Shop Talk

Shop Talk: A question about filing, cartoon storage & art inventory

Today’s question comes from Mel Wilson. Mel writes:

How do you label and store all your cartoons? Also how to you keep track of them all? Do you have flat files, or do you scan them and have a digital inventory?

Thanks for the question, Mel. The answer is: It depends!

For digital cartoons, I store them according to date and topic, sometimes caption.
For example, I date each cartoon according to: year/month/date (space)-(space)topic/caption
So a cartoon about space monkeys would be 20190122 - Space Monkeys Hiccup.jpg

I save all the high res jpg files in a folder called “Cartoons” with a folder for each year (2017, 2018 etc.) My entire hard drive is synced to Dropbox.
I also have another folder called xPSD where all the high res 600dpi PSD files are kept, and that, too, is synced to dropbox, but using Dropbox Smart Sync, it is only ever in the cloud to save hard disk space. When I need them, I download them individually.

For hard copy drawings, I have various labelled drawers. For sketches that might be something, I store them in “sketches”, for finished artwork that has been published, (and is for sale on the store) I put it in “Published”. I also have one just for my New Yorker cartoons.

How are they organised? …well. They aren’t. I just pick up the pile and shuffle through until I find the one I’m looking for. It’s not a fool-proof system, but it works for this fool.

If you do have a massive archive of art, or you need to index and create an inventory for your art, I highly recommend ArtworkArchive. Their blog/newsletter alone is a brilliant source of information for artists.

Got a question? Hit me up in the contact page or in the comments section below.

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Shop Talk: Recommended Books on How to be a Gag Cartoonist?

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I get a lot of emails and DM’s from aspiring cartoonists asking for advice on courses or books to read on cartooning; particularly the art of gag cartooning. All I can do is refer you to two of the best books I was referred to on this topic when I was starting out, and those are:

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This one above* is by Mort Gerberg, who I think still holds the record for ‘most detailed first New Yorker cartoon in history’. (It was a full-pager of the ornate interior of church; a gag about high ceilings.) I think  the thing I like about Mort’s book is the more you refer back to it, the more you learn a little bit you might have missed the last time you read it. Mort continues to publish New Yorker cartoons to this day from his home in Manhattan. He still comes into the open pitch meetings and the local New Yorker events, and is one of those ever-adaptable cartoonists who keep up with the trends. (He has an Instagram and a Twitter you can follow.)
*It should be noted that it has since been republished under other publishers, but this is the original version. The opening chapter or two about schlepping around New York on a Wednesday to the various publishers with a stack of cartoons under your arm is a thing that just doesn’t exist any more. The only open call cartoon publication left of that stature is The New Yorker.

(Note: Mort has an exhibition opening at the New York Historical Society Museum & Library on 15th February this year. Link.)

The other book I was recommended, which I also refer back to often is “The Cartoonist's Muse: A Guide to Generating and Developing Creative Ideas” by Mischa Richter and Harald Bakken. I think either Tony Lopes or Glen LeLievre referred me to this book back in Australia about a decade ago, and to this day I recommend it to other cartoonists (and refer back to it myself very often).

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There is a lot more work than you realise that goes into creating a good cartoon, and these books are very instructive on the elusive craft therein.
Every week, I do a podcast with my friend Scott Dooley about this very topic of coming up with New Yorker cartoons, and by some miracle, we’re getting a few across the line at The New Yorker and MAD Magazine on a regular basis. You can subscribe to it wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you have any good book recommendations on gag cartooning, by all means let me know if the comments. I love getting new recommendations.

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