Showing posts with label caricature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caricature. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Coronavirus Catch-up Conversation with Caricaturist Mike Jenkins

Rhode by Jenkins
by Mike Rhode

I've talked with Arlington's Mike Jenkins several times here, iirc, and recently we were Zoom judges together for the Robert F. Kennedy cartoon award that will be announced on May 1. I checked in with Mike recently about the state of his business, which is normally dependent on going to places and parties and drawing the happy people there. As I suspected, his company, Capital Artworks, has taken a sharp hit from the pandemic. I commissioned a post-birthday caricature, and I encourage other readers with regular incomes to do the same (not drawings of me though).

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business of drawing caricatures?


Most of the work my coworkers and I do is caricatures for special events like high school graduation, family celebrations and company parties. We have sideline illustration and caricature commission work as well, but that is the bulk of it. The coronavirus hit in March, which is usually the tail end of our slow quarter. A great deal of the work we do is corporate and private events, which usually concentrates around graduation/summer and the holiday seasons. There’s a lull after the holidays, and the business picks up again around April. So when the coronavirus social distancing hit it didn’t affect our regular business cycle, but everything in the pipeline vanished. Even if the restrictions lift sometime before summer, there’s a strong likelihood the economy will have taken such a hit that there will be cutbacks in special events where caricaturists are hired.

But that void is a possible opportunity. There are many families who are upset that their high school graduates are missing out on all the fun and celebration of their kids’ milestone achievement, and want to commemorate it in some way. And other special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and awards are going without the traditional gatherings and celebrations. Drawings were a popular part of those celebrations, and they are affordable and still available. The only work we have coming in right now is commission work of that sort, and we're hoping that will go some way towards refilling the pipeline. Even if the full blown event caricature business never comes back, we have the skills we developed there and commission work could be the next step.
 
How much of your business has dried up during this epidemic? 

I would say all of the business. Commission illustration and caricature work has been a sideline to the main special event caricature business. Now that’s all we see coming in. We’ll see if that holds.
 

Can people still get drawings from you? How should people contact you? 

What type of information do you need to do a 'virtual' cartoon (i.e. a real drawing, but not with the sitter in front of you)?

Two or three photos of the person to be drawn are what I usually go by,  including at least one high resolution one if possible, but one decent photo will do. If it’s a color caricature I may need details such as eye and hair color. They often don’t come through in photos quite right. And I ask people to suggest a personalized background detail or two if they want more than a head and shoulder portrait style. If they have a list of details, I ask that they make it in descending order of importance. If I can’t work it all in, I cut from the bottom of the list to make sure the most important suggestions are included in the finished drawing.

As a small business owner, are you applying for some loans from the government?

I was considering taking a loan to upgrade my website before the pandemic hit, then I was glad I hadn’t. I’m uncomfortable taking on debt when there’s no guarantee the work I’ve been doing will come back. If not, I need to rethink my marketing, and at that point may apply for a loan. When I hire other artists it’s on a subcontracting basis, so the paycheck protection aspect of government small business loans doesn’t seem to apply to people like me.

Mike's website for Capital Artworks is https://www.capitalartworks.com/ if you want to see more of his work. He has a strong following on Facebook for his lunchbag artwork and I'm sure he'd be glad to do some of these on commission too, if you've got someone still leaving the house each day. And you can read Mike's older attempt to creating a comic strip around his life.

The coronavirus is obviously affecting a lot of local artists, stores, and companies. If you'd like to be interviewed here at ComicsDC about your comic art job, drop me a line.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Meet a Visiting Cartoonist: Spain's Tomás Serrano


by Mike Rhode

Tomás Serrano visited Washington recently just as the city was shutting down from the coronavirus. We were still able to meet and chat about his work with local cartoonists Matt Wuerker and Mike Jenkins, although this interview was done by email later. Tomás is temporarily living in America and cartooning via long distance.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Several types. At 25, I got my paid to start doing caricatures for a local newspaper in Salamanca, Spain. Years later I got into political and gag cartoons, and one of them won me the Mingote Award in 1995. Six years later, my first children´s book was published. In 2013, I made an animated musical video. In 2014, I began to work for the Spanish newspaper ABC drawing caricatures and editorial illustrations. Since 2015, I´ve been the political cartoonist of the online newspaper El Español and also sometimes I illustrate the editorials of the newspaper. In recent years, I did caricatures for the Magazine of the University of Chicago.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

