LIVE Q&A with GoComics

20 Oct

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Do I like pizza?

How about donuts?

Why all the questions about food?  Don’t you have any information about your cartooning?

Well, if you itching to ask me ANYTHING, your chance is coming up.  My syndicate, Universal-Uclick is hosting a live Twitter Q&A with me THIS upcoming Friday, October 24th at 2:30 EST.  It should be a good time and I’m looking forward to it.  I’m not 100% great with Twitter – but no worries – GoComics is moderating the whole thing, so I can’t screw it up (hopefully).

The best way to get involved is to have a Twitter account and then follow GoComics (https://twitter.com/gocomics) or myself (https://twitter.com/cartoonistfakes).

Hopefully I won’t be asked just food questions, but hey, you never know with these kind of things.

P.S. Please feel free to steal any of the badges on here and spread the word!

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Cya there!

My Extrovert/Introvert Teeter Totter

15 Oct

One part of my life that I’m not 100% certain about is this:  Am I an extrovert or introvert?

Knowing this is something I don’t think many people DO know about themselves.  Or, they never asked themselves that question.  Well, I have always wondered.  And I’m still a bit confused about what the heck I am.

In college, I took a quiz one quarter that was based off this.  In fact, a big chunk of the class was focused on personalities, who you are, etc.  At any rate, after taking the test, it told me I was an extrovert.

Okay, that makes sense.

Listen, I love to go out and have fun.  Weekends, you typically won’t find me at home.  I like getting together with friends and family.  After all, being cooped up in a studio all week, the urge to get out is the dominate thought in my brain when Friday afternoons hit.

But, there’s that other side of the coin.

I am not always comfortable going to parties.  I tend to tense up and get nervous during business meetings.  I work my best when it’s me, myself and I.  Plus, during the week, I really do not enjoy getting out at all.  I’m very content staying at home, working on my cartooning, art, writing and eating any leftovers in the fridge.

(But, then again, I do enjoy parties.  Ugh.)

So, what am I?  Extrovert or introvert?

Let’s throw out that test I took in college and judge things by the way they currently are.

The thing about me is I don’t seem very consistent with a lot of my behavior.  Sometimes, I can give a shining first impression to someone that I meet for the first time; smiling, chatty and all the above.  Other moments, I tense up.  I’m feel like my first impression was a complete bust.  I am quiet, nothing to say or – even worse – I say something that is totally not even remotely interesting.

I’m also either very hyper or very laid back.  More along of the laid back part, but still….

I wouldn’t call myself talkative.  I can with friends and family, but that’s after getting to know someone for quite awhile – usually.   Again, that’s not always the case.  Sometimes I can mingle for hours with someone I just met.  But, that rarely happens.  Also, I’ve had previous day jobs in the past where I would do nothing BUT talk and mingle.  Other day jobs, I’m as quiet as a mouse.  I think that depends on the environment a bit, but that always baffled me.  I was the same way in some courses at school.  Either all or nothing – talk or no talk.

What I don’t like is an assumption I’m a quiet, introverted because I’m an artist/cartoonist.  I think most people assume that since I work alone.  Nope.  In fact, most colleagues of mine seem to be like me a bit more in regards to having fun, talking and being WAY out there.  So, I like to dismiss that theory and sometimes I think I just act like an introvert to do so (fooling everyone).

The main question is:  Does it matter?

I don’t think it does.  I DO think that uncomfortable situations are a good thing to confront and hopefully get better at.  I’m thinking about joining a local group that does public speaking.  Why?  Well, though I have taught classes, talked in front of people with ease and have had experience doing so, I feel that I lag in that department.  I still think about it WAY too much than I should.  The idea of doing it makes me nervous.  Usually, I can pull-it-off okay, and it’s a great high at the end of it all.  However, the build-up for it is always too tense for me.  So, I think it’s important to practice doing things that are not characteristics of what you would generally do.  After all, I want to do some book signings and talks when I complete my graphic novel (wink, wink).

However, I also believe it’s important to be yourself.

If I chatted all day, I can assure you you would see very mediocre work on my end.  My comics would be – well – probably awful, and I wouldn’t be near as productive.  Though I might please other people by “being out there”, I wouldn’t be content with myself or my work.

