Drew Dernavich – Cartoonist for The New Yorker
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Interview with Drew Dernavich Cartoonist

Drew Dernavich – Cartoonist for The New Yorker Magazine

 

 

Drew Dernavich is a professional cartoonist who honed his craft from a very early age. His career has brought him from college newspapers to tombstone etchings to becoming a permanent fixture at the pinnacle of the cartoon world, The New Yorker magazine. He kindly took the time to chat with me about his unique career and the perspective it gives him on life in general…

 

 

Hi Drew, how are you?
I’m good. How are you?

 

Good, thanks. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me.
Sure. Thank you for wanting to chat with me.

 

It’s a pleasure! Are you in New York?
Yes, I am.

 

You live there full time?
Yes.

 

I’m a big fan of the New Yorker and also recently encountered your blog too. It’s brilliant! So, I thought to give you a call and ask you a few questions.
Yeah, great, thanks. I appreciated that.

 

To start, could you tell me how me about how you got into drawing in the first place and then became a full time cartoonist?
Sure. From when I grew up… I was the first child, so I guess I spent a lot of time by myself. And I was just hooked to drawing. I was always drawing. When my friends were outside playing sports, I was inside drawing. So, that was what I wanted to do. And then my professors at high school and then at college, all said… you know, they all encouraged me to be a painter. I got trained to be a fine artist. I was on that road where I was going to be a painting professor or teaching drawing in Italy somewhere. But… it’s a longer story that we don’t have to get into… but I liked cartoons just because they were more immediate. And I suppose, when I was at school, nobody was cutting out my figure drawings and taping them on their dorm room doors, but it was a lot of fun to see people cut out your cartoons and see them put them in their dorm rooms. Staple them up in hallways and stuff, that was a lot of fun. And I actually had a philosophy professor do apparently a whole lecture on one of my cartoons that I did in school. So… so from then I just liked cartooning better. I don’t think I was actually that good at it. I don’t think my sense of humour was that good when I started. But, I got better at it. And then spent a long time, when I lived in Boston, trying to do political and editorial cartoons for a while. And I did a comic strip which was… I tried to get it nationally syndicated. Almost got it, but never quite got there. And then in 2002 I was able to break through at The New Yorker, which is where every cartoonist wants to go.

 

Is The New Yorker the pinnacle for cartoonists? Or would you have liked to follow the path of a syndicated comic strip, or Far Side books, or that kind of thing?
Yeah, I think either would have been fine. I mean, I did try to get syndicated for a while, and ah, a lot of the editors who saw my stuff said, “Your sense of humour is better for The New Yorker, not for newspapers”, so… And at the time I don’t think they were right but the editor of The New Yorker liked my stuff when I showed him, so… I would have been happy with either one. I think the trade off is… I think the benefit of being syndicated is that you get something every day. And The New Yorker you only get your twenty best cartoons published every year. So people don’t get to see… I mean we do the same amount. We do hundreds per year and only a fraction of them get published. So, sometimes that can be frustrating, but it’s a great… I mean, I love it. So, no complaints.

 

Do you think The New Yorker pushes you to a higher level of humour and smarts?
Ah, yeah they definitely do. You have to keep in mind the audience. I mean, I do keep in mind the audience when I’m doing it… You have to kind of, you know, I don’t… there are people who suggest that you take a notebook around and when you see a funny sign or hear something funny in conversation that you write it down, you know, to get ideas from. And it’s good to get ideas that way, and that certainly works. But, I find that for The New Yorker it’s a lot more than that. I have to write for hours every day, every morning really, writing and trying to push the jokes or the gags or the setups and make sure that the material is as strong as it can be or as unique as it can be. So, I know a lot of the comic strip people, and they do the same thing.

