I Know I Am

1 Sep

I am definitely an artist. 

Okay, let me elaborate a bit more – I KNOW I’m an artist.  Like, as sure as I am my name is Nate (er, actually, it’s Nathanael).  It’s in my psyche.  I have an artist mentality.  I just have noticed it coming out more and more.  I talk art/comics every chance I get.  I’ve been more vocal about my work when I go out on the town.  I’m the type of guy that would have a bumper sticker that says ‘I’d rather be painting’ (but I don’t, because I’m not a big fan of bumper stickers).

It’s great – and frustrating – all at the same time.

When you’re forced to devote your time to other projects to pay the bills, it’s torture when it’s not something you love doing.  ANY other profession, job, etc. is not going to be suitable for me.  Nope.  I draw things.  I paint.  And I’m working like crazy daily upping my craft.  I was not meant to be anything else.

I’m going through a re-branding stage right now with a lot of my comics and work.  I’ve got a big new business venture on the way, marketing strategies, a new site and more in progress.  And I think combining absolutely everything I’ve worked my entire life toward, I’ll be able to completely submerge myself into my passion and not have to think twice about working on something that I have no thrills doing to keep the lights on.

So, amongst other artist, I can see where the frustrations come from.  It’s not easy making it in this cold, harsh world of bills and groceries, but it’s totally doable.

When you have a passion, I say just go for it.  Hell, I just turned 35 and there are a lot of things I thought I’d have accomplished by now, but I haven’t.  I’m sleeping good (well, unless I have too much coffee) knowing that I’ve tried. 

Anyway, in fear of sounding like a motivational speaker, I’ll stop with that.

My point to this whole rambling is it’s interesting to see my artist mentality come out more frequently.  Not too sure what totally sparked it (I used to be pretty hush-hush on my art/cartooning).  I think it’s a good thing.  Gotta get my name out there a bit here in my good ol’ community.  And I feel like I am.  I think soon I will in a bigger way (beyond just around here). 

For now, I still struggle with frustrations of doing what I have to to get my finances in order, but I see the end of the tunnel soon where I can truly focus in on the projects I want to do and can devote my hours to that instead of wasting them on nonsense. 

Life is short. 

Draw hard, play hard and eat your veggies.

Robin Williams – My Thoughts

14 Aug

Okay, so I actually have a serious blog post (not that any of my previous ones weren’t, but you know….)

Obviously, unless you’ve been completely in the dark, you have heard about Robin Williams suicide.

It’s hard to imagine that he actually did this to himself, but on the other hand, I can see how it happens.  And it’s a bit scary that it is so sporadic and can occur without notice.

I’ve never been depressed – at least I don’t think so – but I have contemplated suicide a few times in my life.  I think it’s called just feeling down – not depression.  I mean, these thoughts happened even as far back as a kindergartner.  Let’s be honest, I think a lot of people out there have, including maybe yourself.  Would I do it?  No.  It’s just been a passing thought when things aren’t going well.  And as a kid, I used to joke about it.  I believe especially a lot of artistic people (actors, musicians, artist and cartoonist) go through this.  It’s not easy.  I have no clue what Mr. Williams went through, but I can understand it.  I’ve had times where the whole cartooning career has felt utterly hopeless and thus life itself.  And it’s tough when you have such a strong passion.  Various situations come up like devoting 40 hours a week to a day job, all while thinking that my time would be much more valuable spent creating art.  Bills aren’t paid, projects run dry and goals aren’t met.  It can be brutal on the psyche.  And sometimes it’s been further than career, like relationships, health, etc.

BUT, I’ve learned to press forward.  It’s not always easy.  For example, last night I was feeling extremely down.  I had a goal in mind that I wanted to hit by the time I’m 35, and it didn’t happen.  And I turn 35 tomorrow.  I originally had this goal to be hit at age 30.  So, it was a bit doomy and gloomy for me.  I’ve got one day to accomplish this sucker and, well, it’s not looking likely unless a miracle happens.

The thing is, when you put stuff in perspective and realize things don’t always happen on schedule, you can feel better about things like not meeting a goal deadline.  Hey, we’re all human and I think every person on earth – successful or not – goes through this (not getting things accomplished that you wanted).  Giving up is the ultimate failure, and lots of projects of mine that didn’t land on schedule eventually came through.

