As an editorial cartoonist and comics artist I don't really seem to fit any of the predetermined boxes that people tend to put artists in. People are always trying to put you in boxes; people like categorization. It's something I do satirically in nearly every editorial cartoon I do.
Professionally, my title is Senior Editorial Cartoonist for The Appalachian. I have this idea that classmates always refer to me as "That kid who does political cartoons and comics about dinosaurs." I generally don't refer to myself as a cartoonist when talking about myself as a person. I usually refer to myself as an artist. When I say I am an editorial cartoonist, by that I mean it's what I get paid to do. It doesn't consume the entirety of my individuality - or I hope not.
However, my growing passion for editorial cartooning has extended beyond my required duties as a hired cartoonist for The Appalachian. Some weeks I'll do more than the required two cartoon quota for the paper and post extra cartoons on my page. Now that The Appalachian is on break for the summer, I am not required to make editorial cartoons again until late August.
Despite this, I want to continue at about the same pace through the summer and post cartoons independently on my Facebook page. Not necessarily because I love the editorial cartoon. I simply enjoy doing cartoons and comics - I'm absolutely in love with it.
The cartoon and comic is my medium, my sandbox full of endless possibilities. My increased interest in doing work that is conscious of current social and political issues has developed over the fifty plus cartoons I have done for The Appalachian. I was hired as the editorial cartoonist in August 2012, but this interest existed before my editorial cartooning for the newspaper.
In April 2012 I was awarded Juror's Award for Social & Political Concerns at the 2012 Annual Juried Art Expo Exhibition at Catherine J. Smith Gallery. My piece, North Carolina Amendment One ([link]
, commented on the disregard for the separation of church and state in the legislation that would reinforce already existing laws against gay marriage. The vote on NC Amendment One was that May, immediately after Amendment One's showing in Art Expo.
I painted the piece on a four by six foot piece of wood panel. It essentially was a giant painterly editorial cartoon, although I don't know I intended it to necessarily appear as such. I was just painting with the language I'm the most fluent in - the language of comics and cartoons.
In spring 2011 I took the second level drawing class that ASU offers. For that class I did a piece, Of Mice and Men (the Hindrance), that made a general statement about oppressive governments and organizations of authority. The mixed-media piece began as a reaction to the spread of the Arab Spring to Egypt in early 2011.
In the class we critiqued our thumbnail sketches for our planned pieces and my sketch was essentially a bad editorial cartoon. It spoke the language of the cartoon and the dialect of an editorial cartoon. My instructor told me to resolve it so as to make it not so specific to a particular issue; make it less objective. I interpreted that as make it a painting or drawing instead of a cartoon. So I arrived at the composition that you see in the final piece.([link]
In the spring of 2012 I submitted both Amendment One and Of Mice and Men to Art Expo. Of Mice and Men wasn't accepted - this could both be a result of timeliness and its lack of specificity. It also didn't look like an editorial cartoon.
This language of cartoon, both a style and medium, and its nearly inseparable interplay with text has been something I learned to speak at an early age. I have been seriously creating comics and cartoons for nearly a decade and have explored it even longer. My paintings and drawings have repeatedly have been indicative of a mind that categorizes, labels, sorts and expresses ideas through the marrying of text and image.
It took awhile to arrive at the serious production of editorial cartoons. In hindsight I can understand how I have arrived where I am now artistically. I believe there is a plan and purpose for every life; every path leads somewhere. As an artist I'm conscious of my comfort zone and aware that it always needs to be stretched in order to keep a truly active mind.
Over the past year I have been actively pursuing to erase the discrepancy between the "high art" of painting and the "low art" of comics and cartoons. Because of my current exploration of the editorial cartoon, I have recently been focusing particularly on painting editorial cartoons on a large scale - both mine and those of other cartoonists. I'm done trying to verbally erase the discrepancy.
People more readily accept comics and the cartoon as fine art form. However, there is still what I feel to be a misunderstanding. To return to my first thoughts - people want to box and label art. As a true satirist, I hope to visually blur the supposed line between cartoons and comics and painting.
As for my editorial cartooning for the newspaper, am I more an artist or a journalist? Neither. I just do what I do.
To those who'll ask about my painted cartoons, "Is it a cartoon? Is it a painting?"
I'll respond with "Who gives a f*ck?"