Laura Park, an accomplished cartoonist who has worked with author James Patterson, visited Gainesville in late February and early March to teach 10 or so artists at the city’s Sequential Artists Workshop.
The SAW, on Southeast Second Street, opened in 2012 and provides year-long programs and sometimes week-long workshops, such as the one Park led.
Park sat down with WUFT News during her Gainesville visit to talk about her life, art and how they collide.
WUFT: Tell me a little about yourself. You live in Chicago, right? How is the art scene there?
Park: Chicago has a really good arts community. It’s not so terribly expensive, and I don’t know much about Gainesville. But you know how a lot of universities in proximity to the arts creates a pretty good regenerating scene? There are the people making art who graduated from school who then start teaching. …
[Chicago] has that, but it’s really affordable. So people can stay and, in general, you are allowed to join in on activities. It’s pretty common for musicians to be in a few bands, and there’s a good spirit of “you’re allowed to join in.” And especially with comics, as comics teaching has become more of a thing, it’s just like within a year or two the students are getting folded into the general community.So yeah, [Chicago is] a good place – horrible weather.
How did you get into doing comics?
I’ve always drawn. I went to art school for a semester, and it was too expensive. And I dropped out, and I was always really good at self-directing. I read comics my whole life, so I started making little things about my day to share with friends, and then it just sort of sealed.
It’s an art form I respect a lot, and it also seemed like, “Oh well, this is all my interests sort of intersect for this, so I guess I’m going to be a cartoonist.” … It’s the thing I’m most willing to dedicate my time to because there’s not a lot of glory or money in it, but [it] was the thing [that felt] worth the effort. I want to do this.