Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Making of Carolyn Belefski's White House Cartoons

A lot of people have been asking about the work I recently did for The White House, which was released this week on their social media platforms. Since I posted process and the concept sketch of the comic book cover I did for Cartoon Network's Adventure Time comic this past summer, I thought many artists and creative types would get a kick out of this project showcasing the Affordable Care Act. I enjoy seeing behind-the-scenes, but the final product is always what the public will see. Here you will get a glimpse behind the curtain.

The White House Office of Digital Strategy approached me with the concept of creating health care comics. They provided the personas (athletic, hipster, caregiver, etc.) and I developed sketches of the character designs for approval. Above you will see the first and only attempt of the character designs. Stage one complete!

At this time I also provided three layout options on how tell the story best on social media. The White House provided me with dimensions that were possible for the project. As you can see in the top right, we selected the character head in the center and the text surrounding that area so it would not get cropped on certain sites (like Twitter) in preview. 

To clarify, yes, it would get cropped, but the text would not get cut off. The image above shows how we considered how the crop would look like. This was the first one I completed, and once that was approved, I completed the other comics for each character. They provided me with a script and did allow me to contribute to the story. It was a total collaboration!

I must also correct myself, in an interview with Jen Sorensen posted earlier today, I mentioned there were no art edits, but I was mistaken because I remembered (while writing this blog) that there was one change. I originally drew the guy at the gym working out without a shirt and showing his nipples. They asked me not to show the nipples in the preview section (area viewed in social, the non black area above), but I decided to put a shirt on him instead of redrawing the whole image. I only had to erase the nipples, add sleeves, and color in the shirt in Photoshop. This change only took five minutes and was easier to do than redraw the whole panel. Work smarter, not harder! Perhaps I forgot about this change because it didn't take long to alter. I would have liked to include the nipples because it's funny and I like to call them pepperonis, but I don't know if America can take another wardrobe malfunction. But hey, the Super Bowl is this Sunday so maybe Katy Perry is planning to stun us.

Regarding color palette we agreed to have a minimal flat color look and I selected the colors. After the first one was approved, I hit the ground running with the same look and colors to make each comic connect and work together as a system.

Yesterday First Lady posted the athletic cartoon I illustrated for ‪#‎GetCovered‬ on her Instagram and Twitter accounts. Right now it has received 16,041 likes on Instagram. It feels good to have Michelle Obama and the rest of the world see my art. 

I know the health care debate is rough from all angles. Because of these illustrations, I've read people's comments calling me a sell out and telling me how to draw. I've also seen other media sites say this is The White House's attempt to make Obamacare seem cool. I take that as a compliment because my cartoons are cool! Another site called it childish. I have some news for them: Cartoons can be all-ages. Adults can enjoy them too. You can be "grown-up" and contribute to society, read comics, watch animation, or draw. I pay my mortgage, car bill, buy groceries, and commute to work every day. I can enjoy cartoons. Don't call us childish. Call us childlike. There is a difference.

Another point I want to make is that I have worked for conservative and liberal clients. You may have conservative and liberal friends. Or friends who are environmental. Or libertarian. Or friends who like pizza crust or don't (for the record, I'm not friends with those people). I am an equal opportunity artist and I work with people who want to work with me.

Part of why I took this gig on was because I was extremely pleased that The White House was interested in publishing comics and trying something different. Reaching out to new audiences who are visual learners or experimenting with Instagram is not a bad thing. I know how politics work, but please -- attacking art as a medium is an all-time low. Anyone remember prehistoric cave paintings? This is history. Art is history.

I also took on this assignment because it is important to take care of yourself and know what your options are. I like how many of the characters in this series are aiming to be the best version of themselves they can be. The images showcase healthy eating and exercising, which are important to me. Taking care of yourself and your body shows self respect and I wish more Americans and humans overall showed that initiative.

Not all the comics have been posted on their social media accounts at this time, but you can view them all by visiting or by looking below. The caregiver cartoon has been animated and is on The White House Instagram account.

Thank you to The White House for this opportunity and thank you to so many people online who have "liked" and commented and reposted. If you enjoyed these cartoons, please read my comic strip Curls and the other fun things I create to make others smile. I really do enjoy being Cartoonist for America.