 

Okay. And as a result of all that do you try to stay on top of current affairs and sports and so on? Sometimes the cartoons are related to what’s going on in the news, and other times it is more of a general human observation.
Right. I do both. I like to stay on top of trends in the news and social media. Mostly for my own benefit just because I enjoy it. You know, The New Yorker… the cartoons at least, isn’t based too much on topical stuff. Though I did just sell one that will be published before the olympics. So, there’s that. But most of my stuff isn’t timely, it’s just your typical humour of everyday observations. Mostly about doctors and lawyers and cats and dogs.

 

And when you are coming up with the captions do you find that sometimes you have it right away and other times times you need to think about it for a while? You have to get the balance of it being not too obvious but also not too subtle, right?
Right. The cartoon doesn’t usually come in parts. It’s usually just an idea. There is a visual and a caption that I think of at the same time. And then, a lot of times the seed of that idea is fully formed when you think of it, and other times you have maybe a funny setup or a funny situation but when you go to draw it or write a caption you find out that it needs some massaging. Or it needs to be tighter. Or maybe it doesn’t work as well you thought it did, or… And then, it works in reverse too. Sometimes ideas I have that I think are terrible… I’ll sketch them out and say, “This stinks”, and then a year later I’ll come back and somehow will find whatever makes it work and then suddenly it’s funny.

 

I was laughing about an anecdote I read which said Bob Mankoff (The New Yorker Cartoon Editor) asked you to explain one of your pictures and you replied, “I don’t think I can”. It kind of puts it on the same level as modern art, either you get it or you don’t. Perhaps the creator doesn’t even fully get it either, but it still has an element of humour in it somewhere?
(Laughing). Yeah. I think it’s true. And sometimes when you think of an idea it’s just the funny juxtaposition and you don’t necessarily know why it’s funny. But you just kind of react to it. Even when I think of the idea, you just kind of react to it and it just pops into your head… And yeah to actually explain what it means would mean going into your subconscious mind and pulling apart a lot of stuff that you don’t even know is there. So, you know, it’s like that old thing about humour where if you have to explain the joke, you just destroy the joke in the process, so… don’t even try.

 

And when you are coming up with new ideas and you think you have something good, do you tend to share it with your friends in the cartoon community, your contemporaries… do you work off their feedback or do you generally just submit your own ideas straight up?
Ah, I do both. Most of the time I sketch stuff out and I’m kind of my own editor. But, I do have cartoonists where we will do this thing where we’ll each pitch each other the ten ideas we’re working on, or the ten last ideas we thought of. And I’ll try and make his better and he’ll try and make mine better. And that’s really fun. Because it always helps, it always helps.

 

You think it’s important to have people in the same field to bounce things off and improve overall as an artist?
Yeah, I do. I think that it’s important to not be… I think it’s a cliche of being an artist, even a cartoonist, who sits at home, and they’re some solitary genius, and no one can ever improve on their ideas. I think that’s an overrated cliche. And I think there’s a lot of benefit in collaborating, at least bouncing ideas off people. Because, really they can always be made better. I mean, there are very few things I’ve done that if I solicit input from other people can’t be made better by somebody. And that’s not a comment on my self esteem. I think that’s just reality. You know, it’s like with the caption contest in the back of the magazine… a lot of times what the public winner is for that contest is similar to a caption that I had, but a lot of times it’s better. It’s something that I never would have thought of in the first place. So, I enjoy that.

 

Cool! I read that you tend to break your week into days for writing and days for drawing, is that right? You don’t just sit down at a blank piece of paper and see what comes to mind?
Yeah, I do. I try and write, like I said, for a couple of hours every morning, when I can. When I get some sleep, and I have coffee and time allows for me to do it. And then the days that I draw, I have a sketchbook full of stuff that I’ve recently done, that I choose from. So yeah, there’s stuff written.

