“Don’t set out to build a fence. Set out to lay a brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. Soon you will have a fence.”
These wise words became the guiding principle for my project, Drawing Round The Sun. Were they uttered by Confucius? No. Oscar Wilde perhaps? Or maybe Mark Twain? None of the above. This proverb was brought to my attention by none other than Will Smith. I saw it on a YouTube video once. That’s right, the man who brought us the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air provided me with the direction and focus required to draw a cartoon every single day for a year. An unlikely mentor.
I made this new year’s resolution with no real end in mind. I certainly didn’t set out to create a book. I simply concentrated on coming up with the best cartoon I could each day and executed the idea to the best of my abilities given the time constraint. I laid a brick as perfectly as a brick could be laid. Pretty soon I had a wall.
The first few bricks I laid were a bit wonky. The ideas weren’t very well developed and it had been a long time since I had illustrated on a regular basis. I got the dates wrong on some of the cartoons. But none of that mattered. The exercise quickly taught me that I didn’t have time to linger on the perceived flaws of my work as I was forced to turn my attention to the drawing due the following day.
I began to see the world as potential cartoons. I found myself constantly assessing situations, mining them for material. I recall vividly the moment I was preparing my lunch for work and contemplating what lay in front of me. “What’s funny about a loaf of bread?” It was at this point I knew the project was becoming a major part of my life.
The process began as a gruelling chore as I struggled my way through the first month. Once I hit my stride though it became a joyful challenge. Then an addiction. People often asked me how I could be bothered. To me that seemed like asking a heroin addict how they could be bothered trying to find drugs. I was compelled to fill my daily quota. To lay my brick.
All too soon, the 31st of December rolled around and I drew my final cartoon with an equal measure of relief and bereavement. The year had come to close. They say the most stressful things in life are the birth of a child, starting a new job and moving house. I experienced all three that year. I also made this book.