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Favorite Activities

Writing & Drawing

Coding JavaScript & more

Prototyping new communication projects

Reading (mostly about computer technology, history, art history, art techniques, writing techniques, and poetry)

Long-distance high-speed walking; weightlifting

Making Silly Lists




Personal Interests

Nineteenth & Twentieth Century Literature

Etymology and Word Usage

Art History

Cultural History

History of Technology

Natural History (especially about mammals & insects)




Some Peculiar Personal Traits

I actually enjoy reading software manuals, Web programming guides, dictionaries, encyclo­pedias, and English-usage guides

Some of my favorite movies and cartoon strips are in black & white

I’m the second-fastest walker (and the fastest long-distance walker) I’ve ever met

I often remember my dreams, and can occasionally do lucid dreaming




Current Favorites

Fiction: Kafka and Chekov (especially their short stories), Mark Twain, Faulkner, Tolstoy (I’ll finish War and Peace someday I swear)

Cartoon strips: Krazy Kat by George Herriman; Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson; Julius Kniple, Real Estate Photographer by Ben Katchor; Peanuts by Charles Schultz; Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay; Pogo by Walt Kelly; and various works by Roy Crane, Will Eisner, & Berke Breathed.

Music: Jazz (especially Charles Mingus), Soul, R&B, Acoustic Blues

Fine artists: Goya (especially his late period), Daumier (ink drawings & watercolors, not so much his oils), Rembrandt (especially his sketches), the late British painter Francis Bacon, many others

Films: La Strada, The Seventh Seal, The Sweet Smell of Success, The Third Man, L’Atalanté, Dr. Strangelove, and several films by Kurosawa and Ozu.




Recent Big Thrills

Holding an original ink-wash drawing by Francisco Goya in my hands

Eating spiced squash soup with melted Gruyère cheese on top

Memorizing six fairly long poems (at least for now)

Creating a couple of Web development tools in JavaScript

(If these are my big thrills, you can see that my wild days are long gone!)











There’s an unfortunate tendency for these bio things to read like thinly disguised résumés. However, I can hardly avoid talking about my professional pursuits, since that’s what I spend almost all my time doing. I don’t really have much of  “a life” in the conventional sense you know, family, vacations, crabgrass although I’m open to offers. Mostly I spend my time working, so this “personal” version of my bio necessarily discusses work, but from a personal angle.

Left Brain, Right Brain

I’m both a writer and an illustrator. Unfortunately that combination sounds a little unserious, for a couple of reasons. In general, we tend to give more credibility to specialists and some professional combinations seem especially suspicious. Would you trust a surgeon who had a sideline etching satanic tatoos into bikers’ forearms? Or a baker with a second job shoveling toxic waste?

My own combination is not that threatening or colorful but even so, the ubiquitous stereotype of “left-brained” vs. “right- brained” activities makes the concept of a writer/illustrator seem dubious to some people. As far as I know, the only w/i’s who are taken seriously work in cartooning (comic strips, comic books, or editorial cartoons) or in children’s books. My own project history is somewhat different and much broader than that. It gets worse: I’ve also worked extensively in related fields, such as graphic design, computer technology, and teaching. This naturally raises a painful question: with so much, um, diversity, can I expect people to take me seriously in any of these vocations?

Actually, I don’t really engage in more activities than anyone else; it’s just that almost all the things I do happen to be work-related. Almost everyone divides their time between three or four major concerns, each of which they (and the people around them) take seriously but usually only one of these is an occupation. The others may include such matters as family, community, religion, charities or other public service, travel, television and other popular culture, an active social life, and various hobbies. For better or worse, I’m not involved with most of those things. I’m no more scattered and have no more time at my disposal than anyone else; I’ve been able to seriously pursue more than one profession simply by giving up what most people spend much of their time doing.

You know that multitasking is a myth, right? Or at least an image problem.

I try to minimize my professional image problem by compartmentalizing my working life somewhat. My occupational diversity is obviously no secret, but I try not to push it in people’s faces, either. Clients who knew me only as a “business writer” sometimes had no idea that I could draw; conversely, an art director who knew me only as an illustrator once expressed surprise that my emails were so well written. I even maintain multiple email addresses for my different professional identities.

Born to be Bifurcated

It may sound crazy that I became both a writer and an illustrator, but there’s a logical (and totally different) explanation for my involvement in each of these fields.

I like to compare the styles of different public speakers. Of course this sketch doesn’t include me, because I’ve never seen myself speak!

I initially became a writer for a simple (and unflattering) reason: it came easily. Writing has always seemed as instinctive to me as speaking; it feels like work, but not like struggle. For example, I pulled straight A’s in my college English major, as well as in graduate courses I took to get certification as an English teacher, without those studies even being my main focus at the time. (In my twenties I thought of myself primarily as a painter.)

Since then, as an adult, I’ve worked in numerous language-related fields. I was a high school English teacher in New York City first in a gang-ridden inner-city school that one newspaper called “the most violent school in New York,” then in one of the country’s top-rated schools for the intellectually gifted. Later, in Boston, I worked as a freelance writer, online columnist, editor-in-chief of a business webzine, and public speaker. (I’ve given talks or professional training sessions in Boston, Cambridge, New York, Detroit, London, and Tokyo.) I had to focus intensely on each of these gigs, but it all came pretty naturally to me; none of it felt like something I had to “learn” to do.