 

Drew Dernavich Interview

Warning Shots – First version

 

Drew Dernavich Cartoonist Interview

Warning Shots – Final Version: (Credit: The New Yorker)

 

And you mentioned that some of your ideas don’t come out as you thought and you leave them for a long time, sometimes years even, to ferment and mature. I had read your blog about the ‘Warning Shots’ and that one seemed to come back to you after such a long time (six years). I would have never thought it had such history behind it, I just thought it was very funny immediately.
(Laughing). Thanks. It was funny. You know, another one that I had a long time with, but I didn’t write about it was the one that was on the cover of the 2013 wall calendar. Which was a picture of you know the mechanical bar-bull that rocks back and forth and throws people off? So, I did the mechanical cat which just sits there. So, there’s just a guy sleeping on the mechanical cat and there’s some comment saying, “It’s a lot easier than the mechanical bull”. I had that idea… I think I sat on it for five years and I just didn’t think it was funny. And then, one day I was out of ideas and I drew it up and as I was drawing it I said, “Wow, this is… why didn’t I think this was funny before?”. And so, it was funny enough to make it to the front of the calendar.

 

Drew Dernavich Interview

(Credit: The New Yorker)

 

Awesome. Do you think that is a characteristic of artistic people? That you have something in your mind and it takes a while not just to come to fruition but to emerge clearly in your own mind?
Yeah, I think so. I think cartoons are different because they work differently than other artwork. You know, you kind of experience a cartoon in a couple of seconds and then you move on… But, you know, I’m friends with an artist and she was just talking about how she is in her studio and she kind of paints a little bit and then stares at it for a while. And it could be months before she gets around to finishing it. And cartoons are not the same way, but it is you know… if you look at my desk there are… I have my sketchbook open to, there are probably thirty ideas that are written down and I will probably draw five of them today… and the other twenty five… they’ll sit there and they’re not good enough for me to draw yet. Maybe some day I’ll come back and maybe in a year one of them will pop to life.

 

Do you find that sometimes you’ll have a drawing like that which will be on hold for a year or two and then something happens in your life which makes you see it in a new light? The serendipity of life makes you see things in a new way which makes it good?
Yeah. I think that totally happens. I think that’s what it is. And you can never really predict what it’s going to be. Your sense of humour changes and your perspective on things change, so that’s inevitable.

 

And if you are trying to let things come to you in this natural way, do you also try to keep a set structure, like your few hours of writing? Do you have a set methodology you follow that allows this natural influence to happen, while also continuing to work normally?
Yes. I mean, you can never really… all you can do is control the setting and the environment. You can’t control the output, so I just try and, I think number 1 is that I have to have sleep (laughing). My brain has to be awake. Like I said, I was joking, but coffee does seem to help. And then, I have a variety of magazines, publications, websites that I go to, that I’m not reading for content but they tend to be good things that… they have writing that… I don’t even know what it is! Maybe it’s something that conjures up a phrase, or you know… A website will have quirky contents about putting or something, and suddenly I think, “Oh, putting…”. And then you start to free associate on one thing. Sometimes you can sit there for an hour and not come up with any ideas and it seems to go that once you think of one, that opens the floodgates where you start thinking of more. The ideas come easily. But it can take a while to think of that first one. It can be frustrating. And there have been many days where I’ve sat there thinking that I’ve had the last idea that I’m ever going to have. I change locations too. Sometimes I do it at home. Sometimes I do it at a coffeeshop. Sometimes I do it at another coffeeshop. So you have to kind of mix up everything so that you make sure you’re not getting into a rut.

 

Sure. That’s interesting how you manage the cartoonist’s writer’s block, so to speak.
(Laughing). Yeah.

 

Drew Dernavich Cartoonist Interview

(Credit: The New Yorker)

 

 

One of your cartoons that I also really like is something that is so simple but so funny. It’s the picture of a car stuck in traffic and the caption says ‘Try Honking’. Everyone does this and it’s so stupid but then when you see it in the cartoon it’s hilarious, but nobody reflects on it like that when they are actually honking, right?
That actually was one, that caption was submitted by a reader in the caption contest. But that’s an example of one of the captions that was better than the one I had. I don’t remember what my… I actually do remember what my caption was for that one, but it was horrible. (Laughing).

