Where do your ideas come from?


“Where do your cartoon ideas come from?”

I give an answer like this: “I have a crack staff of comedy writers at the Mississippi Capitol.”

Sure, it’s a smart-alec answer, but it’s not far from truth. Mississippi is a rich and fertile land for a cartoonist. Take this morning for example. I have a butt-injection trial and a never-ending senate race.

I am as lucky as a pig in poop.

Truthfully, though, I’m not totally sure how my creative process works. I just know that, thankfully, it does. I can come up with ideas under pressure. When I’m tired. And when I have writer’s block. It just happens. I tell people that creativity is like running. Remember in 7th-grade PE when you had to run a mile? You about barfed a lung, right? I know I did. But now, I can run 12 miles. Like any muscle, you improve your creativity with practice.

Do I have moments when my muse leaves me? Yes. Her worst enemies are fatigue and too much rest. If I’m super tired, I don’t want to think. I want to sleep. And if take too much time off to rest, I am out of practice. My muse is a demanding soul. She must be fed and cared for daily or she will leave me for another.

I live in a world with two circles. The inner circle is the world I live in. But there’s a greater one outside of it that I am blessed to be able to reach out and grab hold of an idea to bring back. When all things are clicking, it’s easy. And those are usually my best ideas. The cartoons after Katrina, 9/11, even Walker’s memorial are examples of when ideas just came to me.

But if you were to ask me the best way to come up with good ideas, I’d tell you to become a good observer. Read, read, read. Constantly watch the world go by — and watch it carefully. You might not realize it, but we sleep walk through our lives. Fill your brain’s well. You never know when you’ll need to dip into it for a good idea. And don’t be afraid of coming up with a “bad idea.” A bad idea can lead you to good idea much quicker than no idea will.

Creativity is seeing what everyone else sees — but also seeing the strange ways they are connected.

Well, that’s my morning report. I’m battling fatigue and waiting on my muse to bring me with a big cup of caffeine and a cartoon idea. I have cartoons to draw.


About Marshall Ramsey