Sunday Mailbag- Reuse Art?

July 31st, 2016 | Posted in Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: Do you ever “recycle” your art? I mean: maybe there is an idea or a concept which one customer did not like but another customer could like? Or maybe you could recycle some “background-elements” in more than one picture (a dog, a car, a house, etc.). Or are you even sometimes able to re-use whole caricatures?

A: Yes to all of the above. If I have elements of a previous illustration or some sketch or something that will work well with a current project, I will absolutely use those elements again.

This is especially true with background objects or environments and illustration jobs. I have a folder with things like my illustrations of carpet patterns, tiled floors, brick patterns, woodland landscapes and a few other things like that which I may manipulate and use in a new illustration. It’s mainly as a timesaver… I’ve already drawn that stuff so I save the time by not having to redraw it all again. Of course I will only do that if whatever elements I am using from my little “library” work 100% with whatever new project I am incorporating them in. Things like brick patterns or chain link fence are pretty universal (and time consuming to draw) but other elements might not be a good fit.

Caricatures are a good example of something that only occasionally works for reuse. Usually when I have to draw a caricature for some illustration job the expression/attitude/focus of the subject is too specific for me to use a previously drawn caricature. Every once and a while I’ll have done some sketch for a “Sketch o’the Week” or another job where the caricature works perfectly for some new job, and I’ll reuse it. By “reuse it” I mean I’ll redraw that same caricature into the new illustration… I don’t cut and paste it. The visual identity of a given illustration almost always demands the creation of a single, coherent pieces. However that doesn’t mean I can’t redraw a previous caricature I did of some subject as part of that coherent piece.

Thanks to Dominick Zeillinger for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


  1. To the original question asker, Dominick… this may sound obvious and I apologise if it is, but make sure that the things you’re reusing, you own the copyright to. If you’ve done any work where the copyright transfers over to the employer you won’t be able to use that I don’t think.

    Take care,

  2. I’ve seen a Frank Sinatra illustration floating around of yours, is this something I can buy?


    • Tom Richmond says:

      Not sure which one you are talking about. It might have been a sketch o’the week?


Sketch o'the Week- Natalia Dyer! @strangerthingstv #strangerthings #nataliadyer @mad.magazine

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