BUILDING #19 ARTIST NOW COACHES CARTOONISTS
HINGHAM - Cartoonist and Scituate native Mat Brown says there's a lot to love about being an artist. Brown, best known locally as the artist whose work adorned Building #19's fliers for decades, has met a lot of interesting people. and gotten to tell stories to a lot of people in his own way. But as he told a roomful of children at the Hingham Public Library on Wednesday night, his favorite thing about his job is that he can't mess it up.“ "We're artists. We can take all the freedom that we want. There are no rules”, he said. Brown coached about a dozen children in grades 3 through 7 on the basics of drawing a cartoon character. He advised them to keep their hands steady and try to draw from the shoulder. He said to think in three-dimensional shapes rather than flat lines. Soon, unique images popped up around the room, though each child was responding to the same set of prompts.The introductory class was a way for Brown to recruit participants for his Cartoon College program, a seven-week course that kicks off in April and is open to sixth, seventh and eighth-graders.
Brown has 20 years of teaching experience in local schools under his belt, and still can't get enough."I think kids are great because they are always way better than you think they are going to be," he said. Not only has Brown had a long career in teaching, his fliers for the now-defunct Building#19 were legendary across the South Shore and beyond. More than just ads for that week's deals, the circulars contained clever quips and hidden humor. Brown attributes the success of his drawings to the freedom he was afforded at that job. "If I had someone looking over my shoulder ... I never would have done it," said Brown, who began working for the store in 1967. As Brown circled the room, grabbing a pencil and occasionally altering his students' creations, he peppered the children with praise when he saw promising work. He often holds workshops of this nature, and he said including others in his work is important to him. "I'm sort of outgoing, which is good. Cartoonists work alone, and it's a lonely life unless you learn to get out," he said.Brown spent several years as a cartoonist at The Patriot Ledger before he went to work at Building #19. He said he finds it sad that editorial cartoons are less a part of the newspaper industry than they once were."(Cartooning) has become a hobby rather than a job," he said. "It's a shame, because I know that you sure can make people mad with a cartoon. I think papers are really missing something."