 

In relation to that, one of your quotes I’d read said, “The best way to parody something is just to leave it alone”. I thought that was very apt for the honking cartoon, because you are pretty much just saying exactly what is happening, and it’s ridiculous.
Yeah, sometimes you can overthink. And I do that a lot. Try and overthink what a caption is. And if I… a lot of times in my sketchbook that’s what they are. The captions tend to be really long and really wordy. I find that that’s the best thing you can do. It’s like packing to go on a trip. They say, “Pack what you think you will need, then bring half of that”. That’s kind of the same thing with a caption. Write what you think will be funny and then see if you can cut it in half. And then, you know, I think a general rule of thumb is, ‘the simpler, the funnier’.

 

Interview with Drew Dernavich - Cartoonist for The New Yorker

(Credit: The New Yorker).

 

Was your cartoon of the NFL touchdown celebrations something along those lines too?
Ah, yeah. That’s just one of those things where I probably thought… probably had the word of… you know, when you read the words of ‘endzone touchdown’ or ‘endzone celebration’… when you read it you have a picture in your mind of what that actually is because you’ve watched the games. But if you just read those words on paper without knowing what it is, you might imagine something like that if you hadn’t watched the football game. That’s one of those things that happens… that’s what I mean by sitting down and pushing the idea. And sometimes pushing the idea means kind of clearing your mind of any preconceived association you have with words and then trying to figure out what they might actually mean or do that would be funnier.

 

Sure. And also to make it more relatable to not just the NFL fan but to people not so familiar with football?
Right.

 

And in regards to actually drawing, you say that the best way (to learn to draw) is not to teach how to draw, but to teach how to think about drawing, so as to open the mind to see things in new lights?
I think so. One of the other cartoonists, Sam Gross, who is one of the long time cartoonists, who is a very funny guy… he says, “There’s people who draw things funny and there are people who draw funny things”. Meaning there is people who draw kind of goofy looking characters and that’s the source of their humour, but there are other people that draw that bring out the humour in a funny way. By just the setup and the caption and the context. And I think that’s just more what I try to do. Because there is nothing that’s inherently funny about my characters, but… Because of my style, because the lines are so heavy I try not to include anything that doesn’t really belong in the cartoon. Anything that’s extra. Like if you show two people meeting on a street, I don’t even draw the street. It’s just two characters and you have to kind of know why they’re meeting. You know, because again with that principle that simpler is funnier.

 

And with The New Yorker in particular, Bob Mankoff says that, “If you read The New Yorker you must know a little bit about something”. In that sense do you ever remove something from your cartoons so that the punchline isn’t so obvious?
Yeah. Oh yeah. We were just talking about a cartoon last week that I’d done where I thought it was funny, but then as he was reading it he said that it didn’t work. And as he was telling me that it didn’t work, I realised that I basically explained the… the caption was basically explaining the image that you saw, instead of being something that was funny. That sounds vague but… So we both agreed… and I agree in general, I try and do that with humour where you have to… and it’s one of the main differences between comic strip cartoons and The New Yorker cartoons. I think it’s why the editors told me that they thought my humour was New Yorker humour. I think that a good cartoon makes the reader have to do a little bit of work to get it. And I think there’s a better payoff for the reader if you have to figure something out. And if the caption is completely obvious, even if it’s really funny, then to me that’s not a cartoon that will last. But a cartoon that you have to spend even a half-second figuring out on your own… you give credit to the reader for being intelligent enough to figure it out.

 

Sure. That would be the way of a lot of The Far Side cartoons, right? That you have to look at the caption and then sometimes look at the picture a second time before you realise why it’s hilarious.
Yeah. As an illustration which is funny, one of my doctors I used to have had this cartoon. It was multiple cartoons of someone at the doctor’s office and the doctor is coming in holding a cat and the doctor saying to the patient, “It’s time for your cat scan”. Which is, you know, it’s the most obvious… I think everyone in the world has probably thought of that joke when they’ve heard the word CAT scan. Also, if you are going to do that cartoon as a panel in a comic strip, drawing it that way is the most obvious way to draw it. What’s funny is that this doctor didn’t have a good sense of humour because he had like five versions of the same cartoon. Apparently there were five, published, syndicated cartoonists who thought it was funny enough to do. And it was almost the exact same joke. I thought, you know, if you were going to do that in The New Yorker, a funny way to do it to get the reader to play along a little bit would be maybe a guy walking in the office with scratches all over his face, and you know, saying “I don’t want to have one of those scans again”, or something where you have to figure out, “Oh that’s the CAT scan”.

