Cathrin Peterslund

Graduated with a Bachelor in Graphic Storytelling in 2017

What is it like to live and work as an independent cartoonist? How does it all work? This is something we’ve of course talked a lot about in my Graphic Storytelling class where comics play a huge role in our everyday life. At the moment I’m getting some of the answers as I’m doing my internship in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’ve been here for while and I ‘m slowly getting used to a new culture, the environment and surroundings as I’m creating my own daily routines so that I can get as much out my stay as possible. Taking in a different culture is exciting and a challenge and it can really give you a lot. Especially when you are a storyteller.

Self-discipline is the keyword

It’s the first time I’m abroad for a longer period of time. I’m interning with Ed Piskor, American cartoonist and creator of Wizzywig and Hip Hop Family Tree. His working space is his living room in his house in Munhall, Pittsburgh. This house is for these three months my home and my working space as well. When I wake up in the morning I take 10 steps and I will be by my working desk in the room next door. I like to be able to go to work wearing pyjamas. Working in the same place as you live in is a privilege but it’s also a challenge. The fact that there’s no place you have to be at a specific time every morning is tricky for a person who likes to sleep in (me). But it’s also extremely good practice and preparation for an existence as an independently working artist – for instance if you want to run your own business. Self-discipline is the keyword and it is only you who decides how much you want to get done in a day.  

What's it like to live as a cartoonist?

My personal goal with my stay has been clear since I got my internship deal with Ed in January: I stay here for three months, I experience what it’s like to live as a cartoonist and I work intensely on my own project. I’m working on my first graphic novel and my ambition for my stay is to produce as many pages of it as possible. This is a project I have been working on since the middle of second year of Graphic Storytelling. Ed gave my class a workshop where the idea for my story came up. From then the story has grown and now I have a complete set of thumbnails for a book on 122 pages that is just waiting to be made into a finished piece. Within these three months I want to produce 35 pages. I work on the pages approximately 8 hours per day.

Ed runs his own business. He is completely independent and is able to choose the projects he wants to work on. Most of the time he is working on his own comics. A big part of my internship is observing and during my stay I have been following Ed around and seen some of the “rules” that play a part when you’re working as a cartoonist - everything from how to negotiate salary with your client to which comic book conventions are the best to go to. There is a lot of strategy in it, almost like a game. In September we visited two conventions; one in Helsinki, Finland and the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland. At these places the focus is comics and one thing I’ve witnessed is that at these occasions there is a lot of business going on – and that the business of comics has a lot to do with relations.   All these impressions, observations, experiences and thoughts I’ve had and will have for the next 1 ½ months I will make sure to keep with me and use in one way or another – but definitely in my future storytelling, that’s for sure.