Meet the man behind the cartoons – Knox County VillageSoup

Meet the man behind the cartoons – Knox County VillageSoup


CAMDEN – People may not know Dan Kirchoff, but they’ve probably seen his work here.

His political drawings have recently appeared in The Camden Herald, The Courier-Gazette and The Republican Journal, and he has also been employed as a book illustrator working with Downeast Books among other publishers.

Illustration for Downeast Books by Dan Kirchoff

He currently works in the busy Camden Newspaper Office as an illustrator and designer for the Camden Herald.

“Illustrating at work is a kind of advantage,” he said. “Illustrators have no job! They live in the desert. “

Kirchoff lives in Belfast, but his journey begins in other parts of the country. Her family is from Alabama and she grew up in Utah, which was a challenge.

“There’s the issue of religion. There were dances you couldn’t go to,” he said. “Everyone tells you you’re going to hell.”

He studied graphic design and art at Auburn University in Alabama. He wanted to be an illustrator, but his teachers told him that he did not draw well enough for that. When he asked them how he could learn to do this, they had no answer and found that he could not accept it.

Part of a story and illustration by Belfast artist Dan Kirchoff.

Instead, he spent time with his friends who were illustrators and learned what made them successful in their work. He applied some of what he had learned while studying sociology and realized that the best illustrators are obsessively detail-oriented, which he thought he could learn. He was given time to draw and erase and redraw over the next four years.

He began his career as a graphic designer for an Alabama advertising agency, where he became discouraged from drawing again. He moved to Maine in 1986.

“I was looking for civilization,” he said, laughing. “Maine was the most civilized place I’ve ever found.”

Here he started working for Searls Design in Camden, a company owned by a brother and a sister, but he was not allowed to do more than design. The illustrations were discouraged. He worked for International Marine Publishing from Rockport, again strictly as a designer.

He also began working for The Free Press. Andy O’Brien, who was writing for the newspaper at the time, began using Kirchoff to illustrate some of his projects. Kirchoff describes receiving conflicting comments from various newspaper staff members.

However, illustrating remained his guiding goal, his North Star as he says.

When he finally got a major project to work for a publishing company, he found himself paralyzed by terrible anxiety.

At one point he went back to school for web development.

A mythical Maine beast illustrated by Belfast artist Dan Kirchoff.

But eventually the projects started to arrive. He designed the cover of Timothy Cotton’s essay book and a children’s book about friars for Downeast.

He then won the concert to provide 43 illustrations for Christopher Packard’s “Mythical Creatures of Maine.” Here was a project that involved drawings of monsters, beasts, and maps. It was something he could really sink his teeth into and it came right when he hit the pandemic. Things in the newspaper had slowed down and he had time to work on it and a lot of support from his wife, Jen.

The book was published in September 2021.

Around the same time, he had embarked on a major project for The Camden Herald, an ambitious drawing of the entire Megunticook River as an aerial view to illustrate the ongoing discussion of river restoration and possible dam suppression. in the city.

This hit newsstands in December, and he is now working on another major project, a walking map of Rockland for The Free Press.

Political cartoons have been an opportunity for Kirchoff to work creatively with newspaper writers. The editors went to him with the themes of the week and offered him ideas to show them with a humorous light. Kirchoff makes these ideas a reality. In the process, it helps to provide another perspective for community discussion.

Here and there, in the pages of the newspapers, she rises, filling a gap between columns with a small drawing, a bunch of trees, a boat, an old truck, something hidden for the attentive reader to find and enjoy.

The road to his dream was long and tortuous, but in the end he proved that those teachers were wrong. I could do it, every week and every day.

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