Washington, DC-based cartoonist Carolyn Belefski recently scored a new gig with a major client: the White House. As part of the Obama administration's effort to reduce the number of uninsured Americans, Belefski was commissioned to create a series of comics raising awareness of Healthcare.gov. The comics, all of which can be seen on the White House website, began rolling out on social media this week, in advance of the February 15 enrollment deadline. Here are a few of our favorites:
We spoke with Belefski about her experience:
Graphic Culture: How did you get the gig?
Carolyn Belefski: The White House Office of Digital Strategy approached me with the concept of health care comics. They had personas in mind and wanted to experiment with visual storytelling and the online platforms.
GC: Did they provide a script for you to illustrate, or were you given some latitude to write material yourself?
CB: I was given the personas (caregiver, hipster, daredevil, etc.) and developed sketches of the character designs for approval. At this time I provided three layout options on how best to show the stories on social media. We went with the character head in the center and the text around the middle so it would not get cut off on certain sites in preview. The White House provided me with the dimensions and I pitched how to show the panels and text. They provided me with a script and did allow me to contribute to the story. It was a complete collaboration with a minimal edit, but no art edits. I actually revised two panels on my own before it was right to send to them.
GC: What was it like having the White House as a client?
CB: It is amazing to have creative people at The White House and I am happy that I was on their radar to contribute to their project. They have been doing some really cool interactive work too, including the recent State of the Union. It's always nice to have clients everyone can recognize because of familiarity.
In addition, as a artist, it feels good to use my talents for America… as a cartoonist for America. I appreciate and thank The White House for showcasing art to get their message out. My hope is that the cartoons appeal to people who might not be aware of the issues or react to visual information.
An animated version of the "caregiver" cartoon can be seen on the White House Instagram.