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Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell on what it takes to become a cartoonist for The New Yorker
Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell is a cartoonist, writer, documentary filmmaker and comedian based in Brooklyn, New York. Her cartoons have…
Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell is a cartoonist, writer, documentary filmmaker and comedian based in Brooklyn, New York. Her cartoons have appeared in The New Yorker, GQ, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan and Refinery29. She co-illustrated Feminist Fight Club and released her first book Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, But You Could’ve Done Better.
It is a weekly routine for many to log in to The New Yorker website and head, not to the news, the listings or the reviews, but to the cartoons. Drawing comics and cartooning is quite deceptive —superficially it looks so simple like anyone could do it. But once you sit down and try to brainstorm some witty idea or story that feels both relevant to the present era and can be appreciated by readers years into the future. You’ll quickly learn it’s very difficult, takes lots of practice, and requires sharp skills and intelligence.
That got me thinking: What did some of today’s New Yorker cartoonists like Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell did to develop her artistic capabilities to publish work in one of the world’s most famous magazines?
Lets find out :)
Excerpts from the Interview :-
Q1) I was wondering what your introduction to illustration initially was? Was it something in particular that made you want to work at The New Yorker?
Hilary : I’ve been drawing since I was very young. So I’m not sure what my actual introduction could have been! Though I was always obsessed with Charlie Brown and Snoopy. I think that The New Yorker was always the goal because in cartooning, it is the place to be.
Q2) What is your daily ritual? How do you approach your work?
Hilary : I draw all day every day. In between drawing, I walk around with my dog, take baths, do the dishes. I keep a notebook with me at all times that I doodle every thought I have in. Then I go through my notebooks to find ideas that I want to flesh out into finished cartoons. Most of my cartoons are just thoughts I’ve had to myself or based on things that have happened in my life, or a friend’s life. I would be no where without my funny friends.
Q3) Which artists were you looking at when developing your drawing style early on? Was there something unique about your environment, geography, or regional culture that impacted the development of your skills?
Hilary : Again I would have to say that I admired Schulz so much growing up (obviously still do) so I tried to copy him as a kid, in order to learn how to draw. I think you can still see influences of his line work in my own art today.
Q4) Do you have an essential philosophy that guides you in your creative expression?
Hilary : HA! No. Just be myself I guess!!!
Q5) What personality characteristics do you have that has been most helpful in your career?
Hilary : This is a tough question. Ability to handle rejection perhaps? Not that I do it that well…
Q6) The process of “coming up” with a joke is quite fascinating for someone on the other side, reading or hearing them. Do you have a certain process?
Hilary : I wouldn’t say there’s an actual process. There’s many ways to find a joke. Sometimes a funny image comes to you and you have to figure out what the line is. What’s the commentary on that image that adds to the joke. But other times the line comes to you, just as a thought, or something you heard said, or something you said outloud and thought “Oh I should write that down.” And then you find the appropriate image to go along with it.
Q7) How would you describe your sense of humor? Would you say your personal humor matches The New Yorker’s sense of humor? Do you think The New Yorker pushes you to a higher level of humor and smarts?
Hilary : I often feel like I don’t match The New Yorker’s humor! Especially because I’m not from New York. But if I let that thought get the best of me, I wouldn’t keep submitting my work, and I would be limiting the idea of my own humor, and The New Yorker’s. Because even though The New Yorker may appear to have one type of voice at times, it’s really a forever changing voice, that is the voice of many. I’m not sure what my humor truly is, outside of silly neurotic lady with a dog. But being at The New Yorker makes you try to be funnier, every week, and I think that’s the great push they give you.
Q8) Tell us about the book which you illustrated for writers — “Are you My Uber” , “Breaking up Is Hard to Do, But You Could’ve Done Better”, “Everything Is Going To Be OK” and How to Date Your Wardrobe”. Any personal incident you experienced which was depicted in these books.
Hilary : Breaking Up Is Hard to Do is actually my own book but all of the other ones were great experiences. What I like about illustrating other author’s work is it forces me to think about situations and topics that I myself wouldn’t normally draw about. Like with How To Date Your Wardrobe… I wear t-shirts and shorts! So at first I was like, my god how am I going to illustrate a fashion book? But then when I started, I realized, I had PLENTY of thoughts on fashion! I just didn’t realize it. My favorite cartoon in that book is about a woman with a leopard print mood board.
Q9) You think it’s important to have people in the same field to bounce things off and improve overall as an artist?
Hilary : Yes I wholeheartedly believe this.
Q10) How do you engage with your online audience? What have been some of the challenges of promoting yourself on Instagram/Medium and making a living off of cartooning and filmmaking?
Hilary : Ayyyy there’s a million challenges! Being a working artist is just flat out, not easy. Some people live with more of a “get rich quick!” plan, and it seems I’ve gone down the other path, the “get poor quick!” scheme of cartooning! Jokes aside — it’s a hustle. You have to always be creating, always have 5–10 projects in the mix. You have to be smart about it.
Q11) Can you speak a bit to the feminist themes you have going on with your cartooning? Do shed some light on your work with Feminist Fight Club.
Hilary : Personally, I never know how to answer questions about “feminist themes” in my work. I think I am a woman therefore I draw about being a woman. Being a woman was of course, very useful when illustrating Feminist Fight Club :)
Q12) Any future projects you’re working on right now. I have seen your blog and you are coming up with your first graphic memoir. Any spoilers ☺ ?
Hilary : Murder Book will be out with Andrews McMeel this fall!
Q13) 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.
Hilary : I love it. I couldn’t do anything else. And it’s a huge relief to never have to put on pants.
Q14) How did you maintain the balance cartooning and filming? What were the key challenges in making — “This is not the end” and “Small Talk”? How long did it take to research and make these short films?
Hilary : I haven’t worked in film in awhile — it’s not easy to be working in that world and cartooning simultaneously. Those films were both deeply personal and made over the course of a few months, long before I was cartooning professionally.
Q15) One last question! What’s one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring cartoonist, writer or artist? 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?
Hilary : Draw every day. It’s the only thing that can help you.
Thank you all for reading and a big thanks to Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell for collaborating in today’s post!
It’s a pleasure!
If any of my readers here , wish to know more about Hilary and her work. They can open the links mentioned below. It has all the essential details about her portfolio , events , blog and sketchbook.
Website : http://www.cartoonsbyhilary.com/
Catapult : https://catapult.co/hilaryfitzgeraldcampbell
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/cartoonsbyhilary/
Tiktok : https://www.tiktok.com/@cartoonasmr
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/cartoonsbyhilary/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/cartoonsbyhil