The Tools Artists Use

Michael Hirshon

Posted on July 26, 2013 | Comments

Michael Hirshon is an illustrator and designer in New York City.

Poster for the Hollywood Farmers Market (Oregon) by Michael Hirshon

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

I'm a pen man, through and through. Also, there's my Wacom tablet.

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

I use pens for my on-location drawings. For editorial assignments, I'll typically use my tablet.

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

I like to use cheap Uniball pens (for strong, precise lines…plus a little spontaneity when too much ink leaks out). I don't travel with them, however, as airplane pressurization makes them explode. For those trips, I'll use a thin Papermate pen marker.

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

I use printer paper for editorial sketches. My sketchbook is a Canson 180, which I highly recommend. It's got a coptic-style binding so it opens flat. That way you can draw across the entire spread with no pesky crease in the middle.

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

I do all of my color digitally -- I'm constantly changing colors around. I think if I tried my normal work process with oils, the canvas would end up caked with 4 inches of paint. In the end, I overlay textures from photographs I've shot (I often get weird looks from people while I painstakingly photograph decaying walls and dirty floors).

Illustration of a street corner, by Michael Hirshon

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

I have not.

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

Don't think so.

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

I use Photoshop, Bridge, and scanner software.

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 probably do a bit more work digitally, just because of the convenience of being able to move elements around, and quickly change colors and brushes. Though as far as linework goes, my pen-on-paper drawings look better than my tablet drawings.

From the Istanbul series, by Michael Hirshon

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 believe it's completely, 100% necessary. Not for the creation of art, but for promotion and communicating with clients. I've been living abroad for the last year, and the only way I was able to continue working was by communicating with my US clients via email and Skype. It's such a seamless communication platform -- many of my clients never even knew I was abroad! I moved all of my marketing efforts online this year and they're working better than postcards ever did (though I still have a soft spot for postcards...).

Thanks Michael!

You can find Michael Hirshon online at his portfolio site, and his blogs on Blogspot and Tumblr.

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