|©Copyright 2009 Out Of The Blue.
All rights reserved.
|Columbus comic artist Natalie Dee creates own online career
N. SHUMATE, OUT OF THE BLUE
Natalie Dee has replaced her previous jobs with her own
independent online career.
The Upper Arlington, Ohio resident began illustrating and writing
dark-humored comics for her daily updated Web site,
nataliedee.com, in 2003.
“It didn’t start out as a specific project, it was just a way for me
to have an online portfolio of sorts,” said Dee, 30.
Dee’s self-titled Web site now archives over 1,500 drawings and
profits from duplicated comic merchandise sales.
“There were surprisingly few board meetings about the business
end of my site,” she said. “I just offered apparel items on the site
and sales trickled in and continued to grow as the traffic
continued to go up.”
Dee said seeing the internet’s early potential as a place to
showcase her work before competitive online businesses
increased, and having flexible business plans for an easy
transition into online communication changes was valuable.
“I just got lucky that I was able to see the potential of the
internet,” Dee said. “There are so many people with sites now, it
would probably be a lot harder to have people notice a new site
and have it pan out.”
As the general internet audience expanded, a shift in
demographics also occurred.
“When I started there were more dudes, and more of an IT dude-
type-vibe,” Dee said.
“Once more types of entertainment became available and internet
speeds got faster, a lot of younger people and women got online,
and those people make up the most of my readers.”
Although the female character of Natalie Dee is frequented, Dee’
s comics are not directed to a specific demographic—there are
also inconsistent mixes of drawings without continuation that
bring life to nouns, mostly “things.”
“I don’t like getting ideas from popular culture so much, because
I think it detracts from the weirdness of what is happening on the
site,” Dee said.
Dee’s July 13 comic featured a brown ball of twine holding a
tissue with flushed cheeks and a sad face, and written text: “sniff
sniff…i got twine flu.”
“If there are any inspirations from the culture, it is usually popular
conclusions people have come to about current issues, or
anxieties that many people share but are afraid or embarrassed to
admit,” she said.
Although liking the comics of Evan Dorkin and Peter Bagge, Dee
said she draws without direct influences and mostly diverts away
from an autobiographical perspective.
“I just wake up in the morning, go into my office, sit at the
computer, and the comics just fall out of my arm while I am
listening to the stereo and talking to my friends on Facebook,”
Dee said. “There is zero magic to it.”
Dee said there isn’t really a process to come up with new
material. She just draws what she wants and fits whatever it’ll
be into the existing body of work.
“Honestly, if Natalie Dee needs to go through a bunch of routines
and oblique strategies in order to make Natalie Dee comics, then
she should probably find a job she is a little better at, you dig?,”
Starting out with Sharpies and colored pencils, Dee said she now
primarily uses Photoshop CS3 and sometimes integrates image
files from Painter or Artrage.
“Occasionally, I will also use photographs of surfaces and
patterns that I collages within the drawing to add texture or visual
interest,” she said.
Dee attended The Ohio State University from 1998-2000 to
pursue a degree in Visual Communication Design. Dee said she
hated basically everything she could hate about OSU: going to
class, the people in her classes, the people in her dorm and her
small dorm room with no windows.
“I left because I thought that OSU was a bloated corpse of an
institution,” Dee said. “I have never been more unhappy or more
suicidally depressed than I was when I was at Ohio State. And I
felt like a million bucks the day I blew that pop stand.”
Dee also writes a blog on her Web site, raises her one-year-old
daughter and works with her husband Drew, who maintains
marriedtothesea.com and runs superpoop.com,
toothpastefordinner.com and francetucky.com.
“Once I have all that stuff wrapped up, I just sit down on the
couch and watch Project Runway over dinner,” she said. “I’m
just one person.”