What You Wanted to Know About a Career as a Cartoonist

cave-art-2The First Cartoons
We don't know for certain but we can surmise that the first cartoons were probably about hunting trips gone horrible wrong--funny sketches on cave walls of hunters being chased away by their intended meals.

In modern society cartoons are drawn to amuse, chronicle, comment or inform on specific topics, individuals or situations.

Cartoon art is found virtually everywhere from printed media to Internet websites. Cartoon art is quite effective in making us laugh as well as getting us to ponder about the more serious issues of life.

kids-cartoonWe All Started Out as Cartoonists
When you were in grade school, (or even college!), think of a time when you were bored in class. What did you do? You probably started to doodle on a piece of paper. It might have been a sketch of a friend, a caricature of your teacher or an ambitious four-panel comic strip.

Drawing cartoons is a very natural thing for people to do regardless of artistic talent or ability. Perhaps you have wondered what a career as a cartoonist encompasses.

In this series about cartoonists we'll explore what they do, what sorts of traits are inherent in cartoonists and the necessary education and training required to be a cartoonist.

stick-figure-schoolGet the Proper Education
Chris Browne, cartoonist of the syndicated come strip Hagar the Horrible, says an important aspect of becoming a cartoonist is to attend art classes or enroll in an art school to learn the fundamentals of drawing techniques. Graphic design schools and colleges can help provide this essential career training in basic graphic design and illustration.

Browne commented:

"Even if your "type" of cartooning is non-realistic, there are huge benefits from sharpening your skills. Representational drawing seems hard to the beginner, and remains challenging to the professional, but it's important to learn as much about the basics as possible.

"After all, cartooning is a job, and if you have any success at all, you will one day be competing with hundreds of other cartoonists who have taken the time to develop these skills."

stick-peopleFind the Right Contacts
If your final goal is to land a job as a syndicated cartoon strip artist for a newspaper a good approach is to first start out small by submitting your sketches and ideas to magazines or small publications before making the plunge to newspaper publications. Do your homework and find out who the important contact people are in the organization.

Browne advises:

"Make a phone call, find out who the art director is, do they have an editor who buys the cartoons, what's that person's name, who's his secretary. Write all this stuff down in your Day Runner. It's information, and information is power.

"If you can't meet in person at least talk to the a.d. (art director) on the phone and then send artwork promptly. Keep track of what you've sent and when. Keep copies of everything, or better still, send copies."

Next Time...
What sorts of qualities do you need to become a cartoonist? Do you have what it takes? How much can you expect to make as a cartoonist? These and other topics will be covered in next week's installment about a cartoonist career. Until then, keep on drawing!

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