In the beginning, I used traditional tools like color pencils, gouache or watercolors. At this moment, I do sketches with a red pencil and mark the lines with a 5B pencil then scanning and adding color with a Tablet and Photoshop. It´s the fast way because, usually, I have only a couple of hours to send the cartoon.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in León, Spain, in 1960.

Where are you living now? Why?

Since July 2019, I moved to Lexington, Kentucky because Heminia, my wife, is working as a middle school teacher. For me, living in the US is a great experience. I love it. The American culture was always present in my life since I was a child: old TV series, movies, illustrated books, music…

Is it hard being an editorial cartoonist from a different continent and with 5 time zones changes?

Not at all. It´s so easy now. The only difference is the time: There, I drew after lunch; here, before. I´m following the current Spanish trends through the radio, podcasts, streaming live TV and the online newspapers.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?  Why did you leave architecture?

My training is in architecture. This helped so much in staging my ideas and composing the images. I use to draw realistic architectural backgrounds because it emphasized the nonsense of the conduct of politicians. The strong crisis for architects in Spain from 2008 helped me to recover my passion for cartooning.

Who are your influences?

When I was young, my principal influence was Francisco Ibañez´s comics, Mortadelo y Filemón author. Visually, Disney´s artists were my favorites so far. Uderzo, Jean Giraud… Back then I didn´t like the UPA artists that I love now. Over time, I realized the influence of the freshness of my brother Carlos “badly done” drawings. Regarding humor, the movies of Charles Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Bob Hope, Billy Wilder and Woody Allen. My favorite cartoonists are Jean Jacques Sempé, Ronald Searle, Charles Addams and the caricaturist Al Hirschfeld.


If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I think I´ve been very lucky in my cartoonist career. In Spain, I was awarded with the best prize you can get. I feel recognized by my the heads of my newspaper… I wouldn´t change anything.

What work are you best-known for?

Maybe for my current cartoons in El Español, the number one in the top ranking of the Spanish native online newspapers.

What work are you most proud of?

For my first published children´s book Salfón el limpiador de tejados, by the unforgettable moment when I told and drew it to my son Guillermo, improvising the characters and the story.  I would be happy if it was published in the States.

I´m so proud too of my Mingote Award and my first illustration in the US for the Magazine of the University of Chicago.

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

I would like to design characters for the movies, or have orders for advertising campaigns, or covers of books… And yes, I would like to work for US publishers.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I take it easy. It happens sometimes, but experience makes last minute ideas to come…  That´s what I always say to my daughter Paula. For drawing and for everything.


What do you think will be the future of your field?

These are bad times for the press, and there are a lot of people doing funny things for free on the net. Many online newspapers have no cartoonist. Maybe the brilliant ones will survive because an image has still a high value.
Mike Jenkins and Seranno share a caricature moment

What's your favorite thing about DC?

You know I was in DC only for a weekend. As a big fan of the movies, I liked to be in the places I´ve seen there: the White House, the Capitol, the Memorials… and The Exorcist steps! In addition, I would recommend the Blues Alley Club and the Off the Record Bar.

Least favorite?

There are outstanding buildings in DC (e.g. the Old Post Office), but some mixes of styles in the streets didn´t convince me. Anyway I´ll remember the beautiful houses in Capitol Hill and Georgetown.

What monument or museum do you enjoy? What did you hope to see, but missed due to the coronavirus shutdowns?


I loved the Lincoln Memorial and the National Portrait Gallery. I enjoyed the fantastic exhibition of John Singer Sargent portraits in charcoal. I missed, among others, the National Gallery of Art. I hope to come back.

How about a favorite local restaurant when you visited?

I enjoyed the Indian food of Rasika and The Smith's burger.

Do you have a website or blog?

