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LISTEN: Cartoonist Leigh Rubin on inspiration, creativity, and critics

Leigh Rubin, cartoonist-in-residence at RIT, visits with students in a medical illustration class.
A. Sue Weisler,RIT
Leigh Rubin, cartoonist-in-residence at RIT, visits with students in a medical illustration class.

In the world created by “Rubes” cartoonist Leigh Rubin, cows, bears, and sometimes insects get equal time with humans making puns and delivering one-liners.

Rubin sits down at his drawing board every day to come up with a new concept. He’s been doing that for 35 years, and “Rubes” is now distributed worldwide to more than 400 media outlets.

“Writer's block doesn’t exist in my universe because it cannot exist in my universe,” said Rubin. “If you have to come up with something new and fresh every day, you don’t accept that. If a concept comes in 10 minutes, it’s great; if it takes five hours, that’s not so great, but it has to occur.”

Rubin will be talking about his creative process and inspiration at a special session at RIT this weekend as part of the school’s annual Imagine RIT event.  Rubin is RIT’s cartoonist-in-residence.

“I think it means that I come to this school as often as I can,” he said with a laugh, “and spread my years of wisdom, or lack thereof -- show kids what to do and what not to do.”

Rubin gets his inspiration by observing the world around him and reading everything he can get his hands on, from milk cartons to social media feeds.

The theme of his upcoming session is “Curiosity and Creativity: Getting Them and Keeping Them.” Rubin will joined in the discussion by RIT senior lecturer Mike Johansson, who said in a news release that Rubin’s expertise is relevant to the class because “there’s a growing movement in business that seeks employees who can exhibit the 5 Cs: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, curiosity, and creativity.”

The session is from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday in Ingle Auditorium on the RIT campus in Henrietta. It’s free and open to the public.

Rubin worked with RIT students earlier in the week on some creative exercises.

“There are some really, really clever and twisted students out there, and it’s just a joy,” he said. “Our future is safe.” 

Click on the LISTEN link above to hear an interview with Rubin.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.