Q&A With David Ostow, Cartoonist and Curator



David Ostow’s work has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post and Entertainment Weekly…and, as of this month, Roger Smith Hotel. The Brooklyn-based cartoonist’s March Mega Opening features a collection of works done by Brooklyn-based cartoonists and illustrators– the show opens on March 30th. We sat down with him to learn more about his background and artistic inspirations.

How have you gotten to where you are today with your art?

When I was  training as an architect in grad school, I realized it was something I could perhaps pursue as I got more feedback from my peers on my sketches than my architectural work. After graduating, my sister Micol and I collaborated on an illustrated novel called So Punk Rock and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother

What has been your favorite piece of work to create to-date?

I’m a neurotic Jewish New Yorker, a lot of my work is based on personal experience, it’s timely. When I was living in Bed Stuy I feel like I got to know “hip” Brooklyn–I did a series on my experience there which was really fun to create.

What are you working on now? Is there a new medium that you’ve been exploring or would like to explore in the future?  

Right now I’m working to get published in the New Yorker. To submit, you need about  10 comics per week, so I’m constantly looking for “the next joke” in every thing that I do. My first meeting with them was last week, I wanted to vomit. It’s a highly competitive and intimidating to space to submit work to.

Every major news publication has a digital component, and the digital artwork has some sort of animated aspect. I dabbled in animation in grad school, but I don’t really remember it. It’s something that I’d like to brush up on to enhance my work.  

From where do you draw inspiration in New York? What’s your favorite spot in the city?

I so rarely come to Manhattan anymore. I love when you get really far uptown and the layers of the city start to peel away, you have the tower at the cloisters, the bridges, really elegant industrial archways. You’re still in the city but it’s all of a sudden this really dramatic setting. You get on the Parkway and it’s inspiring; it’s not a place to meditate, per say, but it’s a beautiful place to be. The topography of New York fascinates me.

What role do you believe the artist has in society, as an artist?

I feel like a cartoonist is a very specific kind of artist.  If never thought of myself as a fine artist, although I guess I am an artist in the broader sense. It’s hard for me to say that I am one and have that be part of my complex, it’s also interesting in the context of everything happening politically.  

I never wanted to be political, I just wanted to make people laugh. But I also feel I do have some sort of responsibility to channel my political frustration into my work. It took me a long time to believe I could pursue a career as an artist, and then this radical political change has happened and I’m still unsure of how it is going to affect my work in the years to come.

The March Mega Opening show you curated at Roger Smith is approaching, could you tell us more about your curation process? How did you assemble the group of artists and decide to host the show?

My boss wanted to do something for Bushwick Open Studios at KÁVÉ Espresso Bar. I reached out to a few illustrators and cartoonists I knew in Brooklyn who might be interested to put on a group show. We made our identity as Brooklyn residents, the common factor to our group.

The show from there went well, I was actually contacted by the Roger Smith hotel staff to put on a similar show on property, and here we are. The work looked really “at home” in KÁVÉ, I wasn’t sure how it would translate in the context of the hotel. It’s strange to see it take on the new environment , but  I’m glad there’s this new opportunity for it to be seen in this context. I’m excited that the artwork will be seen by new guests every day; I hope that they recognize that there is a Brooklyn component to the setup of the work, even if it isn’t immediately evident.

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