Cartoon Drawing Advice From the Experts: Let’s start with the good news upfront: Most professional cartoonists are self-taught. So while there are lots of helpful ideas in the next few paragraphs, don’t worry too much about feeling like you’re on your own — that’s how almost every professional cartoonist before you felt.
After reading interviews from nearly a dozen major cartoonists, here are the main points that seem to get repeated again and again.
- Practice. Then practice some more, and practice some more. A lot of cartoonists make jokes about how people have said over the years that they must sleep with a pencil in their hand. Most cartoonists that make it (and many that don’t, and just have small followings of devoted fans) are the very unique sort of person that was just drawing ALL the time. You can take drawing classes, and I recommend that, but to develop a style you will have to spend years simplifying and stylizing your drawings. There is no way to shortcut this — it takes thousands and thousands of pencil strokes to find and develop a cartoonist’s style.
- Keep sending your work out, and forget about the results. To get published in a major or even minor magazine or newspaper you will have to send samples of your work. Get yourself a copy of each publication you want to send to so you can see what sort of cartoons they publish, find out what the submission guidelines and requirements are, and send off your stuff. Then forget about it – through yourself into developing another set of the best cartoons you can think of, find another publication that those cartoons might work for, and send the second batch off. Rinse and repeat. Over and over and over. Be like some writers and poets that aim to cover an entire wall with rejection letters. Just when you’ve moved on to the second wall, some editor will completely floor you and send an acceptance letter.
- Great cartoons capture funny moments. To become a great cartoonist you may need to study some of the great comedians. Its a different genre, but there are some critical similarities. Like timing: if a comedian delivers a line a tenth of a second too late, it’s not nearly as funny as if it was perfectly timed. For you, the cartoonist, the task is to render that tenth of a second visually, and do it perfectly enough so that a few simple pencil strokes on a page are enough to make a total stranger burst out in a laugh. So your drawings must telegraph humor and emotion. This is a fine art. That’s why you have to spend so much time practicing.
- Promote your work beyond sending it to editors. Get yourself a website for starters. Then go check out places like Cafe Press, where you can have your cartoons put on t-shirts, coffee cups, baseball hats, bags, mousepads, refrigerator magnets and so many other objects that it makes me tired to think about them all.
Cartoon Drawing Advice Lessons From the Experts
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