Charles Pyle was born in Orange County, Ca., and spent most of his growing up years in Bakersfield. He always drew as a kid, for himself and friends. He did illustrations for his high school yearbook and cartoons for the spirit posters. His art heroes were in comics and especially political cartoonists, which he hoped to become.
When did you first think about art as something you wanted to do? Were you encouraged or discouraged by family, friends, teachers, mentors?
It has always been a calling. You get picked by the muse in that it sets you apart from everybody else in class. It was what I was good at, though I did not assign much value to that for a long time.
Were you encouraged or discouraged by family, friends, teachers, mentors?
A Mixed bag. Dad? No. Mom? Sort of. Teachers? Some worried about me, some encouraged me, but let me draw and paint. In junior college, my art teacher, Ray Salmon, said that I should go to art school and suggested that I visit the ones in San Francisco.
What kind of kid were you?
Painfully shy, goofball.
Where did you grow up?
What were your influences?
Mad, comics, sort of National Geographic Tom Lovell stuff, lots of books.
Your style is very uniquely classical. Did you work on developing a style or is that what naturally came out of you?
It came out of discovering Norman Rockwell and Dean Cornwell at the end of art school. Prior to that I tried many approaches to being an illustrator, which was my major. Art should feed you was my attitude.
You’ve worked in a couple different styles. One traditional and one that is more caricature. How did that evolve and was that an asset for you or a problem for art directors?
Caricature was first. I wanted to be a political cartoonist like Thomas Nast, or Pat Oliphant. I want- ed to bring Richard Nixon down. In art school, my teacher, Barbara Bradley suggested that I ‘try illus- tration’ and then spent three years broadening my horizons. The caricature side yet lives, though.
I notice you do a lot of life drawing studies. Do you do that on a regular basis?
Life drawing is key, keeping a sketchbook of the world around you is key to developing a way to process the world around you into what it needs to become in your pictures.
For the entire interview go to The Illustrators Journal 2020 Spring Edition