How can I Become a Cartoonist?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Images By: Karen Roach, Denis Pepin, Rusty Clark, Joseph Bremson
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2018
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The ability to draw cartoons is an art, and to be able to make a living from it requires a dedication on par with other art forms, such as acting, dancing, music or writing. Dedication is just as important an attribute as talent. There are many talented cartoonists and illustrators who work nine-to-five jobs in order to pay the bills to subsidize their artistic work.

Many art schools now have courses that teach students the basics of illustration. People who draw comic strips or work in the comics trade can come from a variety of backgrounds, however. Many labor intensively over their creations and suffer rejection many times before they succeed.

One of the most important skills necessary to become a good cartoonist is writing. If you want to write your own successful cartoon strip, start with the writing. The character you draw must have its own life. Famous characters, like Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield or Charlie Brown, all have identifiable personalities, and they get into situations that follow a storyline or small plotline.

Readers love well made drawings, but a good cartoonist knows that there must also be some background to the character. If a comic strip does not have an interesting storyline, then it's unlikely that anyone will come back to it. Think of the superhero comic books of Marvel and D.C. Comics; some characters worked and some didn't. The ones that worked were usually those with relatable personalities.


Of course, you may simply wish to illustrate other people’s storylines, and there are many possibilities available if this is your goal. Animation is a growing business in the film industry, for example, and many of the highest grossing films are animated. Some are hand-drawn, but many use computer animation, so learning this aspect of the work is often very important.

A career as a cartoonist is a demanding job. You will often have only a computer or drawing board for company for long stretches at a time. If you have drawn a strip that you think may sell, show it to people you know and ask them what is wrong with it. By asking what is wrong as opposed to what is right, you should receive a truthful answer. If you simply ask friends what they think, you will usually receive an answer that is designed not to hurt your feelings.

If you feel your work is good, begin sending it out to newspapers and comics. Be aware that the newspaper industry is extremely competitive. There are only around 200 syndicated comic strips available, and only about 15 new comic strips introduced each year.

Send your work out to as many different illustration venues as possible, including books, film studios and newspapers. Do not be disheartened by rejection. If you are not getting at least one rejection in the post each day, you are not sending out enough work. In the end, if your dedication is high enough, your talent should shine through.


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Post 24

I'm working on becoming a cartoonist too, and I'm almost 40 years old! After devoting my childhood to drawing almost daily from age 8 to 18, I had the foundation of skills, but I just didn't push myself into the business end of it. I just sat and drew comics every day, but I never really got out there and networked and showed a portfolio or went to comic cons or anything. Then I graduated high school and moved on with other things in my life.

So now, I'm coming back to my art and trying to find out how to break in. Lots of things are different now than when I was a kid. Newspapers are dying. Social media

is huge (and it's a great opportunity to network with pros in the industry). Plus, now everybody and their mom is a cartoonist. There are tons of talented artists online. It's inspiring, and it's intimidating.

One thing I know is, it won't happen in a year or two or whatever. Not for most of us. It will take years of effort, and even then, there are no guarantees.

I'm getting kind of excited about doing web comics and a cartoon blog and self-publishing. I think that is the route I may end up going. I have a blog started where I'm posting some cartoons. So I guess that's a start.

Good luck, everybody. Don't give up on your dreams. -- Cartoonist, Chris D.

Post 22

What school subjects need to be passed in years 10,11 and 12? Would it be just art or math and English as well?

Post 20

I need a book that will help me with my cartoon designing, in terms of use of software.

Post 17

I am debating on whether to become a cartoonist or not but my stepdad is very mean when he tosses my cartoons aside and sometimes into the trash. I try to do my best but he is very hard on me and puts me down a lot. I am a person who has had a hard background and would like to ask if anyone else had one as well and how I can become a cartoonist. I am playing around with characters.

I am debating whether or not to keep at it.

Post 16

Cartooning is important to me because it puts smiles on faces and hopefully, money in my pockets. It's not a dream; it's a destiny.

Post 15

I wish i could be a cartoonist! I know it would be very fun and creative. I have good ideas and have the imagination to be a cartoonist.

Post 13

Cartooning is my lifelong dream! I've been drawing ever since I learned how to use a pencil. So far, I've been drawing my friends, video game characters and some other things. Hopefully someone out recognizes my talent and could help me learn all there is to learn about being a cartoonist.

Post 11

I just want to be a cartoonist. it's my aim and i can do anything to achieve my aim and i should do it for my country and me!

Post 9

I wish to become a cartoonist. I love to draw anything and everything, I have a strap book with all my drawings. I attend Alabama School of Fine Arts in high school.

I just want to know what I need to do to have my work seen by cartoon illustrators and book editors. And do I need to have my work under copyright to protect my work?

Post 8

I'm planing to become a cartoonist and i was just wondering what it takes to become one. how much do they get paid? how much education you will need? --


Post 7

I draw everything: comic book characters, cartoons, but what fwils should i go to? i am thinking of being a cartoonist, and have many ideas, but i am puzzled. which pays more? how much is a cartoonist's income?

Post 6

Hey I love drawing manga and cartoons, but i'm not really sure if i'm good enough. To be a cartoonist would be a dream come true. Is it difficult?

Post 5

Well, mimi08 that's actually one of the best ways out there. (Really)

Post 4

Hello, I am currently working on a cartoon. I have no experience in the field, but I do have my characters and their descriptions drawn out. I wanted to know if anyone had any tips for me to pursue this in a better way?

Post 2

i'm not a professional. i make sketches of film stars, singers, family members and i don't have any experience in this. usually i draw what can i see. my imagination level is not so high now as i don't do practice. so is there any future for me as a cartoonist. i don't know the basic skills.

Post 1

Do you need any special copyright license on your artwork before sending it out to multiple venues? Or is it as simple as it sounds?

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