Cartoonist Jon Pogorelskin fills his “empty nest” with a creative haven

Today we’re talking to cartoonist and multi-disciplinary artist Jon Pogorelskin, who’s ramped up his art production after retiring last year.

An artist since his school days, Jon has freelanced for comix legends like Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Dennis Ellefson, and Pete Millar over the years. Now, with more time and space for his work, he’s expanded into all kinds of new mediums.

Check out the full interview below, and be sure to follow Jon’s work on his Facebook page!

Tell us about yourself. What do you make? What do you consider your best or favorite work?

  • Jon Pogorelskin deep print
  • Jon Pogorelskin devil bike
  • Jon Pogorelskin devil paper mache
  • Jon Pogorelskin The Things from the Grease Pit
  • Jon Pogorelskin Jon steinman
  • Jon Pogorelskin Pontiac color

I’ve been creating art since about the 2nd grade. I started doing cartoons in 7th grade.

At 4’2” (ed. ~127cm) I needed friends so I would draw Ed ”Big Daddy” Roth’s “Rat Fink” character on the paper book covers of the large jocks in my school. I had an instant bodyguard squad made up of the entire football team.

Later on I actually was able to freelance for Ed Roth. I drew for “Rat Fink Comix”, as well as “Car-Toons Magazine” for Petersen Publishing. I created quite a lot of “Hot-Rod” art over the years. I also did a lot of freelance work for different publications like “Small Craft Advisor” and “Wooden Boat”.

I maintained a day job throughout my freelancing until I retired last year (2019). After retirement I ramped up the art. “Deep Prints”, posters, comics, graphic novels, relief printmaking, and automatronic pieces have been a daily process since.

My best or favorite piece is always yet to be made.

Tell us about your workshop

  • Jon Pogorelskin studio 1
  • Jon Pogorelskin studio 2
  • Jon Pogorelskin studio 4
  • Jon Pogorelskin studio 3

My current studio is a small bedroom my daughter had when she lived here but through the years I’ve used everything from the kitchen table to a small space in the garage.

This current studio is the best I’ve ever had. It’s about 9’ x 15’ (ed. ~2.75m x 4.6m), and I’ve had it for about 2 years.

How long have you been doing your craft? Who taught you or where did you learn?

I’ve been doing art since a small child, but I started getting serious in junior high school.

After I got married, my wife convinced me to try freelancing while I maintained a day job. That worked the best.

I’m self taught. I tried art school but I’m not a student. I tried art classes occasionally but since I was a freelancer already I usually knew more than the teacher, that didn’t sit well.

I read and study what I want to learn, ask questions, and practice, practice, practice. I was lucky to make contact with and be mentored by artists who I had admired a great deal as a kid: Ed Roth, Dennis Ellefson, Pete Millar.

Any advice for beginners to your craft?

  • Jon Pogorelskin Blues 1
  • Jon Pogorelskin Blues 2
  • Jon Pogorelskin Blues 3
  • Jon Pogorelskin Blues 4
  • Jon Pogorelskin Blues 5

Read, explore, pursue! Have a sketchbook with you as much as you can and DRAW. Copy photographs, other artists, that’s how you learn.

Go to art school if you can but realize it may not be what you thought or like. Get what you can out of it: learn materials, tools, techniques, and artists through time etc.

Develop a THICK skin! If you can’t handle constructive criticism, don’t solicit it but you won’t receive the true insight of your observer.

On the other hand don’t try to please anyone but yourself. Trying to figure out the public’s taste or desires for art is a fool’s pursuit. 

Who/what inspires you? Any shoutouts to fellow makers?

Artists who have or do inspire me:

  • Charles Shultz
  • George Grosz
  • Toulouse Lautrec
  • Van Gogh
  • R. Crumb
  • S. Clay Wilson
  • Wally Wood
  • Will Elder
  • Jack Davis
  • Will Eisner
  • Kim Deitch
  • Red Grooms

Check out more of Jon’s work on his Facebook page.

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