A political cartoonist is an artist who expresses her opinions through drawings and accompanying words. Her work may be a single panel cartoon or a series of panels called a comic strip. She may work as a staff member for a daily, weekly or monthly publication or as a freelancer who submits her work to multiple sources. Her cartoons may be published in a newspaper, magazine or on the Internet.
This genre of political commentary has been popular since politics was born. Caricatures of political candidates have abounded in every society dating back to ancient times and civilizations. The popular symbols typically associated with the United States’ two top political parties, the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey, were first conceived of and drawn by a political cartoonist.
Although no two political cartoons are the same, the themes traditionally reflect the news and events of the day. In addition to depicting political figures, the drawings in political cartoons often depict current events as visual metaphors. Some of the drawings are so succinct that no words are necessary to convey the message of the cartoon.
Unlike political pundits who use only words to express their views, political cartoonists often get away with portraying stereotypes and prejudices in their comic drawings without the repercussions often suffered by writers. This is frequently attributed to the belief that drawings can be interpreted on more levels than written words. Some of the most controversial political cartoons have no words in the panels.
A successful political cartoonist normally is well-read and open-minded. Reading international news stories every day is a typical part of her workday. In order for her to appeal to a wide audience, she generally presents opposing points of view. Her personal views on world events and political figures are often unknown to the public in order for her objectivity to be perceived as genuine.
A person in this profession is usually outgoing and highly communicative. Since her work is based on the world’s ever-changing political and social climate, her interaction with people from diverse walks of life and with assorted opinions is crucial to keep her well of creativity fresh. Good listening and memory skills are important traits for a political cartoonist.
There are no established educational requirements for a position as a political cartoonist. Drawing talent developed through formal education is desirable. A bachelor’s degree in art, political science or journalism may improve a job candidate’s chances for employment, although artistic talent and acerbic wit are normally the most important attributes for success in this position.