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Cartoon Artist: Profile of a Career in Cartoon Art

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a cartoon artist. Get a quick view of educational programs and the job description as well as details about the employment outlook statistics to find out if this is the career for you.

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Who doesn't like a good cartoon? These witty works of art pack a powerful punch, and someone has the job of designing them. Cartoon artists have many training options, including undergraduate degree and certificate programs in fields like graphic art, fine arts or multimedia art.

Essential Information

Cartoon artists work in various settings and for almost every type of media outlet. Some cartoon artists work as regular contributors to newspapers and magazines, while others produce commissioned projects or provide seasonal contributions, such as political cartoons during the elections. Artistic talent is usually preferred over formal training, although some employers require artists to hold an undergraduate degree.

Required Education Variable; a certificate or an undergraduate degree in graphic art, studio art, multimedia art or fine arts
Additional Requirements Artistic portfolio
Projected Job Growth 3% from 2014-2024 (all fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators)*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $46,460 (all fine artists)*

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Cartoon Artist Job Description

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), cartoon artists, also known as fine artists or cartoonists, create drawings that usually incorporate a comical or satirical style (www.bls.gov). Cartoon artists may draw a single image or several connected frames, such as a comic strip. Artists use various tools to produce their work, including sketch pads, canvases, pencils, pens and paints. Several cartoon artists also use computer programs to draw and render images.

To make a living, cartoon artists sell individual pieces, create specific pieces for clients or work as studio cartoon artists. Several cartoon artists focus on a particular art style and try to make a name for themselves using that style; although, other artists choose to be more flexible to meet the needs of clients. Artists can sell their own works, but some artists prefer to hire managers who find buyers and deal with the day-to-day business.

Cartoon Artist Training Requirements

Since cartoon artists are hired more often for their skills, formal degrees are not necessarily a job requirement. Nevertheless, artists who participate in degree or artistic training programs usually learn advanced techniques that can make them more marketable, per the BLS. Cartoon artists commonly choose certificate or undergraduate degree programs related to graphic art, studio art, fine arts or multimedia art. Coursework in these programs include drawing, photography, color theory, digital media and 2-dimensional design.

Job Outlook

The BLS estimates that fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, will see slower than average growth in job opportunities of 3% for the years 2014-2024. Cartoonists who can work with digital media may have a competitive edge in the field.

Salary Statistics

In 2015, the BLS stated that fine artists earned a median annual wage of $46,460. The lowest-paid workers only earned $19,140 or less annually in 2015, while the highest-paid workers earned $99,140 or more annually in the same year.

Many cartoon artists find success based on their skill set, so formal education isn't always a requirement. However, formal training, such as in art-related certificate and associate's degree programs, can teach an artist more advanced techniques and give them a potential advantage in the field.

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