Job Description for a Cartoonist

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If you enjoy drawing and enjoy making witty statements about the world through your work, you may enjoy a career as a cartoonist. While it is a very competitive career, it can be very rewarding, both financially and creatively.

Job Description

  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Dictionary of Occupational Titles: A cartoonist: draws cartoons for publications to amuse readers and interpret or illustrate news highlights, advertising, stories or articles; develops personal ideas or reads written material to develop ideas from context; discusses ideas with editor or publisher's representative or sketches cartoon drawing and submits drawing for approval; makes changes and corrections as necessary and finishes drawing; and may develop and draw comic strips.

    A cartoonist's designation includes editorial cartoonist, sports cartoonist or advertising cartoonist. She may have his own regular series or work on an assignment basis.

Day to Day

  • Depending on the type of cartooning she does, a cartoonist spends part of her day by coming up with ideas. She sketches out those ideas as a rough draft in pencil, ensuring it meets the publication's format. She then creates a final form in ink or designs the cartoon on a computer. She may submit the finished artwork separately or along with several other pieces. She works with the publication to ensure the cartoon reproduces well and makes further revisions as necessary.

    Many cartoonists work on a freelance basis, so part of their day-to-day duties includes marketing their work. Cartoonists must meet their deadlines consistently and their work may be accepted or rejected based on a variety of factors such as the preferences of the editor or publisher, price, the quality of the artwork and available space in the publication.

    Many cartoonists create their work weeks or months ahead of time and may need to revise their work as the publication date approaches because of news events and other unforeseen changes. Cartoonists frequently work in a solitary environment and must be able to work independently.

Education

  • While a college education is not strictly necessary, cartooning is very competitive field. It is helpful to have coursework in art, current events, history, political science, business, government and literature, especially if you want to draw editorial cartoons. Sports cartoonists should learn about major sports to draw them accurately.

    While many schools offer courses in cartooning, it is also helpful to work for the school newspaper and/or yearbook. Create a portfolio of your cartoons to show potential employers what you can do. Many cartoonists begin by working with a professional cartoonist, assisting with lettering and filling in colors.

Employment Outlook

  • Despite the decline of print publications, especially newspapers, the job outlook for cartoonists is good, with the best opportunities seen in advertising and online political websites. Wages can vary from $200 to $1,500 or more per week, according to StateUniversity.com.

Tip

  • Before deciding on a career as a cartoonist, try creating cartoons based on what you know. For example, Scott Adams of "Dilbert" created cartoons of his life in the offices of Pacific Bell. Cathy Guisewhite first began her "Cathy" strip as a way to vent her frustrations as a single woman.

    Ask friends and family members to look at some of your cartoons and see what they think. Try using your cartoons as greeting cards to test your ability.

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