A cartoon illustrator, or cartoonist, is an artist who specializes in creating humorous, political or other types of comic drawings for various media. Cartoon illustrators draw characters and entire imaginary worlds for newspaper comic strips and comic books. They draw cartoons for magazines, books and newspapers. Cartoon illustrators work for advertising agencies and in corporate creative departments producing drawings for ads, brochures, presentations and other material.
Cartoon illustrators work in different methods, including pencil, ink, paint and digital media. Like other artists, cartoon illustrators have their own unique styles. Some draw in a more realistic, lifelike way, and others specialize in caricature or produce more whimsical works. Some cartoon illustrators create only the artwork for their comic drawings; others also create the words that accompany the cartoons.
More and more movies and television shows are using lifelike and other animated characters. Artists who draw cartoon characters and background for television and film are called animators. Video games and Internet-based productions also use the work of cartoon illustrators. Cartoons for these media are done by hand and through computer animation.
One of the most famous cartoonists is Charles M. Schulz of Peanuts fame, who worked both in print and television. An example of a famous print cartoonist is Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. "The Simpson’s" is an example of an animated cartoon. An example of a political cartoonist is Theodore Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss. Although he is famous for being a popular children's author, he drew more than 400 political cartoons during World War II.
A cartoon illustrator might be a freelancer or might work as a regular employee of an organization. Freelance cartoon illustrators often have online portfolios and websites to make it easy for potential clients to review their work. Creativity, originality and a good sense of humor are valuable qualities for a cartoon illustrator to have.
A formal education isn't required to become a cartoon illustrator, especially for a freelancer. Artistic talent and the ability to attract clients are perhaps more important. It is helpful, though, to attend an art school or take college courses to study different art techniques. Learning to use computers and computer software for illustrating are valuable skills to have as well.
People seeking regular employment as a cartoon illustrator might be required to have a college degree, depending on the organization doing the hiring. Some illustrators who work for companies might be expected to do a variety of graphic art and design work in addition to cartooning. People who work directly for companies are often located in the creative department or the publications department.