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The Carletonian

Cartoons take on a new meaning for Steve Brodner in first Convo

<litical cartoonist Steve Brodner opened the first convocation of winter term last Friday by celebrating the narrative potential of images.

It is “the whole thing, the entire purpose of doing this narrative,” he said, referring to the central role stories play in his artwork.

Brodner started working as a political cartoonist right out of college. Beset by editorial pressures and censorship, he started his own newspaper and assembled a portfolio of drawings until the New York Times offered him a position.

“Confer upon yourself the thing that you want to do and create a portfolio: give yourself permission,” he said. “People will respect you.”

He discussed the increasing importance of visual presentation and skill in today’s world, as well as the value of taking ideas and presenting them in compelling ways.

As a cartoonist, he said, he combines aspects of multiple disciplines, noting his use of both narrative and artistic skills. He admitted that he does “something similar to what a short story writer does.”

He lamented over the fact that many art students prioritize the appearance of their final product before considering the message their art conveys. The work “gets lost because narrative [should] ultimately rule,” he said.

Brodner gave tips on the sketching process and the responsibilities of the artist to “bring the eye around to what’s important in the picture.” An artist also needs to carefully choose the parts of the piece that spoke more loudly and order them in the right way, he said.

In conclusion, Brodner discussed his transition to making videos and the added roles and responsibilities that come with it.

After sharing some of his animation with the audience in the crowded Chapel, he said working on videos goes from “me being just the one guy drawing to an entire multimedia enterprise – the writing, drawing, editing, animation and voice-overs.”

In this online arena, Brodner noted that the budgeting issue is the biggest difference between the new and old media. People are now editing images for free and distributing them online, such as memes. In light of this new environment, Brodner highlighted the ever-growing need for greater clarity and effective visual communication to get one’s message noticed.

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