Friends of the Fiend 6: Christine Tripp.
CF. Hello, Christine.
C.T. Hi there Fiend!
CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the
pipeline - that you can tell us about?
C.T. I wish. At the moment I am just working on the bread and butter stuff. 1/4 and half-page cartoons for kids magazine markets. Nothing "exciting" I am afraid.
I have another educational book to illustrate for Scholastic coming in the next month or so but it's quiet right now. It's always nice to get a break, especially when the weather is getting so nice here, but of course, if it goes on for more then a week you begin to panic and think you will never work again:)
CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become
one, or was it a gradual process?
C.T. I would say it was perhaps both. I had always done cartoons and comic strips etc as a small child. When the other kids were out side playing, I would hole up in my bedroom and draw to my hearts content. As for it being career though, I didn't think it really was. I had no idea people could make a living at drawing cartoons. I also didn't know there were woman in the profession and I was just on the edge of the days when young woman were going on to University and actually having a career. I didn't really become serious about my doodling becoming a full time job until about 8 years ago and after my 4 children were grown.
CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about
C.T. My main area of work is children's books now. It found me, not the other way around.
Typically, a publisher will call (email) me with a book project in mind. They will email over the manuscript in PDF format and then I know how much area on each of the pages is open for illustration, how much is needed for text.
I'll do all the sketches fairly tight, I don't like to sketch more then once. I never do thumbnails (I'm VERY lazy:) Then I will scan and post all the spreads to a seperate area on my web space and email the URL to the art director. They pass that on to everyone involved in decision making and get back to me with any changes. Most often there are very few.
I then clean up the sketch in Photoshop, lighten the lines, load the watercolour paper into my wide format printer and, in sepia, print the sketch to the paper. Voila, it is ready to paint. I do sometimes colour in Photoshop and supply digital art for board books but I really love painting the traditional way. I almost always paint with acrylics, occasionally watercolour. When all 14 spreads and cover are done, I Fed Ex them away.
CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, but what tools do
you use, and what format do you work to?
C.T. Oops, I think I answered this question above. I'll add a little more to it. For all my sketches I use the cheapest bond paper I can find. I use those basic yellow Eagle pencils and a Staedtler Mars plastic eraser. I love my electric pencil sharpener. For finished b/w line work for gag cartooning or spot art, I gave up on bottle ink and nib pens long ago and use Staedtler pigment liner. For book illustration outlines, I use colour pencil, either Ivory black, Chocolate or Burnt Umber. I love Derwent Studio pencils, they make such a buttery soft line.
I paint with the liquide bottles of Tri-Art acrylics. I actually use those clear plastic egg cartons for mixing my colours. I add a lot of water to my mix. I then keep the premixed colours that I will need through out the whole book in those "Stay Wet" palett boxes by "Masterson". They really do work. I have kept acrylics fresh and ready for use for over 4 months in those things.
I use Canson, 140lb watercolour paper, as smooth a finish as I can find.
I use 2 Winsor Newton brushes and they have been working day and night for me for over 3 years now. The brush is the most important tool I think, you can't go cheap on them.
I would also have to list the computer, scanner and printer as important tools.
CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have
the same cultural impact as some other art forms, in your opinion?
C.T. All of the arts are no more, no less important then the other. I include in this, dance, music, acting, writing, illustrating, photography etc, and in there, is cartooning. Comics and cartoons have influenced our vocabulary, our movies, our politics not to mention just plain entertained us. Artists themselves discriminate, "fine artists" might look down on a "commercial" illustrator, the illustrator might snub the cartoonist. It is perhaps akin to a dramatic actor on broadway feeling supiriour to a comedic actor in Hollywood. To me one is not more important or influencial in our society then the other. When a "Calvin and Hobbs" sketch has a price tag of $16,000.00 on it, I think that says it all:)
CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?
C.T. It's not so much find the time as find the talent. I have over the years tried a little bit of everything, I think, and each time discovered I didn't have what it takes for this market and that. I think I have found my fit... children's books. I must say, a dream of mine would be to work with a publisher like Dutton, Viking, Random House, etc, on a big time trade book. Now that would be my ultimate!
CF. Who were your major artistic influences?
CT. Starting from when I was very little, my father would read me the Sat morning colour funnies (they come in the Saturday paper here in Canada) My favorite was "lil Abner", the art was so detailed. My other favorite was Hank Ketcham. I loved the way he drew "Ruff":)
As a pre-teen I was a huge fan of Mad Magazine and all of it's artists. I loved the simple clean lines of Paul Coker Jr. For a long time I drew all my dogs and bears etc just like his. I loved Don Martin's wild people! Mort Drucker just made me upset, knowing I could NEVER be that good... amazing art.
For art now, it has to be Jim Borgman and "Zits".
CF. Who was/is your favorite cartoonist/writer, of all time?
CT. Lynn Johnston, on both counts!!!!
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.
CT. Not really. It's affect on the way cartoonists work is astounding, cutting down on time and costs and opening up new ways to be creative but as a reader I would have to say that for me, nothing beats physically opening up the newspaper to the comics section.
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?
CT. Land me in one of those big NYC publishers offices and hand me one of those 5 book, 7 figure contracts and I will be one happy lady:)
CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?
CF. Thank you for visiting with us.
CT. It was an honour, thank you.