Virtual Memories Show 222:
Arnie Levin

“Don’t fraternize with inkers; they’ll always get you in trouble.”

Cartooning, illustration and animation legend Arnie Levin joins the show to recount his epic career and life. We talk about Beatnik-era New York, his mother’s decades-long plot to turn him into a New Yorker cartoonist, the value of a good art director, telling the Marines he wanted to be a photographer, his two-minute education in directing animation, what it was like to see his style copied by an artist who was previously copying another artist’s style, the time Allen Ginsberg tried to give him an iguana, and more! Give it a listen! And go check out his work at Art.com!

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

This is adapted from Richard Gehr‘s wonderful book, I Only Read It for the Cartoons: The New Yorker’s Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists:

Born in 1938, the diminutive Levin sports the shaved head, handlebar mustache, and slightly rolling gait of a badass biker. Much of his upper body is tattooed with ornate Japanese imagery by a renowned yakuza body illustrator. And the more you learn about his life, the wider the gap between creator and creations seems to spread.

Levin served in the Marines before winding up as an aspiring painter amid New York City’s late-fifties beatnik heyday. “Swept up in the glamour of the beatnik era,” as he puts it, Levin co-operated an espresso house that hosted readings by the likes of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. He worked parties as a rent-a-beatnik, encountering Bob Dylan, another new kid in town, during one such event.

At Push Pin Studio, then at the height of its influence upon the design world, he was plucked out of the messenger pool by Milton Glaser, who recommended him to Lee Savage’s Electra Studio, famous for its forward-looking movie trailers and commercials. After leaving Electra, Levin was recruited for The New Yorker by art director Lee Lorenz in 1974.

After taking up motorcycling at age of fifty-nine, Levin celebrated his new hobby with the aforementioned flurry of tattoos. He’s given up biking in the interests of personal safety, however, and now resides more or less quietly on Long Island in New York with his wife.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Arnie’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of me and Arnie by me. It’s on my instagram. Photo of Arnie’s ink by Nate Ndosi.

donnellyphotoVirtual Memories Show #190: Liza Donnelly

“Frank Modell told me, ‘For the New Yorker, you have to draw better than you know how to.'”

Liza Donnelly joins the show to talk about her careers as a New Yorker cartoonist, women’s rights activist and live-drawing legend! We get into the weird overlap of respectability, responsibility and cartooning, as well as her work for Cartooning for Peace, the joys of drawing on the subway, how she benefited from Tina Brown’s love of snarky women, why she’s considering (but is daunted by) making a long-form comic, the evolution of her feminist consciousness, her trouble drawing George Clooney, and more! BONUS: my interminable intro takes up the first 13 minutes! Give it a listen!

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“Social media is an extension of what drew me to cartooning initially; I was shy and I didn’t like to talk, and I was drawing to make my mother laugh. Drawing was communication, and sharing.”

We also get into the significance of The New Yorker (and New York), her book on the magazine’s women cartoonists, the TED swag that changed her life, the mentor/mentee relationship, the contradictions of meticulously developing a carefree style, how the internet has given her a platform, and more. Now go listen to the show!

“It becomes a matter of paring back your style, learning how to let go of detail, learning how to draw simply, making it look like you just whipped this drawing off, even if it took 25 attempts.”

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Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

liza-avatarLiza Donnelly is a writer and cartoonist with The New Yorker magazine. She is also a sought after public speaker and also does live drawings of events, covering the 2016 Democratic National Convention for CBS News and the presidential debates. She recently joined CBS This Morning as contributing cartoonist. She is a columnist and cartoonist for Forbes.com, specializing in politics and women’s rights. Donnelly draws a political cartoon for Politico and Medium, and she is a contributor to many other national publications. Donnelly was a finalist for the 2014 Thurber Prize, the only award for written humor in the United States.

Donnelly is a Cultural Envoy for the US State Department, traveling around the world speaking about freedom of speech, cartoons and women’s rights. As a public speaker, Donnelly has also spoken at TED (Technology Entertainment and Design), the United Nations, and The New Yorker Festival, as well as colleges, universities and corporate venues, among other places.

Donnelly was profiled on CBS Sunday Morning, NBC and BetterTV, and has been interviewed on radio and in numerous magazines, newspapers and online. Donnelly’s cartoons and commentary can be seen on various websites: the NewYorker.com; Politico.com, CNN.com; HuffingtonPost.com; Salon.com; DailyBeast.com; NarrativeMagazine.com. Her work has appeared in print publications, including The New York Times, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, The Nation and The Harvard Business Review.

Donnelly is the author/editor of sixteen books. Her most recent book is titled Women on Men, published by Narrative Magazine. Some of her other books are When Do They Serve the Wine?: The Folly, Flexibility, and Fun of Being a Woman, 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 by The New Yorker’s Cartooning Couple (with Michael Maslin). Donnelly’s book, When Do they Serve the Wine? was optioned by Mark Gordon Studios for an hour long comedy for television; and the book she wrote with her husband, Cartoon Marriage, has been optioned by Jennifer Garner for ABC Studios. Donnelly has written and illustrated numerous children’s books for Scholastic and Holiday House.

She is the New York Director of the international project, Cartooning for Peace, helping to promote understanding through humor; and is president and co-founder of USA FECO, the US chapter of the international cartoonists’ organization. Her work has been in numerous exhibitions globally, and she has curated exhibits of international cartoonists, here and abroad. Donnelly taught at Vassar College and the School of Visual Arts and is a member of PEN and the Authors Guild. She is the recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Connecticut, and received a Ruben Award, the Salon St. Just International Prize, AAUW Women of Distinction Award. Liza was a member the jury of the World Press Cartoon Prize in Lisbon, the Cartooning for Peace Prize in Geneva and the Aydin Dogan Cartoon Competition in Turkey.

She can be found on twitter and Instagram at @lizadonnelly. She lives in Rhinebeck and New York City with her husband, New Yorker cartoonist Michael Maslin. They have two daughters.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission of the artist. The conversation was recorded in Ms. Donnelly’s kitchen on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. Photos of Ms. Donnelly by ???.