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Well I’ll be a Sharpie’s Uncle!

Artists have all different quirks, types of personalities and styles, hence such creativity and self-expression!  For instance, maybe you’re  the shy-pensive photographer, or perhaps you know a  moody- heart broken sculptor, how about those out-of-the-box, off the wall painters (Warhol anyone?).  The list can go on and on… but by chance, have you heard of The Gross Uncle?  In short, The Gross Uncle encompasses all sorts of personality and talent beyond compare (see question 3 for an accurate formula).  Unfortunately for you, Fortunately for him, there is and can be only ONE “Gross Uncle.”  Let me introduce you to him.. 

Grant Gilliland, artist, uncle and super model

Grant Gilliland: Artist, Uncle, Super Model

 

 Grant Gilliland aka “The Gross Uncle” is a cartoonist and illustrator with a style COMPLETELY his own.  One cool aspect about this artist is that at your request he will put his Sharpie marker to work, sketching anything you wish and ship it out to you for a measly 20 bucks!! (One-of-a-kind art? Yes please!  Placing my order as we stare at monitors) Turning a cool hobby into a career, Gilliland strives to enjoy life, have fun and create work that he loves, while being confident in all that he does.  Combining big talent with an even bigger personality, this young artist has a long and successful road ahead of him.  Let’s dive right into it and find out more about this Sharpie artist…   

sharpie fine pt   

 Tell me about yourself!    Hello! My name is Grant Gilliland; I have a blog called “The Gross Uncle” and I love to draw and make things.  I spend the majority of my time drawing cartoons and illustrations for all sorts of reasons…sometimes for clients, sometimes just for fun.  I am based in San Francisco, originally from Ohio, a place where I spent a great deal of time playing and being creative.  As I recall, I also went to high school there, but really all I remember is skateboarding and making funny home movies with my friends.  I also enjoy coffee, bike riding, daydreaming about absurd images, scouring the web for inspiration, and meeting new people.  How did you get started as an artist?  What kind of experience do you have?   I started my artistic career in my high chair, cranking out crayon-styled depictions of geometric cars, amorphous birds, and freakishly proportioned people. I would probably stop a minute to spit up or scream some gibberish towards the sky, then after wiping my face and getting something to drink, it was back to work… Come to think of it, not much has changed since then…besides the fact that I use a regular chair now. 

 When I was a little older, I took art classes after school and then once I got too cool (air quotes) for those, I started making comics with some of my friends.  I went to The Columbus College of Art & Design in 2001 and got super-inspired there - It’s when I started to take art a bit more seriously. After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Illustration, I balanced a part-time job as a barista with freelance work.  I started getting my feet wet and figuring out my style and eventually met up with my agent, Scott Hull in 2007.  I am still pretty new to the world of freelance illustration and am looking forward to what things I am inspired to make in the future.    

 

Gilliland's work displayed at an art show

Gilliland's work displayed at an art show

 How would you describe your personal style?  This personal style recipe yields one to two editorial illustrations, one overworked 4×4 painting and about half a dozen blog posts with too much writing, it serves an infinite number of portions if rationed correctly. 

  • 1/2 cup of season 1 Ren & Stimpy mix
  • 4 tsp of Surrealism
  • 1 page of The Maxx comic book, shredded
  • 2 small vinyl figures from Kid Robot (under $40), massaged in oil
  • 1 Sonic the Hedgehog cartridge (Sega Genesis), quartered and cut into large pieces
  • Pictoplasma to taste
  • 1 pot strong black coffee
  • sarcasm to taste

Directions:  Mix in a blender. Pour over a 4 year art-school education, slowly adding strong black coffee to the batter, while playing a post-punk mixtape in the background. Sprinkle sarcasm over the condensed result. Let bake in the California sun for four years, and enjoy.  

SharpiemanWhere do you draw inspiration from?  I spend a lot of time absorbing podcasts, YouTube videos, music, comedy albums, you name it… I just like hearing creative material from people.  If there is a sense that they know what they’re doing and have their own voice, usually I’m game to listen.  I get in these modes where I get into a certain podcast and just listen to it nonstop…even if I don’t really like it all that much or wouldn’t want someone to walk in on me listening to it.  I will go into the archives and listen to the whole thing – sometimes I will listen to the same episode several times.  I guess I’m sort of sponge-like when it comes to most things…sometimes vaguely loofa-like, but rarely.  How do you use Sharpie markers in your work?  What is your favorite Sharpie?!   I like the way Sharpie markers make a nice strong line.  I have used other pens in the past, but I always ended up coming back to Sharpie for their consistent quality.  I love the way they draw on laser jet photo paper…so smooth!  I like the regular fine-point Sharpie marker…I have about two dozen lying around at any given time. 

