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Q&A: Cartoonist Robert Patterson

Rob Patterson recently designed an album cover for Chicago band Pretty Monsters. His work has been featured in shows from Nashville, Tennessee, to Brooklyn, New York, and Cortona, Italy. Keep an eye out for his interactive children’s book for the iPad, coming soon.

Rob recently sent us an exclusive Southern-themed comic along with his answers to our standard cartoonist questionnaire. Check it more of his beautiful work here.

southern cartoonist robert patterson



THE OA: What comics did you read as a kid? Which ones do you read now?

ROBERT PATTERSON: “Calvin & Hobbes”, “X-Men”, “The Maxx”, Mike Mignola's various books, anything illustrated by Dave McKean, and “The Spirit” when I was a child. I was more intrigued by art, initially, but fortunately the stories ended up being really great, too. As an adult I find that I appreciate similar but more cerebral artists: Crumb, Clowes, Ivan Brunetti, Chris Ware, Jim Woodring. 

THE OA: All-time favorite cartoonist?

RP: Jim Woodring, hands down. The man is brilliant. Possibly the best and most original illustrator alive. 

THE OA: Did you ever consciously decide to be a cartoonist? Or were you always doodling and drawing all your life, and then one day someone paid you for your art? 

RP: Certainly the latter.

THE OA: Have you ever had any formal art training?

RP: Before high school, when my parents realized that I enjoyed drawing, I took various lessons at several colleges in my hometown. The last three years of my high-school education were spent studying various studio arts at the Greenville Fine Arts Center. I earned a BFA in Digital Fine Art from the Atlanta College of Art in 1999, immediately after which I spent a semester studying photography and intaglio in Cortona, Italy, through the University of Georgia.

THE OA: Recommend to us a cool cartoonist/graphic novel/whatever that we've never heard of. Bonus points if it's Southern!

RP: J Chris Campbell from Greenville, South Carolina, is a mastermind! Please check out his Wide Awake Press and purchase all of his amazing comics immediately.

Additionally, be certain to see the work of Andrew Davis, also from the same region (double bonus!), if you enjoy not sleeping at night. His work is thought-provoking and disturbing in the best way.

THE OA: What’s your stance on superhero comics—love ’em, hate ’em, totally apathetic?

RP: I think any genre can be a good medium if the story and art are compelling.

THE OA: Do you practice any other forms of visual art? Like graffiti, murals, photography, painting, sculpting, etc.? 

RP: I make abstract drawings that are quite different from my illustrative work. Photography and music are also passions of mine. Mainly, though, I’m currently working on a young adult surrealist-fantasy trilogy (that I’m, naturally, illustrating). I’d ultimately like to see that as a film series directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Seriously.

THE OA: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your work? 

RP: One gentleman keeps telling me about a small painting I did a few years ago that someone else purchased. It’s very flattering that it impressed him so.

THE OA: What’s the most disparaging remark you’ve ever received about your work?

RP: “You’re never going to make any money doing that, though.” —John Stanley, sixth grade 

Here’s to you, John.

THE OA: What non-cartoon art or literature or music inspires your work? 

RP: Kelly Link, Haruki Murakami, Kenji Miazawa, Philip Pullman, and David Mitchell are writers I can always count on.

Jessica Stockholder, Neo Rauch, Rothko, Joseph Beuys, and Matthew Barney are the artists I wish I could be.

The likes of Kemialliset Ystävät, Grouper, Elf Power, Oneohtrix Point Never, Emeralds, and indigenous music from across the world are at the top of what I listen to for inspiration.

I’ve also found quite a bit of guidance through transcendental meditation and the Robert Monroe Institute, as well as the finer details and secrets of the natural world.

THE OA: What do you hope to make your readers feel or think about when they see your work? Or is that not something you consider as you draw?

RP: While I realize and accept the fact that each individual viewer’s perception of my work is uniquely subjective, I hope that, through the establishment of archetypes and discernible codes, the viewer will gain access to a secret chamber that will ultimately afford him or her a new way of looking at the world. Hopefully in a positive fashion. Either that or I’d like them to maybe just be confused.

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