An Interview with Cartoonist Randy Glasbergen

Recording Link:

At what age did you start drawing?

I’ve been drawing all my life, just for fun as a kid. I became interested in cartooning as a career when I was around 14, that’s when I got my first cartoon published… it was in a magazine called New York State Conservationist.

How did you get started in cartooning?

I drew some cartoons like the ones I saw being published and put them in the mail and somebody bought a few. I’ve basically done the same thing over and over for 30 years, gradually branching out into different media outlets and markets.

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered along the way?

Discouragement, frustration, a changing marketplace, supporting a family during the lean years. Most people get ambitious faster than they become accomplished… that can be very frustrating.

What was the hardest technique for you to learn as a cartoonist?

Color work was always a challenge for me. I like using my computer to colorize now — it lets me make changes easily until I get it the way I like. With traditional media, you couldn’t correct an error or make a change so easily.

What cartoonist has inspired you the most?

Magazine cartoonist Henry Martin was widely published when I started out. He was a big influence, mostly on my humor style and writing.

What equipment and materials do you use?

I draw with a cheap Flair pen on heavyweight typing paper and do everything else on a Mac with Photoshop.

Where do your ideas for cartoons come from?

I get my ideas by thinking about topics that I think people are interested in, family, work, health, diets, kids, pets, etc. People like to read about themselves.

What’s your favorite part of being a cartoonist?

As a freelancer, every day has the potential to bring in something new and exciting. Each e-mail has the potential of great opportunity. Plus I don’t have to deal with office politics or any annoying coworkers. I work alone in a studio in my home (the third floor of a big old Victorian house in a small town). I have two enormous guinea pigs in my studio to keep me company; actually, they look more like baby panda bears.

Are other members of your family creative?

Randy: My son used to draw (serious stuff) when he was younger and he was much better than I am, but he lost interest. My mom used to dabble in oil paint and she taught me a little bit about color when I was a kid. But overall, no, I don’t belong to what anyone would describe as a “creative family”.

How do you promote your work?

Mostly on the Internet. My website gets a lot of traffic and that brings in a bit of new business every day.

What opportunities do you see for those interested in being a cartoonist?

The opportunities have never been better for cartoonists. Some say the markets are disappearing, but that’s not true at all. The market for cartoons is changing, but it’s not disappearing by any means. A cartoonist can publish his own work on the web and find an audience without having to go through an editor first — that’s a huge change. The web has empowered cartoonists like nothing before. Many cartoonists are experimenting with new ways to earn money and build a career online. Right now many cartoonists are pioneers exploring a digital frontier, blazing a lot of new trails.

Randy, would you say that you have reached your goal?

My success on the Internet has brought me closer to my goals, but like most people, I’m never satisfied. There’s always something new to challenge us.

My son wants to be a cartoonist. What final advice would you give to a young aspiring cartoonist?

Don’t be an artist who can write funny ideas. Be a writer who can draw funny pictures. The writing is everything. Have something to say and learn to say it in a funny way.


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