The most frequently asked question any cartoonist hears is…
Where do you get your ideas?
Since I do this for a living, I can’t sit around waiting for the Inspiration Fairy to fly in my window. I must think up several new cartoon ideas every day. I find it helps to have a reliable routine. If my routine worked for me yesterday, I can assume it will work for me again today. I start by refilling my coffee cup, then I grab a yellow legal pad and pencil, and some sort of idea-stimulator like a magazine, an old cartoon book, or an article on the web. Most days I start writing ideas around 10:30 AM and finish before lunch.
An ad in a business magazine about a company’s environmental policies might start me thinking in that direction about going green, whether the company is sincere or just chasing a politically correct trend, where to find money for this sort of thing in a tight economy, other things that are green (frogs, money, eyes, cupcakes, boogers, envy, etc). After a few minutes of brain storming, I’ll start jotting down ideas and after an hour or two I usually have 10-15 new cartoon ideas. After lunch I’ll look at the ideas again, draw up a few and put the others aside to maybe draw some other time if I think they’re good enough.
The idea always comes before the drawing. (Without an idea I wouldn’t know what to draw.) While I draw, I often re-write and edit my cartoon captions, trying to make them better in some way, shorter, easier to understand, funnier wording.
You might not realize it to look at me, but I exercise almost every day because it stimulates the creative process. In my experience, physical energy and creative energy are inseparable. When I’m feeling energetic, I write better. When I’m tired, my writing suffers. If I’m feeling sluggish on some days, a 15-20 minute walk around the block will usually help. I imagine this is true for any type of creative idea work, whether it’s a project at work or school, a sermon, a magazine article, whatever.
I’ll answer some other questions in future editions of the blog. If you have any questions or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you!
8 thoughts on “Where Do You Get Your Ideas?”
Randy. Thank you for sharing your creative process. As a musician I appreciate the difficulty of the creative process how at times there is a very easy flow and at other times there is some constraint. The new web site is very nice and more up to date. Please thank your daughter from me.
You’re welcome Bill 🙂
You come up with 10-15 ideas in a couple of hours? Can I have some?
Enjoyed the posts..
Great thread. Enjoyed the posts..
I am a cardiologist. It is hard for most comedians to make me laugh. I truly enjoy your cartoons. They are always very clever
Thank you for all the great comments! It’s great to hear from everyone and hope you will continue to comment on future blog posts! Please let me know if there is a topic you’d like me to discuss in future editions of the blog.
The question I get asked most is, “But do you really make any money that way?” Then I ask to see their income tax form.
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