Carrie Rengers

Introverted orthodontist gets attention for book illustrations

For a self-professed introvert, Grant Snider is getting a lot of attention.

And, he confesses, he likes it.

The orthodontist, 30, who has been practicing in Wichita and Derby for 2 1/2 years, also is an illustrator with success in the world of comics and publishing.

Most recently, that includes illustrations for Susan Cain’s new “Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts,” which is a guide for children and teens. That’s the follow-up to her best-selling “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”

Snider saw Cain’s TED talk on being an introvert. He says she expressed how he felt about being an introvert – without even knowing he felt that way – in an affirming manner.

He says it inspired him to do a comic, which he’d been writing since college at the University of Kansas, on introverts.

Snider describes “We Are the Introverts” as “a really brief introvert’s manifesto.”

“It went viral in kind of a small way.”

Millions of people didn’t see it, but he says hundreds of thousands did, including Cain, who retweeted it.

Snider isn’t sure whose idea it was for him to illustrate her book, though.

“I don’t know the details of that. I’ve never asked,” he says. “I just know they sent me an e-mail out of the blue one day.”

It was the art director for Penguin Books who contacted him.

“I thought, hey, I better respond within five seconds or I’m not going to get this job.”

Snider says it was like every other huge milestone he’s had, such as landing a regular comic strip in the Kansas City Star while in dental school in 2009, making the New York Times for the first time or appearing in Best American Comics 2013.

He says it’s “almost like when you’re on a roller coaster and your stomach drops on the floor.”

Though Snider and his twin, Gavin, were both avid drawers since childhood and stayed with it, neither thought to pursue it for a career.

“When I found cartooning, it just kind of developed, and I was able to do it alongside everything,” Snider says.

Initially, he was a chemical engineering major but decided to go to dental school instead, in part because he says he thought he needed more human interaction than engineering would have.

“Even introverts need time away from their own thoughts, too.”

Snider says it’s best that he’s not a full-time illustrator.

“It really quickly starts to feel like a job,” he says.

Since it’s not his day job, though, Snider says, “I could just do it for fun and for myself.”

He publishes a weekly online comic at www.incidentalcomics.com.

Snider says his career with Trimmell & Anders Orthodontics, which also is affiliated with Derby Orthodontics, allows time for illustrating work and helps him take his illustrations less seriously.

“I feel like they’ve really been a mutually beneficial relationship,” he says. “I always have to reassess the balance.”

Snider says doing illustrations for “Quiet Power” was different than his newspaper work.

“It moves at a snail’s pace in comparison,” he says of book publishing.

There was a lot of interaction in the process, he says.

“If something wasn’t working, they’d have a year to tell me about it.”

Snider regularly keeps a sketch pad handy to jot ideas “so that I’m never truly staring at a blank page.”

He says he likes to include copy with his illustrations.

“I just feel I’m able to express more if I combine the two.”

Snider says illustrating is an extension of himself and a cool outlet for an introvert. He says his illustrating presence, particularly online, allows him to present a different person than maybe who he is in person.

Introversion can be good for illustration, Snider says.

“To have, like, the dedication to sit down and spend time with your thoughts and develop your ideas into drawings … it helps to be introverted,” he says. “You’re kind of rewarded by the solitude of it.”

In a way, Snider has been rewarded with a platform to speak to other introverts through Cain’s book.

“I wish the book had been around when I was that age,” he says. “It’s a great and fun guide that can actually be pretty inspiring to people.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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