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 WhiteHouse.gov 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 email@example.com. View my portfolio: http://www.carolynbelefski.com