- Could you introduce yourself, who are you and where are you from?
My name is Scott Maynard, I'm a comic artist and animator from Central Massachusetts.
- Did you grow up in an artistic community?
I did not. I grew up around skateboarders and a pretty average suburban family.
- At what point did you decide you wanted to be an artist for the rest of forever? What made you choose this path?
I wanted to be an artist when I was very young, about the 2nd grade. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do but I liked drawing a lot. I gave up on it in high school and eventually came back to it a few years ago after some self discovery moments. Ever since then, I've been absolutely set on it as a professional and personal choice.
- Were you one of those kids that were always creative? Did you family encourage this?
I was always drawing when I was little, I can't sit still and I really enjoy multitasking, so drawing allowed me to listen to teachers while still keeping my imagination active. My family was kind of odd about my drawing, they wanted to be supportive but they never saw it as a career option. Some of my teachers (including my high school art teacher!) actually discouraged me from art as a profession.
- Who were your major artistic influences growing up?
Video games were huge for me, I used to draw characters from video games and books a lot. When I was getting into high school, web comics were just starting to be a serious deal, Penny-Arcade was getting a lot of attention and I absolutely loved their comics and their writing. I'd say they were the biggest influence on me. Realizing that I didn't just have to draw, but that I could also write was this monumental thing, I knew I wanted to be a storyteller somehow. That's informed a lot of what I do and it's why I didn't get into fine art.
- What pre-college arts education did you have?
I didn't have any real artistic instruction, I just drew by myself which caused me to develop a lot of bad habits that I'm still trying to break. I had two art classes throughout my entire high school career and I took one figure drawing class at a museum. I didn't really get a lot out of those experiences, I wasn't ready for taking art seriously and my teachers weren't very good anyway. I'm still trying to make up for my lack of training today. I try to work harder than other people around me or to at least deflect from my lack of artistic skill with humor or insightful writing.
- What college do you attend and what made you decide on that school?
I go to the Art Institute of Boston. I had a friend that started there a year before me that made me consider it, he's a wonderful artist and seemed to be getting a lot out of his experiences there. I finally settled in there when I overcame my self doubt about being an artist and decided to give it a shot. It was a good choice.
- What is your major?
I'm an animation major!
- Do you have a minor?
I don't, but it would probably be illustration or writing if I were to choose one.
- What kind of courses have you taken in school? Do you stick to your major or have you branched out into other fields?
I've taken a lot of animation and comics classes. I've also had a lot of figure drawing and basic art training courses. I mostly stick to my those types of classes because I feel I need to make up for those bad habits I mentioned earlier! Before I came to AIB, I was in a lot of anthropology and political science classes.
- How helpful is your school in finding job opportunities and internships?
I think they try their best, but their strength is more in teaching people important core principles in their field and as artists in general. A lot of the professors have had jobs in the industry and have helped students find internships and job opportunities.
- Where have you been published?
Print publishing hasn't really happened yet, the comic has just become old enough to be shopped around seriously to publishers and school has been dreadful these last few semesters. Once I'm done in the next month, getting a book of strips will be priority #1. Plenty of websites have posted about happle tea, whether they're other webcomics like Two Guys and Guy (twogag.com) or blogs like the Suvudu.com's The Funn E Pages. I've also got an interview that I've been meaning to do forever with somethingwelike.com
- Who came up with the idea for your web comic?
Happle Tea has largely been a solo project. I'm very interested in mythology and religion and I had tried to start a comic to that effect with a couple of different friends but it never really panned out. Eventually, I settled into really pursuing mythology and monsters by myself.
- How long have you been producing it?
HT officially started in July of 2009, older comics that had Lil K and the god character in them were added to the archive for posterity even though they were a little bit older and not really from the same concept. They just sort of set the stage for everything else. It's been about two and a half years now since it became Happle Tea!
- Does any one help out with it or is it your own production?
I do all of the art, research, and blog writing myself, I also code the site and largely maintain it myself. I have an acquaintance who helps out when the site needs triage. I also get help writing strips from my brother Jonathan and my girlfriend Liz.
- How difficult is it to meet the deadlines of your classes and the comic at the same time?
