|the insider: tom everhart
The only artist allowed to draw Snoopy and Charlie Brown.
Our initial interest in LA-based artist Tom Everhart came immediately after hearing of his upcoming exhibit, "Rollin With The Homies." Let's be real, we're suckers for a Coolio/Clueless reference. But regardless of what drew us in, it's safe to say what was first a curiosity has turned into a full-fledged fascination. As the best friend and apprentice to "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz, Everhart is the sole living artist allowed to work with any "Peanuts" related subject matter. His work has shown in the most esteemed galleries and museums around the world, including the Louvre in Paris. Prior to this weekend's opening of Everhart's "Rollin With The Homies," at the AFA gallery in New York City, we chatted with the artist about the exhibit, his relationship with Schulz, and, obviously, Snoopy.
How did you first get involved with Charles Schulz?
It was about 1980. I knew who he was I just didn't know anything about his strip, which was really embarrassing. My body of work prior to the Charles Schulz-inspired work was all skeletons. Gold the brightest color I used. But when I got to know him, I realized what he was doing was fine art by any standards. I was in love with the architecture of his line. He was really influenced by Picasso. Picasso would do multiple views of a face all at once, so you felt like you were inside the painting. Charles did the same thing. By seeing multiple views on one side, you could be in the strip--and not only that, but you could walk around the figure. It gave you that familiarity with the characters--you actually knew them and were one of them.
What's the biggest misunderstanding about your work?
I think most of the time my work is misunderstood. Most people think I'm a licensed artist creating these pieces. But I'm not. I don't have a license. I have a contract that protects me to do my work. I'm doing the work because of our relationship.
Did you have trouble continuing to draw Snoopy after Schultz passed away?
Yes. I tried to stop after he died. All the characters changed. I was less inspired, and I didn't feel the support anymore. I just missed him.
What is the most important thing you learned from Schulz in terms of your art?
I learned that the things we are sure we're seeing, we're often not. I'll do a painting that is Charlie Brown, but it's not Charlie Brown at all--it might be a friend of mine, or a feeling I have. He once said to me, "a cartoonist is someone who has to draw the same thing everyday without repeating himself."