Tag Archives: art

Cartoon Museum? Yes!

10 Dec

This past Thursday on a cold, windy day, my family and I decided to get out of town and take a trip east to Columbus, Ohio. It’s only about an hour away from our home in Dayton, so it’s a nice little getaway.

Though it’s always nice to take random road trips, on this one we had a mission: Go to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University.


I get irritated at myself on the little things I miss out on. Here is a museum for cartoonists – and I NEVER went to it until this visit. I mean, a museum dedicated to my industry in my own backyard and – for some reason or another – it’s my first time going there. SMH




The Slip

25 Sep

“I have a terrific idea for a comic!” I say to myself as I’m hopping out of the shower, slipping on the wet tile because I forgot to put a towel down.

I stagger a bit to the bathroom sink trying to keep my balance.  Desperately, I try to locate a pen and a piece of paper – ANY paper – so I can jot my idea down before I forget it or in case it’s lost from amnesia because I did eventually slip and bash my head into the countertop.

In a frenzy I manage to make it to the nearest cupboard, that wasn’t in the bathroom, but close.  I find a pencil, a piece of scrap paper and I write down the idea.


Clowning Around

18 Sep

It’s no laughing matter.  Sometimes, I have to draw a clown.  (Okay, I guess it’s laughable.)  But, since I clown around on the job all day anyway, I guess it’s suitable.

A major part of my cartooning is with the company I co-founded, BizComics.  I’m not sure how much you keep tabs on what I do, but if you’re not aware, over at BizComics we feature a blog and a cartoon every week.  The topics include obvious stuff like business.  But we feature a lot of sales, marketing, office, advertising, tech and other comics.  On top of that, we have a quarterly graphic novel that comes out, Max Impact.  Impact is about a marketing detective with new cases each issue.

The newest blog/cartoon for BizComics features a clown.  And pie (not the tasty kind).


So You Want To Be A Cartoonist? Part 1

11 Sep


I guess you’re reading this because you’re thinking of getting into cartooning, right?  Or, maybe you’re just bored and the other blogs on your reading list are reruns.  Whatever the case may be, I decided to start a new series about becoming a cartoonist.  I’m not sure how long it’s going to be or anything like that.  I’m just going to start – and finish – when necessary.


Cellar Another

6 Sep


That’s about how many brain cells you’ll lose after reading this blog post.

Okay, not really.  However, it is close to the alcohol percentage in wine.  What wine?

Let me tell you….


The One and Olney

29 Aug

On the front page of my website, I have a little introduction that I wrote about myself.  Just a quick synopsis about who I am, what I’ve done and what I do.  You may have read it.

Anyway, on there I mention that I sold my first cartoon in 5th grade.  And I did.  The girl I tried to impress, I forgot about.  However, I can fill you in on the rest of the story.


The Write Idea

16 Jul

As a cartoonist there are really two main objectives to my job:  draw and write.

There are obviously other objectives as well; such as entertain, tell a story, create nonsense – you know – lots of things.  It varies depending on the goal of the cartoon.  If I’m creating work for the newspaper, it’ll be different than one for a client that has a particular objective in mind.

I stand by my work.  If you are professional at anything, you have to, right?  I’ve been cartooning now for a long time and honestly feel I have a good grip on how to do what I do.  That being said, the one area I feel best about when cartooning is writing.

Writing is essential, and in my opinion, the most important part of being a cartoonist.

Writing also constitutes as ideas.

Trust me – there are hundreds – no, THOUSANDS of people that can draw better than me.

I’m envious of a lot of work from gag cartoonists such as Charles Addams or a great caricature artist like Tom Richmond.  Their art is amazing.  I strive to get to that level – and they set the bar very high.

That being said, there are hundreds (and, I’m guessing, TENS of thousands) of people that can probably write better than me.  (Don’t believe me?  Read a few of the lackluster blog posts on this site.)

The goal as a cartoonist is to combine the two into a polished cartoon.

But let’s start with writing….

I feel my writing and ideas are the strongest part of my work.