Back to the ‘scary and sporadic’ part.  It scares me because I know depression runs in my family and I like to say now that I would never get to the point of Robin Williams, but is there a moment when something like that just takes control and you end up doing?  I’d like to think not, but easy for me to say since I haven’t been to that point.  And it scares me not just for myself but everyone else I know.  Everybody goes through bad times and it makes you wonder if it will be a breaking point.

Anyway, deep stuff….

I think a key part to dealing with a lot of this is to be honest and just put it out there.  So, my way is – say, a blog (hey, you’re reading it, right).  There’s a few tricks.

Hopefully anyone contemplating suicide – like, seriously – calls the help number and it doesn’t happen.  Get help!  I couldn’t imagine what a family and friends would go through.  That would be the toughest part.

R.I.P. Robin Williams.

Goodbye, Blue

12 Aug

Well, pen – er – pen nib holder, it’s been a great run, but you must retire now.

As a cartoonist, I still continue to draw the ol’ fashioned way with a dip pen and black India ink.  Using a dip pen requires nibs.  And nibs require a holder.  Hence, a nib holder.  I don’t know though… I like to refer to it as simply a pen (quite frankly, I don’t know its technical name).

At any rate, one that I have used for the past couple of years is, well, retiring.

This pen has been through the ringer.  It’s responsible for hundreds of comics, MAD Magazine cartoons, work for clients, greeting cards – basically everything.

Last week, an important function of it broke. 

There’s an inside piece that holds the nib in it.  Anyway, I don’t want to get too in-depth, but it broke and it’s pretty much unrepairable (although, for a temporary fix, I did try stuffing it with a paper towel).

So, it’s done for.

That means that, unfortunately, I had to break into my wallet and purchase a new one (for a whopping $1.77).

I must say though, that was a pretty good run it had.  I know I’ve thrown it a few times out of frustration, have accidentally stepped on it and haven’t always cleaned it as thoroughly as one should, but despite our abusive relationship, we made some pretty good art together.  (Boy, that sounds like a Lifetime movie.)

We’ll see how well the new gal, I mean pen, holds up.  If it can make it through my violent tirades, I’m sure we’ll get along just great.

In memory of Blue (yeah, we’ll just call it that), here are some photos.


Above:  After a crazy career, here is Blue’s last visit to the drawing table.


Above:  Trying to keep it functional, I stuffed some paper towel in there to try to hold a pen nib.  That didn’t work too well.

Happy retirement, pen!  May the rest of your days collecting dust bring nothing but happiness and ink-splattered joy.








Evolution of Comics

29 Jul

It’s pretty clear that comics evolve.  Intentionally?  Nope.  It just happens (if you don’t believe me, go look at early Peanuts comic compared to what they became).

My work has actually evolved more than I thought.  And when I say evolve, I’m talking about the look, writing and basically everything.

If you look waaaaaay back, there is a dramatic difference.  Like, big time.  But, I’ll save that for a different blog post.

Today, I’m going to show you some material from about five years ago.

As many of you know, I’m in the process of launching my own site where ALL my comics will be available for licensing, prints, etc.  I’m stoked.  I’m so excited to have a place for my clients to browse my work – pain-free.  Currently, it’s not as accessible and instantaneous as it needs to be.

So, that being said, I’m editing and going through my old stash of material.

Some of it, eh, not bad.

Other ones, yeah – I’m not too sure.

BUT, I’m always shocked by what cartoons strike a chord with some clients.  What I consider not too great often times works well with a particular publication, premise, etc.  A lot of the examples I’m about to show you were actually considered for Reader’s Digest and other magazines.


That means I use all of my material I’ve compiled over the years.  Yes, even the old stuff.

Below is a look at some of the older cartoons I’ve created.

You’ll notice I feature a lot of kids and a lot of yellow.  My target audience at this time in my life was magazine/print publications.  So, I tried to add the ‘cute’ factor and make them as family friendly as possible.  Well, most of them.  The battered PC probably wouldn’t make the cut in Woman’s World.

And if you’re a business, individual or anyone interested in licensing my cartoons, I do have my work available via Cartoonstock currently.  You can click through my archives at this link (CLICK HERE) and it’s a great place to see a mix of the old and new so you can compare.

