Learn how Andy Singer, cyclist advocate and environmentalist, has turned his love of cartoons into helping change bike policies.
Not long ago, I published a post highlighting the great efforts being made by the co-chairs of the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition. One of the co-chairs, Andy Singer, has garnered attention not just for his work for the Coalition but for his policy-based cartoons.
I asked Andy if he’d oblige to another interview to highlight his work as a cartoonist. Thankfully, he did. We both hope you enjoy this interview!
You are the most prolific cartoonist covering bike policy issues today. What do you hope to achieve through your cartoons?
I’m not necessarily the most prolific cartoonist, but I’ve drawn and published thousands of cartoons and illustrations over the last 28 years. Most of them have nothing to do with bicycles but, given that I’m a cyclist and an environmentalist, some cartoons end up being about bicycle and transportation issues.
How long have you been a cartoonist? What drew you to this particular artistic format?
I started drawing cartoons in 1992, when I applied for a cartoon slot in the Daily Californian, a student and city newspaper in Berkeley, California. I stumbled across cartooning by accident.
I was a painting major in college and had worked at copy and print shops. I got into drawing with pen and ink because I could photocopy the drawings and send them to people or make mini photocopied “zines.” An editor to whom I was applying for illustration work suggested I should draw cartoons.
Over time, I realized I liked how cartoons combined words and images into a kind of verbal/visual shorthand. They’re basically like modern photographic memes that people make and share on the internet—a way to say something simply, quickly, and (sometimes) powerfully or humorously.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your work?
I like when I’ve been able to contribute to activist causes or help them communicate ideas. Passing laws or making changes in policies, street design or government is a team sport and it always feels good to be part of a winning team.
Bike culture has many dimensions. Compared to 30 years ago, we have more infrastructure and laws to protect cyclists and give them access to at least parts of our car-based transportation system. Even getting to this point required the work of thousands of people. These include political organizers, engineers, lawyers, artists and everyone else in the cycling community. I’m happy to have been a tiny part of that effort.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Drawing pictures is my way of processing my emotions and my day-to-day life. Some people take photographs. Some people keep journals or write poetry or songs. I draw pictures.
What do you do when you’re not creating cartoons?
I volunteer as Co-Chair of the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition trying to get my city to implement its bike plan. I also read, cook, wash dishes, do laundry, stare blankly at the internet, worry about politics and baseball, ride my bike, listen to music, eat, sleep, play Scrabble with my spouse, visit with friends and family (before this pandemic)…stuff like that.
Where can we find more of your work?
I include ten cartoons for this piece skewed towards legal issues (given that it’s a website devoted to bike law). Folks can see more of my cartoons on my website or by searching “andy singer cartoon” into the Google Images search box.
Do you create commissioned cartoons? If yes, what’s the best way for people to contact you?
Sometimes, I do. Right now, however, I have a lot of work that I’m already committed to. People can reach me through my website with any inquiries.