I recently renewed my website: www.tomasserrano.com









Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Off the Record bar has new coasters and artwork

I stopped briefly into the Hay-Adams Hotel bar yesterday and saw a new Trump caricature by Matt Wuerker on the wall of the stairway coming down from the main hotel. I also got a new coaster of Kamala Harris , so I checked with Matt to see what else he'd done with Kevin KAL Kalllaugher and Ann Telnaes.
 
",,,you missed the new Supreme Court!  In the booth behind the bar we've done the current bench. I also did some new coasters-- Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and a new Bernie Sanders. It was just me for this round of coasters.  They needed a quick turn around. The Supremes were evenly divided between the three of us."

Thursday, September 05, 2019

100 Years of Cartoons in El Universal exhibit opened last night (corrected)

100 Years of Cartoons in El Universal, an exhibit of political cartoons opened at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, DC last night, featuring remarks by Ambassador Martha Bárcena, El Universal newspaper editorial director David Aponte, and curator Augustin Sanchez Gonzalez.

(correction: we had earlier mis-identified Mr. Aponte and apologize for the error)




My pictures are at https://www.flickr.com/photos/42072348@N00/albums/72157710704426503

Regarding the photos of the remarks, the podium was flanked by the Mexican and American flags. Due to the angle I was standing at, I was only able to get the American flag in my shots.

The website description is

 EXHIBIT: 100 YEARS OF CARTOON IN EL UNIVERSAL

September 4 - October 30, 2019 at the Mexican Cultural Institute 


El Universal newspaper editorial director David Aponte

The Mexican Cultural Institute is proud to announce its newest exhibit, 100 Years of Cartoons in El Universal: Mexico - United States as Seen by Mexican Cartoonists, taking place from September 4 through October 30, 2019. The exhibit collects a brief sample of the thousands of cartoons published in 100 years in the widely known newspaper, El Universal, where almost all Mexican cartoonists of the 20th century have traveled through. This exhibit reads as a nodal part of the history of the cartoon in Mexico and includes a brief representation of the artists who traced and portrayed the history of the country. The pages of El Universal have shown the critical work, with aesthetic greatness, by artists such as Andrés Audiffred, Eduardo del Río Rius, Helioflores and Rogelio Naranjo, who have all shaped Mexican national events with art and humor.

The exhibition consists of seventy pieces; sixty-two of them orginal and of great value. Most came from the Museum of the Cartoon of Mexico City, from the authors themselves, and from private collectors. The works follow three themes: the American cartoon, the vision of the cartoonists around Uncle Sam and their vision around the American presidents. 100 Years of Cartoons in El Universal is complemented with the first cartoonists of El Universal and concludes with the great masters of the Mexican cartoon.


Ambassador Martha Bárcena

Right to left: Ambassador Martha Bárcena, El Universal newspaper editorial director David Aponte, and curator Augustin Sanchez Gonzalez.

curator Augustin Sanchez Gonzalez.












Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ann Telnaes Q&A at Politics and Prose


IMG_20180124_190746_672After she read Trump's ABC, her new book of caricatures about the administration, Ann Telnaes took questions from the audience for about thirty minutes. With her permission, I've transcribed them.

I’ll tell you a little about his book came about. I did not plan to do an ABC book. I had done a lot of sketches in 2016, especially during the primaries and debates, and I originally tried to get a book published of those sketches. My book agent went around, still during the primaries when most people thought Hillary was going to win the presidency (myself included), and couldn’t get any interest. People were already tired of it, and thought Hillary was going to win, so the feedback from publishers was, “We’d like to see a Hillary book.” I thought, “Ok, I can try that – this will be interesting - first female president” – but for some reason, I had this nagging feeling and I just couldn’t come up with something. Of course then the election happened and most of us were surprised, and I thought everybody would be interested in a Trump book. But you’d be amazed at how many publishers didn’t want to do a Trump book – at least an editorial cartooning book.

I put it aside and I happened to take a road trip down to Savannah during the holidays. I had a nine hour drive down and a nine hour drive back. I was driving, because my dog doesn’t, and I didn’t have my hands free to do any sketches. I was thinking about a suggestion a friend had given me, which was to do a political ABC book. Since my hands weren’t free, I put my phone on, and started to recite, “A is for blah, B is for blah...” and I kept doing that all the way down to Savannah and all the way back up. By the time I got back to D.C. I had a book.

