Today I spoke to Gen and Lewis on Triple J about the new pod, drawing Larry David and being a cartoonist in the Trump era. Click image above to listen to the interview.
Aussie New Yorker cartoonist Jason Chatfield on caricaturing Trump
Gen and Lewis were joined down the line by ‘Australia’s most widely syndicated cartoonist’, Jason Chatfield, only to be lightly roasted by the magic of cartoons.
Jason’s work has been seen in over 120 newspapers in over 30 countries around the world and you might have seen his work on Ginger Meggs, MAD Magazine and the New Yorker. He’s also recently started a podcast with triple j alum Scott Dooley where they workshop ideas for New Yorker. He joined us to talk through how he got here and one Trump doodle in particular.
One of Jason’s career highlights to date (/highlight of his life, in general) was when he was asked to draw Larry David for the wall of Sardi’s Restaurant (a New York institution). At the time he wrote: ‘I don’t know quite how to describe how much I revere Larry.’ It was a big moment. So, how did he get here? How did he go from Perth to caricaturing his “spirit animal” for the world’s most legendary wall of caricatures?
According to Jason, it was a relatively classic tale: he used to get in trouble doing it in school until someone paid him to draw a teacher and he was off. Also, says Jason, “It was really just the only employable skill I seemed to have — you know, makin’ jokes — so I pretty much just did it as a hobby until it became a job.”
He’d previously been working as a printer during the day and doing caricatures at night. “I was burning myself out, burning the candle at both ends, so I decided to ditch the full-time job when I was like 19 or 20.” So after transitioning into officially being a cartoonist, how did he start making money? “It isn’t easy, I’ll give it that,” says Jason. “You’ve kind of gotta be able to do everything. You’ve got to be able to do political cartoons, and comic strips, and caricatures, and illustrations, and animations, and everything so you become a bit of an all-rounder.”
But by working in America, Jason says, he’s been able to specialise “because there’s enough work to go around.” Having said that, Jason is currently writing for MAD, doing cartoons for the New Yorker, writing Ginger Meggs everyday, doing stand-up at night and podcasting with Dools, so his work is being spread far and wide.
‘Is There Something In This?’ began because they were already workshopping ideas for cartoons at the pub anyway. So at some point, Scott suggested it might make a good podcast. To which Jason replied: “Absolutely not. There’s no way that anyone wants to listen to us talk about a visual medium but we did it and I’m being proven an idiot every week because it’s become very popular over here.”
One of the cartoons they workshopped, which was eventually bought by the New Yorker, was of Trump around the time of the National School Walkout to protest gun violence. It got back to Jason, through a lobbyist friend who was in the White House on the day it came out, that Trump actually liked it. “It was the worst day of my life,” says Jason.
“The best thing for a cartoonist is if someone doesn’t like your cartoon if you drew them. If you do a political cartoon and the politician hates it, then you’ve really done your job.”
"Apparently he just didn't read the tag and he just saw his face and must have loved it. He blocked me on Twitter a while ago, though, so I haven't actually been able to read his tweets for a while. It's bliss."