The Cartoonist Deana Sobel Lederman; Her Creative Process & Main Inspirations

Enter into the world of cartoonist Deana Sobel Lederman. A world which has hints of old school charm, humor, wit, and playfulness. What is perhaps most intimate about Deana’s cartoons is her ability to tackle big picture motifs – like love or feeling small – into condensed snapshots. Not to mention her loving attraction to children’s books and motherhood topics.

Read on to discover Deana Sobel Lederman’s main inspiration, her new Etsy shop, and what the future of her cartoons look like.

How did you get into cartooning?

My grandmother was a painter. She studied at the Art Students League in New York. She taught me to paint, which has always informed my art.


I drew my first cartoon, The Wacky Couples, at the age of eight. As an undergrad at UC Berkeley, I walked on to the student newspaper, The Daily Californian, as an illustrator, and later became their editorial cartoonist. Editorial cartooning at Berkeley was interesting because it’s such a politically-charged campus. I enjoyed being an independent voice.


I’ve also had a series of wonderful mentors – cartoonists and editors – along the way.


At which point did you hone in on cartooning versus illustration or painting?


In college, when I met my first mentor, Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune’s incredible cartoonist. Although, I did submit a comic strip to that newspaper when I was eleven and was rejected. The strip was called When Pigs Fly.


What was it about cartooning that you were so drawn to?


The pairing of language and art. I like the idea of communicating an idea in as few words and lines as possible. It’s a little like advertising. I also enjoy doing silent cartoons.


Being part of the cartooning community is fun, too. When I was in college, I got to know the editorial cartooning community through the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. After graduation, I moved to New York and became part of the gag (single-panel magazine cartoonists) community. They’re quite different from each other, like different flocks of birds. Since I grew up in San Diego and was in to cartooning, my mom took me to Comic Con when I was a kid. We visited the comic book booths and all I saw were swarthy middle-aged guys behind the desks. That turned me off of the idea of becoming a cartoonist for a while. They were very different from the editorial and gag communities I met when I grew up. Those communities also included women, though they were the minority. Of course, things are changing now and you see more and more women cartoonists.


How would you describe your style when it comes to your cartoons?



Lively and painterly. I love classic children’s books like Barbar, Madeline, Frog and Toad, Curious George, and the Frances Books. I think my style is a combination of these. Also a reflection of classic New Yorker cartoons, Peanuts, Picasso, Matisse and Dufy.


What sort of themes do you explore in your cartoons?

“Alexa, Milk!”


Silent humor, love, exploring the world, feeling small, challenging oneself, failure, global warming, motherhood.


What does your creative process look like?


If I’m drawing my webcomic, Philip the Sea Lion, I write out the text for each plot line first. Then I do a quick pencil sketch using Bic 0.5 mm #2 mechanical pencils. Next I ink the drawing using Bic 0.7 Triumph pens. Finally, I add digital wash or watercolor. In the past I’ve also created textures for my cartoons by digitally manipulating my oil paintings.


My process is pretty similar if I’m creating a single-panel cartoon or illustration: concept, sketch, ink, color. My in-laws bought me an iPad last year, so I’ve been experimenting with drawing and painting on it using an Apple Pencil while my baby naps!


What type of media do you use to create your cartoons?



Mechanical pencils, pen and ink, watercolor, digital wash, and sometimes oils. More recently, for some of my work, an iPad.


How long does it usually take you from ideation to execution to create one cartoon?


My webcomic usually takes a few hours from start to finish. Other cartoons / illustrations take anywhere from one hour to several days.


Where do you draw your inspiration from?


I draw inspiration from my life, my family and close friends, or societal themes. For example, when I lived in Brooklyn, my roommate at the time spotted a seal pup stranded on the waterfront in Williamsburg. This was the inspiration for one of the characters in my webcomic, Philip the Sea Lion: Liam, a seal who was rescued by Tallulah (Philip’s girlfriend) and later adopted by two dads, Bach and Willard. My mom suggested that Liam have two dads, and that it be a legal adoption. My mom and husband often have great ideas. They are also excellent editors.


Cartooning is a great way to illustrate interesting episodes from real life. My brother and sister-in-law once saw a cat rescued from the ledge of a three-story-building in Brooklyn. That inspired me to draw this cartoon.


When I cartooned for the the New York City Department of Education, I was inspired by the kids in New York City, who come from all over the world.


Now, as a mom, I also find my baby pretty inspiring. He has a great sense of humor.


Tell us about your Etsy shop!


I’ve recently made a few of my cartoons available for digital download on my Etsy shop. I also started a Spoonflower shop, where you can find some of my designs on fabric, wallpaper, and wrapping paper. You can find more of my work on my website,


Where would you like to go with your art? What is your end goal?

I started writing children’s books in high school, beginning with family stories my grandmother told me about my great uncle getting into trouble when they were kids in Philadelphia. Since then I’ve developed multiple picture book manuscripts, mostly about animals exploring cities, towns, and the country. I would like to see them in print!


For more information on Deana Sobel Lederman, please visit her website:


Interview by scout














Scout is the curator and Editor-in-Chief of REVUE by scout. When not fostering REVUE, you can catch Scout reading, writing, out for lunch with friends, or cuddling on the couch with her fiancé and puppy Lola. Scout comes from both the digital and print publishing worlds with experience that ranges from operational to creative. Experience her aesthetic world with REVUE.

1 Comment
  1. 1 am extremely excited for Deana. I couldn’t wait for this time where I would read the stories, the blurbs, the comments and all that is glorious about Deana and her talent. It’s like a beautiful story to me. Girl meets guy, they get marry and have an adorable baby; her life is lifing magnificently and her passion is about to explode and go full steam ahead. And the best it yet to come… I love it. Congratulations Deana! Keep shining!

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