By far and away my favorite perspective to have: that of someone peeking at the pages underway on the desk of a cartoonist. There are certain hallmarks, such as a comic book on the corner, perhaps a digital device, and along with the omnipresent pad of Bristol, usually a repository of all the implements and tools of the trade.
The fact that a group of students can and do sit in a room and – unless reminded – not take any breaks whatsoever, and be in the proverbial zone for hours and hours is a wonderful thing to be immersed into. In near-silence, without any music playing in the background, one can hear the cumulative noise of sketching with pencils, stippling and crosshatching with markers and drawing with dip-pens.
Occasionally there’s a good podcast to run from interviews or round tables between cartoonists about their work and creative process, and every once in awhile conversation breaks out about an industry-related topic or commentary on a current controversy. The value of alternative perspectives can be literally seen and appreciated as the ink begins to flow across the pages: the sound that a single mark can make in a simple comic is louder than any means in media, and has equal power to shape perception and move someone to action, to laugh, to think, to cry.
Exposure to different and new techniques and materials, experimenting with tried & true methods that have proven themselves for me personally and sharing a host of others in the industry and shoveling it all into a virtual compost-heap of possibilities, this is what it's all about. Giving the time + space to create and validating the medium as a legitimate means of artistic expression, fomenting creativity, and enabling individual styles to manifest themselves is an open-ended goal in the classroom, as it is in the studio.
Planting seeds for others to hopefully harvest at leisure or will is indeed a rare privilege, both deeply humbling, constantly challenging and equally surprising, and is as inspirational to both aspiring and established talents, and incidentally works to expand upon a continually evolving sense of community.
Class is never over.
|Image: Tara Maricle|