In my personal opinion, they’re not always reflected in my daily cartoons (lots of my gag cartoons can be similar to ones you’ve seen before).  Though I try every day to create new gags, unbeknownst to me, sometimes I’ll stumble on the same premise that was done before.  Or, if it is something original, I’ll notice it being used down the line somewhere else.  I believe this is the case in music, movies and almost all forms of entertainment. (Did you hear about the recent Led Zeppelin lawsuit?)

The areas of writing I feel I really excel is when it comes to a.) my own projects and b.) custom work.

I’ll start with my own projects.

What I mean by those are my own books and art that I create for hopefully future publications.  Its things that I have the freedom to write and draw whatever I want (not that I don’t anyway, but I am a little limited when it comes to a single box gag cartoon).  I’ve actually gotten better over the recent years with this.  I tried a graphic novel several years ago, and have gone back to it, but it’s TOTALLY written different.  The first version, the writing kinda – well – stunk.

Now to custom work.

This is work where I’m hired on to create something for someone or something.

If I’m given a topic or an idea, I can usually take that topic and idea and run with it.  Somehow, I’m very good with coming up with – not one – but numerous ideas.

When a client that I work with contacts me about coming up with something for something, I’ll often pitch them anywhere from 5-15 rough thoughts.  I can come up with them rather quickly, which is good.

It does happen that NONE of those thoughts will be any good, but more often than not, at least ONE hits the mark.  Sometimes, the client will go with ALL of them as well – if I’m lucky (and that’s a rare occasion).

And with all of this cartoons contain VISUAL WRITING.  It’s where there is no actual writing, but the visual is the joke.  Still, that has to start off by being written down as an idea.  Some might say sketched, but I still call it writing.  Any idea is written mentally first.

I believe it’s taken me my whole life to get to this point where I can write and come up with ideas rather quickly and accurately.  That’s why I’d never do anything pay by the hour.  I can get somehting thought of in a few minutes sometimes, so I’d make practically nothing.  But, what does it matter?  If it’s good – it’s good.  Just like if you go to a mechanic for a car repair and it only takes them a minute to tighten a bolt but they charge you hundreds of dollars.  The fact is, YOU didn’t know how to do it and the mechanic was skilled in that area and could do it quick.  Time isn’t a factor to cost with some things.

This isn’t always the case.  No, no, no…

I’ve had times where I do struggle to think of even one idea.

What I’ve discovered with client work is I do great under pressure.  That NEED to think of something solid is more relevant in a small time frame compared to my regular work – where I can go about things more casually.

All this being said, writing is definitely my strong point compared to the actual art.  I say that because it’s worked well with clients, publications and I’ve been told that by, let’s just say, industry leaders that know what they’re talking about.  Also, more than not, it’s my writing that has been published in places like MAD Magazine – not my cartoons.

Am I the best writer?  Oh, c’mon now.  I already mention there are MANY others I feel that are better.  My grammar isn’t always perfect, punchlines sometimes fall flat and even I get the occasional writers block.  However, I’m happy that I can combine the whole package together with cartoon art.

This hasn’t always been the case.  It has taken decades of scribbling on notebooks at school to locking myself in my studio churning the brain cells in my head to think of something.  I believe anyone can get good at practically anything after awhile.  So, I attribute it all to lots of practice ever since that first box of crayons.

All this being said, I’m proud of my work and I have very high standards for what I produce.  I wouldn’t send a client crap.  If I’m not happy with it, it’s not going to see the light of day.

I’d like to say I’m up there when it comes to creative writing.  Or hell – make it easy….When it comes to cartooning writing.  That’s where I’m alright.

If you’re good at something, I would try for it, but you don’t have to be the best at it to make it work.  A lot of times it’s numerous things combined that can make something happen.  I know that’s the case with cartooning for, not just me, but most professional cartoonists – and almost any profession.  Not once have I seen a comic with the BEST art and BEST writing of all-time (which is going to be different depending on your own perspective).

Just take your strongest attribute (for me it’s writing) and add another element that you’re good at (and for me, I CAN draw) to put something together.  Of course, try to improve upon everything as you go along and bada-bing!  you might have something.

I might not be the best at both writing and drawing, but if I can hit that sweet spot that is close and have them meet in the middle, I have the write idea.