 Where did you come up with the idea to sell $20 Sharpie drawings?  How does this work?  wanted to sell something on my blog that was affordable and fun for me to make.  The cool thing about doing these drawings is that I get to post them on the blog and say who they are for and where they are being mailed.  People seem to like the idea, and each drawing is made just for them. Also, it’s really helped me loosen up…the more people that order the drawings, the better they will get because of all the great drawing practice I’m getting. All you need to do to get your own is email me at seegrantdraw@yahoo.com and ask! I am open to creative suggestions and I will gladly draw your dog. 

What children’s books have you illustrated for?   Just one.  The book is called “Theo” and there is a blog where you can check the whole thing out (http://theobook.blogspot.com).  The book was conceived and written by the talented author Kentucky Lim.  We are planning a whole series of books together.    

Theo

So tell me, do you have a gross uncle or are you the Gross Uncle?  Maybe I should just ask this: Where did you come up with the name for your blog? 

 I him!  He me!  We be me!

…Actually, the whole alias came about one summer when I was thinking about how great and sneaky it would be to have this “alter ego” that I could get extra illustration work as.  So there’s Grant with his cute little round style and then there’s The Gross Uncle with his bizarre, awkward, hairy drawings…and all the time it’s just one guy.  I basically scrapped the idea when I decided to use the name for my blog, so I just ended up mixing elements from the two styles over time.  Nowadays, The Gross Uncle moniker gets used the most when I participate in gallery shows…seems to fit…and it’s easier to say than my last name.   

GrossUnclebanner 

If you could design for any one person who would it be? Why?  I would design for the auto-tune machine because that’s the most popular singer these days.  Other than that, I have made a character design for my friend Donny Papermaker…he’s pretty famous on the YouTube nation. 

 I’m curious…What do you think is the “funniest looking appendage” and why?  Great question! I like the nose. That’s an appendage, right?  There are just so many great ways to make a nose…you can abstract it and add all sorts of funny joints and angles and planes that shouldn’t be there and it can really add a lot in terms of visual punch.  If your drawing is looking real good, then you could put a blue nose on a guy and it could work. 

Laser Portrait

Hippie Style

Tattoos

Are you currently working on anything that you can tell us about?  I’m finally getting back around to working on a cartoon show called “Touch Base with Gregg Sween.”  The show is basically a cartoon version of a daytime talk show…it started out as a puppet show that my friend Patrick Kouse and I did last summer.  We performed the whole show live at Fivepoints Arthouse in San Francisco – we only did it twice. We haven’t touched it for a year and now I think it’s time for us to get back in touch with our inner thespians (cue laughter here).   

Anything I didn’t ask that you would like to add?  Yes. Can you direct me to the Instant Sharpie Replacement Hotline?  That would be nice.  I’d put it on speed dial and then a Sharpie representative can send new pens to my house in 2-3 business days. You accept drawings as payment, right?  (Grant, you can reach me (the Sharpie Rep) at 1-800 illlosemyjob) -cue sarcasm here : )   

 

 Do you have any advice for other young artists? It’s always important to be into what you’re doing for the fun of it.  No matter what circumstances you are under in life, fun plays a major role.  Just being in a good mood can really negate and remove (even permanently) any real or perceived obstacles in life.  Also just keep the world up to date on what you’re doing…post blog entries about it, take progress pictures, share…being active is more important than being really good.What do you hope for in 2010?  There are some major projects that I hope to finish either this year or next…patience can be tough.  Honestly, just to be happy and satisfied with life sounds nice…to be happy with whatever I am working on without doubting it and to spend the rest of my time playing.  

He desgins shoes too!

 

  

Find out more about how Grant Uncaps What’s Inside on his website: www.seegrantdraw.com

Check out Grant’s blog: www.thegrossuncle.com!

Want more? Follow him on Twitter and take a look at more of his art on Flickr

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The Character Behind Character Design

mp picture

Meet Character Designer and new favorite Sharpie artist, Marc Perry!  I hunted down this amazing artist and all around great guy through good ‘ol Google a while back.  When I came across his blog, I found that he draws TONS of Sharpie doodles and posts them write to his own site www.studio5.blogspot.com.  This immediatley sparked my interest and I had to know who was the character behind such creativity!

