We all dream of getting paid for something we do for fun. Not many of us manage to achieve it though, unless we're particularly talented.
Here's an opportunity for anyone, regardless of current ability, to cash in on a well known, but much misunderstood activity: cartooning. It may not make you a fortune, but as a pleasurable, relaxing and profitable pastime it's hard to beat. If you'd like to turn your doodles into dosh, it could be just what you're looking for.
Get Noticed - With a Cartoon
Cartoons are everywhere. Books, magazines, newspapers, greeting cards, advertisements, product packaging, instruction leaflets, reports - these are just a few of the places you'll find cartoon images.
They're not all there to entertain though. Cartoon images are used to inform, educate and warn of danger as well. Research has shown time and time again that cartoon images are among the most effective attention grabbers. It's little wonder therefore that they're used so extensively.
Cartoons are so common you've probably never stopped to think who creates them or where they come from. For the most part they're created by freelancers working from home in their spare time.
Very few of these freelancers have any formal training or qualifications, because none are needed. The person deciding whether or not to buy a cartoon won't be remotely interested in qualifications or training. All they care about is the quality of the work and whether or not it does the job intended - such as make someone laugh, emphasise an informational or safety message, draw attention to an advertisement, or make a product more attractive on the shelf.
A Large, Growing Market
The market for cartoons is massive, and growing all the time. There are more magazines, newspapers and periodicals published than ever before. Hundreds are published in the UK, and there are many thousands more overseas covering every subject under the sun. They nearly all use cartoons submitted by freelancers. That's just one market...
Advertisements, product packages and instruction booklets need attention-grabbing illustrations; business cards and letterheads need logos; T-shirts and greeting cards need designs. The list of potential markets is vast.
Start up Requirements
The great thing about cartooning is that your start up costs are close to zero and you can start in your spare time. There's no need to put anything else on hold while you give it a try. It really is an any time, any place, anywhere, opportunity.
Most people wrongly assume that artistic training is a prerequisite to getting work. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, people with a formal art training often have to 'unlearn' what they know in order to cartoon effectively.
Cartooning is a specialist skill which is comparatively easy to learn for the novice. The cartoon world is a very tolerant one. If you scan through a few newspapers and magazines you'll find cartoons of many styles ranging from the 'arty' to the 'rough and ready'. So there's room for cartoonists with all sorts of styles and abilities.
How you proceed will depend on where you're starting from. If you're already confident of your cartooning ability, the first step is to decide on the type of cartoons you'd like to draw, and from there, who is likely to be interested in buying them.
Many cartoonists specialise in one particular field. It could be anything, but one of the best places to start is publications catering for one of your interests or hobbies - something you know about. If you're a keen photographer, for example, you might want to produce some cartoons for the photographic press. In this way you'll already have a host of background knowledge to draw upon (no pun intended!).
From there, it's a case of submitting your work to the cartoon editor of the individual publication and awaiting their decision. Current NUJ (National Union of Journalists) rates for a single box cartoon are £60 to £80, rising to £400 for a colour half to full page. These are the minimum rates you should expect to be paid.