‘Paste Magazine’ Q&A with SVA Alumnus Jen Lee
July 10, 2017
An illustration of anthropomorphic cartoon animals at night time.
A cartoon deer with one antler and a striped shirt. Another animal in a trashcan with a hat and holding a fish skeleton. A third animal with a hoodie. Titles Garbage Night by Jen Lee. The bottom says Nobrow.

From Paste Magazine: “If you drew a Venn diagram of ‘things cartoonist Jen Lee is great at’ and ‘things publisher Nobrow Press focuses on,’ it would overlap a whole heck of a lot. Lee casts a beautiful color palette, which graces her evocative graphic novel Garbage Night, released in print last month. The story revolves around a pack of teenaged anthropomorphic animals trying to find food and shelter in a vaguely post-apocalyptic urban environment. It also serves as a semi-sequel to her earlier comic Vacancy, which Nobrow has helpfully included at the back of this volume. In the midst of a move and summer convention surfing, Lee answered Paste’s questions over email and revealed that she does, indeed, own a crossbow.

Paste: Tell me your story. Where’d you go to school? What did you study? What are you doing now?

Jen Lee: I grew up in Naples, Florida—a rich tourist beach town and everything is extremely green, peach and teal. I went to study illustration at the School of Visual Arts, but I think my most formative classes were comedy writing and graphic design classes. Right now, I do a little freelancing and raise some animals for food. I’m moving to LA, though, in a few weeks, so this is all going to change, haha.

Paste: What’s your drawing process like? Do you mostly work digitally?

Lee: I only work digitally now. I love to just undo lines instead of dealing with erasing/whiteout. It’s so convenient for me. It’s weird thinking about how I go about drawing, but I either throw down a shape or negative space I like and go from there.

Paste: How do you go about developing a color palette?

Lee: I go about picking one or two colors I love to look at and then just make sure any additional colors look good. This sounds so trite, but I’m honestly not well versed in color theory language to articulate it any better. I guess the colors I love and use the most are ones I see in nature a lot; how greens and browns change depending on the lighting was always so cool and puzzling to me.

Paste: Why animals rather than people [in Garbage Night]?

Lee: It was always easier for me to draw animals than people; also I like to look at animals more than I do people, so my level of observation between the two is pretty extreme...” (For the full interview and more images, click here)