A Souvaneer (1)

Appliance Birthday (1)

Are we there yet (1)Battered Windows (1)Bland Cooking (1)Blender Fun (1)Father's Day Comic (1)Its Burning (1)Sandcastle Foreclosure (1)

Beach in Hawaii

24 Jul

I wrapped up my newest oil painting last week.  This one was commissioned – not just for the fun of it.

My client had a photo of a beach scene in Hawaii.  I worked with the image and created this on a 36″ X 48″ canvas.  Not typically how I paint (going off a picture) but I had a blast creating it and I like the way it turned out.  Of course, next time I wouldn’t mind actually going to Hawaii to paint something like this.  Oh well.

The person who commissioned this is happy and all is well.  That’s always good.

So, here it is.

photo-4Above:  Beach in Hawaii, 36″ X 48″ oil on canvas

One thing I learned in art school (waaaay back in the day) is to draw what you see – not what is there.  I use that principal with all my work.  However, I did emphasize the waves on this painting a bit more intentionally than normal.  Mostly because the client really wanted a strong focus on this part of it.  So, yes, I drew what I saw.  But I did add a few highlights knowing damn well that they were waves.  Please don’t tell any of my old college art professors.

photo-6Above:  A closeup of the beach/waves.  The paint is still not totally dry, by the way.

I absolutely love doing commissioned work and hope to expand my clients.  Yes, I am a cartoonist, but more and more painting has become a real passion as well.  It always has been, but I’ve experienced some-what of a reemergence of it.  I guess it’s just a nice change of pace from just the silly gag cartoons and comics.  So, if you’re in need of a painting, well…..

More to come!

In the meantime, here is the painting being displayed in the clients business office.

photo-5Above:  Yes, it needs a frame.  One is coming soon.

A Tale of Gaters

21 Jul

I have just returned from a road trip to Huntsville, AL, to go to my dad’s retirement party.  Yes, after 40 years of being a Lutheran pastor, he is living the dream of doing whatever he wants.  Congrats, dad!

Great trip.  Great time.

I generally LOVE road trips.

I like the freedom of the open road, the nasty fast food that ensues and all the different scenarios along the way.  Good stuff.

The ONE thing though that I have – and have yet to find a cure for – is road rage.  Er, actually, it’s more of a road irritation.  Rage is a rather strong word, don’t you think?

Now, listen, I don’t get it that bad.  But I do have it.  And really the only reason I get it is when someone rides my a$@.  You know, is driving WAY to close behind me.

For the life of me, I’m not sure why this pisses me off so much.  But it does.

Okay, I take that back.  I think I do know.  I think the main reason it does (pisses me off) is because of the whole common courtesy aspect of it.  I don’t do that to people, but they do it to me.  It’s like being a close-talker:  you’re supposed to leave some space or you’re annoying.

TailgaterAbove:  ‘Tailgating’ – totally different.

Usually what I do is tap on the breaks if a person does this.  If they continue on, I gently slam on them so they have to slow waaaay down and possibly run right into me.

I know, I know.  Stupid.  Stupid on my part considering I hate a good ol’ auto accident more than tailgaters.  BUT, I can’t help it.  It’s as if I must teach the person a lesson.

What gets to me as well is when they do this and I’m in the right.  For example, I can maybe understand riding on someones bumper if they’re cruising in the passing lane and, well, not passing.  But other than that, there’s no reason.

A few examples of when I get irritated is when there’s a slow car in front of me.  I can’t help but go the pace of the car that is in front.  Yet, some jerk gets on my rear-end like I can do something about it.  Like I can speed up.  No, you moron, I can’t speed up.  There’s a car in front of me.  You twerp.

Or, if I’m cruising on the right-hand lane of the highway, minding my own business, and someone tailgates.  This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I turn red and think, “Why?!”.

So, here’s the deal…

I know that the rest of my life there will be people that ride my a$@.

As long as people drive, as long as there are roads and as long as there are inconsiderate idiots,  this will take place.

I no longer want this to ruin my road trips and somehow I need to get over this aspect of life.  It’s as sure as drizzle in Ohio.  It’s gonna happen.

