Art can be serious. It can express things that are not easily talked about — heavy things that make us think. Often art is profoundly beautiful, and brings us a sense of peace and contentment simply for its presence. However, there’s a lighter side to art. Sometimes art just makes us smile, or chuckle. Much of Hal Mayforth‘s art falls into this category — art that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Mayforth’s early interest was music, and he considers himself lucky to have graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in Fine Art due to spending most of his years there playing rock and roll in bars.
When his band relocated from upstate New York to Boston and then quickly broke up, Mayforth began to get his drawings published in the city’s lively alt-press scene.
I was also getting a lot of work with various computer magazines in the Boston area. There was a need for humorous illustrations to liven up some fairly dry material. By the time the computer epicenter had left Boston and moved to Silicon Valley, I was already advertising nationally, and creating illustrations for publications all over the country. I have had a successful career as a humorous illustrator for more than 35 years. My work has appeared in many US national publications including Time, The New York Times, US News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Rolling Stone, Outside, The Boston Globe, and Road and Track. I have won a boatload of awards for my illustration work, including Cartoonist of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society in 1993 and 2 silver medals from The Society of Illustrators. I have always done personal fine art work throughout my career and lately have been spending more time to that end.
With such a prolific and successful career, it takes a great deal of effort to support it. We asked Mayforth about his process:
When I was a junior at Skidmore College, I had a drawing instructor that assigned a sketchbook for the entire semester. I’ve been doing them ever since. The concept resonated with me. I have a morning routine that I have followed for the past 35+ years. I start with 20 minutes of meditation and then I draw in my sketchbook for an hour. I work directly in pen and ink and a smattering of watercolor and colored pencil. I try to work with mistakes and never use white out. The ink blobs and splatters are all part of the process. When I start a new volume I do a front page that indicates volume number and the date started. I usually carry over graphic themes to the front page that I have developed in the previous volume. Because I have been devoting an hour every day for the past 35+ years to drawing in these books, certain rhythms emerge.
At times I struggle and other times the ideas seem to pour out of my pen tip. I never know what will happen. I’ve always thought the important thing is to just keep doing it. You never know when lightning will strike and a good idea will come out of the blue. Chances of capturing these strikes are increased through the act of drawing. I try to meditate every morning before my drawing session. This clears my mind and lets the good stuff rise to the surface. It also relaxes me and provides focus. I am much more measured in my drawing after I meditate. It works for me.
Mayforth’s bright, colorful pieces and clever humor make wonderful additions to any collection. Because really, who doesn’t need a reminder to lighten up once in awhile?