Crushing the Punchline

EAPC’s Nathan Almen, Healthcare Studio Designer in our St. Paul office and the creator of Cartoon Tuesday, shares his comic creation process and where he gets his inspiration and style.

Nathan joined EAPC in June 2017. As soon as his passion and talent for making comics was discovered, he was quickly commissioned to create a weekly industry-inspired comic which EAPC has been sharing on social media and internally ever since. If you’ve never had the chance to enjoy his very clever and entertaining work, here’s a few of our favorites!

Where do you get the inspiration for your architecture cartoons?

I’ve always been inspired by other cartoonists and comic strip artists, but more importantly, good cartoons come from listening to others. You never know what you might hear from someone, be it a client or a co-worker that might spur some inspiration. Although at the end of the day, I have NO idea where some of my stranger ideas manifest from.

Looking For Inspiration
Frustrations of an Empty Mind
When did you start drawing cartoons?

I’ve always been drawing, but comics/cartoons became something I did for fun since about second grade. I channeled my passion further between classes (and sometimes during classes) in junior high and high school. Finally, my first intern position in the architectural industry had me working out of a basement since there weren’t enough workstations for everyone on the main level. I decided to draw a few just to make sure people didn’t forget I was working in the basement!

Where did you get your passion for drawing?

My parents have always been a huge influence. My mother was a very talented artist herself and I had a weird idea as a kid, that I could do just as good of a job replicating cartoon characters, comic strips, and logos as well as anyone else. Although, if you’d ask my dad, my passion came into existence when he kicked me and my sister outside to draw on the sidewalk for a while. Frustration with our situation in the summer heat eventually turned into obsession to keep drawing better.

Do you read a lot of comics?

A TON. Not as much as I used to, but I’ve been through every Calvin and Hobbes and Far Side comic at least twice. I also love reading a well written graphic novel that plays with the medium a little differently.

Who is your favorite cartoonist?

Although that’s a difficult question, I’d have to say Bill Waterson is my favorite because Calvin and Hobbes has a nuance and meaning still unseen in comics today and he never commercialized his ideas.

Does your drawing style mimic any other cartoonists?

I’m sure its clear to see that my style is very reminiscent of Gary Larson, although I’d like to think there is a little Waterson influence at play. I’d imagine that my comics are very similar to Scott Hilburn, but I’d also like to think I have a slight variation that is all my own.

Gary Larson, The Far Side
Scott Hilburn, The Argyle Sweater
Are you left handed?

Only when no one is looking.

What tools/materials do you use to make your cartoons?

My very basic operation includes a pencil, sometimes a ruler, and ink-liner pens. The pens vary in size and dry instantly on the page.

How often do you draw?

Not often enough, but I suppose its at least twice a week, even if its just a doodle.

Do you follow a process when creating a cartoon? Do you make the drawing up as you go?

I usually just draw it out. Typically, I think all day how best to frame it. Additionally, I’ll try to use simple principles to make the whole thing read better like rule of thirds or context. My process is very simple. I do a pencil layer, then I ink the outlines that I want, and then I cross hatch it.

What personal satisfaction do you get from creating cartoons?

My personal satisfaction is seeing if I can continually improve to make my work look as “genuine” as possible. I also draw huge satisfaction from someone laughing and understanding the punchline right away. At the end of the day, if people didn’t find them at all funny, I’d be just drawing for the sake of drawing.

To see more of Nathan’s creations, follow us on social media!

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn