Mitra Farmand – cartoonist & illustrator

Meet Mitra Farmand – cartoonist and illustrator living in Brookline, Massachusetts. In 2013 she graduated from the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT – so don’t worry, she’s certified to draw cartoons.

Mitra has a degree in History from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and her work has been published in The Funny Times, The Nib, Seven Days and yes, The New Yorker as well.

I chatted with Mitra about discovering talent, and finding your sweet spot – which is a confluence of what you’re good at and what you’re interested in – and here’s her side of the story. She tends to be understated about her work, but anybody can see that she’s big on talent.

Q – Did you want to become a cartoonist as a child? Were your doodles “inspired” in your growing years?
As a child, I never thought about being a cartoonist. I liked to draw, but I had no special aptitude for drawing. I wanted to draw things exactly as they looked and was frustrated at my inability to draw realistically. For years, the extent of my drawing was doodling in school and the occasional art class.

Q – Is there another side to Mitra Farmand? What makes you funny?
People often ask me if I have a cat and if I’m a vegetarian. No to both those things. Apparently I look like a cat-owning vegetarian. I don’t like the zoo or buttons. If you see someone wearing a button down shirt at the zoo, that is not me. I like supply closets, dogs, and bicycles.

As for being funny, I do think I am kind of funny, just naturally. I think you can get funnier if you are funny, but if you aren’t funny in the first place, I’m not sure it can be learned.

Q – For most artists, a life-changing moment is when you recognize that you’re talented? When did that happen to you?
I don’t think I’m talented at drawing. I’m not the sort of person who can draw everything and I’m constantly Googling things to find out what they look like. I’ve grown somewhat proficient at drawing things I like to draw (like cats and dogs) and struggle with things I’m not good at drawing (like buildings and cars).

I envy people who can just draw something simply and be done with it. I think that gives their art a really easy quality and it looks like they had fun making the drawing. I try to get my drawings to look like that, but I often fail. I get caught up in the details. I think the reason I can draw some things is that I’ve worked hard at it. And the computer really helps.

Q – When did you realize that you needed to zig, when your peers chose to zag? What steps did you take to move in that direction?
I’ve always wanted to zig instead of zag. I just didn’t have anything that I was interested in enough to zig for until I started cartooning. So I don’t think it was something in my life that made me go back to school – like being unsatisfied with my job. It was finding something that I loved to do that made me go for it.

Q – What was your second life-changing moment? Your enrolment at The Center for Cartoon Studies? Your cartoon for the New Yorker?
The New Yorker has been kind of life changing. It’s validating. It gives me more confidence. Even though I was trying to get into The New Yorker for two years, it still seems amazing to me that they published one of my cartoons.

Q – Tell us something about your store on Etsy? What products do you feature?
Lately most of my attention is on my shop on Etsy. I sell cards, stickers, magnets, dioramas, tote bags, garlands, prints, and temporary tattoos. I sold about 250 items in my shop in 2015, but that doesn’t mean I’ve made a profit. I’m hopeful that this year I can take in more than I spend.

Q – How would you take your talent to the next level? Where do you go from here? 
Lately I’ve been trying to Google all the things I do manually in Photoshop and I’ve found that most of the things I do manually, Photoshop will do for me. It’s kind of great and kind of awful to find out that something you’ve been doing manually, you can do with one keystroke. Oops.

Oh yes, I want to get another cartoon into The New Yorker.

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Mitra’s store on Etsy >
Mitra’s website >
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