 

Interview with cartoonist Drew Dermavich

(Credit: The New Yorker)

 

I know what you mean. And that relates to my next question. You know your cartoon captioned ‘Aromashocktherapy’? That one is kind of immediately funny in the ridiculous way but then also interesting on a deeper level like what you said in reference to that drawing, “I figured it was at least as scientific as electroshock therapy”. So, if the reader actually thinks about it they might come to that same conclusion as to the absurdity of electroshock therapy?
(Laughing). That is true. Although, that cartoon specifically I know that I did because we published… I say we, the other cartoonist Matt Diffee edited two volumes of rejected cartoons… cartoons that were rejected from The New Yorker. And I did it with that in mind because there are some cartoons that I know will never get published but I enjoy the fact that the editors have to look at them. Even though I know they’ll never say yes, I just enjoy the fact knowing that these incredibly intelligent literary people… I imagine them groaning and having a laugh and saying, “Ugh, why did I even have to look at that joke?”, or “Why did I even have to think about it?”. I enjoy the fact that that even has to happen, even if I’m not there to see it. So that’s the only reason I did that cartoon (laughing).

 

Interview with cartoonist Drew Dernavich

Security camera idea, in progress

 

Drew Dernavich interview

(Credit: The New Yorker)

 

(Laughing). And in regards to some of the cartoons that sometimes take a while to come together fully, is that frustrating? For example, the security camera one, that was an interesting story on your blog. (Ed. note. Drew had the idea of security guards being in a room on break, watching noir films. But the idea didn’t work, until he spoke with a colleague and found the real joke to be had).
Yeah, and that was when Paul Noth, who is another cartoonist, he is the one who helped me think about that. And that’s one that as I was thinking of a room full of people watching this bank of security cameras but they weren’t actually watching the security cameras. I had that instance where I thought, “Yeah, there is something really funny there”. And then when I went to draw it, as I began to think about the actual setup and the caption and the difficulties of you know, are people going to realize what’s going on here? Are they going to recognize this is a security camera room? It became less funny. I began to overthink it. So that was one of the ones that Paul helped me figure out.

 

Do you find that frustrating when something doesn’t come out how you want at first, even if it does so in the end?
Yeah. It’s frustrating when you think you have a funny idea and then it falls apart before you on the page. Because, you know, maybe for every twenty ideas I think of, there will be ten that I draw for submission, but there are two or three that I think are really good, that are winners. And then, so I think that’s one of the ones that I thought would be a winner so I was disappointed to see it kind of fall apart. And then luckily it was resuscitated. But you know, we’re doing cartoons. We’re not trying to come up with the cure for some disease. So, I try not to spend a lot of time with a single cartoon if I get really frustrated with it. You know, that’s what the sketchbook is for. I just write it down, put a star by it, or put a post-it by it and come back to it later, and then move on to the next thing.

 

Interview with cartoonist Drew Dernavich

(Credit: The New Yorker)

 

Okay, cool. One other of yours that I really enjoyed was the one, ‘Bob was raised in the wilderness by salmon’. That one is very funny.
Thanks. Yeah I think that was one of the ones that I thought of… you know, that image came instantly. And that was one of the first ones that they ever bought from me. I remember in that instance trying to think about… you hear people being raised in the wilderness by wolves or by gorillas, so I thought what would be a funny animal that somebody could be raised by, that would have a funny effect? And that just popped into my head and there wasn’t a lot of editing I had to do in that one.

