The walls of Kelvin Smith Library’s second floor reading room were covered in cartoons this weekend, as Case Western Reserve University alumnus and The New Yorker cartoonist, Tom Bachtell, transformed the space for his Alumni Weekend presentation.
Most of the cartoons, in typical New Yorker fashion, were depictions of President Trump that insinuated criticism of his presidency. Bachtell has been a caricaturist for The New Yorker for over twenty years and produces two to three drawings for them every week. In addition, his caricatures have also appeared in The New York Times, Forbes Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.
Humble despite his accomplishments, he stresses that his passions for, art, music and dance, are simply in his blood. He descends from a long line of artists; both of his parents were skilled dancers, and his uncle was a calligrapher.
He believes that both him and his family understand the linkage between the liberal arts and hard sciences, saying that, “Science is a first rate piece of furniture for man’s upper chamber—that is, if he has common sense on the first floor.” Additionally, Bachtell said that in order to put his sketches together into a finished product, there is a great deal of engineering involved.
To provide himself with inspiration and creativity for his art at work, Bachtell plays the piano and teaches swing dancing. He was part of a joint liberal arts and music program with the Cleveland Institute of Music while at Case Western Reserve University and graduated in 1980 as an English and music double major.
Bachtell focuses his works on incorporating, elevating and humanizing the world’s technical and subtle aspects. He believes that his liberal arts education enabled him “to make wise and efficient decisions and to convey emotions in [his] drawings.” While acknowledging that the modern world is a challenging place for artists, he emphasized that there is still a necessity for artists in society, saying that “artists take in varying levels of consciousness, the human experience and periods in time and reflect it back into the modern culture.”
In his free time he often observes and remarks on the human condition. One realization he has had is that we often prevent ourselves from seizing opportunities even though “we have within us passports that can take us anywhere.”