The Condensed Version

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved horses and loved to draw and write. It's all she wanted to do. When she grew up she tried many "real" jobs but just never fit in. She would draw cartoons of her co-workers and doodle caricatures in the margins of her notes during meetings. Everyone thought they were hilarious. Except her bosses. Which is why she went through a lot of jobs.

After many years making good money at jobs she hated, she decided to follow her heart. She quit working for other people to pursue artwork full time. She continues to do the same things she loved since the age of 5. As she puts it, "I'm poorer, but richer."

The Long Version

There was never a time in Jody Werner's life when she didn't know her heart's desire. The creative drive took hold from the moment she was able to work a crayon. Knowing what her calling was was easy; knowing which creative force to listen to was not. She's spent her life giving voice to them all.

A self-defined 'freak of creative nature', she devoted every free moment to painting, drawing, writing, performing and making music. A flautist who was playing advanced music a mere two years after she picked up her instrument, she toured Europe with a concert band and performed at Carnegie Hall at the ripe old age of 16. She was editor of the school newspaper, first chair flautist in the high school, county and state bands, performed with community theatre groups and got her varsity letter (as well as her NRA Expert marksman designation) as a member of the high school rifle team. Meanwhile, she composed essays, stories and poetry and produced artwork in every media that ran the gamut from realistic to impressionistic to comical.

She went on to college fully intending to study music, art and theatre. She discovered she was particularly bad at ‘studying’ what she loved and decided instead to just go out and DO it. Fearful of 'starving artist' syndrome and succumbing to pressure from others to 'do something sensible', she also had 'real' jobs. A lot of them. She wasn’t very good at being employed; it didn’t feed her creative soul and she readily admits that she wasn't much of a rule follower. “I'd constantly get in trouble for doing artwork at the office instead of whatever I was supposed to be doing," she laughs. She also had a penchant for turning her office mates into characters in her latest comic strip, whereby she discovered that corporate America severely lacked a sense of humor. "But those same bosses and co-workers would look at my artwork and tell me, ‘this is really good; why aren't you pursuing this?" The pull of her creative muse persevered. Finally, she took the leap of faith into the great unknown and left the 'real jobs' behind.

Today she’s a published artist, graphic designer, illustrator, cartoonist, web designer, writer, humorist and former competitive equestrian. She's best known for her "Near Side" cartoon, "Mac and Jill" comic strip and "Dear Murray" horse advice column (where the horse gives the advice!)

At any given time she’s ensconced in a dozen creative projects and has a dozen more vying for attention in her brain. Oh, and she's still not much of a rule follower. “If I’d ever picked just one creative direction and style and really applied myself, I’d probably have been wildly successful by now,” she laughs.

Anyway, “I have a very different definition of ‘success’,” she says, “that has nothing to do with status or monetary gain. My reward is having the freedom to live every day doing what I absolutely love to do.” Which are pretty much the same things she's loved since she was four years old.

And if that’s not being successful, we don’t know what is.

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'."

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