Which was amazing, because the hardest thing for me is to let go and let that new thing happen. When you get something in your head – I had a different type of book in my head – but once I let go of it, and I went with what I was thinking, it just came. That was a surprise, a nice surprise. I took a few hours and did some sketching. By chance I was giving a talk at the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, and I was talking to James Sturm the co-founder of the college. He looked at my sketches and said, “I’ll put you in touch with Fantagraphics.” I had an email exchange with publisher Gary Groth and it was great. He said, “Yeah, let’s do it” and that’s how the book came to be.

The rhymes were done by the beginning of 2017, and the artwork was finished by May, and I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t hold up. There are some things that obviously aren’t in here, but I’m pretty pleased with it. I’m happy I did it.


Q: How has your image of Trump changed as he’s gone from being the joke candidate to being the actual president? How has your portrayal changed? I know the tie has gotten longer.
IMG_20180124_191508_027
Yes, the tie is wonderful. The tie is the prop that keeps on giving. I’m still playing with that tie.
You know, I didn’t really think of him too much as a joke in the beginning. I had done a couple of Trump cartoons before when he ran earlier that were more joke-like, but when he announced this time, I actually did a cartoon where he was saying, “Me, me, me” all the time, because his run for president was all about him. I think in terms of how he looks physically – to me caricatures are more about who the person is. The more that I listen to him, and the more that I realize that this is all about him, that has developed my caricature.

A difference in the last couple of years is that I’ve gone back to doing colors by hand instead of on the computer. Watercolor is a wonderful medium for accidents. I don’t even know how to use watercolor, but it doesn’t matter.

Q: On your road trip where you composed the book, did you have any ideas that were too angry or obscene to include, and if so, will you share them now?

Probably, but I don’t remember them. Actually, it’s amazing. Except for a couple of letters, I pretty much kept to it. The only one I remember going back and forth on was the “K is for Killing without a new plan,” about Obamacare. At that time, they were just in the middle of trying to kill it and I wasn’t sure if I should say they killed it, or didn’t, so I decided that they’d try to kill it, but they still haven’t killed it yet.

Q: Would you consider doing sequels for other years if he lasts that long? Every day there’s some new crazy story…

Oh god. You’re right. The only thing I find wanting in this book is that there’s other things I want to address. Maybe I can do a counting book.

Obviously I had to make a decision what I was going to do for each letter, and there were certain things I wanted to make sure I got in there, like the separation of powers, and I had to include something about his appearance and his hair, even though that’s kind of silly. People would notice if that wasn’t in there. I wanted to hit specific things. Using “pussy” was deliberate on my part – this is something new. I work for the Washington Post, and I had to ask if I could use that word. I can tell you that they wouldn’t have allowed me to use it in any other situation, but once the President says it, I’m allowed to use it. And now I use it.

Yes, now for another book I could use “shithole countries.”

Q: Since Trump is famously thin-skinned, do you know to what extent he has objected to your cartoons?

Let’s broaden that and say, “Has he reacted to any editorial cartoonists?” Not that I know.  I honestly think it’s because the man doesn’t read. He gets his information from television. We’re not on television and I think that’s the reason he has noticed us. There’s been plenty of work out there that has been hard-hitting against him.

Q: Did Fantagraphics come up with the board book format, or was that something you came into the deal with?

No, actually that was something they had to sell me on. I draw very large, and I tend to want my work printed large. At first I thought it would be a bigger book, but I had a really great designer, Jacob Covey, and he and Gary Groth were both telling me that we needed to do this as a board book. I said, “I don’t know, that’s kind of small,” but when I saw it and held it my hand, I thought, “Yeah, this will work!” I’m really pleased that they convinced me to do it this way because I think it’s perfect.

I draw large. The reason I draw large is because I have an art background. We were encouraged in art school during life drawing classes to draw from the shoulder and not from the wrist. So I’m always doing this [as she makes a big sweeping motion with her arm]. I always feel I draw better larger. It takes more time, but I feel I get a better end product.