At any rate, again – not sure if it even matters – but when do a self-evaluation, I’d say I’m probably about 60% introvert and 40% extrovert.  I think that college test was a bit off.  Or, maybe at the time, I just wanted to prove I was an extrovert to give all those naysayers a different answer when they think I’m some quiet cartoonist (like I still do at times).

It seems like if you are in a creative profession, more often than not, you need your space.

If you want more light shed on this subject, there’s a pretty good TED talk from Susan Cain you should check out (especially if you know you’re an introvert) by clicking HERE.

I’m not certain what I am, but I guess I’m happy that I have a bit of a combination between the both.  I guess I’m kind of like a supreme pizza – a variety of toppings.  Actually, make that Lucky Charms (the combinations of marshmallows and cereal is quite delicious.)

At the end of the day, if I fell in one category, I’d probably label it a Extro-Introvert.  Either way, it works.

17 Caricatures Project

12 Oct

One piece of advice that I can give any cartoonist is this:  Get away from your comfort zone as much as possible!  Seriously, I was in a cesspool of mediocre work of mine for years until I learned this.  You can’t just stay stagnant.  Trying new things – whether you like it or not – helps.  Even learning to paint, use Photoshop, drawing with crayons, etc. is great to develop your own style.  The more you know in general, even if it’s stuff you’ll never use (like math) makes for a better artist.

That being said, I used to be anti-caricature.

I didn’t enjoy doing them, I didn’t think I was good at them and so – I basically passed on almost all projects that included them.

Recently though (this past year) I’ve started created them more and more.  And I’ve had several clients hire me to do them.  The results?  Well, happy clients.  I discovered people don’t hate them and actually, they can be quite a bit of fun to do.

I’m not a Tom Richmond when it comes to OUTSTANDING caricature.  I compare my work more along the lines of The Simpsons.  You know how when that cartoon series gets a guest star on, they look ‘Simpson-ish’, but yet still distinguishable of that person?  That’s more of how I would describe my caricature work.  Much simpler and cartoon-like.

Anyhow, as long as my clients are happy –  I’m happy.  And so far, everyone that has hired me to do my particular style of caricatures really have enjoyed them.  I’m pleased with the work as well.  Yes, I strive to be more of a Tom (Richmond, that is), but also think there’s something to the simplicity of my work that is great for certain projects.

I thought I’d share a recent project I drew for a printing company based out of Norway.

They wanted me to draw their employees – seventeen of them – to be used as wall art.  The work is going to be enlarged to life-size via a Vector file.  Basically, the main contact person sent me 17 photos of the various employees.   No, they weren’t all together, so my job was to put them all in one image and make it work.

He (the contact) gave me some great insight on who was short, who was tall, who did what and so-forth.  I also included some of the materials that they used on a regular basis (printing stuff, computers, etc).  The goal:  Caricatures of their workplace.  For now, just a black & white image.

I love challenging work and so I was anxious to tackle this job.  I thought, in the process, I would document it so I could explain how I went about doing it all.

The first step was printing out all the separate images of the employees.  In respect to the client, I won’t show you their actual photos.  At any rate, I printed those out in black & white (since that was all I was doing) and also printed out various images of their workspace.  Yes, I had a pile of papers to contend with.

I then took his visual advice of who was taller/shorter and worked that part into the image.  So, basically I drew just outlines of where images would go on the paper so I could fit all seventeen people in there.

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Next was putting the actual people in here as a rough sketch.

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When I do a rough sketch, they are VERY rough.

I added a lot of elements like an old printing press, printers, etc.  When this above rough was done, I sent it to the client.  He wanted it more modern and less crowded, so I removed several items.

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I sent off the above sketch, and the clients wanted a few things removed and changed.  I made the changes and came up with this final sketch (below).

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They were happy with it, so then the inking began.

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After inking the entire thing, I scanned it into the computer, cleaned it up and added several black areas that I felt would enhance it.

And this was the final result.

Johan A - Z FINAL

Another point I want to make is ALWAYS take any kind of adjustments, reworks, etc. from clients as a complement.  Sometimes clients think they’re annoying me when asking to make changes.  I like when they ask me to because that way I know it becomes perfect.  I offer my own insight as well on what I think works, and if they suggest something I don’t think is good to do, I’ll mention it to them.  At any rate, it makes for a happy customer at the end with patience and working well with the person who commissioned the work.

