Lehrerboys: A Conversation on Creativity, Censorship and Just Getting It Done
My heart is officially broken, split in two between a pair of identical twins named Daniel and Jeremy Lehrer. Sigh.
The boys, a duo better known as @lehrerboys on Instagram and Facebook, crank out cartoons that are so clever, you’ll instantaneously fall in love with their creations then wonder what life was like before their colorful comics galavanted across your feed each day. (Answer: unfunny and a total bore.)
But for real, I’ve been a longtime fan of this pair’s work because while undeniably hysterical, it’s also ridiculously, sharply smart; make no mistake, this is art with something to say. When questioned, here’s what the brothers—and fellow Columbia University alums!—told me about their cartoons, their creative process and whatever absurdities happen in between …
1. Melissa: How did @lehrerboys begin? Did you wake up one morning and just say, “Let’s do this thing,” or was it an idea that developed over time?
LEHRERBOYS: Like everything we’ve ever done in life, without a clue and ass backwards. We started doing it to “pass the time” in between creating television shows—a process that can be verrrrry slow. We both subscribe to the “build your ship while you sail it” school of unpreparedness. Intuiting everything you need to do before you do it is a prescription for doing nothing.
2. Two bros, one daily cartoon. Talk to me about how the collaboration works between both of you …
Ha. Our collaboration “works” with us sitting side by side, whistling, humming and yelling until we’re completely nauseous of each other and head home. It’s a good thing for the world that we’re in a sub-street office with thick walls.
3. Speaking of two, you guys are identical twins. Do you feel like you have some sort of identical-twin telepathy that exponentially enhances the creativity of your work?
Yes, we do have telepathy. But like all “magic tricks” it has a very boring explanation. Spending a lifetime around a genetic duplicate.
4. Posting every day is quite the grind. How do you guys keep up and also make your cartoons so hilarious and relevant?
A good question. It’s amazing what you are capable of when you actually sit down and do it. In the abstract, before we started, the idea of drawing an original cartoon seemed insane. After all, we had no training or history drawing cartoons. Eventually, in the doing, it becomes second nature, which just goes to show that actually doing a thing is the crucial element in discovering what you’re capable of.
5. I saw a few weeks ago Instagram censored one of your posts. What the heck? Thoughts on censorship in art …
Yes, we have been censored several times. This is a tricky one. On the one hand, we’re guests on a platform that has rules. And they’re entitled to have rules. On the other hand, it sometimes does feel like they are “anti-content” in the sense that millions of butt selfies are tolerated but an artist with something to say is immediately censored if, God forbid, they show a nipple. Nowadays everyone from Facebook to Verizon wants to get into the content game. The tricky part is that content is inherently divisive and creates conflict, which makes corporations nervous. Ass selfies on the other hand are like the elevator music of Instagram.
6. Your Instagram account is awesome not only because the cartoons are so high-quality but also because the captions are smartly written and full of a crazy amount of wit. Do you craft these captions before you draw or draw first then write?
We always start with a concept of something we want to express. Then comes the drawing. In drawing, we flesh the concept out more fully. Then we fine-tune the precise caption to the drawing.
7. Three artists who inspire you …
Tough one. David Hockney, Sol Lewitt, and of course Thomas Kincaid… the “Master” of Light.
8. Three comedy writers/comedians who inspire you …
Woody Allen, Monty Python, Larry David.
9. Three best/juiciest topics to satirize …
Life, life, life.
10. What’s in the future for @lehrerboys? T-shirts? Mugs? Videos?
YES, t-shirts, posters, undies, digital greeting cards and more will be available on our website, which we are building out now.
Bonus question: Pretend this interview is one of your cartoons. What caption would you give it to end our exchange?
And so, having conquered their interview with little word studio with tremendous wit and charm, the lehrerboys returned to their little subterranean office, and, with a sigh, went back to their doodles.
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