For more information about custom cartoon work, please visit www.natefakescartoons.com

Absent Minded

19 Aug

I apologize for being rather distant on here recently.  Several months ago I promised I’d try (“try” being the key word) to write here in a more frequent manner.  I had a nice streak going there for awhile, but – life once again got in the way.

Recently I’ve found myself again trying to do too much and really my focus has been a bit off.  And hey, that’s life.

I’m still cranking out the regular cartoons, still doing custom work and have been teaching a lot of paint & sip events.

I’ll be honest though, cartooning has been a pretty big disappointment this summer for me.

I’ve found my work stolen and used more than purchased off my new website.  I send everyone an invoice when caught, but it’s been discouraging seeing all my efforts just being yanked.  And this day and age, really the ONLY sure way to make money creating gag cartoons is licensing them for use (and the occasional publications).  So, I see my work all over the place and I haven’t made a cent off a lot of it (sigh).  I tell these people, if you owned a t-shirt shop, I wouldn’t just walk in and take your t-shirts (unless I was looking for a trip to jail for the evening).

On an up-note, I signed a greeting card contract today with a major company (that I’ve worked with before).  That being said, to make great money off that, I’d have to sell GOBS of cards.  Like, trainloads worth.  But hey, that could happen.  At least people can’t steal greeting cards as easily off the shelves as my images on the internet.

With a daughter on the way, stuff needs to pan out better financially.

I’ve been teaching a lot, as I mentioned.  And I’m launching my own paint and sip venue here in the Dayton area called Painting Around Dayton with a business partner.  I’m excited about it and it DOES help fund those stolen cartoons.  Definitely new for me.  But, I enjoy getting out, meeting people and I think they have a good time with me trying to tell jokes (on stage, sometimes they fall quite flat….trust me) while showing them how to paint.  So the painting side of things this summer has been great!

But, deep down, I feel a bit beaten down in the cartooning world.

That’s kind of wiped my motivation to write much here, because most of these post revolve around cartooning – my BIGGEST passion (well, work-wise).

That being said, I’m hoping my website (and other sources for licensing my work) quits getting material stolen from it and more folks actually buy the products for use.  Over time, I believe that will develop.  Heck, Nate Fakes Cartoons doesn’t even show up on google yet, so the honest people can’t really find me anyway.  That all takes time.  But, when searching for ‘cartoons’ or ‘comics’ – boy, I’d love to have my neck out there.  I know a lot of business comes that way.

I’m working on my graphic novel(s)….still.  But, those I can’t really look at as a financial investment.  Yes, I hope they can churn a profit, but it’s more for the wanting to do them.

And projects like Knocking On Heaven’s Door – a collaborated cartoon series created way back in 2008 – hasn’t gone as far as we (my writer for it and I) have hoped.  The books sold great – and then we stopped making it and I think there were some missed opportunities.  But, the funny thing about this series is it tends to resurface.  I think there’s something down the line for this at some point.  Wait and see.

Technically Speaking, a series I developed at the beginning of the year, also didn’t pan out time-wise or financially.  I created that for syndicates, and they enjoyed it.  But it was ultimately rejected.  I enjoyed making it, but I have no time to keep it going without a financial gain.

So, what’s my point?

Listen, I do cartooning and art because I LOVE it and you’re supposed to do what you love, right?  Also, I know how to hold a pen.  But, I’m also realistic about outcomes of stuff I produce.  I think anyone that produces comics wants them to ultimately make a bit of money.  And I have.  I’m not being greedy, but I do need more.  Again, the family is growing and times are tough.  This IS my business and industry.  Not a hobby.

What it boils down to is, I’m trying to make good decisions on where to invest my time.

Painting Around Dayton is cool because it’s a live event and it sells.  But, for cartooning, well….

I still have good things like I’m in some newspapers everyday, do have the occasional MAD Magazine or other magazine cartoon published, get custom work and actually DO license out the work (yes, it’s not ALL stolen).

I’m hoping a lot of elements of what I do change though.  I don’t mind my work being out there for free, either.  I post on Facebook daily and my daily work is available for no cost almost anywhere (I love it when my work is shared – with a source of where it came from, of course).  But, I still see my cartoons show up on websites and more.  It’s theft if it’s on a published site, newsletter, book, etc. without permission or by licensing it.  And it’s not an innocent crime considering how strapped I am on this end.  That hurts when I try to find quarters for toll roads.