Q: The rhyming flows well – was that hard to do?

I’m not a writer. Maybe because I was in the car… I had a lot of time. I said a lot of things over and over, but I’m not a writer. I think because I was raised on Dr. Seuss books that might have helped me a little bit. It’s not perfect, but it worked.

Q: As a journalist, how do you process all the ongoing controversies? Do you ever tune it out?

I have to be honest with you – ever since Trump became President, I just feel the need to draw. I’ve been drawing editorial cartoons for 25 years, and even though I did a lot of cartoons criticizing the Bush administration, and I didn’t agree with their policies, this is a completely different situation for me. It’s a dangerous time. I wake up every morning just wanting to draw. I have to decide what to draw and that is one thing that I’ve made a conscious effort about. There’s a lot of silliness, and with social media, that tends to spiral out of control sometimes, so I try to make sure I’m criticizing actions and policy decisions and not just stupid things he says. Things that have consequences are what I try to do; I don’t know if I’m always successful at that. Personally, I’m having trouble sleeping lately because I’m thinking about it. That is one thing I do. I don’t watch the evening news after the PBS Newshour. I stop, because then my mind is racing for the rest of the evening. But that’s the only personal struggle that I have.

Q: I’ll put you on the spot - where do you see this all ending up?

I think it’s going to go on for a while. I really do. There was a short time right after he became president where I thought “Maybe this is going to be over quickly.” The problem is, and this is what I do my most critical cartoons on, the Republican leadership is the enablers. They are the reason we are still at this point. They have decided that they are going to keep this man in office as long as he is useful to them. And unfortunately, I think that the way Trump operates, and what he responds to, and what he wants out of this… it’s going to be a back-and-forth situation. We’re just going to have to roll along with it. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to take a while.

Q: For a cartoonist, it must be very tempting to hop on the hot-button stuff, the craziness and the complete nuttiness and not the more complicated stuff about the state of the Environmental Protection Agency and political contributions. How do you find a way to make the more complex issues visual?

I take a lot of notes. It’s really a question of what am I going to address today. And make sure I keep the ones that I may go back to later. It is more difficult to do an editorial cartoon about a complicated thing. The EPA is a great example – they’re gutting it. They are gutting it. And people don’t realize the extent of it until they turn their faucets on and they have dirty water. I try to address those things, but when TV is talking about the recent silliness, then that’s what people are paying attention to.

Q: Are there other members of the administration that are iconically recognizable that you can build a cartoon around?

Oh, I love drawing Pence. Pence is one of those examples where I think my cartoon doesn’t really look like him, but it is him. I’ve done Sarah Huckabee – she’s interesting. There’s a lot of good characters in this administration. I drew them in G – grabbing pusy. The KKK guy [in the background] was the last thing I put in the book, because it was right as Charlottesville was happening. The [G-H] spread kept getting more and more people in it and I was so thankful when Scaramucci dropped out. I was like, “Where am I going to put him?” and I just didn’t have to. I stuck Comey in here, because it was the time when he got fired, and everyone said he’s a hero, but they failed to remember that he’s the one that decided to announce that he was reopening an investigation into Hillary. So that’s why I stuck half of him in there.
IMG_20180124_190545_189Q: I wanted to thank you for ending the book on a positive note.

It wasn’t intentional [laughing]. I showed it to a close friend when I first got it, and she said, “You ended it on a positive note. That’s not you.” Z is hard. Zebra or Zen?

Q: Do you now see Trump as wrong, or as evil? If the latter, will that affect your drawing? You draw him as funny-stupid person versus an evil person.

I draw the Republican leadership as evil. I think he’s an opportunist deep down. I think he’s got a lot of faults and he’s an opportunist in the worst sense. He’ll say anything to get what he wants, and he’s got a lot of people around him that are enabling him to do that. And let’s face it – he’s a 71-year-old man. That’s him.

Q: To what extent do you get requests from the editorial board of The Post, or readers, or is it just what you want to do? Do they ever make requests?