So, this was my big seventeen caricature project.

I had a great time working on this and glad again that I learned awhile back to get out of my comfort zone of just doing things I wanted.  A few years ago, I would have never tackled something like this.

The only comfort zone you should stick with when cartooning is your stool.  If it’s not comfortable, get a new one.  The whole idea is to spend as much time at the drawing table as possible, right?  Happy Hiney = Happy Hand Drawings

Cartooning Runs in the Family?

9 Oct

To whomever thinks I learned cartooning without any natural ability, well, you might be wrong.  In fact, there’s a good chance I inherited the bug to do this line of work.  From who?

Several weeks ago, my dad, who lives in Alabama, came to town for a visit.

One of the things he’s doing now (since he’s freshly retired) is cleaning out his closet.  You know – pitching unnecessary items that seem to take up space.  I can’t blame dad for that because I’m the same way.  I tend to pitch things that just don’t make sense to keep.  That used to include bills (until I learned I needed to pay those).

However, some things are worth saving.

He brought with him a box of belongings to see if I would like to keep them and save them from the dumpster.  I definitely wanted to see what he had, so I checked out the box of goodies.  Besides, I didn’t want him filling up his dumpster anymore.  (I already heard it was getting full.)

Unbeknownst to me, dad – at one time – was a cartoonist!

After all these years, I had no clue.  I never saw any of this stuff.  Ever.

No, he didn’t do them professionally or take it to what I’m doing.  However, I believe if he would’ve kept at it, well, he could’ve been the next Gary Larson (it’s not too late, dad).

He did get them published in the school paper.

Anyway….

So, with his permission, I wanted to share some of his comics.  It’s funny, because I notice a resemblance in some of my work with them.

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I can honestly say I was impressed!  The writing, gags and drawings – and I’m not being bias – for the most part are pretty good!  It’s not like he was doing these full-time or anything either.

Anyway, yes – I’ve practiced and worked hard at cartooning.  However, I believe this explains why it’s in my blood:  Because it is.

Dad is now painting (which he did awhile back as well).  I won’t post much about it this time, but let’s just say he’s really getting fantastic at it.  (He always has been talented with painting – just hasn’t picked up a brush until recently.)

Looks like I might have some competition here soon if he keeps this up.  Or, maybe I can just hire him as an intern.

Habit Forming

30 Sep

As a cartoonist, I’ve often always wondered about my time spent on the actual business/craft of doing what I do.  What am I talking about?  Well, I constantly used to think (and still do) about others in my profession and how they spend their day.  Do they take the occasional ‘check the email’ break (like, about 50 times a day – like me)?  Do they wake up early/late?  How about other activities?  Do they do anything but work?  How about donuts?  Do they eat a lot of donuts?

I’m reading a fantastic book by Mason Currey called Daily Rituals – How Artists Work.

He has everyone from Mozart to Hemingway.  A huge list of authors, poets, musicians, writers and artists of all nature are featured.  And what’s striking is the big variety yet all the similarities, too.

My ritual is pretty much the same.  At least during the week.  Weekends things get a bit flipped around.  Here, I’ll get into it a bit.

I typically am up at 5:30 in the morning.  First things first – I feed my cat, Tiger (who usually gives me a wake-up call at the same time).  I head to the gym – usually jogging for 20 minutes or using the elliptical.  I try to lift weights three times a week as well.  No, this is not easy.  I’ve never considered myself a morning person and don’t think I’ll ever really be one.  However, I feel much more productive waking up early – no matter how torturous it is.  Admittedly, I’m good at fooling myself that I’m a morning person and I think that’s the only way I pull this off.

After the gym, I get back, brew some coffee and shower.

Mornings are my main writing time, so usually from about 6:30 to 8:00 is writing.  And when I say writing, it’s mostly just for my cartooning work. This is also the time of major coffee consumption.

8:00 I’ll start my marketing.  That means scheduling posts on social media, making contacts, connecting with clients/editors and stuff like that.

About 10 AM, I’ll try to hit the drawing board.  I usually start with my syndicated comics.  It’s kind of a nice exercise for me to start with such familiarity.  Client work often consist of new territory that I’m not quite “awake” enough for this early.  It requires a lot more thinking whereas my regular work is more of a natural flow.  You wouldn’t want to learn to ride a unicycle before a bicycle, right?  It’s kind of like that.  Or maybe that’s just a bad analogy.

