Artist of the Month – Steve Bright

The PCO Artist of the month for August is Steve Bright and Bloghorn asked him which other cartoonists’ work he admired.

There are far too many names to list here, and yet I’m neither a follower nor expert in any other cartoonist’s work. I have a few books by other cartoonists I enjoy, but no definitive collection.

There are also many little known names whose work almost certainly influenced a large percentage to pick up a pencil and begin drawing cartoons. They seldom get a mention beyond the forums populated by UK comics geeks, so I’ll mention a few here.

Cartoon greats such as David Sutherland, Robert Nixon, Ron Spencer, Bob McGrath, Ken Harrison, John K. Geering, Jim Petrie, Reg Parlett and Tom Paterson may reside deeper in the shadows than the more famous comic greats such as Ken Reid, Leo Baxendale and Dudley Watkins, but they have had every bit as profound an influence on me as any other cartoonist.

Many cartoonists cut their cartoon teeth (like me) on the likes of the Beano, Dandy and Whizzer & Chips. They may not know the names, but they certainly were influenced by them.

Did Steve have any tips for wannabe cartoonists?

These days, I would not advise anyone to take up drawing cartoons as a full-time career, no matter how talented they were. I actually feel it would be irresponsible and my conscience won’t allow me to do it. Very different to how I viewed it less than 20 years ago.

However, assuming we’re talking about wannabes who are already beyond the Dissuasion Stage, and are focussed, determined and single-bloody-minded enough to have a go regardless, the only really sound advice I think I could give them would be … to copy!

Studying other cartoonists is important, but only by copying (or even tracing) their work will you begin to appreciate the nuances of how they draw, and it will teach you more than any verbal advice can ever come close to. Naturally, I’m not suggesting that anything you copy can be claimed (or sold) as your own, but as a learning device, there is no better in my opinion.

Much of the early part of my career was built on an ability to “ghost” the work of other artists, and that skill was developed by copying the characters as closely as I could, even (and especially) down to the thickness of line they used, and emulating those characteristics as a style, and not just as the odd figure or two.

My own style is a hybrid of many others, and I can vary it significantly from project to project. Certainly, there are many cartoonists who have managed to earn a good living with one particular style throughout their career, but I do think they are the exception.

Being adaptable opens many more doors, some more inspiring than others, but when there are bills to be paid, there’s little room for tying your integrity to one style of drawing. Sometimes a writing ability can be a real asset too.

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