The Blog

My Second Column For Cartoonists Northwest – Where Do You Get Your Ideas

Cartoonists Northwest logoOne of the most frequent questions any creator, whether writer, artist, or cartoonist, is where do you get your ideas. Many creators, unsurprisingly, give many different answers.

Some creators respond philosophically or with profound insight, or maybe even with something about tapping into the creative flow. The rest of us tend to be a bit more snarky when we answer this question. We might say the ideas come from someplace (Albuquerque), or respond with a pithy statement that we hope is witty (my favorite is “a bottle of Jack Daniels and a very cruel god”)

But ultimately the come to the biggest secret among creatives: we really don’t know.

We do what we can to contact the muse (sometimes literally; hoping for a placebo effect I’ve considered making a small shrine more then once). Sometimes these techniques even work, but this leads to a secret we might acknowledge to nearly everyone.

We really don’t have the time.

Seeking inspiration is great, but we have deadlines and we need to come up with ideas as fast as possible – if the idea doesn’t come to you have to find a way to go get one (or, in this modern age, find it on the internet).

Ultimately getting ideas is a discipline, and just like any other discipline it gets easier with repetition…just like doing pushups, or jogging. Maintaining the analogy, there are a lot of exercises you can do to get your creativity working for you. One approach for a cartoonist is a sketch challenge (such as “Inktober”). The format is to do one drawing a day, usually based on a theme, for a week or a month (though I have benefited from a two month focus on Mother Goose). One trick for making this work for you is to make them as random as possible, perhaps literally picking an idea from a hat (dice can be used too). This way you don’t know in advance what you have to draw and “communing with the muse” or waiting for inspiration isn’t going to help you. It may feel like an uphill climb, but it works.

There are lots of other exercises and games that you can try to help with ‘creativity when you need it’, and I’m happy to announce we’re going to be trying out a lot of them at our February meeting.

Can’t wait to see you all there!

Happy Darwin Lincoln Day!

Wpmorse Charles Darwin Abraham LincolnI Can’t believe I had to be reminded of this but a very happy birthday to Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln! While the two never met I still like to pretend that they would have enjoyed each other’s company over drinks as this picture implies.

Sketches – Faces in the Crowd

One of my favorite exercises when going to meetings, or am at a social event where I’m not participating in a conversation, is to sketch all of the faces of people around me. It’s useful way to keep the hand moving is a good way to avoid becoming a victim of that bane of cartoonists, the six face syndrome. Also  it’s a surprisingly great way to take notes since sketching someone makes me hyper focus allowing me to remember what they were saying… The one time I did this at a political debate was the one time I didn’t have to use a newspaper’s cheat sheet when I was voting afterwards.

This particular batch is from a talk at the Pemaquid Historical Society when I was visiting my parents in Maine this summer.

I have plenty of these and I look forward to sharing more as time goes on.

Sketches Faces in the Crowd

Fill out the Library of Congress Survey

United States Copyright Office LogoI should have mentioned this earlier, but the Library of Congress has put out a survey on what the priorities of a new Register of Copyright should be rather than have rather than conferring with members of Congress. This is unprecedented and could be a dangerous blow to creative professionals.

Therefore it is very important that as many of us Creative Professionals click this nice little link to the Survey and fill it out.

If you have any problems with the questions, here’s a nice little cheat-sheet courtesy of the Graphic Artists Guild.

Model responses for Library of Congress Survey on Register of Copyrights 

1. What are the knowledge, skills, and abilities you believe are the most important for the Register of Copyrights?

The next Register of Copyrights must:
• be dedicated to both a robust copyright system and Copyright Office;
• recognize the important role that creators of copyrighted works play in promoting our nation’s financial well-being; • have significant experience in, and a strong commitment to, the copyright law
• have a substantial background in representing the interests of creators of copyright works;
• possess a deep appreciation for the special challenges facing individual creators and small businesses in protecting their creative works.;
• a keen understanding of, and a strong commitment to, preserving the longstanding and statutorily-based functions of the Copyright Office, especially its advising the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on domestic and international copyright issues; and
• have the solid support of the copyright community.

2. What should be the top three priorities for the Register of Copyrights?

Priority #1: Continue the traditional and critical role of the Register as a forceful advocate for both a vibrant copyright system and a strong Copyright Office that works closely with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in promoting a strong and effective copyright law.
Priority #2: A commitment to moving quickly to modernize the Copyright Office with a special focus on updating and making more affordable and simpler the registration and recordation processes.

Priority #3: Working with Congress to achieve enactment of legislation creating a small claims process that finally provides individual creators with a viable means of protecting their creative efforts.

3. Are there other factors that should be considered?
As a creative, I believe, to the extent possible, that the views of those whose works are protected by copyright law should be given greater weight in this survey than those who are not. It is also crucial that the views of the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, be given great deference in the selection of the next Register.


My First Column For Cartoonists Northwest

Cartoonists Northwest logoCartoonists Northwest is a local organization of cartoonists and comic fans living in the Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Montana and Brittish Columbia) with meetings every third Saturday at the Artists and Craftsman, at 5:30 in Seattle’s University District (4350 8th Ave NE (at NE 45th St.) Come check it out, it’s a lot of fun, this month our speaker and guest shall be Gabriel Campanario AK the Seattle Times’ Seattle Sketcher should be great.

Anyway while I’ve been attending for years I’ve been concerned that Cartoonists Northwest has gradually become merely a social group that remains seperate from the rest of the local cartoonists community. Anyway this year I decide to put up or shut up and ran for president.

While I’m still figuring out what to do I have one definite duty which is to write the monthly “president’s column” for our monthly newsletter, Penstuff. So here’s my first one for the January edition. (more of a manifesto, really.)

Now that the holidays are over, let’s welcome in the new year with resolutions for both ourselves and the Guild. I have been thinking about this topic since I took up the president role in November, and now that it’s official I thought I’d share a couple of those thoughts.

I believe that Seattle, Portland, and the rest of the Northwest, have one of the best comic scenes in the world (both mainstream and indie), and I want Cartoonists Northwest to be part of that once again. We can, and should, serve as both a gateway for beginners and as a community for the professionals. Ideally this would be for all of the Northwest, not just those of us in the Puget Sound who can make it to the monthly meetings.

There’s many ways we can do this, and our program of great informative guests and useful workshops form an excellent base to build on.

An improvement I would like to see is increased outreach to other groups, creators, local cartoonists, the related communities. The outreach process can help us to make ourselves into a useful hub for the graphic arts communities, a hub that provides a welcome for all levels of skill and experience, from the idealistic student with their first taste of our wonderful mania, to cynical veterans determined to prosper in our craft. With this goal in mind we can be even more welcoming and inclusive by embracing just how much talent and creativity is covered under the term cartoonist! Newspaper strips, comic books, editorials, children’s books and storyboards are barely a fraction of the list!

All in all I’m very optimistic about all of the ways that our group can grow this year. Getting more visibility and encouraging more people, as well as making the group more valuable for all of us who are already here! I look forward to seeing where we go next!


Hello World!

Hello everybody and thank you for coming to check out my blog, and professional site and portfolio, W.P.Morse: Cartoons and Illustrations!

A little bit about me my name is Bill Morse and I’m an Illustrator who specializes in a relatively humorous cartoon style that is appropriate  for all of a clients needs from children’s books to commercials. I also have been doing comics and sequential art as seen in my daily webcomic Rhapsodies. I have always enjoyed storytelling and writing and one of the things that attracted me to comics and illustrations is the ability to tell stories through pictures.

I look forward to sharing this service as well as my thoughts on the art, craft and the industry.