Inspired by the many enormous talents we find ourselves surrounded by, and working in many different disciplines within the creative field, AIGA Jacksonville would like to introduce you to the first in our series of Membership Spotlights.
For the last 12 years, Ed Hall has owned and operated Design Alternatives, a home-based residential design service. Additionally, he was an adjunct professor of drawing at both Flagler College in St. Augustine and at The University of North Florida, Jacksonville.
While in college, working toward a B.D. in Graphic Design and an M.F.A. in Painting from the University of Florida, Ed created political cartoons and illustrations for The Florida Independent Alligator, UF’s school newspaper. After college, he worked for several weekly publications in and around Jacksonville, and finally settled at The Baker County Press in Macclenny (just outside of Jacksonville) where he continues to work as the weekly cartoonist. Ed also does weekly cartoons for The Ponte Vedra Recorder and a monthly comic strip for The St. Augustine Underground.
Ed’s cartoons also appear weekly in publications and newspapers across North America. He has been featured in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Tallahassee Democrat, The New York Time’s Scope Magazine and on CNN Headline News. Overseas, his cartoons have been featured in Eulenspiegel, Germany’s premiere humor magazine. In addition, Ed’s cartoons and figurative art work have been displayed in museums both regionally and nationally, where he has received international awards recognition.
In 2003, Ed published his first book of political cartoons entitled, “Code Red – Editorial Cartoons by Ed Hall.” His second collection “Diversions and other Political Observations” was published in 2006. Ed’s cartoons are consistently featured in Charles Brook’s “Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year (2001 through 2011).”
As an editorial cartoonist, you are tasked with making a statement and making it with a certain level of impact. Can you describe a little bit about how you approach a topic and then translate it into a visual statement?
Translating topics, ideas, mental pictures into visual metaphors takes a lot of reading, listening and time spent staring out of windows. It’s difficult to explain where the ideas come from. It’s kind of like you know your topic, you get all of this input from various resources, you form an opinion on said topic, and then you just let all of that percolate in your brain until something pops out. Sometimes it comes quickly (or wakes you from a dead sleep) and sometimes it is like pulling teeth (like yesterday). That’s why I like to say that editorial cartooning is 95% research, concentration, and thinking, and about 5% drawing. It shocks most people to hear this, but it’s true.
Clearly you have a strong background in traditional fine arts — based upon viewing your cartooning work alone — but lately you’ve been undertaking more full scale paintings; even having gallery shows. Care to talk about this recent surge in this area of fine arts?
Yeah. 2010 was a pivotal year for me because I went back to serious studio work for the first time in 10 years. In May I was fortunate enough to find a gallery to represent me, and even offer me a featured artist show. I spent the next 4 months in what could best be described as a creative hurricane of activity. I bought buckets of paint, large rolls of heavy-duty paper, and painted in my backyard so that I could sling as much material around as I liked without worrying about any kind of mess. I dripped, slung, and splattered my way to 15 large scale paintings and drawings, all dealing with dogs. I went to dog parks, met friend’s dogs, babysat dogs, and did drawings and paintings of dogs 24/7. My show opened in September and was well received, and I am happy to have sold some work even in a down economy. You can probably imagine that going from drawing cartoons on 9″ × 12″ piece of paper to throwing paint at a 4′ × 8′ sheet could be liberating, and it was. I also found that by representing animals, I could incorporate the same gestural techniques and anatomical elements that I had always brought to my figure drawings.
Now, probably not as many people know this about you but you also work as an architect. Can you talk a little bit about that side of your life?
Since 1991, I have owned and operated Design Alternatives, a residential design company. Residential Design is kind of a niche business. As a Residential Designer, I am responsible for the design, the flow, and the layout of the plans. My job is to marry the homeowners with a plan built specifically for them. People usually come to me when they can’t find a layout that they like in a magazine. These design plans are then reviewed and stamped by a certified structural engineer and/or a registered architect. At that point any additional structural details are added, and they are submitted for permitting. I have worked with some of the largest builders in NE Florida, designing custom homes and remodels up to 5000 square feet. Another pivotal event occurred in 2010 – after 3 years of basically stagnant growth for Design Alternatives, I received the opportunity to work on a large addition to a home in Ortega. I didn’t know it at the time but this job would lead to several other jobs, even within fine art. The client was great, and the final design actually won an award in the 2010 NEFBA Remodeler’s Competition.
Okay Ed, lets talk about pens. So, let me get this straight…you started writing up reviews on different types of pens on the market, and now distributors send you free supplies asking that you write a review on them?
That’s true. Pentel & Sakura to name just a couple. Sakura is actually starting to do YouTube videos featuring artists using their products in studio, and I’m slated in the next group to be filmed working on my editorial cartoons. (I use Gelly Rolls for cross-hatching). You can go to my blog and type in either name to see a review.
Finally Ed, you’re a member of AIGA and you’ve been becoming more and more active in discussion with us lately at your weekly sketch meet-ups. Most people might commonly think of AIGA as a graphic designer’s organization, although it’s geared toward many mediums, but you’re a fine-artist & cartoonist; can you discuss some of the personal value to which you maintain a membership?
In my opinion everyone designs to a certain extent. Computer programmers are designers, set-decorators, caterers, plumbers, painters, whatever. If you organize things into manageable and understandable sequence for public consumption, then you are a designer. I use the exact same principles of design that I learned from Jack Nichelson (the amazing artist/teacher – not the amazing actor – look him up) way back when at The University of Florida. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing; design always seems to play a role. The people I meet also play a role in how I view myself as an artist and designer, and AIGA has introduced me to some of the brightest and most interesting people working on the First Coast.
I invite everyone to join us for our weekly sketch sessions. Meet us at the Lakewood Starbucks every Wednesday [with the exception of Art Walk Wednesdays] from 5:30 until close. Thanks so much.
Ed Hall is a member of the Jacksonville Coalition for the Visual Arts, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, the Florida Press Association, and AIGA. Ed is represented by The Corse Gallery & Atelier of Jacksonville, Florida and his work is also held in the permanent collection of the St. Augustine Art Association.
You can find more about Ed at his website: www.halltoons.blogspot.com
— jim, membership co-director