RJ Matson

RJ Matson – Designer

Editorial cartoonist and freelance illustrator specializing in humorous illustrations for kids and adults – a master of many styles.


I am an award winning, internationally syndicated editorial cartoonist and freelance illustrator whose great ambition is to draw better than anyone who is funnier and to be funnier than anyone who draws better. For 20 years the editorial cartoonist at the New York Observer and 8 years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I have published thousands of cartoons and created many illustrations for MAD Magazine, The Nation, The New Yorker, Washington City Paper, Capital Style, the Capitol Steps, and Scholastic News. I have illustrated several books, as well, all of them in collaboration with other authors (see list below).

I learned a lot about the art of collaboration early in my career, when I was the Art Director at The Washington Monthly magazine, where I designed covers and worked with numerous writers, editors, illustrators, and photographers. As an editorial cartoonist, I work alone submitting several sketches from which my editor will pick one, but as an illustrator I embrace the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients for two reasons: (1) It gives me the opportunity to work in different styles; and (2) it gives me the opportunity to solve new and interesting puzzles by listening, by asking questions, by brainstorming ideas, and then by sitting down at my drawing board and figuring out how to deliver the perfect visual solution.

From initial concept, to sketches, to finished art, I welcome input. I know from experience that the final product will often be better after revisions, and it rarely will turn out to be exactly what I envisioned before I put pencil to paper. Some clients hire me because they are looking for a particular thing, but others keep working with me because they know that, together, we will come up with something neither one of us had expected at the start.

A sample of wide the variety of books I have illustrated: A political satire written with the Capitol Steps (Fools on the Hill), joke books about dating (The Single Woman's Guide to the Available Men of Washington and How To Satisfy a Woman Every Time on Five Dollars a Day), books about job hunting (Job Smarts for Twentysomethings and Job Hunting for Dummies), books about grammar (Grammar for Smart People), books defining Generation X (13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?) and the Millennial generation (Millennials Rising), and an award-winning children's book in collaboration with a pediatrician, who saw a need to teach children born with AIDS not to be afraid of their medicine (Our Little Soldiers).
Biographies & Memoirs Children’s Non-Fiction Political Science & Current Affairs
Humor & Comedy Middle Grade Picture Books
  • 2019 National Press Foundation Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning, 2015 Folio Eddie & Ozzie Award for Best Magazine Cover Illustration, 2007 Time Magazine Best Cartoon of the Year
  • Anne E. Dyson Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Work experience


Jan, 1990 — Present

Editorial Cartoonist at Roll Call, the Newspaper of Congress and Capitol Hill.
Editorial Cartoonist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2005-2013.
Editorial Cartoonist at The New York Observer, 1990-2010
Syndicated to over 800 newspapers by Cagle Cartoons 2005-current
Freelance Illustrator based in New York City 1990-2005
Freelance Illustrator based in St. Louis, MO 2005-2013
Freelance Illustrator based in Portland, ME 2013-current

RJ has 2 reviews





Robert G.

Robert G.

May, 2023

Clearly, from the samples you see here, RJ is a wonderful illustrator. I am happy to inform you that he is also wonderful to work with. When brainstorming for the cover, he asked questions about my book that I never considered, demonstrating an active and original aesthetic. Consequently, the cover came out better than I expected. I highly recommend RJ; your project will benefit greatly from hi...
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Milton S.

Milton S.

Apr, 2023

Brilliant! Although it took longer than first estimated (just due to RJ being busy), the end result and the willingness to revise until we arrived at EXACTLY what was necessary was really worth it. In terms of quality, I don't think it's possible to get any better. Many, many thanks for your help! All the best, Milton

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