The Tools Artists Use

Bill Carman

Posted on October 10, 2012 | Comments

Bill Carman is an artist, an illustrator, and an educator based in Boise, Idaho.

3 Wishes, by Bill Carman

What are some of your favorite drawing tools (pens, pencils, markers, drawing tablet, all of the above)?

Usually I like something with a fine tip so find myself shopping for pens through Japanese sites. I'll use a gel pen, cheap fountain pens, I love ballpoint pens and even my 6X0 Rotring technical pen.

If you have a wide collection, how do you decide on which to use on a particular drawing, project, or day?

There is very little science to which pen I choose to use in my sketchbook. Although life drawings are most often done with a ballpoint.

If you prefer pens, is there any particular brand, color, or type of ink you like best?

Rotring, Pentel, and some Japanese pens I get at Jet Pens. Black is my go to color but will use blue or red too.

How do you like your color? Watercolor? Acrylics? Oil? Colored pencils? Markers?

Acrylic with oil thrown in occasionally for finish.

If you do use paints, inks, pencils, or markers for coloring, are there any in particular that are your favorites? Do you prefer travel sets of paints to a full set?

I love Golden Fluid and Heavy Body acrylics. Fluids are so rich for glazing and their color selection is right up my alley. I prefer buying single colors to sets.

Is there any particular type of notebook or drawing pad you prefer? Or does any scrap of decent-sized paper work in a pinch?

Anything can work. I keeps scraps of paper and other surfaces all over my studio. I switch back and forth with sketchbooks using Moleskine, and Moleskine variants, while also trying the occasional new book as long as it fits in my little carry bag.

Bill Carman's contribution to the 2013 NPR calendar

If you paint, is there any particular type of canvas you prefer? Do you like to paint on wood or any other materials?

I don't like working on canvas. I really enjoy wood, copper, and MDF like panels. But I work on other surfaces too like clayboard, paper-new and antique, and old book covers among other things.

Do you ever do any kind of post-processing (like adding color in Photoshop or similar tool) to your drawings?

I will color in Photoshop especially for illustrations. And digital is great for enhancing and making changes for print and online.

Have you ever tried a new pen (or paper, etc) from reading about it, or seeing the results in another artist's work?

Yes. I am a pen whore so I love trying new ones.

Do you have anything out of the ordinary you use for making your art?

I guess I'm not quite sure what does and doesn't fit into ordinary. A blade here, sandpaper there, letterpress type, scratchboard tools and so forth.

If you create purely-digital art, what are the software programs you use? Is one used more than another?

I don't create purely digital work but if I did I would probably use Photoshop.

If you work both digitally and non-digitally, which do you find yourself doing more? Is there a reason you would prefer one of the other? Is it because of the tools available in either space?

I do traditional more just because I am familiar with it and over the years I find myself doing more gallery work than anything else.

Blue Birch Crown, by Bill Carman

I asked about post-processing on a computer, but do you think the computer is a helpful tool for making art? Whether it’s looking for inspiration online, or using it to build a weblog to promote yourself and your art, do you think a computer is necessary, helpful, or a distraction (or all of the above)?

I absolutely believe that the computer can be a valuable tool for all those reasons you mention plus making new art acquaintances and colleagues all over the world. But it can also be a time danger as well as a false sense of "good". There seem to be so many places where one can go to get unsupported praise. "You're work is awesome, You rock, You're the best artist ever, etc." It's a real danger to listen to praise especially when it only leads to more praise and not to an ultimate goal like making a living.

Thanks Bill!

You can find Bill online at his Facebook page, and on his weblog: bill's studio.

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