No. I come up with the idea and run it by them. They’ve always let me decide what I want to cartoon on. They’ve nixed a few things. Around the time of the Charlottesville protests and killing, I came up with an idea they wouldn’t allow me to do because I think they were concerned about the tenor of the country. I think if I had offered that idea at any other time, it probably would have gone through. Sometimes they have to think about that.

Q: Does The Post have right of first refusal? Or are they your syndicate?

No, I’m not syndicated. I’m exclusive to The Post. I do other work, for The Nib occasionally, but they have the first rights. I did that cartoon for The Nib; they ran it.

Q: Have you been threatened?

By people? Oh yes. All cartoonists get threatened at some point or another. After 9/11 was a difficult time. I did a cartoon about Senator Cruz and I got a lot of threats for that. I think when everyone’s emotions are running high are when you get the most. But mostly we get emails telling us how stupid we are.

Q: Could you talk about becoming a political cartoonist, and then if you have the desire to move out and do other forms of illustration?

Sometimes. [laughs] It depends. I actually started in school for animation. I went to California Institute of the Arts, and studied character animation in the traditional Disney style and I worked for a few years in the animation industry. I had no interest in politics whatsoever. I didn’t read newspapers. I lived in LA – why do you need to read newspapers? One night I was doing a freelance project and I had the television on, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 happened right in front of my eyes and I think that woke me up. I became more and more interested in political events, and watching C-SPAN a lot, and I just started doing my own editorial cartoons. Then what finally caused me to decide that I wanted to be an editorial cartoonist was watching the Anita Hill / Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991.

I was a young woman, in my late twenties, and I had dealt with sexual harassment myself and I knew perfectly well it was a problem. To watch a bunch of senators up there, both conservative and liberals, and say that it couldn’t possibly have happened and they didn’t believe Anita Hill made me decide I needed to become an editorial cartoonist. So you can thank those senators; they’re the reason I’m an editorial cartoonist.

Q: What’s your sense of how the #MeToo movement is going to affect the 2018 elections?

Let’s hope it does. Women are mad. I speak to my friends who are my age, and they’re mad, really mad. I hope so because I think it’s about time. It’s funny to hear people to talk about sexual harassment and sexual discrimination. There’s all forms. I’ve dealt with it my entire career. I laugh when I hear people express doubt about it. Every woman has gone through it one way or another. It’s not all rape, but it’s a lot of forms of assault.

I’m going to give a personal example that I’ve never told anywhere. I’m in my fifties. When I had just turned fifty, I was walking down the streets of Washington, D.C. in broad daylight and I had a guy come up from behind and grab me like Trump grabs people. In broad daylight. I’m not a young woman. I was floored. To deal with the police after that? Two female policeman took down everything and did nothing. I was furious. That’s just unacceptable. It was some thirty-something year old guy just thinking he could do it. It’s a problem. And it’s not just for young women, it’s for older women too. There – now I’m really mad.

Q: Is Fantagraphics sending you on a book tour for this?

Yes, I’m going west. I’m going to first start in LA, then to Oakland, then Pixar (where a lot of my old colleagues from CalArts work), and then finish up at Fantagraphics in Seattle in February.

More pictures from the evening can be seen at Bruce Guthrie's site. If you want to see how large her drawings are, original cartoons by Ann can be seen at the Library of Congress in the Drawn to Purpose exhibit or in the Hay-Adams Hotel's Off the Record bar.  An article about the bar and the cartoonists (that I wrote and interviewed Ann for) will be in the upcoming issue of White House History magazine. Ann's previous book, Dick, about Vice President Cheney can be bought online and is highly recommended. Three styles of t-shirts with Ann's cartoons on them can be bought at Amazon.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Mitchell MacNaughton - An Artomatic Interview (updated)

by Mike Rhode

Mitchell MacNaughton's caricatures and cartoons recall the 1960s as well as today's issues. He's sharing a room at Artomatic in Crystal City and agreed to answer our usual questions.

