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Kids Turn Hobbies

Meet Professional Cartoonist - Gerard Piper
Meet Gerard Piper Gerard Piper
Age: 34
Occupation: Cartoonist and Animator
From Gerard: I actually remember thinking at age 6 that I wanted to draw for a living and make my career out of it. I couldn't think of anything more marvellous than to draw your own characters, be creative AND to entertain people.
Interview continued from Page II

Do you work on a computer -- if so, what programs to you use.

Drawing the strip is still done by hand with pen and ink on a dusty old drawing table in my studio....For me there's no getting away from this facet of cartooning....and I would never like to see the touch and sensitivity of a hand-drawn line replaced by a sterile computer.

Having said that, I have three computers which assist my work. One is dedicated to online animation. One is dedicated to working on graphics and emailing facilities and the other is our server on which we store all our work, set up access facilities for clients to download our work and load up new material daily.

For online animation I work with a program called 'Macromedia Flash' which is extremely good for web-based graphics as well being the industry standard for online animation. With any computer program it is a case of sitting down at the computer, reading the manual and making 10,000 mistakes before you grasp the fundamentals of it. Flash is a wonderful program which allows you to become the Director, the Actor, the Story board artist etc all in one.

For all my cartoons and graphics I work on the Adobe Photoshop program...again, it is probably the best known and industry standard program around today. Once the hand-drawn cartoon is scanned into the computer, I can then manipulate colors, size resolution...almost anything...through Photoshop. Regarding these applications let me say that I am certainly biased! There are others which will do the job for you as well....Corel Quick draw, FreeHand, Illustrator are just some.

Do you think drawing/cartooning is a natural talent or can it be learned?
I think ANYTHING can be learned....all you need is perseverance and discipline. As I mentioned earlier, although I love drawing I was very average when I first started out, so for many years I struggled with frustration at not being able to be better, faster. It was a slow process of practicing and persevering. I do think I had a natural disposition towards cartooning though. I naturally observe people and situations and enjoy putting a smile on someone's face (as I enjoy someone making ME smile :-) )...and I think this has held me in good stead to put these observations into my work.

Remember, if you practice something for just 30 minutes each day, by the time you reach, say, 25 or 30 years old, you WILL be very good at it. For some lucky people (young sports stars for example) they seem to reach dizzying professional heights very young..... But I can assure you that behind any overnight success is many years worth of hard work!

What advice can you give to kids who want to turn their drawing skills into a career?
If you are a young cartoonist, still in your teens, then forget about becoming a syndicated cartoonist with a large syndicate. You have many years yet to develop your craft. Instead, begin submitting your work to your local papers, your school newsletters etc.....be prepared for many rejection slips to be sent to you. (I know this all sounds harsh but bear with me).....An editor may be quite blunt and dismissive of your work but occasionally you will get one who will encourage you and give you tips....one encouragement is worth thirty rejection slips.... :)

Continue practising and developing your craft. Unlike sport where it is a necessity to be young and fit these days, cartooning requires you to 'have lived a bit' to be able to write about your experiences. The young cartoonist will draw from words that have been written by somebody else or copy drawings from another admired cartoonist. But as you get older and life invariably knocks you around, THEN you'll find you've got more to write and draw about in your own words.

And remember, practice, practice, practice!

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