The light at the end of the tunnel is I’ve been here before.  I think every artist/creator has.  I’ve never been wealthy off of what I do, but I do have good – and bad – months.  This summer just happens to stink.

Usually when I get in a somewhat funk over my cartooning, something turns around (again, I signed a new greeting card contract today).  I just gotta be patient and keep on cranking out things.

So, I know I’ve been slacking with post (including my whacky “Week-In-Reviews”), but until I get the business side of cartooning on a better track, it’s hard to find much great news in the biz to report.  BUT, I’m sure I can write about an awesome pizza I had the other night or some unsettling mosquito bite.  SOMETHING.  I’ll try.  Promise.

Writing sometimes helps me come up with answers, so there you go.  That’s a start.  And summer is coming to a close soon.

Cheers to fall!

Creating Time or Creating?

11 Mar

Last Friday I woke up to – shall we say – almost a feeling of sand in my throat, gasping and a runny nose that gave Niagara Falls a run for its money.  I was sick.

The frustrating thing about it all was I hardly ever get sick.  I take pretty decent care of myself, but yeah, somehow I caught this vicious, nasty thing that had control of my life for the following three days.

Fever, cold-sweats and all.Head Cold copy

I felt like death warmed over a pressure cooker.

At any rate, I’m feeling better.  Sure, I still have the persistent little cough that comes with these type of things, but no – I’m doing well.  Even ran for 45 minutes today on the treadmill and ventured out in the beautiful Dayton, Ohio countryside downtown amongst the mills, construction and brown Miami River.

So, okay.  What does this have to do with anything?

Due to being sick, I have felt massively behind with my work.  I’m nowhere near financially where I want to be and getting that virus or whatever it was really took its toll on what was supposed to be a productive three days.  Yes, I’m behind.

And that’s where time comes into play.

How to catch-up.  And with that, how to spend the few hours in a day that I have to get caught-up.

Do I be creative?  That includes writing, drawing, etc.  The whole artistic work that keeps this well-oiled machine churning out material.

Or, do I work on pitching ideas, finding clients – marketing?

How about coming up with new solutions to my money issues I’m having this month?  Maybe invent a new platform for cartoons?

Or I could quite simply order a pizza and take time picking out toppings?  (Okay, not a great idea considering I’m on the mend – but a tasty option, indeed.)

It’s a struggle for me to figure out where to devote time.  Especially when I’m behind and not quite sure what parts of my work to neglect and what parts to nurture.  (Maybe this is why I don’t have children.)

I always have a constant battle of what is more important to do with my energy, hours and what is humanly possible without going insane.

Obviously, without the actual content (cartoons/illustrations), everything is meaningless.  So, I tend to always give that first priority.  But with that, the prerequisite is typically writing.

Writing can be scary.

If you write, you know that.

I spent over two hours today staring at a wall.  Not one idea came out of it.

Usually when that happens, a few days later, I’ll do the same thing and get a week’s worth of material.

But you see, there is two hours out of my day.  I could’ve been drawing, coloring, marketing, etc.  Was that two hours wasted?  No.  Trust me, it’s part of the process.

Now though, I must make-up those two hours since I’m behind already.

Maybe I could try to fish for new clients?  But, that takes awhile….

And cue the cold-sweat.  It’s not from my fever anymore, but the anxiety about what to do with myself.

Okay, I’m not going to go on-and-on, but you get the whole picture.

It’s can be tough to figure out.  And since I’m bad at math, the proper equation never usually comes to me.

You’re probably wondering to yourself, “Well, Nate, if you’re so far behind, what are you doing writing a blog post?”

Things like writing blog posts (which is totally different than writing a premise for cartoons staring at a blank wall) are important as well to clear my head.  It will help me figure out how to catch-up and what all I need to do.  So, this whole 45 minutes or however long it takes to write this is pretty helpful in the long-run.  I get to sit, relax and, when complete, let you – as the poor reader – soak it all in.  Some people take walks, others watch Super Soul Sunday on the ‘OWN‘ network and others read.  I write (badly, sometimes, at that).

