Entering The World of Cartooning

Joe Vanilla by Mark Litzler

Joe Vanilla by Mark Litzler

Drawing has always been a passion of mine, and cartoons have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have memories of running outside on Sunday mornings to make sure that I got the comic section of the paper before anyone else could spoil it. But it wasn’t until college that my interest in cartooning became a more serious hobby, and I started to develop my own style of drawing. The more I practiced, the more passionate I became and I quickly began to aspire to have my work published. I now create work regularly, and have a deep interest in becoming a syndicated cartoonist at some point in the future.

I’ve been doing my research and networking with other cartoonists to find the best plan of action to enter the “professional” world of cartooning.  I’ve consolidated the tips and recommendations that I’ve gathered here as a “how-to” for other aspiring cartoonists.


Build Up Your Skillset
It’s important to acknowledge that although you may already be a great artist, you must continue to practice and improve your craft. The world of cartooning is more than just pen(or pencil) and paper these days. It would be advantageous for you to learn some of the major cartooning and animation software.

Keep up with Current Events
If you are looking to do enter the world of editorial cartooning, make sure that stay abreast of what’s going on the world. Your cartoons are required to not only be witty and well drawn, but they need to be relevant also.

Work on Your Portfolio
While professional training and work experience are always important to those in charge of hiring cartoonists, nothing is more important than building up a portfolio. Make sure that you have a wide variety of work that shows the development of your style and the range of work that you are capable of. One tip that I’ve continued to hear over and over is to look for freelance work. Do one-off jobs that will allow you to prove that you can work based on the specifications of multiple publications.

Know the Business
Terry LaBan, an accomplished cartoonist made this excellent point in his article here. “Time and time again, I’ve seen cartoonists with mediocre creative abilities and excellent business skills do far better than those who were merely artistic geniuses.” We’ve all seen it happening; people aren’t buying newspapers like they used to and there are less and less opportunities for syndicated strips. Being a cartoonist these days is undoubtedly an entrepreneurial lifestyle and being able to negotiate and act as a business person as well as an artist will often times take you so much farther than just artistic abilities on their own.