The first time Hersh Goldman remembers being noticed for his art was in the third grade.
Goldman, a resident of Swampscott for the last 35 years, grew up in Lowell, where he quickly developed a fascination with art and drawing. In the third grade, as his class was taught penmanship, Goldman recalled perceiving the letters as pieces of art themselves, and working diligently to try and mirror them on the page.
“I used to look at the nice round handwriting, and I took each letter as an art thing to copy,” Goldman recalled.
He was so successful that he became an example not just for the rest of his class, but all students from kindergarten through third grade. Goldman says his teacher took him to each class to show off his penmanship.
“The other kids, they wanted me to draw pictures of faces, to make masks for them,” he says.
As he got older, Goldman continued to draw, eventually heading off to Vesper George School of Art while in high school. That school, which shut its doors in 1983, counts Robert McCloskey, the author and illustrator behind “Make Way for Ducklings,” among its notable alumni.
There, he learned to refine his technique. He developed a preference for using pen and ink for his drawings because of the “immediate gratification,” with watercolors too finicky and unreliable, and oil paint too expensive.
Eventually Goldman, himself a devout jew, decided to submit a cartoon to The Jewish Advocate, after an incident where a Jewish student refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. The response to that incident angered Goldman, who wrote a letter to the Advocate along with a sketch. The sketch caught the attention of the Advocate’s then-editor Lawrence Harmon, who offered Goldman a position as a regular cartoonist.
When the Advocate stopped accepting his cartoons — for reasons Goldman is still unsure of — he began sending them to The Jewish Journal, where he found another home for his work. His cartoons were also published in The Swampscott Reporter.
Goldman has received some acclaim for his work, first winning top prize for a cartoon drawn in response to the 1996 government shutdown at an American Federation of Government Employees convention, and later drawing the winning logo for the Wolfpack 2014 Big 5 Goal Card.
He says he tries to draw humorous cartoons, and often draws to send a message about a particular event like the aforementioned shutdown.
Despite his enthusiasm for drawing and art, Goldman spent little time as a professional artist. He briefly spent time at a food and beverage company, where he had few opportunities to express his creativity.
“All they did … was took a whole lot of old magazines, old whiskey bottles, and names, and you cut them out … and paste it … [on] some kind of board with paper, you rearrange everything and so there’s all advertisements of whiskey,” he explains.
Goldman later earned a teaching certification from the Lowell State Teachers College, which eventually became the University of Massachusetts Lowell. After that, he spent a few years working as an art teacher in Lowell Public Schools, going from school to school teaching students in kindergarten through ninth grade. But, he found himself looking for work again after Proposition 2 ½ forced budget constraints.
Eventually, he made his way to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he still works today as a program assistant in the office of Program Director Robert P. Cwieka.
But, Goldman says he still finds time to amuse himself with drawing and cartoons, and publications, including The Daily Item (published by Essex Media Group, publishers of 01907 The Magazine) run his cartoons from time to time.