WITTY, SATIRICAL AND WITH A CONSISTENT SPARKLE OF IRONY, ROZ CHAST’S CARTOONS EXEMPLIFY WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A NEW YORKER. WE VISITED JESSIE’S FAVORITE CARTOONIST IN CONNECTICUT AND THE TRIP WAS INSPIRING AND INSIGHTFUL, TO SAY THE LEAST.
I consider myself a New Yorker, absolutely. When people ask me where I’m from, it feels laughable to say “Connecticut.” I’m a New Yorker, born and bred. The only place I feel at home is New York. Not sure how it manifests itself in my personality. Maybe with my work– not sure. I know for a fact that I’d much rather draw interiors, lobbies, people, furniture, wallpaper, buildings, storefronts, etc. than something like “the woods” or “mountain landscape.”
I keep a little notebook and pen on me in which I jot down random cartoon ideas. If I forget the notebook, I just jot it down on whatever paper is around. Sometimes it’s something I’ve overheard or seen, and sometimes an idea comes out of the blue. There’s a lot of sitting and thinking and doodling and drawing and writing. And, of course, ripping up and staring into space, wondering why I was ever born.
When I’m gearing up to submit my weekly group of cartoons to The New Yorker, there might be six or eight or ten. But that doesn’t happen every day. Some days I’m working on other projects, like books or illustration jobs. Some cartoons jump to the page and some need a lot of marinating.
Mostly my people are blends of people: people I’ve known forever, people I saw once on the subway, relatives, friends, nobodies, people from books and movies, people I made up out of whole cloth, etc.
Birds are amazing creatures. They are beautiful and they are extremely intelligent, especially parrots and corvids. Unlike dogs and cats, they are not completely domesticated—they’re a little bit wild. They have feathers. They FLY. They are part dinosaur.
Jacky is the “social one”—she likes people and is not too easily spooked by things. The African Grey, Eli, is the “smart one.” She’s a talker. She says: good morning, good night, dinnertime, bath time, what a brave bird, who cares?, look dammit, oh brother!, and several dozen other things. Some words and expressions she learned through repetition, and others she just picked up.
I get craft obsessions. I’ve gone through two “bouts” of obsessions with pysanky eggs. I also got very into hooking rugs. And my latest obsession is embroidery, but I’ve just started.
Keep going. Don’t give up. Not everyone will love your work, but don’t let people who don’t get you discourage you. There are enough lawyers and accountants in the world. We need creative people.
PHOTOGRAPHER: VICTORIA WILL
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