Listen, I’m not the best driver on earth either.  I speed.  Like, I speed a lot.  But, my speeding typically when I have free range of the highway.  And I don’t distract another driver with my speeding.  The only person that I believe might get irritated are the friendly highway patrol people.  But the thing is, I’m honestly considerate out there.  I’ll let people in, obey the laws and am pretty well aware of my surroundings and how I’m acting behind the wheel.


Does anyone have advice on how to handle road rage?

I don’t think I have it bad enough to park the car and start throwing coffee cups at a car that upsets me, but still, I hate getting so angry over something so stupid.

So, that’s my goal for the next road trip:  Laugh at tailgater, not cuss.

I think it will help my blood pressure, my uncouth outburst and overall improve my road trips that I o’ so love.

How do you handle those bad drivers?  (Or, maybe you are one.).

Drawing Board Exposed

13 Jul

I’ve always had an interest in seeing where other artist work.  The source of where something is put together is intriguing to me.  So, with that being said, I thought I’d share MY work space.  No, not my whole office.  Today, I wanted to just give you a glimpse of where the drawings come to life.  Where else would that be but my trustworthy drawing board.  Or drawing table.  Whatever.  Call it what you will.

This day and age, I would think that most cartoonist work digitally.  Like, 100% digitally.  I could be wrong on this, but from what I hear and see, it seems to be the case.  I am old school.  Call me crazy, but I love to use India ink, a dip-pen and Bristol board.  Something about having the original art is, well, quite nice (even though I have piles and piles of thousands of comics now).  And who likes change?  Not this guy (except changing the channels on a boring television show is quite satisfying).

Now, using the ‘old school’ method can also prove frustrating.  I have had numerous ink spills, accidents and uncooperative pens in my years of cartooning.  Several uncouth adjectives were also expressed here at times when things didn’t go my way.

You’ll see this.

I have pictures.

So, without further ado, I’ll share some with you.

10524075_10152201245094117_1071164814_nAbove:  The whole view of where I work

As you can see I am definitely using the classic instruments to produce work.  You can see the t-square, tape and all the stuff on the right hand side that consist of ink, erasers, pencils, nibs and a few things that probably don’t even belong there.  If I were a cartoonist at the turn of the 20th century I think it would look the same (except that lamp would’ve probably been a candle or something else).

10529527_10152201245084117_939345722_nAbove:  The area I’m talking about on the right hand side of my table.

I like to refer to my workspace as organized chaos.  To a normal viewer, it looks like a mess.  Anyone who is a neat freak would cringe at the way I have everything setup.  BUT, cleanliness is the last thing you think about when making art.  If I concentrated on putting my pen back in its proper place other than how well my line quality is, well, I’m guessing a lot of my work would come out crappy.

Everything you see has a purpose.  I couldn’t do what I do without them.

10529676_10152201245099117_2000504648_nAbove: A little closer view (you’re welcome).

Okay, if you look at the above picture – you see all that tape and stuff?  Notice the massive ink stains?  It’s all part of the work.  Actually, the more beat-up and battered my drawing table looks the happier I feel about it.  It means I’m working a lot.

10531312_10152201245089117_1355045955_nAbove:  The ink

India ink is an interesting substance.  It’s bold and black and very effective for cartooning.  The downside of it is if you get it on ANYTHING, the chances of it coming up are rare.  I remember at my old studio after high school I was living with my dad and step mom and I ended up spilling a bottle on the carpet.  In a frantic move I tried  – I believe – every soap imaginable to try to get it off the floor, but nothing worked.  So, I did the next best thing and tried to hide it. I think I put a trash can or something over it so it wasn’t obvious.  At any rate,  I’m pretty sure they noticed it after I moved out.  Anyhow, my point is it’s brutally permanent.  And it’s runny.  So, if you ever decide to use India ink, be careful.  As you can see from this picture there’s quite a mess of it.  I have had several spills.

Well, that is that.

I plan on posting again at some point about my ENTIRE office and what all I have.  Maybe I’ll dig into a bit more information about my drawing table as well.

I guess I can point out that I do use Photoshop and digitally color.  That I find much more professional than doing it by hand (I used to hand paint my work).  Saves me TONS of time.  And plus, painting can prove more frustrating than India ink when you can’t make the right color.

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse.  I spend a vast majority of my time here (which is why I’m notorious for having to get out on the weekends).  It’s the most satisfying place in my house (even though my couch is quite comfortable).



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