The evolution of a cartoonist

March 1, 2011 in News

What makes a cartoonist? Or any kind of artist? How much of a person’s skill is down to “natural talent”, if there is such a thing, to the environment they grew up in, or to hard work?

Cartoons by Sophie Crumb

Such issues arise from the book Sophie Crumb: Evolution of a Crazy Artist. Sophie is the daughter of Robert Crumb, the godfather of American underground comics, and the book traces her development as an artist from the age of 2 to 29.

Crumb and his wife, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, who is also a cartoonist and has collaborated with her husband, have kept their daughter’s best drawings since she was a child and have now collected them in this book.

“How much is nature, how much is nurture? Would I draw if I was adopted into another family? I don’t know.” – Sophie Crumb.

Of course, you could argue that such a book would not have been published if it were not for Sophie’s famous surname, but nevertheless it provides a unique snapshot of a lifetime of development. And as you can see from Sophie’s Crumb’s blog, she’s not too shabby at drawing.

You can read more of her thoughts on this in an interview at And there’s a review here.

3 responses to The evolution of a cartoonist

  1. Everybody can draw if they’re taught well and that innate skill developed; far better than if they were not taught. Some draw exceptionally well and might become artists. But there is a “natural talent” element – just as everybody can be taught to drive a car . Of all those who do learn to drive, only a very few become Formula One drivers. Interestingly, people learn to drive for socio-economic resons. There exist no such reasons for learning to draw, so the vast majority don’t.

  2. One of the things that surprised me was that you get better with practise. Before I took up cartooning full time I always dabbled, but it wasn’t until I started drawing almost every day that I found I was improving. I know might sound obvious, but I honestly thought before you could either draw or you couldn’t and could only change styles and not standard.

  3. it’s like music, if you practice you get better, and there is such a thing as having an “ear”, but even that can be developed to recognize where you need to go to improve communication and find yourself in the midst of the medium…so it is with drawing…one can’t help but “see” it with an eye that seeks to find balance…and nothing like practice, that is, doing it, works to develope the means of communication. the more you do it, the more you know whether it works or not.

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