Career Path

Some of my earliest memories are of drawing pictures, or the resulting art. Other kids maybe had favorite toys but I couldn’t think of anything better than a box of crayons (and later, colored pencils, paints, mechanical pencils, paints, pastels, markers…). I remember finding out that there were people who got paid to paint or draw things in art class when I was around five or six. That was it, I knew what I wanted to do in life.

I took every single art class that I could, in school and around the community. I got every book I could find about drawing, cartoons, comics, and art. When I had read everything I could think of (I should say, that our library and school had), I started looking online for more options. I practiced whenever I could. Any time someone gave me money for a holiday or birthday, it went toward more art supplies. I even saved up enough for a real drafting table. The more I drew, the more I settled on becoming a cartoonist. There is just so much that you can say and do through drawings that you can’t in real life. I would draw my friends in cartoons, doing various dumb things we’d actually done. They thought it was great.

However, my parents aren’t totally on board with me becoming a cartoonist. I am pretty sure that my mother used every variation of the word “no” that she could think of, in both English and French, every time I mention it. My parents said they would much rather I get a steady “real” job. That has always bothered me. I get that we can’t all be Albéric Bourgeois or James Simpkins, but I think I could be somewhere between those guys and nothing. I’d be OK with that, and I wish they could be as well. I find it odd that they would prefer that I be a middle manager at some useless company than working at a newspaper and drawing political cartoons or doing a syndicated strip. I don’t know, that life sounds pretty good to me!

I wanted my parents to know that I was taking it very seriously when I was applying to schools. I showed my parents all the different things I could do with a degree from an art school: graphic design, computer animation, teaching, or even being a straight up artist. I showed them some of the salaries, too. I think the fact that I was so mature about it worked in my favor, because they eventually conceded that I could attend. However, I did have to make some concessions with them, too. I had to take some of the computer design classes that I would have rather avoided, because according to my parents, they are practical and have more post-school job potential. Since that got them off my back, I have no problem taking a class now and again that involves computer work. I just keep telling myself any skills I learn at school are going to help me in the long run, and try not to think about it too much otherwise.

I’ve still got some school to go, but we’ll see which of us is right in a couple of years.

I Can’t Believe I Hate Drawing Class

I know on this blog I talk a lot about how I’ve been drawing forever and all that. I’d like to think I am pretty good, but this art class I’m taking… It’s the worst! Well, maybe that’s not the right word. It’s hard. And not in a way that I feel challenged and motivated. It is hard in a way that makes me want to throw pencils across the room and drop the class. Feeling like I can’t do anything right really bothers me, especially when it comes to something that I am typically pretty good at. It’s like I am being robbed somehow, and I don’t like it.

It’s not the teacher, he’s actually really good at what he does and is quite good at teaching it to the class. That hasn’t been the case with every instructor I’ve had so far. Some just don’t seem comfortable with the material and others don’t explain things in a way that I can understand. This guy is a good artist and a good teacher, so it isn’t that. It’s more of the subject matter, I guess.

For one thing, I’m used to drawing things that I’m good at drawing. That’s part of the fun of drawing for me. I am not good at drawing realistic objects like a bowl of fruit, so I don’t draw them. I might go my entire professional career never having drawn a bowl of fruit, and I would be completely OK with that. I get that it isn’t really about the fruit, it’s about the concepts of shapes, texture, lighting and all that good stuff, but I wish there was something more interesting to draw where I could learn the exact same concepts. I will literally never look at my bowl of fruit drawing again, nor will it be something I will put in a portfolio to impress people that I want to hire me. I’d rather eat the fruit while I’m drawing something I like to draw.

For another, it threatens my habits. Like most illustrators, I’ve learned ‘cheats’ or shortcuts for things that I’m maybe not great at drawing. For example, I’m not great at drawing a full side view of a car. So whenever I am drawing an image that requires a car in the scene, I’ll draw it from the front or back. If it absolutely has to be from the side, I’ll make part of it outside the frame so you’re only seeing the section I can draw properly. That does not fly in this class. I’ve got to do multi-views of objects all the time. In the long run, I know this is exactly what I need – it helps me be a better artist, it rids me of bad habits (or just being lazy) and my work is only going to improve. Knowing all that does not make this part suck any less, though.

I need the class to graduate, so I am really trying my best to get through it. I’m passing, at least for now, and I intend to keep it that way.

What Inspires Me

I love being able to share my perspective on things through my artwork. There are so many things on a day-to-day basis that make me want to pick up a pencil and draw. Sometimes it is because I want to remember something, or it could be because I feel like I can bring a different outlook to a situation. And then there are plenty of times where I just want to tell a good joke.

I used to jot down my ideas in a notebook but it was hard to carry it around all the time. Then I started using the text-to-speech feature on my phone, so I could just dictate my ideas and have the phone capture it. Unfortunately, text-to-speech isn’t all that great at really figuring out what I am saying, so I lost a couple of ideas that way. So now I have a recorder app that I speak to and play it back later. I also have this blog to write stuff down in.

Lately, I feel like I am documenting things all the time. I’ll give you a few examples:

–my neighbors have a Siberian Husky. It’s a nice enough dog, but is hands down the dumbest dog I have ever met. He never has any idea of what’s going on, and the face he makes when he is so obviously confused is the best thing ever. I am laughing just thinking about it. I’ve got a whole series of strips drawn about a sort of hybrid man-dog that is totally inept at life. I keep finding new situations to put him in that are completely overwhelming. It’s great.

–my best friend’s train wreck of a relationship. This one started as a series of drawings that used, word-for-word, a fight that they’d had. When my friend saw the drawings, he realized how dumb the fight was, and supposedly how dumb she was as well. They broke up. Then they started dating again and I felt bad, so I drew them a happy ending. That went over well, but they broke up again because they bring out the absolute worst in each other. Anyway, so while they were broken up, I made another strip about all these great qualities he had in the hopes that it would give him a bit of an ego boost. Instead, he sent it to her and she took him back!

–my parents. For some reason, I drew this cartoon of something my mom likes to say, but with my mom saying it as a pitcher plant (albeit a talking one). I gave it to her in a frame for her birthday last year and my dad immediately got jealous. So then I had to draw him as a maple leaf and a quote of his trusty old dad sayings. Now I regularly draw both of them in strip form, having conversations based on real things they’ve said. They love it, although it hasn’t changed their opinion that I am wasting my life trying to be a cartoonist.

But my absolute favorite thing to draw right now is political cartoons. There is so much going on that I cannot even really believe. I want to document both the things that happen and my take on them because these things will have lasting repercussions. It is worth preserving memories of this political climate through the written word, images, and (best of all) cartoons!

What about you? What inspires you?