How To Become a Cartoonist

If you have a creative nature, drawing skills and an ability to convey ideas and stories through images, you might be wondering how to become a cartoonist. Cartoonists are the artists who create the images for cartoons, including comic strips, political cartoons and animated television shows and motion pictures. Some cartoonists also conceptualize a comic series and the writing that accompanies the graphics rather than focusing strictly on visual art.

A cartoonist’s exact job duties will vary based on the type of work they do. For example, a cartoonist who does the drawing for animated movies or films might work for a studio. In a position like this, sketching may constitute the bulk of the cartoonist’s job duties. Cartoonists who create art for comic strips may be responsible for the visual artwork only, or they may devise their own ideas for series and individual comic strips within a series. These cartoonists may write the text of the comic as well as drawing the pictures. In these instances, cartoonists must be skilled at both drawing and writing, as well as knowing how to successfully balance both modes of communication, in order to convey the story to the reader. Because many comic strips and animations are designed to make readers laugh, cartoonists should have a good sense of humor as well as the creativity to develop thoughtful and funny content ideas. Modern cartoonists often use computer technology to edit and color their artwork, so computer proficiency is important for achieving success in this profession.

While the most important step toward becoming a professional cartoonist is to practice creating the ideas and visual and textual components of a cartoon, many candidates prepare for the career by studying cartooning or animation at colleges, universities or technical schools. During these programs, students learn the tools of drawing cartoons. Students may earn a certificate or degree at the end of their formal education program.

A cartoonist’s salary depends on a number of factors. Aspiring cartoonists who develop their artistic skills thoroughly, build strong portfolios and make networking a priority are more likely to secure jobs creating the visual art for more successful comic strips and animated cartoons. When cartoonists are able to contribute to a number of different successful cartoons, they can typically earn higher salaries. The average salary for beginner cartoonists is $30,000 per year, according to a 2008 Occupational Outlook Quarterly publication from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Once a cartoonist has established his or her reputation, he or she may have the opportunity to earn a higher salary and contribute to more prestigious or well-read publications.

For many cartoonists, the ability to earn a living doing what they love matters more than the salary alone. Do you enjoy drawing or doodling, are persistent and enjoy telling stories through images as well as words? If so, knowing how to become a cartoonist could be your first step toward an exciting new career in the entertainment industry.

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