Cartoon artists use a variety of mediums to create cartoons used for anything from entertainment, such as comic book or graphic novels, to advertising. Apart from talent and training in cartooning, cartoon artists also need to have business, self-promotion and entrepreneurial skills in order to market themselves to and be successful with potential employers.
While natural artistic talent is a must, cartoon artists also need training to develop their skills to create cartoons or comic strips that get their messages across. Business savvy and persistence are also helpful when attempting to sell work. A college degree is not mandatory to become a cartoon artist, but training in commercial art or design may be useful. Aspiring cartoon artists can enroll in workshops conducted by professionals in the field or take individual classes at a college or university. They will need to develop a portfolio of their work that they can show to editors and syndicate executives.
|Education Recommendations||Cartooning courses and workshops; training in commercial art or graphic design|
|Job Outlook (2014-24)*||3% (for fine artists, including illustrators, painters and sculptors)|
|Median Wage (2015)*||$46,460 (for fine artists, including illustrators, painters and sculptors)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
How to Become a Cartoon Artist
Cartoon artists create and draw characters for comic books, comic strips, political cartoons, graphic novels and advertisements. While the ability to create drawings with strong lines and solid compositions is helpful, good communication skills are key. People interested in developing these skills can attend workshops conducted by professional cartoon artists. They can also take cartooning classes offered by a college or university. These classes cover topics in 2D design, drawing techniques and figure drawing. Students may learn how to work with pen and ink or watercolors and oils. They might also discover ways to convey nonverbal humor, refine their writing style or develop characters. While formal training is not required to become a cartoon artist, many successful or syndicated artists have backgrounds in fields such as commercial art or graphic design. Cartooning bachelor's degree programs are also available, but these are rare.
Aspiring cartoon artists also need to develop basic entrepreneurial and business skills. Professionals are often responsible for creating marketing strategies and materials, maintaining their websites and completing accounting paperwork. They may even maintain correspondences with editors and readers.
A professional portfolio demonstrating originality, technical skill, versatility and style is also an important part of cartoon artists' sales arsenals. Distributing portfolios can help artists find buyers for their work.
Cartoon Artist Career Information
Many cartoon artists work on a freelance or contractual basis for a newspaper or publishing company. As a result, artists' incomes are often based on whether or not they can find media outlets to publish their work. They often start by selling work to smaller publications before becoming syndicated by newspapers with large readerships.
Cuts to newspaper staffs may adversely affect job opportunities for artists who draw comic strips or cartoons for these publications, with jobs for cartoonists (among other artists) expected to grow more slowly than average from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Cartoonists who adapt to new media, such as Internet publications, will fare better, the BLS noted. In 2015, fine artists, including illustrators and cartoonists, earned an annual median salary of $46,460, according to the BLS.
Cartoonists can find training programs to gain more experience with different mediums, as well as how to express their humor, opinions, or messaging through their art. The cartoon artist field is challenging and many cartoonists start as freelancers or consultants for a variety of publications before they find regular employment with a larger business. Like with most artist professions, a strong portfolio can help set a cartoonist apart from others in a job interview.