Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010 Interview with Justin "Squigs" Robertson

Actor Justin 'Squigs' Robertson is an amazing caricaturist of theatrical celebrities. Born in Corvallis, Oregon and raised in Lebanon, Oregon, he moved to Los Angeles in 1990 to attend college.

Q: When did you start drawing?
JR: I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember. All kids draw. Some just don’t stop. Dad has artistic abilities too and I think it was his encouragement early on that led to my passion for drawing. My folks were so great about getting lessons for whatever us kids showed an interest in, and so I took some painting courses at a local studio and won an award at the town fair. I just kept at it, and once I started performing semi-professionally in the theatre in 1993, I began giving cast sketches as closing night gifts. My vocation came directly from the word of mouth and support from many angels over the years.

Q: When did it become more than just a hobby?
JR: Over the years, the closing night gifts led to commissions, and gradually commission requests were not only coming from folks in my local Los Angeles theatre community but also from far-flung locales like Seattle and Chicago and Washington DC and then Broadway. It’s been gradual, but I would say that the career has taken a few steps forward with some extra self-promotional effort since 2006. And in 2009 I committed myself to the exercise of creating at least one fresh and timely sketch each week for posting on my Facebook page, “Squigs Knows His Lines.” It’s been a great exercise that has opened some doors, both professionally and, more importantly, in my own perception of my work.

Q: Is Hirschfeld your idol? How do you respond to people who say you are the next Hirschfeld?
JR: I would definitely say that he’s an idol. I own nearly all of the published books of his work and I own one of his lithographs. No matter how many times I look at his drawings, I’m always astounded by his potent economy and the dance of his line. I’m incredibly honored when folks see his influence in my work, but there will never be another. He’s a true legend. If I can fill even a portion of the void he left, with a fraction of the style in which he worked, I’d be happy.

Q: Who are other inspirational artists?
JR: I’m consistently blown away by Robert Risko, Sam Norkin, Bob Staake, John Kascht, Kristen Ulve, Steve Brodner, and the recently departed David Levine.

Q: Do you do anything besides caricatures?
JR: I play ukulele. And I can sort of juggle. Oh… the art. I have also dabbled in character and logo design, coloring books, storyboarding for short films, and educational illustration.

Q: Do you do work on both coasts or pretty much in California?
JR: I’ve lived in Los Angeles for almost 20 years (with one or two trips to the east coast each year for the past five years or so), but I’ll be in New York soon… May in fact (after a few months in chilly Milwaukee). But wherever I’m located, I work rather well from photos (and videos when available). So I feel grateful that I’m able to draw anyone anywhere with the right reference material.

Q: Who do you consider your best caricature?
JR: That’s really hard to pin down. There are so many factors. Each time I draw someone I do my best to capture not just their likeness, but their essence in a specific moment. And I try to do it in the fewest possible lines. If I’m successful at that, it makes me very happy.

Q: Things are going well for you!?
JR: I’m incredibly grateful to do what I love, and so many amazing folks have helped me along the journey. It has been quite a ride and we’re only picking up steam. Thank you Don for the opportunity to ramble a bit. Happy New Year everybody!

(Above left, the current New York revival of A Little Night Music with Alexander Hanson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury; right, T. R. Knight and Lara Pulver in the Taper's brilliant Parade this past season.)
for many more!!!!!!!!!!!

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