20170325_173258


What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Many people would label my work as political cartooning, although that’s not quite how I would describe it. Sure, for many pieces I use ink and my subject is political, but I think that there in a certain refinement that would put it closer to the art side rather than the cartooning side.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

If I’m solely creating a black and white piece, my tools include micron pens, black India ink, and either charcoal or a black colored pencil. If I’m creating a piece in color, it could range from gouache to watercolor with certain elements re-colored digitally.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in 1989 on farmlands in Western New York, where I would live for 17 years until I left for Pittsburgh.

Why do you draw and comment on characters and events from the 1960s?

I find mid-century America fascinating because the dynamic of the country completely shifted in a handful of years. President Kennedy came to office on a wave of optimism as the U.S. came to terms with it’s post-war life, then his death is the first in a dark period that saw other assassinations along with riots and strife, and the decade comes to a close with the start of one of our lowest points of the modern century - The Vietnam War. It’s span of years that starts out on a high and bottoms out in a low, and for some reason that intrigues me.

20170325_173312

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I had always wanted to live in DC, as it’s a natural fit for somebody with my artistic themes, and after years of plotting a planning I finally got my chance when I was offered a job at a political direct mail agency. While here, I have never lived in any neighborhood outside of Alexandria.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

While in studying for my degree in graphic design, I knew that my priority was becoming an illustrator. Thankfully for my perseverance, I had many teachers who insisted that I would fail or that the market was too crowded, so while I was in their classes I would look up artists and and search illustration advice websites out of spite. I took what I was learning in my design courses and let that influence certain facets of my drawing that created my current style.

Who are your influences?

Currently I am obsessed with Kukryniksy - a group of 3 artists who created work out in Russia during World War 2. In fact, I would say that the whole era of political art during World War 2 had a great effect on me. Artists used their astounding talent at a time when the world was witnessing pure evil, and the artwork was unyielding.


20170325_173321

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I would work up the confidence to promote myself much earlier. I am the only artist in my family, so I was (and to an extent still am) blindly wandering around trying to figure out what to do, and that creates a sense of never being good enough to compete with those who seem to have it figured out.

What work are you best-known for?

To the extent that I am known, it would probably be for my drawing style and political subject matter.

What work are you most proud of?

I am most proud of creating artwork that highlights certain news stories in the world that may not get as much attention, such as the human rights abuses of Bashar al-Assad or civilian casualties of drone strikes. When you are a political artist, it can be very easy to take the easy attack on a subject, suck as making Trump bright orange, and while that can be fun it should not be at the expense of using your skill to touch on other issues.

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

One project that I have had on my mind is an animated story/documentary about my uncle’s time in Vietnam and his life after being exposed to Agent Orange, but that is a hefty project that requires many steps in the build-up. Another interest I have been wanting to purse is taking classic literature and spoofing/rewriting them to mock out current political climate.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

If I’m feeling the rust coming on then I have to get up and step away from my desk, because I know that if I don’t I will just end up on Youtube and destroy my entire night. Usually I can go play video games for an hour or so to refresh myself and get back in a work mode.


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What do you think will be the future of your field? 

That’s so hard to say. The illustration and art field feels like it is and has been going through such a rapid transformation with the shifting a mediums that they depend on, such as print media and the freelancing economy. All I can do is keep making my work and hoping that I can find new ways to keep it from becoming stale.

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

I have only attended Small Print Expo as a visitor, where I spent most of my time at the Fantagraphics’ tables.
What's your favorite thing about DC?

I absolutely love the amount of food choices. Possibly it’s because I’m originally a small-town rube, but I’ve become so much more adventurous in my eating here simply because the options are all present for you to try.

Least favorite?
Transportation as a whole. The Metro system only functions in various stages of broken, making a two station trip take upwards of 30 minutes. That isn’t to say that driving is any better, because the drivers here are absolutely wild. Trying to get out of D.C. on these roads with it’s drivers is like trying to escape from a Supermax prison. Nearly impossible.

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?

My favorite without hesitation is the Presidential portrait room at the National Portrait Gallery.

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How about a favorite local restaurant?

Cape Banh Mi in Alexandria. The catfish is one of the best things I have eaten.


Do you have a website or blog?

macnaughtonillos.com for my art and artotunion.com for my blog.