Available for Freelance Work
If you are interested in my illustration and/or design skills, please email Carolyn Belefski at View my portfolio:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Carolyn Belefski - Nominee for Best of D.C.

I am nominated again for Washington City Paper's Best of D.C. Readers Poll in the category of "Best Visual Artist." Last year, as well as the year before, I got runner-up. Let's see if we can beat that. It only takes a couple seconds to vote. I'd appreciate if everyone took a moment to vote. Thank you!

The poll closes March 1 at 11:59PM EST

Carolyn Belefski has been nominated for Best Visual Artist
Carolyn Belefski is the writer and artist of the comic strip Curls at She is constantly improving her skills and touring the east coast appearing at comic conventions and art shows.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Charlie Hebdo - A Call To Arms

I was having hope for 2015 to be a good year, but the first major news story of the year is terrorizing.

Yesterday was a terrible day for cartoonists, satirists, writers, and journalists around the world. The attack on Charlie Hebdo publication headquarters killed several people in France. 

After meeting several political cartoonists back in 2011, I was aware that many cartoonists are targeted everyday for their voice. I was aware that Charlie Hebdo was targeted before and, sadly, I'm not surprised this tragedy has happened. I like to live in a land of endless rainbows and bubble tea, but the world outside my protective bubble is a messed up place.

These days you never know who you will offend. My wish is that cartoons and articles open up dialogue about issues and real verbal discussion arises. Killing is not the answer. Let's solve our problems with art. You can have a gun or you can have a pencil.

Violence is weakness. Art is power. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Recap: Curls Studio's Year of 2014

Wow. I can't believe 2014 is over and we've recently rang in 2015. Last year was pretty crazy and ended so quickly. I wanted to highlight some of 2014's best moments. 

Overall this 2014 brought us around 16 full days exhibiting at comic conventions. I did elect to cut back on some tour dates this year and concentrate on work, but looking at the list now it seems we only took out one that required travel and expanded to shows that are closer to the homebase.

2014 TOUR

FEB 13-28 • cARToons Exhibit at UDC
MAR 8 • Smudge! Expo
APR 18-20 • Awesome Con DC
MAY 3 • Free Comic Book Day Big Planet Comics 
MAY 10 • ANS Sci-Fi & Comic-Con
MAY 17 • Gaithersburg Book Festival
MAY 31 • Cartoonists Draw Blood
JUL 20 • SuperNoVa Comicon
JUL 26 • Signing at Fantom Comics
SEP 5-7 • Baltimore Comic-Con 
SEP 13-14 • Small Press Expo 
OCT 9-12 • New York Comic Con 
OCT 18 • Annapolis Comic-Con 
OCT 22 • Design & Doodle Workshop

The main highlights for me in 2014 included:

• Fun energy at Awesome Con DC in April

• Being voted (for the second year in a row) as runner-up for Best Visual Artist by Washington City Paper readers

• Taking part in the second "Cartoonists Draw Blood" blood drive with the American Red Cross at Seekers Church in May

• Having a published Adventure Time #29 cover

• Editing issues #8 and #9 of Magic Bullet, Washington, DC's comics newspaper

• I now have Instagram and Vine

• New York Comic-Con was our biggest and most successful show ever

• Asked to lead the Design & Doodle Workshop during DC Design Week

• Amber Love and I will have a comic in RISE: Comics Against Bullying, geared to be distributed free by organizations such as GLAAD, Stand for the Silent, and Prism Comics

The Carolyn & Joe Show podcast also recorded a new episode for each week of 2014 and we now have over 300 episodes

My goals for 2015 are to focus and not get distracted by outside forces (see 2015 New Year's Resolutions from Panel Patter and Pals). I hope to be more active in social media because I spent a full year not posting to any outlet during weekdays because of a demanding job. I'm still working full-time, but I now have more freedom to think and contribute to the world and plan to use that liberty. Thanks for keeping up with Curls Studio and our activities. 

I hope you had a great holiday season and let's see each other in 2015 and beyond!