Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Trickster Illustrator Michael Auger
Freelance illustrator Michael Auger may be the most local cartoonist we've interviewed so far: He was born in D.C., grew up in Rockville, and lives now in Gaithersburg. Auger illustrated "Waynoabozhoo and the Geese" for the Trickster anthology.
Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
Michael Auger: As a freelance illustrator I have created artwork for all kinds of different projects including political cartoons, cartoon T-shirt designs, editorial illustration, posters, fliers, murals, and more. I can adapt my style to best communicate the specific message of my various clients and my motto is "If you can dream it, I can draw it!" However, my distinctive offbeat style usually manages to still shine through to some degree.
WCP: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
MA: I was born in 1975 here in the D.C. area. I'm young at heart but with an old soul.
WCP: Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?
MA: I grew up in Rockville, Md., and currently live in Gaithersburg. I have traveled many places but the DC area has always felt like home.
WCP: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
MA: The only time I lived away from D.C. was the four years I spent in Ohio at the Columbus College of Art and Design. I attended on a merit scholarship and hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in Illustration. I was fortunate to be taught by many amazing teachers including Darrel Banks, the artist of Green Lantern.
WCP: Who are your influences?
MA: I am most influenced by my wife who is both my biggest fan and toughest critic. I am also inspired by many amazing artists who I am sure have all had some level of sway in my sub-conscious. Some of my favorites include Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), Tim Burton (The Nightmare Before Christmas), Matt Groening (The Simpsons), Jim Henson (The Muppets), Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (The Sandman), plus many more.
WCP: If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
MA: I have no regrets and, besides, Doc Brown said not to mess with the space-time continuum.
WCP: What work are you best-known for?
MA: I am probably best known for my blacklight-reactive paintings that feature an assortment of cartoon characters with whimsical, offbeat charm. My pet portraits are also very popular.
WCP: What work are you most proud of?
MA: I am always most proud of the project I just finished. I'm constantly creating new things so you'd get a different answer from me almost every day. The Trickster: Native American Tales A Graphic Collection was a wonderful project to be a part of. Matt Dembicki assembled an amazing collaboration of artists and story-tellers and I am very proud to have my artwork included in this collection.
WCP: What would you like to do or work on in the future?
MA: I would like to create more comics and look forward to future projects with the DC Conspiracy comic creators group. I also enjoy creating artwork for album covers and like to give local DC area bands a special rate.
WCP: What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?
MA: What's that? An endless assortment of ideas are continuously filling my up the inside of my head. Finding time to work on them all is my only challenge.
WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?
MA: Devices, like Apple's iPad, and computer programs, like the updated version of Adobe's Creative Suite, have opened up new possibilities and opportunities. Technology will continue to push us forward. However, as much as things change at an amazing speed, there are some constants that will always remain. Artists will always be driven to create something out of nothing and share it with the world.
WCP: What's your favorite thing about D.C.?
MA: My favorite thing about DC is the mix of people from all backgrounds. It's a wonderful melting pot similar to New York, but not as overwhelmingly big. It's my kind of town.
WCP: Least favorite?
MA: The heavy traffic is my least favorite thing about this area, but I'm lucky to usually be able to work from my home studio.
WCP: What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?
MA: My favorite monument is the Jefferson Memorial. It's a bit out of the way, but that only makes it more special. And, as far as museums go, there are so many great ones (both large and small) to visit and I love that most are free! For out-of-town guests I try to match their tastes with a current exhibit. There are usually so many choices that it rarely is much of a challenge.
WCP: Do you have a website or blog?