February 15th, 2014


by Terri Libenson

So a few weeks ago, I jumped on the bandwagon and took one of those quizzes posted on Facebook. Normally I hate those things, but I admit that curiosity got the better of me. Plus I needed a break.

This one was called, What career should you actually have? It was a fun, two-minute distraction (and, by the way, no contest: Star Wars, bitches).

Anyway, my answer was “writer.” Not too surprising. After all, I’ve been a cartoonist for 10 years and a humorous card writer for 20.

But you have to understand how I grew up. I was a fine artist. I drew, painted, sculpted, and, yes, cartooned. I majored in illustration and minored in art history. I had inherited this artistic gene from both sides of the family. My mother’s hobby was painting (and she’s spectacular). My dad loved graphic design, and his mother painted. My brother’s professional hobby is photography. I also have countless other relatives who have pursued fine arts  — I even have a cousin who is one of Turkey’s most prominent painters.

Growing up, I thought my career path was set. I would be an artist. That’s what I told myself. That’s what others told me. And goodness knows I have an overwhelming appreciation for it.

Imagine my surprise when things started to veer.

I discovered along the way that art is no longer my main passion. I started noticing this when I began illustrating my college assignments in a cartoonish fashion. That is, I began to inject some humor and writing into my projects. I wrote comic strips and humorous graphic novels. I also documented in a journal and did some poetry and song writing on the side.

Later, when applying to greeting card companies, I was denied a position as an artist but accepted as a humor writer. I’ve grown to love that aspect of the job. As a professional cartoonist, I adore tinkering with words and writing mini-scripts.

Some days I really do identify more as a writer, and I gladly accept that. I notice that many of my colleagues can’t help but carry a sketchpad and doodle when the mood strikes. I used to have that desire, but now I find myself less interested in doodling and more interested in playing with words. Yes, I still love going to museums and galleries, and I enjoy drawing my strip. But I no longer have the desire to sketch for “fun.”

You could say I’m a writer who happens to draw, or an artist who happens to write. Of course, “cartoonist” is a wonderful blend of both and sums up this dual nature.

And who knows. Maybe I’ll eventually circle back to the fine arts and take up painting or sketching again. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll remain happy frequenting galleries and reading about art history.

In any case, for the moment I’m satisfied taking up pen (or keyboard) in hand and jotting down my thoughts…whether they make it to the strip or to this blog.






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