 

Oh right! Really cool. I thought that was a much more recent one actually, so that’s interesting to know that it was from so early in your career.
You can actually tell if you… I mean I spend too much time with them unfortunately, but if you look at my work from the early years of The New Yorker when I started in 2003, 4, 5, there is a lot more lines, a lot more noise in the artwork. And I try and make them cleaner now. So, if you laid out ten of my drawings you could probably figure out where they occurred chronologically just by how much extra noise and how much extra lines there are in the drawing. I suggest that you find better things to do with your time however! (Laughing).

 

(Laughing). I had also seen that you are quite interested in the arts in general? I saw some interviews you have conducted with poets, and another artist in Australia…
Well, I do. I mean, I’m interested in a lot of things. I’m interested in sports. And music really. I waste I think eighty percent of my day reading music blogs and listening to music. But ah, yeah, I am interested in art from… I kind of go in and out. I get disgusted and frustrated with art for a while, and then I ignore it for a few years. But now I am on the other end of the pendulum, where I am into it again. So, yeah, I just became a writer for this magazine called Curator, online, which may have been where you saw the interview with the poet. And so, I’m excited to do things for them even though it will probably just end up being silly humourous things.

 

Sure. That’s great to have those different interests rather than all New Yorker stuff.
Yeah, I think there needs to be. If I could resurrect myself you know, in a different life somehow, I would try maybe to be a fine artist. I would like to be a Marcel Duchamp kind of a person. ‘Cause he was a fine artist and painter but he had a sense of humour. There aren’t too many with humour that go into the fine art world. Which is part of maybe why I gravitated toward cartooning in the first place.

 

One of the other painters I read that you like is John Singer Sargent, is that right?
Yeah.

 

Interview with Drew Dernavich
John Singer Sargent Henry James
John Singer Sargent

 

I was looking through his paintings and I thought it was interesting because when I look at his pictures it looks like all of his subjects are about to say something, or are thinking something very specific, so it has a parallel to cartoons, even though the medium is quite different.

Yeah, that’s an interesting observation, because they do. They look like they have something on their mind. As opposed to a lot of those other nineteenth century painting where the people just look like they are asleep.

 

Also, I was going to ask about the cartoons where you are capturing human behaviours. A lot of them are reminiscent of the movie ‘Office Space’. Guys wallowing over a drink appearing forlorn about work and life. I was wondering where those inspirations might have come from, considering you being a cartoonist may not have spent so much time working in those kind of overbearing office environments?
Yeah, I haven’t worked in that environment because I’ve never officially been an employee of any place that has cubicles like that. But, I end up doing a lot of cartoons about that and I don’t know why. I think it’s one of those things that appeals to me, or that just seems to be… there’s something funny about that. It’s not the cubicles really, it’s the board room, the conference room. There’s something that’s funny to me about, this you know, a long table of mahogany wood with a bunch of white guys sitting around, and those are the people that make all of the important decisions for everything. That’s the cliche, that’s the setup. I would think I probably submit one cartoon a week with that setup in it. I’m sure Bob’s probably tired of seeing conference room cartoons from me.

 

Interview with cartoonist Drew Dernavich

(Credit: The New Yorker)

 

I saw the one about the boardroom position outside the elevator with the caption, ‘The boss likes to have quick meetings’, or something like that. That was a good one. (Laughing).
Thank you.

 

Interview with Drew Dernavich

 

I was going to ask about another of your blog posts… you know the ‘Bitten’ newspaper clipping, about the man who was bitten but amusingly it gave no information as to how or why or by who or what. I wondered if sometimes when you see something like that do you think about if you could turn it into something even funnier in a cartoon, or if it just achieves it’s brilliance in it’s current form?
Right. I thought it was funny when I read it. And I didn’t think that I could turn it into anything funny. It’s funny you say that because a lot of times you’ll be… you know because people know I’m a cartoonist, so at family gatherings or social situations, someone will say something funny and inevitably somebody always says, “Hey, you should write that down, it would make a great cartoon”. But taken out the context from which the person said it, it almost always would be a terrible cartoon (laughing).