It's been pretty difficult, honestly. If homework or the comic has to take a hit in quality, I've chosen to let the homework suffer. Happle Tea is my passion and it's quickly turning into a career and a door opener for jobs and exposure. I'd rather do an okay homework assignment for one class than let down thousands of people with a bad comic!
- What medium do you use the most with your comics?
I tend to do most of my work digitally, whether that's comic or just illustrations. I've been meaning to get more into traditional media but haven't had a lot of time.
- What medium do you use outside of your comics?
I like to sketch on paper but my processed work is all digital.
- What other kinds of work do you produce?
I enjoy writing a lot, I've worked on other comics before, and I've also done single illustrations and small animations for class. I have a short film I'm working on with a friend. It's been animated but it requires inks, colors, and sound before we can show it.
- What do you feel you are the best at using?
Words. Haha I'm not sure if that's what you meant, but I think I'm a better writer than I am an artist. Words and storytelling are my medium of choice, I just like drawing so I choose to do comics. If you're talking about process, I'm best at using photoshop.
- What types of artwork do you enjoy creating?
I like creating anything that looks like part of a story. Sometimes I will draw some simple fan art of other peoples' characters as practice, but for my own work, I like to draw illustrations that evoke a story.
- I know you do a bit of digital work, but what opinion do you have on non-traditional art creating means like Illustrator and Photoshop verse traditional means like paint, ink, etc.? Do you feel that one is better than the other?
This is a tough question. I've seen some digital work that looks a lot like traditional media. Some people get hung up on the idea that traditional is somehow “better” because it requires “more skill” but they're just two different skill sets, two different ways of tackling the same goal. On a personal level, I really love the look of traditional work because of the texture, but it's possible to get that look digitally as well. Traditional work carries this weigh with it, I feel, because if you really mess something up, it can be difficult to fix it. There's also the fact that you have a solid object as opposed to a digital object when you're done. I think they're both great ways to do art and I love them both!
- Who are the top three artist that influence you work, and why?
Mike Krahulik and Jerry Hokins from Penny-Arcade would be the top two, I think. Seeing two pretty normal guys succeed at web comics because of their persistence and the obvious passion they have for their work really inspired me to try the same. It's been a great thing to see the art (from Mike Krahulik) evolve over time from being pretty shoddy to being really great cartooning and it's been delightful to read Jerry Holkins' articles every week. If I have to pick a third, it'd probably be Hayao Miyazaki. The way his stories have touched people all across the globe and the quality of the animation is really spectacular. Spirited Away is one of my all time favourite films and inspired me to go into animation rather than illustration.
- What sort of self-promotion do you use?
I am terrible at promoting myself. I don't see myself as being inherently special or talented, my only self promotion has been to use tumblr, twitter, facebook, and to create my website. The site has picked up all of its traffic simply through word of mouth, fans telling other people about it and sharing it on the web. I guess the way I've promoted myself has been to remain true to myself and my comic and to largely stick with the update schedule I've set up. I don't miss many updates throughout the year.
- Do you see yourself working independently as an artist after school or at an in-house job?
I've got a possible job lined up at an animation studio when I'm done with school but I'd prefer to work independently. The site is only a couple of years old, which for a web comic is tough. You don't make much money at web comics early on and to earn a living later, you have to have something really special that resonates with people. I'm prepared for either eventuality. I could be happy working at an animation studio, but I'd love to just go to conventions and work on Happle Tea more as a job.
- Do you have a personal studio? Does you school provide a studio space for you?
I have a studio space at home, but it doesn't look very artistic or creative! A lot of my work is done on the computer, so I tend to be a very clean artist.
- .As an artist what do you think your role in society is? How can this role help others understand the need for art and the artist in a community?
I believe my job is to communicate some kind of truth to others, to either help them understand themselves or others better and to make the a world a more positive place. My dream is to make people laugh, offer them some new insights into their past or present, or help them overcome the obstacles they set between each other. All the work on the site has been focused toward these goals. I think the framework of mythology and religion can help people see their past and present beliefs in a new light and I see the character of Lil K as being a way to address modern issues in a humorous way.
- Besides art what do you enjoy doing? Any surprising hobbies or talents?
I love reading and writing a lot and I make a mean curry! I'm also a gamer, a guitarist, and I enjoy a great cup of tea. I don't think any of those terribly surprising, though haha