I first encountered Cassandra Calin's work with Hair: Expectations vs. Reality. I was immediately attracted to her vivid facial expressions that were perfectly formed for comedic effect. Since then, we've featured her work several times. Cassandra kindly agreed to an interview so that we could learn more about her art and life.
Can you tell us about your background? How did you start cartooning?
In middle school, I was always doodling instead of paying attention in class; especially science. I loved to scribble little people or funny faces on the photos that were in my science book. It was often something immature, but my friends thought it was hilarious.
Shortly after, one of my two childhood friends gave me the idea of starting a comic series based on us; the trio. Each episode was very roughly drawn on 1 or 2 pages and they had a few dirty jokes, some events that actually happened and a plot that rarely made sense. There was also an emphasis on each of our personalities and flaws in real life, which gave the series an interesting vibe. It was a very enjoyable personal project and it made me realize that I have a passion for comic art.
A year ago, a friend recommended that I join Tumblr and now, here I am, having a blast doing what I love.
Do you still draw the story of you and your friends?
I do, actually, but not as frequently as I used to when I first started. Since nowadays I'm quite busy focusing on other freelance projects as well as posting new content on my blog, I don't always have time for it. But every now and then, I go back to that series, re-read it, laugh a little and ultimately feel motivated to continue working on it.
What is your creative process like? How do you develop a cartoon?
I have a small notebook where I scribble anything in particular that happened during the day: something that could potentially be developed into a comic (no matter how boring it may seem). Then, I pinpoint a couple of topics that I could talk about and I try to visualize how the final artwork will look. But often times, more ideas come along as I'm drawing. And if I realize I haven't done anything in particular for a long while, I work out. That always ends terribly, so it's perfect for a comic.
So frustration is a major source of artistic inspiration for you?
In a way, yes. If something annoys me or drives me mad, I will draw it. But I will always draw it in a humorous way since I enjoy laughing at myself and my flaws
What tools do you use to draw your work?
My comics are all drawn by hand with a black Pigma Micron pen 01 for thin lines and a Sharpie Fine Point marker for thicker ones. Sometimes I even use a normal ballpoint pen; anything that allows me to draw with precision. Once the comics are done, I simply scan them at a high resolution and edit any minor details in Photoshop (cropping, levels, etc.)
My illustrations are often painted digitally in Photoshop or Illustrator with my Wacom tablet. Also, I enjoy inking by hand, scanning the drawing and coloring using Photoshop. And sometimes, I only work on paper and use color pencils instead. It really depends on what tools I feel like using that day, but I do enjoy variety very much.
Which cartoonists have influenced you?
A variety of artists have influenced me and my cartooning style: Bill Watterson, Tom Bancroft, Will Terrell, Delaf... I have always admired artists who are able to give their characters so much personality just from the way they illustrate them. And because I struggled with that, I always observed and tried to understand their techniques: how they draw the body language and the facial expressions; how they bring the character to life just in one drawing.
Besides cartooning, what work do you do?
I try to keep as busy as I can. I do freelance work here and there. I also focus on graphic design and websites: I currently work at a local web development & design company; plus, I'm also learning a bit more about coding. All in all, I just do what I enjoy.
I understand that you have created a Society6 store. How is that line going?
So far, it's going quite well! In the beginning, I wasn't sure if having an online store would necessarily work out; I was certain that my only customer would be my mum. But now that it's out there, I'm happy to say that it's all going well and I will certainly keep adding new artwork and products as frequently as I can.