 

And is being a cartoonist a very satisfying job? It seems you job adapts itself to your life rather than you adapting to the job which would be the case with many other forms of work.
Right. I like it. It’s what I always wanted to do. And right, in terms of someone setting the agenda for your work and you’ve got to do these tasks that accomplish someone else’s agenda… yeah, we’re not really doing that. Although, we still have… I’m still constrained, if I can call it that, by the subjects and the type of humour that The New Yorker will publish. And I still have an editor who I sometimes feel like will kill ideas that I love. But, that’s all. Those sound like complaints but they’re really not. Getting to draw cartoons and have them published, it’s what I always wanted to do, so yeah, it’s great. It’s great.

 

And have you had many moments where you thought something was really funny or really brilliant and people have said, “Eh, I don’t get it”.
Yeah, (laughing), that I have. Usually it happens when I have an idea and I haven’t drawn it or captured it correctly.

 

It’s not usually the fault of the joke, but of the presentation?
I think so. I mean, when I ask people what their favourite cartoons are, they are always different to what are my favourite. Which is fine.

 

Drew Dernavich Cartoonist Interview

(Credit: The New Yorker)

 

Do you have a particular favourite you can share with us?
(Laughing). There’s the guy going up the down escalator, that’s actually one of my funniest ones. I do like one that’s not really a laugh out loud cartoon, that I did around the same time. Which is called ‘The Langmore Regional High School Inner Debate Team’, I believe. And it’s just a bunch of high school kids standing around in a room not saying anything. And I don’t know why I thought that was funny, but just I can remember being in high school and not having a clue about anything in the world. Especially being forced to have an opinion about something I would debate on. So, the fact that there are high school debate teams, which I think is great practice for debating, but thinking back on my own experience, I was so clueless about almost everything in life. And so, I thought the fact that they have high school debate teams was a funny… You know, the only debate that was going on in high school was going on inside my head.

 

Interview with Drew Dernavich

(Credit: The New Yorker)

 

Cool. I saw that today is Edgar Allen Poe’s birthday and you had a cartoon about him which is a good one too. That must be a good way to start your week! Celebrating your drawing, it being on sale at The New Yorker and just generally feeling good about the week ahead.

Right. (Laughing).

 

As a final question, on a personal level, I was wondering when you reflect on your life as a cartoonist have you learned any lessons about life, or obtained any particular perspective?
Ah, any lessons about life… I guess one of the lessons is not so much a lesson as something I am thankful for. Which is that, if you really want to do something… if you enjoy it that means that you are supposed to do it. And I think, going back to what I said before, I wish that there were ten New Yorkers that I could draw for so that I could do this every single day. Because I really enjoy doing it. It doesn’t feel like work, even though it is work. And this is what I know that I was meant to do. Because it just feels like it comes naturally. But, one of the other lessons that doesn’t come from me but comes from Bob Mankoff is in reference to cartoons but it applies to the rest of life too, is that we submit five, ten, some people may submit fifteen cartoons a week because they see a lot of cartoons so you have to submit that many in order to have one make it. And Bob said, “That’s why you do ten things in life, because nine of them don’t work out”. He was referring to cartoons, I think. But, I found that to be true in the rest of life. Which is, you kind of have to have a lot of things going on because nine out of ten things won’t work out or won’t pan out and you can’t be too precious or too attached to those things. You have to be able to let them go and then move on to the next thing.

 

Okay, great!
And I don’t mean that in reference to people (laughing). I mean, just with things in general.

 

Great! I think that’s a good note to finish on. Thanks a million for taking the time to chat with me. It’s been a real pleasure.
Sure. I appreciate the fact that you thought I was interesting enough to interview. I’m flattered by that.

 

Brilliant. I really enjoy following your work and also your blog posts, so keep that up too.
Thanks. I appreciate that too. It’s fun to do.

 

Brilliant. Thanks Drew.
Thanks Ross. Have a great day.

 

 

For more on Drew you can follow him here below:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrewDernavich

Blog: http://wordspictureshumor.wordpress.com/

New Yorker Magazine

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