Speaking of speaking… you might like to see a few photos of my trip to Tokyo during a killer heat wave. I was there to give a public talk to Web developers, research local Web-development practices, and see the town.

BBy contrast, I had to intentionally plan, focus, and study in order to raise my visual artwork to a professional level. Although I had drawn joyously and continuously from childhood right into adulthood, I had to work hard in the art courses that I took. I never thought about my motivation at the time, but in retrospect, it wasn’t very mysterious; in fact, becoming a visual artist in the first place wasn’t even a conscious decision. It’s just what one did in our household, with our bohemian-artist father running his art studio right in our home.

Most site maps are just boring lists, but not this one! It has comments and personality, and is the only way to find out everything that’s available on this site.
Click graphic to enlarge (see the cartoons better)

Given that peculiar upbringing, it may not be surprising that I moved out for good (actually, my stepmother threw me out) when I was barely seventeen. After graduating from college, I resumed studying anatomy, perspective, composition, and illustration at a few art schools in New York, and spent most of my early twenties as a visual artist, before becoming an English teacher (and, eventually, a freelance writer) in my late twenties.

II’m not sure that this little history of how I became both a writer and a visual artist does anything to reduce the subtle prejudice that versatile people face; but it may, at least, make my career choices seem less incomprehensible.

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Deep inside, I don't really feel as though all the things I’ve done writing, illustration, design, teaching, and public speaking are fundamentally different activities at all. To me they all feel like different modes within my one, single obsession: communication.  To break through the classic existential barrier, to connect somehow forge a link between my mind and others that’s what drives me. I’ll learn any skill and work in almost any medium that helps me to achieve that overriding goal.

About My Strange Name

San River people were famous for their boats and rafts, à la Huckle­berry Finn. I have no idea whether my ancestors actually lived like that, but of course I like to think so. So I made up this sketch.

When people meet me and see that I don’t look Asian, they sometimes ask what “San” was shortened from. I’m tempted to answer that it was lengthened from “Sa” but I restrain myself, because nobody likes a wiseass.

Actually, my ancestors lived on the San River in Europe, back when it was the border between the Austrian and Russian Empires. (My grandfather used to joke that the first thing he did each morning was ask who won the previous night’s battle, so he’d know what country he lived in.) The river later became famous as the site of one of the first battles of World War II in Europe: the Polish army held the Germans there for about six days in the fall of 1939 before the Panzers broke through.


My own name isn’t very interesting, but I’m intrigued by how books, movies, music, and paintings come by their ycleptions.

I’ve written at some length on the subject of titles, and how they can be much more than mere labels. Unfortunately, I can’t put this work online at present, because of hellish copyright concerns that I haven’t been able to figure out. Maybe some day…

I usually sign my illustrations SAN but I suppose there is some danger of confusion with my (deceased) father, who often signed his artwork the same way.

As for my first name, I like “Lawrence” but dislike the nickname that’s commonly substituted for it it just doesn’t fit my personality. On the other hand, I like “San” so much that I often use it alone as my professional name. (I invited people I met in Tokyo to call me “San San” but they were much too polite to joke about someone’s name.) People who know me personally call me either San, or Lawrence, or by one of my nicknames: Lorenzo (I hope to be reborn backwards into the Italian Renaissance) or SanMan, a childhood moniker.

Where Am I?

While I was sketching these bones at Boston’s Museum of Science, a volun­teer anatomist came over to talk. He must have been at least eighty years old. He invited me into a storage room to see the museum’s collection of animal skulls, and we had an inter­est­ing conversation.

I often ask myself that question, philosophically speaking. But geographically, although originally a native New Yorker, I’ve been living in Boston for many years now. It’s a beautiful city some people say the most “European looking” of American cities and I get great pleasure just walking around here (which I do a lot).

Recent Pursuits

If there’s one thing I’m addicted to, it’s learning new things. Luckily, I’m also adept at studying on my own, and at this stage in my development, I usually find that more efficient than taking formal courses. Lately I’ve been immersed in anatomy, composition, and other elements of drawing really, re-learning them, since I studied them formally many years ago in art schools in New York. I’ve also been studying JavaScript (a Web programming language). I thought I’d find it boring but, to my amazement, it’s really interesting and kind of fun. I’ve also been writing and, of course, working on this Web site and other projects. What have you been doing? That’s not just a rhetorical question…

Like to Talk?

The Contact San page gives several ways to get in touch, including a quick text-message box. Who says a contact page can’t be fun!

This website ( focuses mostly on my writing. If you’d like to see more of my sketches, as well as my finished illustration and graphic stories, please visit my other main site,

For the few people who’ve read this far, here’s a suggestion: send me your thoughts. For example, you might comment about this page, or about one of my stories, or mention a project I might help you with. Whatever you’d like to talk about, I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

You’re reading the personal version of the About San page. There’s also a shorter, more professional version.

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