You might have noticed a slight change in the title of this blog. Studio Qassim have become Andreas Qassim. A tiny change indeed, but there’s more to it than just a word.
The last couple of years has been transformative for me. I worked on my first animated feature film. I became a father. I quit a job I had off and on for fourteen years. I’ve been on parental leave for seven months. Taking a break from work life, focusing 100% on family, left me quite some time to think about… work.
When it comes to drawing I felt I needed to redefine myself. I’ve never been comfortable identifying myself with being some kind of mercenary. Pay me and I’ll draw whatever you want, in whatever style you prefer. Even when doing commercial stuff, integrity is key.
Neither am I comfortable identifying with my job. There’s more to life than work, you know? And I’m not Mr Drawing Man whose super power is to draw pretty drawings. Like some kind of a party trick. I don’t give a shit about pretty drawings.
There’s a lot of things I’m not. I’m not a painter, I’m not a fine artist, I’m not a graphic designer (or am I?), I’m definitely not a fantasy artist, or a realistic illustrator.
…have you ever seen talented realistic style illustrators draw cartoon characters? Often, the result is a blobby, undefined, expressionless figure.
Tom Bancroft, Creating Characters with Personality
My heroes aren’t artists. They’re puppeteers: Henson, Oz, Hunt, Nelson, Goelz, Whitmire. They’re also cartoon directors and designers: Avery, Jones, Freleng, Kricfalusi, Murray, McCracken, Tartakovsky. OK, throw in a couple of comic creators too: Schulz, Hergé, Andréasson, Watterson. The one thing these guys have (or had) in common is the ability to create unforgettable characters.
I’m mainly interested in characters, and design. And storytelling through image, words and sound. But character comes first. No characters, no fun. My main way of expressing this was always through cartooning, so I guess I’m a cartoonist. I like to draw funny looking characters. That’s it really.
The point is though, it doesn’t really matter if I’m a good or bad cartoonist, or if cartooning is my job or not. It’s just something I do. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes occasionally. I tried to quit a few times but always came back to those pesky characters.
Through the years as a professional cartoonist I’ve come to know much better what I like and what I don’t like. Most things out there leaves me completely indifferent. “What kind of bull shit occupation is this?” I ask my self and start looking for an alternative career. But then there’s the stuff that makes me feel like “hey, this is pretty neat”, and want to sit down and draw immediately.
I was never about just one thing. I have many interests. One of them is writing. Expressing myself in words. I love to write long e-mails to people, especially if it annoys them. For a long time I muzzled myself, in order not to be inconvenient to the wrong guys. But you know what, life’s too fucking short. From now on I’ll tell you what I want, whether you like or not. This is my blog. Take it or leave it. Please don’t hesitate to comment or argue with me if you disagree.
There’ll be the occasional “look what I’ve drawn”, but also just stuff about stuff. Silly things. Don’t worry, I won’t write about toilet visits or my sex life. There’s a difference between personal and private. Some folks don’t get that. My ambition is to make this blog more… personal.
This is Andreas Qassim Year Zero.