Five questions with cartoonist Rod Emmerson

by The Listener / 12 February, 2013
The first in a series of questions and answers with New Zealand-based cartoonists.
If you're an aspiring young cartoonist, consider entering the Listener/NZ Cartoon Archive Young Cartoonist Award.

Rod Emmerson is Editorial Cartoonist for the New Zealand Herald: a position he's held since 2003. He's been widely published internationally through the Associated Press and the New York Times Syndicate. Rod is known for his insight and cynical wit, and has picked up many awards during his 25 years as a cartoonist. The Listener put these five questions to him.

Cartoon courtesy Rod Emmerson/NZ Herald


Which cartoonists or other artists have influenced you the most?

As a mad-scribbling teenager, the first artist to have any influence on me was Mort Drucker from Mad magazine. I later met him at a cartoonist function in San Diego and thanked him over several drinks. Later artists in no order are Garry Trudeau, Michael Leunig, Bill Mitchell, Ralph Steadman, David Low, Ron Tandberg, Nicholas Garland, Michael Ramirez, Mike Peters and Gerald Scarfe.

Is there an ideal reaction you’d like your audience to have to your work?

Not particularly, apart from taking something away from it. Every cartoon is different to the next, and there are multitudes of points to be made. The greatest enjoyment I get from my work is seeing it up on a wall in a shop or on someone's fridge.

Are there any people or subjects that you particularly enjoy drawing?

Editorial cartooning is visual social commentary, so the subject matter is the most important thing for me. 90% of the work is creating the idea. Drawing it is the easy bit. I'm passionate about what I do, and have been known to come off leave just to do something on a particular subject. Righting and highlighting the injustices of the way we live, the mistakes we make and the burdens we bring upon ourselves. My favorite is a government that changes the rules to benefit a minority at the expense of the majority.

Cartoon courtesy Rod Emmerson/NZ Herald


What was the first drawing you were paid for?

I drew Joh Bjelke-Petersen (I'm a Queenslander by birth) in a rickshaw, being pulled by a Japanese investor saying, "Take you for ride?"

What advice would you give to an aspiring cartoonist?

Despite the experts (and there are plenty), there is no college or school that will actually teach you to be a cartoonist. It's a very personal journey and the world's best cartoonists are self-taught. Keep drawing and forget about the money. If you are good, it will follow. Be passionate, know where to start, and when to stop. Don't get on a hobby-horse subject that is only followed by nutcases. You will eventually become one yourself. Be loyal to no one, except your readers. Act global and think local. Most importantly, only take cartooning advice from people who are actually cartoonists, and who know what they are doing. The cartoon art world has a huge graveyard, so find out why they didn't survive when others did. Despite the dreary naysayers, it is not a dying art, and it is not a bleak environment in NZ. There are plenty of people out there chipping away. Want help? Just ask me.

 
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Jacinda Ardern: Government's focus turns to '300-day plan'
86114 2018-01-22 06:38:40Z Politics

Jacinda Ardern: Government's focus turns to '300-d…

by Mei Heron

Labour's caucus meets for the first time this year, with the PM saying there are still policies to be finalised for the govt's first 100 days.

Read more
New Zealanders have long loved a good ghost story
86094 2018-01-22 00:00:00Z History

New Zealanders have long loved a good ghost story

by Redmer Yska

We New Zealanders are known for being down to earth and no-nonsense, but there's a surprising number of Kiwi stories with a supernatural element.

Read more
How to avoid burnout at work
86051 2018-01-22 00:00:00Z Psychology

How to avoid burnout at work

by Marc Wilson

Taking positive steps at work will help keep weariness at bay.

Read more
A puppy-buyer's guide to getting a new dog
86100 2018-01-21 00:00:00Z Social issues

A puppy-buyer's guide to getting a new dog

by Sally Blundell

Just saying “oh, how adorable” is not all you need to do before taking on a new dog.

Read more
Tarawera eruption: What was the mysterious ghost canoe?
86076 2018-01-21 00:00:00Z History

Tarawera eruption: What was the mysterious ghost c…

by Dale Williams

For more than 130 years, lovers of ghost stories have enjoyed talking about one of our most enduring mysteries: the Phantom Canoe of Lake Tarawera.

Read more
How to get the health benefits of nuts without the cost
85733 2018-01-21 00:00:00Z Nutrition

How to get the health benefits of nuts without the…

by Jennifer Bowden

You need 30g of nuts a day to maximise their health benefits. Here's some tips on how to do it without putting a hole in your wallet.

Read more
Model car collector Winton Amies: 'I'm just a big kid collecting toys'
84783 2018-01-21 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Model car collector Winton Amies: 'I'm just a big …

by Guy Frederick

When Amies moved to Naseby’s old butcher shop 22 years ago, he brought 1200 model cars with him; now he has more than 3000.

Read more
Trade Me bans sale of pugs, British and French bulldogs
86110 2018-01-20 10:49:32Z Business

Trade Me bans sale of pugs, British and French bul…

by Sally Blundell

As a result of growing concern over the welfare of pugs, British and French bulldogs, Trade Me has announced they're banning the sale of these breeds.

Read more