Revised cartoon doodles for custom cartoon greeting card by Joana Miranda

News Flash…

Cartoon doodles are not just fun – doodling and drawing might actually help you to solve verbal problems and think outside the box!

Case in point.

Recently, I was commissioned by the New York City Ballet to create a cartoon greeting card for two violist colleagues. Unfortunately, both women have had serious ailments and are off work for the season.

I knew I wanted to create a cartoon card that would feel personal yet appropriate for the entire orchestra to sign and present.

Hitting the right note of humor…

isn’t always easy. To be honest, sometimes I spend days scratching out both verbal and pictorial ideas.

My cartoon doodles usually look like this:

(By the way, I recently wrote about how sketching cartoon doodles helps me to arrive at a gag. This method is generally considered backwards in the cartooning world. That said, there really are no rules for cartooning. Nyah, nyah!)

Fortunately, the cartoon Gods seemed to be smiling down upon me…

And once I had doodled (in case you can’t make it out, that’s a section of violists, above!) and written down a series of orchestra- and viola-related words like…

Word cloud brainstorm for custom cartoon by Joana Miranda

the concept for my illustration quickly materialized in my brain.

The concept…

Two New York City Ballet patrons talking about the violas from their peanut-gallery vantage point in the audience.

Of course…

I knew that I needed to depict the Koch Theater realistically enough so that it was immediately recognizable. Getting the right perspective initially felt fairly easy though it did take a few tries.

Cartoon doodles for custom cartoon greeting card by Joana Miranda

Part of the creative process should always involve…

A little distance! In this case, I was glad I “slept” on the 2nd version of the illustration (above, right) for a night. Looking at the revised cartoon sketch with fresh eyes the next morning made me realize that I needed to create even MORE of a feeling of distance for the illustration and gag to really take off.

Here’s the 3rd version of my cartoon sketch:

Revised cartoon doodles for custom cartoon greeting card by Joana Miranda

As you can see, in the 3rd version (above, right), I made the stage appear smaller and farther away, removed some of the dancers from the stage, and made the two focal figures more prominent in the foreground.)

From here, I moved on to the inking, shading and, of course, the gag!

Koch Theater New York City Ballet cartoon by Joana Miranda

(P.S. The inside of the card reads “You’re missed!”)


    • Joana says:

      Hi Deb, So lovely to hear from you! (And I’m delighted you liked my newest cartoon!) I hope all is well with Madison + Gall, too. I imagine that the spring gets especially busy for event planners, right? Hopefully, you’ll also have some nice down time to enjoy the beautiful weather and the warmer (any day now?) summer temperatures.

      A big hug,

    • Joana says:

      Thanks, Jennifer! I suppose a parenthetical addition to the “I wish we could hear more viola…” might have been (“Said no one ever!”) Hee-hee! But for those of us In The Know, that fact is what makes the cartoon funny, right?;-)

      Are you working on any new sewing projects? Do you have plans for some solo escape time to a beautiful nature spot? I hope you are doing well. Sending lots of love always,

    • Joana says:

      Thank you, my dear! Knowing that I made you laugh makes me very happy! I’ve heard that the card recipients were very pleased, too. Yay! Now on to my next projects…

      xox – Joana

    • Joana says:

      High praise, indeed! I’ve been submitting to the New Yorker since 2016 or so…and have been rejected so far. But I’m not discouraged. I’ve been told that the New Yorker likes to put cartoonists “through their paces”, so to speak. I read that former cartoon editor submitted 2000 cartoons to the NYer before he got his first cartoon published. And another favorite NYer cartoonist said that he submitted for 20 YEARS (!) before he got his first cartoon published in the magazine. Let’s see…maybe I’ll be 68 when I finally break in?

      xoxo – Joana

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