Marc’s passion for style in design and exploring new and different ideas keeps things new and fresh in terms of animation, personal art and personal projects.  You may recognize this artist’s work from several popular animated television series including Ren & Stimpy, Johnny Bravo and Tiny Toon Adventures. 

Get to know Marc Perry, the person and the artist, and take a closer look at a collection his Sharpie renderings, right here on the Sharpie blog!  Here’s some background info on MP to get things rollin’…

Born and raised in North Carolina, Marc Perry started drawing at a young age, right around 3 or 4. Influenced by many different artists and styles, very much so by cartoon and animation, Perry uprooted to Southern California to work as a Character Designer in animation. 

boyWhen did you first realize you were an artist? I guess the first time was back in early elementary school.  I was always drawing and creating characters, cars, jets, spaceships and creatures from my imagination or getting inspiration from magazines and books.  I even started selling some of my drawings to classmates and making special pieces for my friends.

Many years later, while working in retail before my animation career, I discovered that one of my coworkers, an old classmate, had bought one of my drawings and still had it after so many years! *Just a bit of trivia here, one of my tattoos is a character from a major influence of mine and is a tribute to him and the inspiration his work gave me.

When was your first big break?  My first big break, I think was an opportunity offered to me by Paul Strickland (which I will always appreciate and never forget).  Briefly, the story goes like this…Once Upon a Time… No really, it was like this –-  I was working in a completely unrelated field, yet had always been drawing and tried on numerous occasions to get into animation unsuccessfully.  I made a call to Warner Bros. looking for the animation department and was connected to Paul Strickland with whom I spoke about my dream of working in animation since I was a kid.  Paul was attached as a line producer to a new show called Tiny Toon Adventures and said a new director was coming on and in need of an assistant.  To make a long story short, I made the trip to LA on the possibility of this job, was hired started that very day, which looking back now was some 20 years ago.

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I want to know all about how you started using Sharpie markers as one of your primary sketching and drawing mediums!  For many years now, Sharpie markers have been one of my primary drawing and sketching tools in character design, concept and development sketching.  The story of how I first started using Sharpie goes something like this…

When my daughter was born I found it difficult to use my usual medium, Prismacolor colored pencils or Tombo pencils, both of which require sharpening.  Since I wasn’t able to use my sharpener due to the noise, I needed to find a quiet replacement.  I found that a black Sharpie marker and heavy laser print quality paper were the ideal combination.  The Sharpie was great for line quality and the paper wouldn’t cause the ink to bleed (*Sounds like he could’ve used a Sharpie Pen, it doesn’t bleed through paper!).  The Sharpie helped me to improve my drawing technique as it’s lack of erasability made me plan ahead to what and how I was going to draw.  The permanent ink aspect was great because I was able to do colored marker comps. directly on the drawings without bleeding or smudging.

I also found that the use of a whiteout pen would allow me to make line corrections without changing the overall drawing, its look or its feel, which sometimes happens when cleaning up a drawing. 

What is your work environment like?  My work environment usually is at an animation desk, with an animation disc or at a large art table where I have access to paper, markers, paint and inspirational sources, such as books, art, and drawings.

3 things that must be within an arms length at work:

  1. Paper (laser print quality or newsprint sketch paper).
  2. Sharpie fine point markers, wide chisel tip markers, Tombo markers and my whiteout pen.
  3. Basic colored markers and pencils for working up quick doodle colors or comp. ideas.

manI read that you designed a character after your daughter.  Have you modeled any others after people in your life? How do you come up with them?

The best way I could describe how I come up with characters is by doodling with shapes, playing with different postures and adding features that help to represent the type, size, shape, attitude among other incidental features that give the character personality.  Most of the time, when I work on shows, it usually calls for creating characters for a special scene or episode based on a set style.  It is fun and challenging to create memorable characters that stand out.

With the new technology that’s out there today, what has been the most difficult part of keeping up with changes in animation?

Technology, software programs and new drawing mediums, such as the Wacom Tablet and Cintiq have changed how a great deal of production is done.  The addition of these tools and software has, for the most part, made things cleaner to work with and less wasteful, as far as materials go.  Changes and Effects, for instance, can be done very quickly and with fewer staff. 

