April/May 2012 - Issue VI

It Started With a Sketch...
Author: Jennifer Arevalo

Like any other young student Ramon Ramirez was sitting in class trying to stay awake, "I was in an American Government class and was bored to death so I began sketching a world that was funny to help me stay awake," said Ramirez. After showing his sketches to a few friends, Ramirez was encouraged to show his work to the school paper at Corpus Christi’s Del Mar College. There he was given the opportunity to be published. "This really inspired me [being published] to continue and pursue something fun. I then realized this is what I really wanted to pursue, said Ramirez.

"I can take any situation, any subject and make it funny. Being an experienced cartoonist helps because the formula to being funny is taking stress and converting it into humor. I call it ‘stress art,’" Ramirez said.

In 2001 Ramirez used this formula as the editorial cartoonist for the local newspaper The Monitor. During his time there he was able to produce over 500 cartoons. Ramirez’ cartoons got the attention of the local media; Ramirez said his cartoons were, "ruffling the feathers of the corrupt." According to Ramirez there was no cartoonist at that time that, "prompted the issues with a dash of cartooning, politicians did not like being a caricature, but the community loved the work. Each cartoon packed a punch. The power of the pen was born!"

Some of his political cartoons that got attention; the drawing of the local district attorney and county commissioner scratching each other’s back as well as the drawing of the desk of a corrupt and later suicidal judge. "My very first cartoon that prompted attention to my work was when I drew a cartoon of "Ignorant Parents" which catered to their kids until their kids died of a drug overdose. It was a local case where 3 kids bought a bad dose of drugs from a local and then all 3 died as a result. People wanted me to apologize since they were kids from prominent political families, but as a teacher and based on what I’ve seen in my twenty years with teens, I know that each individual is responsible for their life and every choice has a consequence," said Ramirez.

He then added, "Society and parents have to learn to accept that every choice has a consequence. The political arena and its supporters wanted me removed from the editorials. It was a time when people were afraid to speak out due to retaliation. I stood and still stand today on my solid ground. The power of the pen continues to make a stand for people without a voice."

Ramirez no longer does political cartoons, but does not regret everything he did as a political cartoonist, "Do I miss the political humor? Of course I do. It was fun, exciting, challenging and a true learning experience. It helped shape my cartooning, my audience, and my foundation as a strong artist in the community." Ramirez added, "I truly enjoyed it because it’s always great to see the readers react to your work whether its good or bad feedback, all feedback was welcomed. It gave birth to my larger audience and it got my name out there."

Ramirez has the largest fan following on Facebook in South Texas with 40,300 fans. He has had the top page for 3 years. He has quite the fan following including: Gene Simmons, Morena Baccarin, Katee Sackhoff, Tricia Helfer and most recently Katrina Law and Manu Bennett. "When a celebrity loves your work it’s a feeling of great joy, accomplishment and fun. It’s all about networking and having fun while being able to share your talents with others. I had a lot of fun being star struck, they have all been fun to meet and share my work with."

Ramirez not only has cartoons that are popular in South Texas, but he also sold a cartoon to Hong Kong, "It is awesome to have produced a fun cartoon cat that is visible in China. I figured if I can reach China I can reach other areas too," Ramirez said.

Ramirez describes his cartoons as "vibrantly funny" and his digital portraits as "vibrantly fun" and through his years as an artist he has learned, "To try new things so every chance I get I enjoy doing a portrait and being able to dabble with new levels of creativity every time I take on a new subject. In my college days I was experiencing more uninspired moments but now as a digital artist/cartoonist I am having the time of my life. I have an abundance of ideas that I enjoy producing and there is never a dull moment in my day. I’m a creative force ready to power up the toons!" Ramirez said.

"Take criticism as a stepping stone..."

Ramirez is currently working as a motivational speaker via his Teacher Toons project and his latest project is Raza Toons. Ramirez also has the chance to animate a toon called "The Raza Report" under his cartoon named Rosendo Resendez which can be seen via YouTube under "Raza Report" (www.youtube.com/smartycartoons). During the summer Ramon plans to, "I plan to submit artwork for the San Diego Comic Con souvenir book plus I’m having a puppet made for Teacher Toons so it can be a featured mascot. Among my new themes for my digital prints include a vampire, a mermaid, a female version of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, a warrior and more celebrity portraits depending on who potentially I’ll meet via my networking" said Ramirez.

As an artist he offers these words of advice to any artists, "Take advantage of all of the technology that is now at hand. Every artist should have great business skills, always be prompt and professional in appearance and in communication. The fun element of getting ahead is to network, network, and network," said Ramirez. In edition to networking and always being prepared he also added, "Above all, have fun and do things with heart. When work becomes stressful then it’s time step back and take a break. Take criticism as a stepping stone, not a stumbling block. Make your work fun and always be professional in representing your portfolio and yourself."

Ramon Ramirez has come a long way from being a student trying to stay awake, to the teacher keeping students awake and now motivational speaker. "I first began as an artist that drew on the floor, then the bed, then my kitchen table and now I’m very glad to have a desk, an office and great technology via my sponsors. I’ve come a long way and they key is to not give up and believe in yourself no matter the odds," Ramirez said.

He then added, "Artists are very sensitive to life in general. The key to going forward is taking the hardships and continue to build your foundation with a positive outlook on life and taking every day as a blessing. Being a blessing to others is my daily goal because I know others have hardships and you never know when your humor, art or smile can make a difference in someone’s world."

Through his triumphs and failures he has always had the support to power through. "My community welcomed my humor and I’ve been having fun producing it. I’d just like to express a thank you to my awesome wife Debra, my great family, sponsors, super fans and friends that believe in my work. I’m having so much fun being a cartoonist and sharing my art. Tell your schools, Principals and Superintendents about Teacher Toons. Bringing you my best! Powering up the Toons!" said Ramirez.

Anyone interested in Ramirez’ cartooning or motivational speaking they can email him at ramirez@smartycartoons.com or call him at (956) 330-1002. Teacher Toons is a unique presentation that is 100% original and all artwork is created by Ramon Ramirez. Visit his site www.teachertoons.com and his main site at