The Illustrated Life of Edith Zimmerman

Drawing of Edith Zimmerman

Drawing by Edith Zimmerman

I had never followed any one webcomic too closely until I came across Edith Zimmerman’s Drawing Links newsletter. It’s so personal, funny, and honest. I always look forward to it in my inbox and you should definitely add it to yours. 

Below she was kind enough to share how she got into the world of comics and visuals and how she turned it into her full time gig.

How would you describe Drawing Links and the overall creative work you do?

Thanks for featuring me, Erik! Drawing Links is a newsletter, and each installment contains a comic strip I’ve drawn about my life. And in some installments, at the end, I link to interesting things I find online.

When it started, I thought of it as a way to fulfill my twin creative urges of sharing stories from my life and sharing cool things I find on the internet. 

Have you always been artistic or did something specific send you down that path later in life?

As a kid I liked to draw, and in college I spent a couple years thinking I’d be a studio art double major (with English), but eventually I dropped the studio art part. I was lazy and didn’t know what I’d do with a studio art degree! 

I mostly stopped drawing after that, but then I picked it up again when I stopped drinking, at age 32, and had a lot of extra time and energy on my hands (in my hands?). Back then I was Googling stuff like, “What do people do besides drink?” And a lot of the advice was like, “Try stuff you enjoyed as a kid, again. You will probably still enjoy it.” And it was totally true. It was almost sad. 

You have been part of some amazing publications like The Hairpin and The Cut, and you have a long history as a writer. What went into the decision to focus more full time into illustrations as part of your work?

Thanks! It wasn’t intentional, but I like to think I’m continuing the writing part, just with pictures now. I have a patchy work history, with phases where I work a lot and phases where I don’t work at all. The comics and illustrations essentially wormed their way in from the sidelines. At first I did them just for fun, for myself, and then I shared them privately on instagram. Then I shared some more on Medium, and then I started doing illustrations for the recovery newsletter The Small Bow. And then I quit my day job and leaped into sharing the Instagram comics in a newsletter instead. And since last year I’ve been charging money for the newsletter, which is fun but also a major change and totally stressful. 

But there’s something about combining words and drawings that makes me feel like I’m most myself, or like I’m communicating a mood or moment in a way that feels most satisfying. Sometimes, anyway. 

What tools do you use?

For pens and paper, I use Micron pens (sizes 01 and 03), Staedtler colored pencils, and Borden & Riley #234 Paris Paper for Pens. 

For computer stuff, I use a Canon scanner and a 2017 MacBook Air. To adjust and arrange the images after I scan them, I use the “Preview” application (the one that comes with the computer).  

Do you have a favorite drawing or illustration of yours?

I don’t think so, but this is an interesting question. I published a long comic in 2017 about getting sober. The drawings are all “bad,” but there’s an unpolished-ness to them that communicates something important to me.

One of the panels from “My First Year Sober” as chosen by author of this site

There’s something so real when a person is just making drawings even though they’re not “good.” Like you can see their hand in it more; there’s something like a more direct connection.  

Do you have any influences or visual artists that inspire you?

So many! Julia Wertz and Gabrielle Bell have both been huge influences. And Lawrence Yeo of More to That opened my eyes to the possibilities of combining newsletter-dom and illustrations.

Any advice for someone who is looking to start adding visuals to their work?

I’d say just jump in. There’s something so appealing in seeing what someone has made by hand. It’s so personal and human. 

And in my opinion it’s even more effective when the drawings are kind of terrible. It’s like, “Oh yeah, there’s DEFINITELY a person over there. Thank god.” 

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