In my day job as a web and graphic designer, I also teach a lot of my design clients how to market. When searching for some marketing and social media commentary on Mashable.com, I stumbled across some of Maria Scrivan‘s marketing comics. As someone who teaches some marketing methodology, Maria’s comics hit the nail right on the head.
In addition to her brilliant take on the nature of social media and marketing , Maria also creates comics that span many of the weird circumstances in our world, including comics about relationships, annoyances, sports, nature, and more. Maria has a well-developed style doused in obvious professionalism. Each of her comics are well thought-out, show economy of text and content, and are easy to relate to. Besides being inducted into the National Cartoonist Society, being a guest comic for a syndicated strip, and having her own strip on GoComics, Maria is also a die-hard athlete who is able to find balance in her life while juggling such success. Though in the middle of the launch of her new GoComics strip, Maria was kind enough to give me some of her time to answer a few of my questions.
Interview with comic creator, Maria Scrivan:
Q. What is your artist background and what inspired you to start cartooning?
A. I have been drawing cartoons since I was a young child. I was obsessed with Garfield and hugely inspired by Sandra Boyton’s work as well. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts and studied drawing, painting and photography. Shortly after graduation, I worked at an animation studio doing character design, in-betweening and background painting. After that I worked as an Art Director for an interactive advertising agency for 2 years and then went on to form my own graphic design and web design studio. All the while I continued to draw, working on cartoon illustrations for corporations and advertising. I loved design and the skills I learned in web and print are invaluable to my business. All I ever wanted to do since childhood was to be a cartoonist. Around 6 years ago, I realized it was something I had to do. I made cartooning a priority and slowly transitioned to becoming a cartoonist full-time.
Q. Your comics vary from black and white, to solid color, to color with varying line strokes and shading, in both single and multi-paneled formats. How do you choose what format will fit which comic?
A. The end result is determined by the market. I always start with a pencil sketch and then ink on paper. If I am selling the cartoon to a magazine who prefers black and white, I will do an inky grey wash. If it will appear online or in full color I will color it either digitally or painted by hand with gouache. I sometimes do different versions of the same cartoon in black and white and in color.
A. I love the panel format because it offers the opportunity to touch on a variety of topics. I seem to gravitate toward technology, modern society and animals.
Q. In your Greenwich Time interview in June 2013, you tell reporters that you gain inspiration from your own life, sometimes from things overheard, everyday annoyances, and Twitter. With ongoing technological developments, entertainment snafus, and your blossoming career, has one source of inspiration overcome another in these last few months?
A. There are so many sources of inspiration. I find that the more experiences I have and the more people I meet, the more sources I have to draw from. The time I spend outside of my studio is just as important as the time I spend at the drawing table.
Q. Your comics are worldwide, being seen in MAD Magazine, Parade Magazine, Prospect Magazine (UK), on Mashable.com, NobleWorks Cards, American Greetings, CheckAdvantage, Neato-Shop, Funny Times, Mashable, on Salon.com. What is the most interesting type of feedback that you have received from such a wide and varying audience?
A. I have received a lot of great feedback and I am astounded by the variety of countries represented in the people who are following my work on Facebook and Twitter. It’s truly incredible how far of a reach we have with social media.
A. One of my favorite pieces from this year was of the Reality Show Mashups in MAD magazine’s July Issue. The research was just as fun as the drawing–there is endless material in Reality Shows!
Q. You are a quite an athlete, finishing the Ironman Triathalon twice and regularly cycling, running, sailing, and mountain biking. How do you juggle your art, career, and athletic pursuits?
A. Exercise fuels my creative energy. I spend many hours sitting or standing at my drawing table or computer and it feels great to get out and move. I’m an explorer and love cycling and running because I cover distances and see so many beautiful things. There is something about motion that helps me fuel ideas. I have solved so many creative problems while out on a run or on the bike.
I also find so many metaphors between exercise and the creative process.
The long distance events taught me some great lessons in goal setting, determination and persistence. The Ironman was a seemingly impossible goal. Swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 and THEN running 26.2 miles?? I visualized the end result and then followed a plan that broke the training into small manageable steps. I have many “seemingly impossible” goals in my career and find that the same method of visualizing the end result and then breaking the goal down into small steps works there too.
Q. What inspired you to create Dogi the Yogi, your illustrated children’s book?
A. My husband and I used to frequently dog-sit for his family dog, a Golden Retriever named Kevlar. We noticed that if we stretched, Kevlar would stretch too, in a Downward Dog. The sketch of him stretching planted the idea for the book.
Q. You did a guest strip for the syndicated strip, “Rhymes With Orange.” How was that experience for you and what did you learn from working with syndicated artist, Hilary Price?
A. I was honored and grateful to have the opportunity to fill in for Hilary for a week. She’s wonderful and I’ve always loved her work. It was a great experience working with her.
A. Half-Full is a daily panel about the truths and trials of everyday life. It has a wide range of topics from technology to modern society with a lot of really silly animals in between.
Q. If you could sum up your message to the world, what would that be?
A. Do what you love to do.
Q. There are a lot of amateur and semi-professional illustrators and web comic artists wanting to become professionals. Was there one event or person that helped you make the move towards becoming a professional cartoonist or was it a culmination of events? What advice would you give these hopeful and up-and-coming artists towards their professional career pursuits?
A. There have been so many amazing people and events that have helped me along the path. I am so grateful to Brian Walker for his nomination of me to the National Cartoonists Society. Sam Gross has been an endless source of wisdom at the New Yorker lunches. He has helped me tremendously with his advice.
The biggest lessons I’ve learned so far: Draw everyday. Never leave home without a sketchbook. Keep showing up. Draw for yourself, not for the market. Rejection is nothing to be afraid of, it’s just part of the business. The book “War on Art” by Steven Pressfield helped me immensely. It taught me so much about getting out of my own way.
Q. Anything else you want to add?
A. Have fun!
(Interviewer’s note: at the time of formatting this interview, Maria was interviewed on a Connecticut news channel. View Maria’s interview here.)
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