Practical Cartoon Advice

Hanging CatOK, there’s all sorts of articles, blog entries and whatnot out there to advise and inspire people who want to draw cartoons. And for the most part, they’re all pretty much the same.

  • Draw a lot
  • Read a lot of cartoons
  • Don’t give up

And, you know, it’s all good advice, but I think you could change a few words, add a few thousand more, and you’d have pretty much every self-help book clogging your local Barnes and Noble.

So, I’m going to give some real practical advice that other cartoonists aren’t going to tell you. It’s not pretty, but it’s all good to know:

  • Don’t Ask For Help – Stop emailing other cartoonists and asking for advice. Even if you get good advice, it may not be the advice you really need. The best thing you can do is try, fail, and try again until you get it right.
  • Get a Mac – I know, you know your way around a PC, and Macs are expensive and all that, but it’s worth it. Time is going to be short at first, and you need to be writing and drawing, not worrying about viruses and blue screens of death.
  • Don’t Quit Your Day Job – At least not for a good while. I know you hate it, and it’s crushing your soul, but you need the bread. Draw and write in the mornings before work, at lunch, and at night. When no one’s looking at work, you can work on your…
  • Blog – Websites take some time and money to get set up. Blogs don’t require a lot of programming know-how to get running. It’s a good way to build an online presence on the cheap.
  • Don’t Send Cartoons About Wolves in Traps Gnawing Off their Own Legs to the ASPCA – Been there, done that.
  • Writing Carries Bad Art – There’s no secret here, you need to be funny. No one buys a cartoon because that horse really really looks like a horse. Actively work on writing funnier. You can do it in your head while appearing to read that memo at work. See a pattern here?
  • It’s Not Like it Was in the Old Days – Plenty of guys are gonna tell you how bad the markets are now, and you used to be able to feed a family of 15 off of one cartoon sale to Collier’s, blah blah blah blah… The markets are there.
  • You’re Going to Fail – A lot. Like any sales gig it’s mostly about numbers. Suck it up, draw more cartoons, and mail them out.

There you have it; real, honest, and most importantly, usable advice, None of that mamby pamby “something that sparks inside of you and ignites a fire in your belly that you know is there” crap.

Be funny, draw fast, and be professional.

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