Anyway….

I usually work until noon.  Then, it’s lunch time and getting random things done time.  This can include sending invoices, paying bills and making phone calls.  My lunch is about 5 minutes long (usually in front of the television).  Often it consist of mac & cheese, leftover pizza or whatever I can muster up.

I’m then back to marketing, client work and regular cartooning from 1-5.  All the coloring and things like that get done around this point.

It’s then dinner time.  After dinner, I’m currently back to work on a graphic novel I’m writing.  Also, I’ll spend some evenings doing things like this (a blog post).

I’ll chill out around 7-8 and usually watch some TV.  Then, about 9 or so, I go read.  If I’m lucky, I’m in bed by 10.  Boring evening, I know.

Weekends are TOTALLY different.  As a person who works in his home all day, the urge to get out and do something completely takes over my psyche by Friday afternoon.  I love to get out and enjoy some local brews, watch some football and basically hangout with people.  It’s very liberating and I believe healthy.  You can’t stay cooped up in a studio without getting out.

Sunday’s I like to do NOTHING.  Although, there are times where I do feel like doing something, so I will (which I often times regret considering I have a busy Monday regularly).

That’s my ritual.

A lot of writers and artists are similar.  In the book, it mentions some of the writers who work only a couple hours a day.  Or, take three months off due to no creative flow.  And some artist are night people – others day.  But, they all – for the most part – had some sort of ritual.

I’m glad I’m not alone to times when I do check my email, slack for a minute or two and basically feel like I’m not productive.  One thing about creative work is it’s not a constant.  In other words, when I’m writing, I often have to stop for a minute, check the mail, grab a water – something.  That breathing room is important to me and makes me more productive.  When I mentioned my routine, you have to envision me taking numerous breaks throughout that.  Yes, I get very wrapped up in any artistic activity I’m doing, but the occasional break happens frequently.

I also enjoy listening to funny things or music when working.  The Howard Stern Show is quite amusing these days.  Or, I put on some rock, classical or whatever I’m in the mood for.  That varies a lot (although, time at the drawing table on my syndicated work is usually talk radio of some sort).

Another book I’m reading is Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit.  She mentions what all she has done to achieve what she has (she specializes with ballerina’s and does choreography).  She’s the woman behind the dancers in the movie, Amadeus, and also wrote the Broadway musical Movin’ Out.  I’m not a big musical (as in Broadway musicals) person, but like any creative type, she mentions a lot of good insight on the creative process.  Again, it helped me know that I’m pretty normal doing what I’m doing.  I begin to wonder sometimes……

So, anytime I’m taking a break and thinking that I’m slacking off, I now think back to these books and other artists creative habits.  Some artist hit the bars (daily), some go for walks all day and others do – well – other stuff.  I hope I shed some light on kind of what I do.  I get asked that a lot.  Also, I still get the feeling many people think I sit at home in my pajamas all day just drawing funny pictures.  They would never consider what I do a profession.  However, there are thousands of illustrators, cartoonists and other artists out there.  How am I different?

What is different is my ritual – which I think is cool.  I wouldn’t want to copy some other persons ritual at all.  That wouldn’t make it unique.  And that’s no fun.

What’s your ritual?  Is your ritual NOT having a ritual (the book mentions a few artists like that)?  Share your thoughts!

I’ve been writing. Just not here.

20 Sep

This blog has always been a fun arena for me on random things.  And it still is!  That being said, I’ve actually been blogging quite a bit recently.  More than ever, some might say.

Where?

Not here.

I’ve been focused on actively getting involved in my community in the Miami Valley in Ohio.  So, I started up a new blog:

Drawing Around Dayton Hi-res

It’s a blog dedicated to my work in the area.  I’ve been having fun with it and hope to really attract new local businesses, people and more.  I think anyone from around here – or not – might enjoy reading about some of my art/cartooning that takes place in my home town.

Will I be blogging here?  Oh, you know me – of course!  Not too sure on a set schedule of post, but anytime I have a random thought or idea I want to express, well, you’ll be sure to see it around Nate Ramblings.

If you want to check out Drawing Around Dayton (which is updated about every 3-4 days), you can go read it HERE.

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.

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