It's been a big year for Chris Sharron. Not only did the Kent State senior already win the Charles Schultz Award, he has also been announced as this year's winner of the AAEC/John Locher Memorial Award for the best college cartoonist. He was a runner-up for the award in both 2009 and 2008.
Chris has been drawing editorial cartoons for the Daily Kent Stater since he was a senior in high school, and having his cartoons recognized means a great deal as he finishes his last semester at the school.
"It is an absolute honor to receive the Locher Award and it is really a great feeling knowing that I was able to win before I leave school," Chris said. "Cartooning has been a natural outlet for me because it really gives me something to do with my curiosity and my general love of learning new things."
In addition to the Locher and Schultz awards, his cartoons have earned first place two years in a row in the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence awards for his region. He was also named as one of the top 100 collegiate journalists by UWIRE, a syndicate wire service for student-generated media
Chris was kind enough to answer some questions about cartooning in general and the profession he would one day like to enter.
With so many forms of art out there, why have you drifted towards editorial cartoons?
I have always had an interest in drawing things that are intended to be seen by someone and that hopefully gets a response from them, whether it be laughter or just making them think. For whatever reason, I have always been more excited by art forms such as comics and cartoons that have at their heart an idea to communicate or a story to tell.
Did any of your cartoons ever get you into any trouble on campus?
Surprisingly, even after doing cartoons for five years now, I have never had a really negative response to a cartoon, only good ones. Most of the time though, I don't get any response at all, so maybe that's a bad sign after all!
Who is your favorite politician to draw? Who gives you the hardest time to capture?
I really have struggled and continue to struggle with just about everyone I have ever tried to draw. I still think most of the time I am pretty unsuccessful but the person that I felt like I had down the best was George W. Bush. I think it has something to do with the fact that he has a pretty unique face -- if you can get the eyebrows and the upper lip, you're almost there. I have had a really hard time with Obama. Some times it works and other times I'm way off.
Are there any cartoonists you look up to? Any particular styles you like?
I had the pleasure of meeting a number of cartoonists who I greatly admire and respect at the AAEC convention in San Antonio, too many to name here. The fact that I have been so overwhelmingly welcomed as a student of this craft is a testament to how generous and kind each and every one of them has been.
I actually would not say that there is one particular style that I like because I think the most important thing is really what the cartoon says and there are any number of styles that can work to get that across. In my work, I aspire to use bold linework and strong contrast because I feel like that works the best for me. I have often marveled at cartoonists who are able to say something brilliant with a few strokes of the pen but I know I have a lot more to learn to ever get to that point.
For me, the hardest part is figuring out how much to show and how much to leave out and I am very much still learning.
What are your plans after you graduate?
I would love to be a cartoonist and work a little bit in illustration and design as well. Even if it ends up being on a freelance or part-time basis, I have caught the bug and I know I will continue doing it for the rest of my life.