Interview from 2011 in Locals Guide, an Ashland, OR publication

Locals guide Curt Evans has been stuck in Ashland since 1995 and is a familiar face to many. Whether this is a good thing or not we are not sure… but we will say he is well known around these parts.

Mr. Evans loves the outdoor life, mountain biking and running in the hills with the “hashers” . He also loves creating and drawing cartoons. Making fun of all sorts of things which most of us wisely choose to avoid. Curt takes a creative approach to dealing with life’s issues and usually brings about big laughs with all of his work. We thought it was about time that we pinned him down and did an interview with him so we sent the heaviest person we know over to his house to go sit on him while we extracted the following information:

Curt, Tell us a little bit about when you first got started drawing cartoons, where were you and how did you learn?

I grew up in Southern California and always loved drawing. When I was five I won a “Draw Your Mom” contest and that started it all. I just never stopped drawing. In high school I had a great art teacher, Robert B. Davis, and was doing cartoons professionally by then for a motocross newspaper.

What do you think about tracing?

Whatever works, I guess. COPYING will teach someone a lot more and is a great way to learn.

When did you develop the particular style you are currently working in?

My work got simpler and less detailed after doing my motocross cartoons. Probably because I didn’t care as much. Like many things, my style evolved. Some people compare it to The Simpsons and Garfield because of the eyes, but I was drawing in my own style before that. I think the media I use also influences my style. Once again I keep it simple. I do a pencil sketch first to “figure it out”. Once I like that, I use a clear vellum and basic Faber-Castell ink pens and just trace my own work. If I make a mistake I can just erase the ink with this process. Then I scan it and use the computer, Corel Draw, to do the rest - add color, or templates and punch lines.

Do you have a favorite cartoonist?

Gary Larson of “The Far Side”. Ironically, I don’t really follow or even know other cartoonist’s work very well. There is a cool web site, cagle.com, that has political cartoonist’s work from all over the world. I love to see how each cartoonist works out their own solution to big events. Ever been or dated a nude model? I’ve never posed nude. Not yet. Never dated a nude model, but in art school I did lots of nude sketches of course. I have a degree in Studio Art from UC Santa Barbara. I do have my muses though (love ya, Melanie!).

Locals guide

Cartoons are a great vehicle for addressing controversy, talk a little bit about this?

Well, they say, the pen is mightier than the sword. Cartoons can influence public opinion in a huge way. Think about the cartoonist from Denmark who had all of radical Islam out to get him. The best cartoons generally just tell the truth and hold up a mirror to the public - no wonder people get mad. Usually they are just observations about real life, you’re just pointing it out. For example, my cartoon in Locals Guide a couple years ago about the dangerous crosswalks at SOU caused some controversy. It was a tragedy that a student died. They came up with all kinds of ideas to slow down traffic. One day I witnessed guys in the car next to us slowing down way before the cross walk when some attractive women students were crossing . When I did a cartoon about it I was accused of being sexist and insensitive. I just documented something that really happened. In retrospect it wasn’t the most mature concept, but it was TRUE, and that’s what makes it funny. Most of my work isn’t controversial, just fun and harmless. Maybe when I‘m older and grumpier I’ll do more politically oriented cartoons.

Tell us about your sense of humor? Where did it come from… and worst joke you ever made?

Who knows where that comes from. My grandpa and dad made some pretty lame jokes. Actually, the part of cartooning I don’t like is coming up with the ideas. The drawing is the easy part. I did a single panel cartoon for an international, industry-oriented, bicycle newspaper for ten years. Whenever I couldn’t come up with an idea, I’d just go mountain biking, and something would always happen and an idea would pop into my head. I only quit because eventually I ran out of ideas no matter how many rides I did.

Any unusual talents or special skills you have?

I can clap annoyingly loud. Really LOUD. Don’t be near me at a concert. Also, I can do a really good rooster imitation. I almost won the first-ever Rogue River Human Rooster Crow Contest.

Most interesting place you have seen your cartoons?

Probably on the side of the RVTD bus. I had done work for them for years, because besides buses, RVTD’s mission is to cut “vehicular miles”, so that means using alternative modes of transportation - walking, cycling, roller blading, skating. I did cartoons for lots of their programs because I believe in that. Last year they commissioned me to do a full wrap design of their Interactive Bus with the theme Healthy Kids are Happy Kids. What was cool too, was where I work, Signs Now, did the digital printing and wrapping, so I was fully involved. All my friends call it “My Bus”. You Teach Classes? Well, I have four kids, so when they were all growing up, I’d go to their school and do classes. After years of that, I decided to teach for SOU Youth Programs, which was a blast. I did that in Medford and Ashland for a few years. One thing I discovered is as kids get older, less of them like to draw, and they get self-conscious of their drawings. I really try to teach them to not care what anyone thinks and just draw for themselves. Lately I’ve been doing classes at the Ashland Art Center. That is one of our community’s hidden treasures. They have working art studios upstairs, a gallery for their members, supplies, and classrooms.

Locals guide

What if people can’t draw… will you still teach them?

Of course. Remember, we could all draw when we were kids. I just try to bring back those memories. Cartoons are all done with simple shapes. I try to focus on that and just add creativity and fun. I could teach someone to draw with circles alone. There are no rules in cartooning, the more outrageous, the funnier. Of course there are “tricks”, and the same concepts in fine art apply - perspective, lighting, composition, so we cover that, but make it fun.

Will they get a refund if they take your class and still can’t draw?

No.

Give us a run down on the tools you use to do your craft?

I kinda covered that above, but if you have copier paper and a number 2 pencil you’re set. I keep my entire studio in a case that looks like a laptop. Besides the paper and pencil, I have Faber-Castell ink pens with three sizes of tips, a six-inch ruler, a straight edge razor blade, and my vellum. That’s it.

Do you ever do cartoons based on ideas that people provide you and are you available for hire?

Yes, it’s the part of my work I don’t like. The drawing and concept are so closely linked it’s hard to take other people’s visions and make them my own. Hey, I’m always desperate for money, so basically I’ll consider all offers. That’s part of the job. Plus sometimes it forces me out of my box and makes me work harder. Gotta love a challenge. The best time was when I was working for an agent and she wanted me to illustrate a book. I hated the story and ideas, and knew it would be a pain. I didn’t want to lose future jobs from her, so I was going to just bid it really high so I wouldn’t have to do it. I told a friend about it, and he said to double that price, so I did. The funny part is I got the job and made bank. Still hated doing it.

How do you go about looking for inspiration for your cartoons?

Just look around you - we live in a crazy world. Or…go mountain biking

Best cartooning moment?

Probably having Roger DeCoster (five time World Motocross Champion) come up to me and say he admired my work, and would I design his baby announcements.

Best memory of cartoons helping you have a better day?

Some days when I’m depressed (yes, I am a moody artist) I see “My Bus” driving around and it reminds me I’ve got skills and can bring joy to other people’s lives. Another time, I went into Siskiyou Cyclery, and they had one of my cartoons under the glass on their counter. I asked if they knew the cartoonist lived in Ashland and they said no. I had to tell them - “Its me!” Most of the time my work just gets published and I never get any feedback. It’s kind of a weird combination of fame and anonymity.

Any last words or comments to our readers before we let you go?

Check out my Facebook page “Curt Evans Cartoons” and like it.

Written on September 1, 2023