how to choose a subject to draw a cartoon

How much impact does your subject have on what you create? Is your topic really the most important part of your drawing?

Hmmm.. let’s investigate.

I’m often asked how I come up with topics each week for Cartoon Club and my online art classes with the kids and adults. There are lots of ways that I find ideas for cartoon class. There is no single way that is better than another, but I can tell you there is one quality I seek out, which nearly always makes for a great topic to cartoon…

Let’s focus on one creative thought – CONTRADICTION

How do I find ideas for subjects to draw or cartoon?

Step 1: Take Lots of NOTES

I’m a serious note taker. If you’ve been to any of my online art classes and seen my studio with the piles of journals and sketchbooks on my desk, you’ve probably gathered such. I’m never without a pen or pencil in my hand. Why?

I make note of any little subject that might inspire a topic for a future Cartoon Club online class. I make note even, and especially, when the subject is something I would not normally have thought of myself and it CONTRADICTS other ideas on my list. That’s great!

Step 2: ASK People what they like

I’m very keen to help students learn to draw what they want to study more about. People’s interests are vast. They have ideas and interests I’d never have considered myself.

Sometimes the opposite is true and students ask to draw subjects I think are too typical to be interesting… like cats. I had quite a few students ask me to do a Cartoon Club on cats. Really, I thought? Isn’t that too everyday?! But here’s the thing about drawing, everything is more interesting when you draw it. So I thought ok, I’ll add cats to my list of cartooning subjects.

Step 3: Look for UNRELATED Inspiration

Next I keep my eye out for inspiration, from sources unrelated to drawing. This might be from a newsletter I follow, or from an outing like my day spent learning to throw on the pottery wheel. It might be from a podcast I’m listening to. That is a big source of inspiration for me because I tend to listen to podcasts as I’m doing something everyday like meal preparation, cleaning or stretching. I find the combination of doing a regular activity and listening helps me to spot the most terrific ideas to add to my list of Cartoon Club topics. And the more CONTRADICTORY the better! Which brings me to my last and the most important method for finding a topic to draw…


Lastly I look for CONTRADICTIONS. How about a pool party?! CONTRADICTIONS are what transform a regular everyday subject (like cats) into a great topic that is fun, inspiring and challenging to do in our online cartoon art class. Cat Pool Party anyone? Yes!

Often times I’m worried that the theme I’ve chosen is to silly, or too CONTRADICTORY to be good, but those often wind up being the subjects we draw that make for the most creative and fantastic pictures.

Whenever I’m stuck I can look back at my Topics List and seek a little inspiration. I’m always pleasantly surprised (and thankful!) for all the notes I took and the ideas I’ve jotted down for our online art class. It’s amazing how useful one word can be!

Ready?… Let’s Get Creative!


The 4 Steps to choosing

a great Topic to Draw or Cartoon:

  1. Take lots of notes.
  2. Ask people what they like.
  3. Look for Unrelated Inspiration

Online Art Classes

for Kids and Adults who love to Doodle!

Are you always doodling? Do you love to create cartoons? These are the art classes for you! I've created a small, friendly group that works together in our online art class. We’re open to anyone who likes to sit, doodle and dream up cartoons. There are drawing classes for kids (ages 8 - 12), young children (ages 6 - 7) and even adults.

Cartoon Club for Kids Online art class for kids to learn to draw
online art classes for kids
online art classes for adults