; I usually get 1.5 - 2 hours in which to read the article, get an idea, send the rough for approval and then do the final. It's very stressful, but I love the challenge of working under such a tight deadline.

CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?

PS: Very basic stuff. HB pencils, bond paper for most projects, Winsor & Newton ink, and a #2 Cotman Winsor & Newton brush. I colour a lot of my work in Photoshop, but I do use watercolours for some illustrations, mostly children's books. But I still have a lot to learn about using watercolours.

CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other artforms, in your opinion?

PS: I actually get a bit fed up with this argument, to be honest. There will always be people out there who will consider cartooning and commercial art to be grunt work done by hacks, and no amount of discussion will change their minds. Of course cartooning has just as much cultural impact as some other artforms; that's why graphic novels are gaining in popularity, not just in bookstores but in schools and libraries as well. Not to mention that there have been quite a few movies made from graphic novels. And cartoonists like Schulz and Seth have had their work displayed in art galleries. Personally, I do think a cartoonist is a proper artist, we just also happen to make money from our art. When I go on cartoonist forums and read the discussions about whether cartooning is 'art' or not, I just get exhausted. Let those intellectuals argue the point; I'm too busy drawing.

CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?

PS: I would love the write and illustrate a graphic novel one day. And definitely write and illustrate my own childrens' books. And I really want to get back to my comic strip Tart; I miss doing it. It really is just a question of finding the time.

Find out more about Tart here.

CF. Who were your major artistic influences?

PS: I was influenced a great deal by British cartoonists like Ronald Searle, Gerard Hoffnung, Thelwell, Giles, and David Langdon. My mom had a very British upbringing growing up in Jamaica, and so her tastes in humour tended to be British. That influence me a lot. I also loved all the old New Yorker cartoonists; I used to go to my local library and sign out all the New Yorker collections and read them religiously until I could afford to buy my own copies. Of course Schulz influenced me a great deal. And as a teenager I was a big fan of the early Doonesbury, and I just loved the work of Kliban and Edward Gorey.

CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?

PS: Oy. That's really hard to answer. I simply could not name just one. I think Ronald Searle is bloody brilliant. As well as Saul Steinberg and Sempé. And I adore the work of Posey Simmonds.

CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'new digital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning, at some point.

PS: Yes, I do, and not all for the good, I think. The more people work in a simply digital format, the less we are going to see beautiful amazing cartoon originals. Can you imagine not having any original Schulz cartoons, or Bill Watterson drawings? There is a lot to be said for drawing the old-fashioned way; I'm a bit of a luddite and prefer hand-drawn work. BUT, I do use Photoshop for a lot of my colouring work, so I can't deny the benefits of working digitally. And the internet is becoming a great market for cartoonists. So it is a double-edged sword, I think.

CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work on anything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character, book, show, what would you like to work on?

PS: I'd love to do an animated cartoon of my creation Tart. It wold only be shown on HBO, of course!

CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?

PS: No way.

CF. Thank you for visiting with us.

P: Thanks, Fiend! It was a blast!


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