Saturday, January 28, 2012
Meet Liza Donnelly: New York Cartoonist
I first met Liza Donnelly in 2010 when she spoke at the TEDWomen conference. Her topic was about how humor can help empower women to change the rules.

Please watch this brief video

Liza Donnelly is a staff cartoonist with The New Yorker Magazine. When she first began selling to The New Yorker in 1979, she was the youngest and one of only three cartoonists who were women. 

Not only did Liza speak at TEDWomen, she also has presented at the United Nations, and The New Yorker Festival, among many other places. She has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, NBC and BetterTV, and has been profiled on radio and in numerous magazines, newspapers and online. 

Liza's cartoons and commentary can be seen on various websites including:;;;; and​. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, The Nation and The Harvard Business Review, and her cartoons have been exhibited around the world.

Her most recent book is When Do They Serve The Wine? The Folly, Flexibility and Fun of Being a Woman (2010, Chronicle Books) which has been optioned by Mark Gordon for an hour long comedy for television. (Mark, you don't know me, but hurry up and produce that please!)

Donnelly also wrote  Funny Ladies: The New Yorker's Greatest Women Cartoonists and Their Cartoons, a history of the women who drew cartoons for the magazine, Sex and Sensibility: Ten Women Examine the Lunacy of Modern Love in 200 Cartoons and Cartoon Marriage: Adventures in Love and Matrimony with the New Yorker's Cartooning Couple (with Michael Maslin) which also has been optioned, this one by Jennifer Garner and it is in script production for ABCStudios. And currently, Liza is at work on a new book, titled Women On Men. I can't wait for this one, it sounds like it will be priceless.

So much of what Liza creates about is about life and politics, so it is no wonder she is inclined to make a difference. She conceived of and is editor for World Ink, a site of international cartoons from contributors around the globe on, and she is a charter member of an international project, Cartooning for Peace, helping to promote understanding around the world through humor.  

Needless to say, I was thrilled when Liza agreed to an interview...

Q. How do you describe your work to people?  
A. I tell them I am a cartoonist for The New Yorker, and that I am also a writer. More specifically, I say that my work is simple line drawings, usually in one panel, that they tend to be about life in general. Sometimes I do political cartoons, but they are oblique, about how politics affect us in life.  I love word play, sarcastic, deadpan, subtle humor. 

Q. What led you to the work you do today?  
A. I have been drawing since I was little, and always appreciated the cartoons in The New Yorker. I discovered it was a way to be "an artist" with a viewpoint in a medium that I understood.

Q. How did creativity emerge in your life? 
A. I always drew, since before I can remember. My mother gave me a book of James Thurber cartoons, and I began tracing them and then developed my own style. It got approval from my parents and friends, so I continued. Also, I was very shy, so this was a way for me to say something without having to say a lot. 

Q.  What is the source of your inspiration?  
A. Life. Politics. 

Q. What other creative outlets do you have? 
A. I haven't done so in a while, but I also paint abstract paintings, mostly on paper. And I play the cello.

Q. Who are your favorite artists? 
A. That's hard to say!  In the fine art world, I love Willem DeKooning, Paul Klee, John Marin. I love the photographs of CindySherman. My favorite cartoonists (some no longer alive) are Thurber, Bob Weber, Jules Feiffer, Barbara Shermund, William Steig, Michael Maslin, Jack Ziegler, RozChast...there are many!

Q. What music is moving you these days? 
A. I used to listen to a lot of Jazz, but since I moved to the Hudson Valley, I don't so much--although now with the internet, I have begun to listen to my favorite station from the city again.  At the moment, I am obsessed again with Stevie Wonder. His songs have such depth and feeling, both musically and content-wise. He is an inspiration because he puts himself out there with his feelings and beliefs. 

Q. When people see your work, what will they know about you? 
A. That's an interesting question!  They may know that I have a subtle sense of humor, that I love drawing and find the relationships between people both funny and interesting. And that I love politics.

Q. What are a few of your favorite things? 
A. My daughters, my husband, New York City, walking, animals, seafood, red wine. 

Q. How do you curate your life?   
A. I move from one day to the next, trying to schedule time to be creative--space, in other words. I love to travel, and also love to take on challenges when they present themselves. So I try to combine a time with a fair amount of normalcy and quiet, with times that are new and exciting. 

Q. Any advice for people trying to follow their dreams? 
A. Just stick with your dreams, and don't let anyone discourage you. 

Q. What is your philosophy of life in 12 words or less? 
A. Savor every minute, the ones you love; and push yourself to new heights.

Q. Where can we find you online? 
A. My website is, and by blog is
And you can follow me on Twitter too as @LizaDonnelly

Thank you Liza, we look forward to your new book and for those options to get produced!

Debby Ruth at 7:07 PM
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