We are excited to present a new series of interviews featuring members of the Renderosity Cartoonist Team. Each week these outstanding artists put the "giggles" in our funny bones, and the "thrills and chills" in our adventurous spirits.
This week our featured cartoonist is James True, also known on Renderosity as jtrue. James is a man of many talents; an extraordinary cartoonist, an incredible illustrator, an inventor of wacky creations, and the birth-giver to PoserSpeak.
As a member of Renderosity's Comics' Team, James shares his talent with us, by creating often over-the-top, but always hilarious, cartoons for Renderosity Front Page News weekly cartoon strip. As the creator of PoserSpeak, James has given the 3D artist an outstanding time saving Poser utility. Read on as James takes off his hats to expose the man beneath the hair.
James, I know how incredibly busy you are ... I have seen you in your office. However, with all that you have going on, how do you find the time to manage all of your projects?
Manage? What's that Ha? Time is both a blessing and a curse. I tend to follow my bliss, which professionally has led me to cartooning and programming. It also tends to lead me to a somewhat empty bank account too. But, I am getting better at that. I have been self-employed for almost ten years. The programming tends to keep the lights on, while the cartooning tends to keep my soul on.
My Office by James True
Let's take your hats off one at a time: first hat, Cartoonist. When did you get started creating cartoon strips? Was this a lifelong dream, or something you just "fell" into?
I've always been a doodler. My first official cartoon was a political cartoon in College at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga; the Acme-Bible Belt was the caption. Sorry I don't have the toon anymore. When I saw all the letters (mostly of protest) about my toon, I was kinda hooked. I don't like making people mad, but seeing the reactions really encouraged me. I then started doing a weekly strip called Gavin's World. No more angry letters but I still had fun making it.
After school, I moved to Kansas City and camped out at Universal Press Syndicate. The goal was to get a strip in syndication. The folks at Universal Press were very kind and supportive, but said "no" to my first round of comics The Tao of Cow. It was a bummer being told no and I probably should have brushed it off quicker than I did. However, I did have some stuff published in the local weekly papers in Kansas City, so it wasn't a total loss. My comics went into a deep sleep for a while.
Later I moved to Asheville, NC, where I still currently live. I was the Art Director for the local weekly paper for two years. I would draw a lot for that job, some cover art and internal art. I decided I needed to work for myself and started programming for the web. I really fell in love with the Internet. The paperless medium is a wonderful thing. It wasn't 'till I found Renderosity that my cartoons were reborn. Have I said thanks for that yet? Thanks Renderosity!
On behalf of Renderosity, we would like to thank you for sharing your humor with us on a weekly basis. My personal all-time favorite true stories strip is Spinach, so wonderfully poignant ... touching both funny bone and heart. I almost am afraid to ask, but ... where do you come up with your out-of-this-world cartoon themes?
Sigh, Spinach was a bumpy love story in Kansas City. A really cool person in my life stirred up a lot of emotions for me. This toon kinda sums it up. If you've been to West Port, you can find the coffee shop I drew that in, I think the pigeons are still there too.
Spinach by James True
Above, you mentioned several publications that your strips have been featured in, as well as appearing weekly in the comic section of the Renderosity Front Page News. Are there additional publications where we might have seen your work?
Here's an expanded list. The University Echo, Health Line Marketing Group, The Kansas City New Times, Mountain Xpress, Lark Books. Those are the somewhat biggies
Next hat, Illustrator. Do you have a formal art degree? Do you feel that an art degree (or formal art training) is necessary to make a living with your art? Or, do you feel that artists never truly make a living from their art, that is, until after they have died?
Yikes, after they've died. Smile, as far as my perspective can see, after I die, all of you guys will cease to exist so I doubt it seriously. I took some art in College. I majored in Philosophy though, because it was more fun. I guess that means I should say something profound.
Art, Music, Math, and Philosophy all share a core theory, which helps any artist. Sharing familiar ratios and harmonies within your medium is really what its all about. Its what we recognize about ourselves in the works of others, which truly triumphs. Don't let yourself disguise who you really are.
Thanks James for that rare serious moment, and thanks for that insightful and very sound advise.
Ok, let's remove, yet another hat, Wacky Inventor, or should that be inventor of wacky inventions? What inspired your Adult Size Sit-N-Spin invention? What is your favorite invention?
You saw that? Wow, I'm impressed.
Oh, you would be surprised at what I have seen [laughter], but, do tell us about the inventor in you.
Sit and Spin by James True
Well, I like sculpture. The Adult-sized sit-n-spin was exactly that, my sculpture. What inspired it? I like to dumpster-dive. The sit-n-spin was a collection of things I had found in Asheville. I only added the paint, the rest was recycled; Shopping cart wheels, telephone wire spool, and a VW steering column.
My favorite invention? Probably the concept of time. To this day, it's still my favorite.
We are getting close to the hairline, next hat, Creator. PoserSpeak is not just another Poser shortcut utility; a mind-blowing experience, allowing Poser artists the ease of animation, with timesaving steps in the process of teaching their Poser figures to speak. But, don,t take off the creator hat just yet, first give us your background in computer programming.
In the seventh-grade, our school got its very first Computer Science department. Mr Bower would let me tinker with the computers during Gym class sometimes (Gym Yech!). Everything else was self-taught through books, projects, and websites. I've been in computer programming a while. One piece of code for the Autism foundation I wrote was mentioned in Wired magazine. I have programmed for folks like: Sun Microsystems, the US Navy, and the University of Hawaii. I am also a founding partner in Gigfoot.net, a self-automating web hosting platform.
Wow, I am very impressed, OK, now ... remove that Creator's hat, and give us the back-story of PoserSpeak. How did you come up with the concept, and exactly how does your program differ from other similar programs on the market?
The PoserSpeak idea was probably mostly my brother's idea. I showed him Poser, and he asked how to make them speak from inside of Poser. We started brainstorming it, and the beta version we were using developed into something bigger. It's in version 1.38 right now. I hope to release more features soon.
PoserSpeak by James True [listed under 3dtrue]
What, or who, is your muse, your inspiration?
The answer is my environment. The people in my life, my family, my friends, the strangers I see, the voices in my head, the funny lady next door, the telephone, the shower, the dog walks, and the quiet between it all.
I agree with you on finding the muse in the "quiet in between."
Finally, what advice would you like to share with cartoonists who yearn to make a living doing something they love?
Follow your Bliss, but keep it on a leash. Try not to dwell on which one of you is actually leading the way though, just enjoy the walk. Be especially sure all your business bases are covered from creation, to marketing, to distribution. Learn to enjoy every aspect of your business so they will all improve.
Also keep a loose interpretation of the word living [laughter]. I have never made a living from cartooning. But I have made a living where 10% of my time was spent cartooning. I will take that for now. I have been experimenting with marketing cartoons again for the last couple of weeks. For example, I am now selling color glossy magnets off my new website www.jtrue.com. So I guess here's the advice, take every opportunity you get to engage in blatant self-promotion [more laughter]. You never know what can happen till you try.
Billy's First Dogma by James True
James True's cartoon strip true stories appears weekly in the Renderosity Front Page News weekly comic strip. We also invite you to visit the following:
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October 10, 2005