From the Desk of #5: Sarah Glidden

Aw, all of my studiomates are so funny! I hope you weren’t getting used to funny blog posts about desks. As “the serious one”, I see my role as studio downer as a great responsibility. So hopefully this desk tour will make you depressed about something.

Well, here’s something depressing for you: this is what I consider to be a pretty tidy work environment:

a fresh day, a fresh start!

I usually get to the studio around 10am and spend the first half hour or so listening to/getting annoyed by NPR and cleaning up the previous night’s art-carnage (you’ll see).

This includes my most hated chore: doing the dishes and cleaning out my water jars:

I have about six jars of water for watercoloring. I like to keep them, along with my coffee mug, uphill from my work because it adds a sense of danger and risk. Living on the edge, thats how I live. I have six jars because with that many jars of water I can go all day without changing the water, which involves going alllll the way down the hallway.

so far, its annoying

Ugh. Its so far away, the bathroom. And sometimes I have to pass by that one artist two doors down who makes giant sculptures out of plywood and fiberglass and never says hello back and he just goes back into his studio and plays the new Black Crystal Wolfspider album really loud. Too cool to say hello I guess. So I go back into Pizza Island and turn the Brian Lehrer up to 11.

Anyway! What else is here? Here’s Domitille’s adorable wedding invitation:


The whole island is going to this wedding. I’m going to cry because I always cry at weddings. Wait, thats sexist!

I script my comics before I draw them and I use Scrivener to do this now. It is the best writing program! It has so many great features that I dont know how to use but I love it because you can have many documents within one larger project and arrange them to your liking. Its also great if you need to do a lot of transcribing. I have hundreds of interview audio files I need to transcribe (thats them on the left there) and you can drag an audio file into your document and then start and stop it with a keystroke while you’re typing. Also, when I use Scrivener I’m much less likely to be startled by animated paperclips (resulting in knocked over water jars) or enraged by the dreaded autoformatting. I don’t want to name names but I am referring to a word processing program that rhymes with “turd.”

This is all for the comic I’ve been working on for the past month or so for the website Cartoon Movement. They feature mostly editorial cartoons but they’re running one longer piece of comics journalism (journo-comics? graphic journalism? I dont know what to call it) every month. Mine’s going to go up next wednesday and its a 20 pager about Iraqi refugees stuck in Damascus waiting for a chance to resume their lives.

I put an extra glass of drinking water there for an extra boost of that risk-taking adrenaline. And an apple for health:

I should probably take better care of my originals

I decided to try something different with this comic and cut out the inking step. For my book I would watercolor and then ink with a tech pen on top. But now I’m experimenting with using paint only and I am kind of loving it. I dont think I’ll ever ink again! Goodbye, Rapidographs!

I was partly inspired to try drawing without ink by looking at Persian and Ottoman illuminated manuscripts. Have you ever looked at this stuff? Its amazing. Try doing a google image search for the Shahnameh (which is THE Persian epic poem) and you’ll see what I mean. Its basically comics. So great. I put some up on the wall for reference.

I like using tube watercolors because I can set up my palette to mix colors just like I used to when I painted with oil paint (I went to school for painting but never thought I would actually use that BFA for anything except self-deprecating jokes). Just like the rest of my life desk, my palette is pretty messy. But its an organized chaos.

Those are my two favorite pencils. The blue lead pencil is what I use for pencil pages. Its not photo-safe blue or anything, just a regular Col-Erase blue pencil. I just like the way it draws and I got used to it and now I cant pencil with anything else. I usually buy about 20 at a time and if they ever discontinue them I might have to give up comics and do something dumb and impulsive like go to grad school. The other pencil is a Staedtler Mars Lumograph 6H. I trace the blue pencil page onto a sheet of watercolor paper on a lightbox with that pencil because it leaves a really light line and then I can watercolor over it. A 6H lead means that this pencil lasts forever. You only have to sharpen it every once in a while. I think I bought this pencil two years ago and penciled most of the 200 pages of my book with it.

By the end of the day I’ve completely destroyed any semblance of order my desk once had. Geological piles of originals, books, T-squares and notebooks start sliding down the desktop and sometimes fall off the edge. When this happens, I like to take photos of the formations they take once they hit the floor to present to my Wednesday night Fluxus club meetings. Time to go home and do it all again tomorrow!

so depressing.

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9 Responses to From the Desk of #5: Sarah Glidden

  1. Anyone who gets snarky about Microsoft programs and that stupid paperclip is funny. Have you tried open office? I like it, in general, but they have a similar thing to the stupid paperclip and I’m like: Guys! Everyone hates the paperclip! Why are you imitating the paperclip?

    Anyway, whatever. Color. Wow. Go you. It’s scary stuff. You seem to really be pounding it out. I love the way your pages get all bendy from the moisture.

  2. Rosie says:

    I would like to move into this studio.

  3. hallie says:

    Firstly, your art is beautiful! And so is the chaotic mess.
    I’m actually really relieved to see that you produce your work out of the chaos of sloppy paint trays and scattered papers and supplies, because I really don’t see myself evolving out of my frantic, messy art-habits with any sort of ease. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Sophie says:

    Your pages look amazing! And the Shahnameh paintings are exquisite… I really want to try watercolor but I have absolutely no training. Is it something you can learn by just messing about with it? Any suggestions?

  5. Now that I have pulled open a bunch of cool links, I will never get work done again! Or at least not for another 15 minutes. Thanks for sharing the cartoon movement and Shahnameh!

  6. Mariel says:

    Wooaah, I’m definitely going to use scrivener now. That looks so so so much better than the crap program I use. And those panels came out beautifully!! Gives me a bit of insight now into how someone like Eleanor Davis maybe does her work. Can’t wait to read the Cartoon Movement piece!

  7. jjackle says:

    I love this website. Seeing cartoonists/artists workspaces is like porn to me! Each peroson does it different and each person’s space is different. I assume the animated paperclip is from Microsoft Office 2000? I still script my comics by hand on a layout sheets i made. I had Staples spiral bind them like a steno pad. It has a thumbnail layout (about 3″ x 5″) on top, lines for script and notes, and a title block/date/page # down the side. I used to try to script by typing but I’m always changing the dialogue. I usually scan 11″x17″ layout art in and then ink/paint in the computer. Someday I’ll have something worth looking at (LOL). Here’s my workstation, so far…

    I can’t wait for more…

  8. laurent says:

    Sorry but WHAT ?? Domitille is getting married ? She didn’t tell me that ! Of course, she doesn’t know me.
    I’m her secret fan from France. Please don’t tell 🙂

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