Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Ed Hall received his B.D. in Graphic Design, and his M.F.A. in Painting from the University of Florida. While in college he did political cartoons and illustrations for The Florida Independent Alligator, UF's school newspaper. After college, Hall worked for several weekly publications in and around Jacksonville, and finally settled at The Baker County Press in Macclenny (just outside of Jacksonville) where he continues to work as the weekly cartoonist. He also does weekly cartoons for The Ponte Vedra Recorder and a monthly cartoon for The St. Johns county Business Ledger.
For the last 12 years, Ed has owned and operated Design Alternatives, a home-based residential design service. And for a few years, he was an adjunct professor of drawing at Flagler College in St. Augustine and at The University of North Florida, Jacksonville.
Ed's cartoons and political illustrations have been featured in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Tallahassee Democrat, The New York Time's Scope Magazine and on CNN Headline News. Overseas, his cartoons have been featured in Eulenspiegel, Germany’s premiere humor magazine.
Over the last 12 years, Hall has won 9 Florida Press Awards, 3 Newsmaker Awards, and numerous fine art awards in national and international competitions. In 2003, Ed was presented the 53rd Annual Green Eyeshade Award for weekly cartoons by The Society of Professional Journalists. He has also won the Florida Press Club Award three times (2003 & 2006, 2008), competing with cartoonists from newspapers up to 75,000 in circulation.
In 2003 Ed was invited to join Artizans, a Canadian based syndicate. Through Artizans, Ed’s cartoons appear weekly in publications and newspapers across North America.
Hall's cartoons and figurative art work have been displayed regionally and nationally, most recently at the American University Museum in Washington DC, the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, the Fowler Gallery in Provincetown Massachusetts, and the Laredo Center for the Arts in Laredo Texas. He was also awarded a one-person show at the Reddi-arts Gallery in Jacksonville Florida. Other recent awards include best of show in Behind the Mask, Inside the Head a Jacksonville Coalition for the Visual Arts exhibition in 1997, and best of show for Figures of the Millenium, a St. Augustine Art Association show held in 1999.
In 2003, Hall published his first book of Political Cartoons entitled, Code Red – Editorial Cartoons by Ed Hall. His second collection entitled Diversions and other Political Observations was published in 2006. His cartoons are also consistently featured in Charles Brook's "Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year (2001 through 2009)."
Hall is a member of the Jacksonville Coalition for the Visual Arts, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, the Florida Press Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists. His work is also held in the permanent collection of the St. Augustine Art Association.
When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
I had been in college for about 18 months, majoring in Architecture, but I was finding the calculus courses to be a little overwhelming. I had taken art classes all my life (both private and in high school) but had never really considered making it my vocation in life until that Summer. I can clearly remember dreading the phone call to my Dad to tell him that I was changing majors. But much to my surprise, he never batted an eye; he just said to do what I loved. I’ll always thank him for that. So the next semester I enrolled as a Graphic Design Major. Interestingly, I had to make a very similar telephone call my last semester in Graphic Design, to ask if it would be OK to stay in school and get my Masters Degree in Art. Once again, without hesitation my parents agreed that this would be best for me. I think that their belief that I could really make a living eventually with my art, helped me to believe in myself.
Who or what inspires you?
Everything inspires me. Movies, architecture, music, theater, ballet (well maybe not ballet). I studied the German Expressionist almost exclusively in college. Egon Schiele, Kokoschka, Gustav Klimt. Those guys were getting it done at a time when I would have liked to have been working. The raw energy of the Expressionists still fires me up to this day.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
I’ve always been able to draw anything that is set in front of me. My parents noticed it early on, and really pushed the art thing. Especially my mom. She was a huge influence on me becoming an artist. She would sit me down in the middle of the kitchen floor with a huge roll of butcher paper and just let me go nuts. I guess that was better than me drawing on the walls! Although, I have 6 years of higher education (Masters Degree) under my belt, I think you definitely learn more out of school than in. The University environment is WAY too political. I found this out when I was teaching studio art after college as well. The professors all have their own agenda, so anyone who comes in with the students in mind, (and the students begin to like) is immediately drummed out because they are seen as a threat. Kind of counterproductive huh? Check out Art School Confidential. They got it right.
How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
I keep fresh by trying to stay involved in the local art community. I’m a member of The Jacksonville Coalition for The Visual Arts, and attend a figure drawing session every Sunday at the local community college. I enter shows whenever possible. I also try to seek out liked minded individuals and creative types. Attending gallery openings, concerts, etc. all opens up your mind to new ideas about art, and keeps you sharp.
What are some of your current projects?
I’m currently working on character development for a comic book/graphic novel that I want to publish. I’m assembling a team of writers and pencilers, and I plan on doing most of the inking and coloring myself. I also have my syndicate cartoons, and political illustrations that I do every week. Those keep me pretty busy.
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
I like the covers that I’ve done for The Washington Post. They’ve allowed me to use both my cartooning skills and my figurative background to produce some pretty eye-catching illustrations.
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
I’m intrigued by tattoo art. The fact that it incorporates the human body on a very physical level - ink on skin. I think it would be cool to re-think this medium in a whole new way - like with a full-sized figure tattooed onto a full-sized figure.
Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?
Don’t worry about sending too much stuff to an editor or art director. It’s their job to sort through stuff. They’re used to it. I used to fret over pissing off editors by sending them tons of cartoons until one of my editorial cartooning buddies gave me this piece of advice. And you know what? It worked. I kept sending and within a year I got a job with the publication I was soliciting - The Washington Post.
Oh, and draw all of the time, even in your sleep. Keep a sketchbook active at all times, and look for the beautiful mistakes in there - those are the things that can be magic.
What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
The single most important thing (and the thing most usually ignored) is composition, and the play of positive AND negative space. It is what starts the drawing out on it’s course, and if it is not considered at the beginning, the illustration is doomed.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
Draw from life - a lot. I find that keeping busy, be it sketching from the live figure on Sundays, or studying the structure of the skeleton I have in my studio, helps to rejuvenate me.
Finish this sentence. "If I weren't a designer/illustrator I would have been a..."
Professional surfer - the wave kind, not the internet kind.
And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?
Without a doubt, it’s got to be Rescue Me. It’s gritty, it takes chances, the characters are believable, and, having friends and family roots within the Jacksonville Fire Department, I know these guys know firefighting. It’s also politically incorrect, which I absolutely love.
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