Award-winning editorial cartoonist for the Washington Examiner, Nate Beeler began his cartooning career drawing for his high school’s student newspaper in Columbus, OH. He graduated from American University with a journalism degree in 2002. While in college Nate won the three major college cartooning awards: first place in the SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards, the Charles M. Schulz Award, and the John Locher Award. Since becoming the editorial cartoonist for the Washington Examiner in 2005 his cartoons have also appeared on CNN and in such publications as Newsweek, Time, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times. He is one of the most widely syndicated editorial cartoonists, with his cartoons distributed internationally to more than 800 publications by Cagle Cartoons. In 2007, Nate won the Golden Spike Award, which was voted upon by members of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists at its 50th anniversary convention in Washington. One year later the National Press Foundation awarded him the prestigious Clifford K. & James T. Berryman Award. Just few months ago he took home this year’s The Thomas Nast Award. See more of Nate’s work here at the Washington Examiner and for all of your political and editorial cartoon needs go to Daryl Cagle's great website.
What is your favorite pen to use?
I mostly use a #3 Winsor Newton Series 7 brush, but I rely on the Micron pens (Nos. 1, 5 and 8) for teeny details and lettering. Every once in a while I use dip pen nibs to keep things interesting.
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Before I ever put ink to paper, I'll usually completely pencil in and erase the cartoon multiple times before I feel comfortable moving forward. For whatever reason, I absolutely have to have a sharp pencil point, so I use mechanical pencils.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
What type of paper do you use?
Standard smooth bristol board.
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Buildings, cars, animals, perfect circles, Mitt Romney.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Both. The local store doesn't carry the ink I like to use, Dr. Ph. Martin's.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Besides slaughtering a ram, I compulsively pace around the office or the sidewalk (on nice days) and recheck the news online.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
"I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am," over and over again in my head. That is, until "Livin' La Vida Loca" takes over.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Most definitely. I was a huge Wolverine fan, as drawn by Marc Silvestri and Mark Texeira. Soon after I started reading, Image Comics started up, and like a good fanboy, I collected and read every title. Cyberforce, Spawn, Savage Dragon.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
My favorite has got to be Calving and Hobbes, though I also loved Bloom County and Outland, the Far Side and Foxtrot. My favorites now are Cul de Sac and Pearls Before Swine.
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Hmmm... Probably "If I Ran the Circus," by Dr. Seuss. Later on, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And yes, I still have them.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I took art classes in high school on top of Saturday morning classes at the Columbus College of Art and Design. In college I signed up for several life-drawing classes as electives. I graduated with a degree in journalism.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Blessing, no doubt about it.
Did either of your parents draw?
Not that I know of.
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes, though it tends to spend most of its time at my office.
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
No, but I'm sure it would be enjoyable to have the chance.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion. Without it, you can't develop talent.
Do you collect anything and if so what?
I used to collect comic books, cartooning books and music, but there's not as much time for that nowadays. Also, I'd need to ramp up my other hobby of collecting money. I'm not great at that one.
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Jessica Rabbit. Wait a sec... Wrong question.
Are you a righty or lefty?
I'm closer to the middle. I'd use my right hand to point out where that is.
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I would want to be a roller coaster ride tester. Or maybe a food critic.
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
It's pretty messy. My drawing board has a swivel light that I never use. I've got used-up pens and old sketches everywhere. Woops, that was three sentences! Oh no, that's four!
Do you play any musical instruments?
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Figure out what you want and then work hard to get it.
Who is your favorite artist?
My favorites include Pat Oliphant, Jim Borgman, Jeff Macnelly, Matt Davies, Mike Ramirez, Nick Anderson, Scott Stantis, Tom Toles, Richard Thompson, Cam Cardow and Mike Lester, among others.
Thanks a lot Nate!
Political cartoonist and animator Kevin Kallaugher shares his answers next.