Whether I got sick or not, I have this struggle of how to devote my time.  At one point (in fact, very recently) I had a schedule basically made out.  It was done by day, by hour and quite specific.  It works good until life happens.  Or you get a client that you need to spend gobs more energy or time on than first anticipated.  So, that schedule went into the trash.

The important thing is that it DOES all come together at some point in time.

I always feel behind.

There are sometimes brief glimpses in my imagination where I envision myself completely caught up with my duties as an artist and then…..then I wake up and realize it was just a devastating dream.  Probably from the NyQuil.

I could actually work 24/7 and still have more to do if this were possible.  I have books I want to complete, clients I want to pitch, ideas I want to write and a whole circus of thoughts in my tiny little head.

Also, I’m fully aware that life is short.  Time is limited.  Use it wisely.  Me?  I’m trying to fit it ALL in.  Unfortunately, I have probably over a century of things that I’m trying to accomplish.  With all this to, there is that personal time with family, friends and doing random things.  I do fit that in.

Again, though, it usually all works out in the end.  I guess I’m devoting my time right, right?

So, getting sick doesn’t stop me.  Now that I’m feeling better, stuff is getting done.  And (cough) as long as it doesn’t come back to haunt me, I should be okay.

As nasty as I got it and felt bad, thinking too hard about where to spend your hours can be just as sickening.


4 Dec

I recently stumbled upon a site that’s been around for awhile.  It’s called Threadless.

What is Threadless?  Well, it’s a place for artists of all kinds to submit designs that might – if accepted – get printed on t-shirts and more.  Most of the designs are a bit out there, so it was right up my alley.

I decided to have some fun with it and signed up (it’s free to do) and submitted some art earlier this week.  So far, I have two that were accepted (which I guess isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, according to their forums).

Now, the catch is, once accepted, the general public gets to vote on them by using a 1-5 scale for 10 days.  Voting doesn’t do much but help your chances of getting the shirt actually printed and part of their clothing line (which is pretty successful).  To me, it seems like a popularity contest once you get a bunch of followers on there, but what do I know.  I know that even if the votes aren’t high, if they like it, they’ll print it anyway.

And after 10 days you get to see how people voted and I suppose a decision is made from their creative team if they’re going to pursue your design and make it printed on t-shirts and elsewhere.

The Naked Penguin t-shirt

Above:  One of my recent designs, ‘The Naked Penguin’

I like the site as an artist because they actually pay-out pretty decent for work that is picked-up.  It’s 20% royalties based off of sales and they have other contest and stuff where you can win decent money.  If that tells you anything, I make roughly 9-10% royalties off of my greeting card sales in major companies.  So, I think that’s a fair rate for t-shirts.

Now, again, I’m doing this mostly for fun.  We’ll see what happens.  However, as a person who gets a lot of his paycheck off of royalties, it wouldn’t hurt having a few designs actually being sold (and hopefully sold well).  I’m not counting on anything – yet.

I’m usually weary of sites like this, but again, they’ve been around for awhile and it is kind of fun to rank other peoples work and see how mine does.  It’s different than print-on-demand places where you can choose your own royalties because they actually promote them for you by “getting them out there” instead of me having to do all the marketing myself.  Plus, the shirts are high-quality (I guess).  I’ve seen some pretty pathetic quality stuff in regards to print-on-demand.

The best part is I own 100% of the images if accepted, so there’s no worry of giving up any image rights or anything.  There’s no way I would’ve participated if that were the case.  I can use an accepted design/comic anywhere.

I know this sounds like a sales-pitch for Threadless, but it’s not (unless they pay me, of course).  It’s just something new, so hey, I wanted to tell you about it via blog post.  Cool?

So, if you create funky designs, images, comics, etc., you might enjoy it.  I recommend it so far.  And I know some of you out there that read this blog have some good material that could work well.

I’d love to hear from you about your experience on Threadless (if you have any, obviously).  I just hopped on board this week so I’m a rookie.  And if you’re on there, let me know.  I’ll follow you (not in a stalkish way, either).

If you liked to see my latest accepted designs check them out (click here).