Cannaday Chapman picked up his first pen at 5 years old. Soon, characters such as Goku from Dragon Ball Z would come to life as his pen moved on paper. As he got older, the Rochester, New York, native embraced his artistic roots and went on to study at the Pratt Institute of the Arts and the School of Visual Arts in New York City before moving to Cleveland to become an illustrator at American Greetings. As a side hustle, the 32-year-old also illustrates for publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Times and was chosen to illustrate the Google Doodle for Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year. We chat with him about his process and inspirations.
Old soul Chapman’s style is a balance of realism and cartoon. Often depicting people, he uses pens and markers to draw and then uses bold colors to bring the piece to life. “It is hand-drawn art with digital coloring to resemble a silk-screen process.” He credits 1950s French fashion illustrator Rene Gruau, along with other European and Asian artists, for his minimalistic approach to image-making.
Top dog Chapman was asked to illustrate the April 2017 cover of The New Yorker food and travel issue, which showed two women snacking on seahorses on the famous Wangfujing Street in China.“[The New Yorker cover] is something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do,” he says. “Then once you’ve done that, that’s when The New York Times starts calling and the other large publications call too.”
Dream big He wanted to stray away from the norm with his Google Doodle, so Chapman decided to draw a crowd of people listening to the I Have A Dream speech, highlighting a young girl being lifted up by her father. “I chose to highlight a little black girl because with everything going on right now with harassment toward women, I wanted to show a hopeful young girl,” he says. “But the fact that she is sitting on the shoulders of her dad just represents how as men, we need to lift women up.”