On the other side, things have become more specialized or technical, especially with the creation of CG where people are experts of specific areas.  CG has been a boom to the entertainment industry and has allowed characters and worlds to take on a whole new reality.  With the advancement continuing and now the popularity of 3D in theaters, it appears that the old artistry of hand creation has been lost and the new generation will know nothing of traditional animation or that what they see now is only advancement do in thanks to computers and technological developments.

monsters girls

boys rob

 I imagine there are hundreds, if not thousands of elements that go into TV/Film. What specifics are you involved in? As a Character Designer, I am responsible for the creation of characters, both main and incidental, that will be used in the animation.  Sometimes the Character Designer will create the props that will be used in the animation as well.

In my last few productions, I have been involved with Visual and Concept Development, and following that through into Art Direction.

What are the best/worst parts about your job? I would honestly say that there really isn’t a worst part, it’s more the nature of the Television and Film Entertainment industry.  Those in “The Industry” know first hand that it isn’t your usual steady 9-5 job.  There are those lucky times where you can get connected with a show/series that has a long run with little to no down time, but that’s usually not the standard.  More often than not, you work on a show or series for a specified number of episodes; once those are completed there’s usually some down time or a hopefully brief layoff period until there is a decision regarding additional pickup. 

Sometimes, when multiple shows are in production you can be reassigned to another series if needed and could fit the style.  Most of the time, however, towards the end of a series you begin scrambling and searching for a new a new show to be a part of.  So, I suppose the feeling of instability, then, would be the “worst” part of my job, or the industry as a whole. 

cowboys

Now, the best part of my job – It’s a lot of fun and satisfying to be able to use specific talents and abilities and to have a career in entertaining yourself and others.  Whatever parts of the industry you work in, I think there is a certain pride you take in your work, both as an individuals and part of a collaborative team, bringing fun and entertainment to an audience.

 As a Character Designer, I have fun creating new and different characters all the time from my imagination and seeing them come to life.  As a Visual Concept Designer and Art Director, the enjoyment is creating new and imaginative characters and environments and then overseeing the visual creative process through to completion.

 

Can you tell me about what you’re working on now?  Currently, I am working on personal projects and development for my own show and series ideas.  I’m also working on ways to branch off into areas where I can produce and sell my non-animation art commercially through products, merchandise, books, or through selected galleries.

Do you have any goals that you’re working toward? I think the biggest goal for most of us in animation or as artists, for that matter, is just working and making a living.  You always have goals; it’s part of human nature, yet for artists it is usually not easy to obtain many of the ones you dream of unless everything just happens to fall into place.  I have always had big dreams and the desire to work at obtaining them, many, I can happily say, have come true and are not even art related. 

Basic CMYKLooking back, knowing what you know now, what would you want to 10 yr old Marc Perry to know?  This may come as a surprise, but….I would probably tell him to choose another career path other than art!  Being an athlete my whole life, I would probably suggest picking a sport where I could become a professional or at least use that talent to get a scholarship to a University for something in the medical field, such as becoming a surgeon, where I could use my hands and eyes for something greater!

Favorite Sharpie: The one I wrote the draft to answer these questions, a black Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Marker.  I have used these for so many character designs and concept designs, I can’t even recall.

Favorite Characters: Good question, hard to answer.  My style influence is classically based on the designers of the ’50s (stylistic and disgnee) and Retro, as it is referred to as now (flat and stylistic).  So, I would say my favorites are characters, yes, but more importantly are my favorite designers of character design.  Most of these people have been and continue to be my inspiration for many and different reasons.  Here are a few:

  • Ed Benedict
  • Tom Oreb
  • Ward Kimball
  • Mary Blair
  • Hawley Pratt
  • Bill Hurt
  • John Hubley
  • Gene Deitch
  • Jack Cole
  • Eric Sokol
  • Eldon Dedini
  • Miroslav Sasek
  • Aurelius Battaglia
  • Ed “Big Daddy” Roth

The last thing I’d Like to share is… To be able to do what I do, turning something you love and would do for free into a career is great!  To bring that fun and entertainment to others is something I think a lot of people in the industry enjoy.  I’d also like to add a word of thanks to the people who have enjoyed some of the work I’ve done and hopefully will continue doing for a long time.  I thank you all.  It’s all appreciated.  A special Thanks to Whitney Kelly who found my work and invited me to share. Best! MPerry.

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Thank YOU Marc, for this incredible interview and all the great art you produce!  Be sure to visit Mr. MP at his very own site for more of his work and info!  www.studio5.blogspot.com.

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