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Drawing a Dream Career: Exploring the Path to Success as a Cartoonist

Career as a Cartoonist

Are you fascinated by various Cartoons creations like Doremon, Chota Bheem, Tom & Jerry? Do you find yourself connecting with a work of art? Do you feel like even you could create such cartoons? Are you good in sketching? If yes then a career as a Cartoonist is a great option that will help you earn decent money.

A cartoonist is someone who specializes in drawing cartoons. He creates characters for entertainment, advertising or political commentary. Cartoonists can work for publishing agencies and create characters for booklets, cartoon strips for newspapers and graphic novels. They are known for creating characters for animated movies and series for children. A cartoonist requires to have a creative mind and must be naturally funny. They have good drawing skills and can draw with both hands and on the computer.

Why become a cartoonist?

As a professional Cartoonist, you will be working manually or on a computer to draw cartoons as well as create cartoon animations for comic books, newspapers, magazines, graphic novels, children’s books, films, advertisements, social networks etc.

A professional cartoonist must be good at storytelling as it is through his pictures that a story is portrayed. Cartoons can be created in different forms such as with pen, pencil, charcoal, inks and computer software. A cartoonist must be able to narrate the story through their cartoons and writing such that people of all ages can easily understand. A cartoonist has to follow the storyboard provided to him to create characters and their movements to tell a story. A cartoonist works for advertising agencies to create characters for their ads. They can also work for book publishing agencies, with production houses that create animated movies and also newspapers to create cartoon strips. A cartoonist can be self-employed and work on a contractual basis.

Think of Chhota Bheem, the dhoti-wearing boy of Dholakpur! He is the biggest and most successful cartoon creator in the children’s animation business category of India and is still going strong after 11 years.

Cartoonists are very good at drawing, have a great sense of humor and have deep interests in related matters like painting, coloring etc! You also have to be good with words as you, most often, have to tell a story to explain your images.

You have to be creative, innovative and most importantly aware of common facts about society, general affairs and current events for building effective and attractive cartoon characters, digital comics or cartoon strips. You may also create cartoon images as a substitute for written or spoken messages conveying the same meaning for which you need to understand human emotions and concepts and express it in a humorous way. Your creations may be published on paper or online or both.

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  1. Reality Cartoonist: As a Reality Cartoonist, your creations will be mainly derived from the emotional reactions of humans so that every person can somehow relate to the message. Thoughts like ‘Isn’t life like that?’ or ‘That’s an experience I’ve had already!’ or ‘Oh that’s how it works!’ comes to your mind when you look at a reality-based cartoon. Your handiworks may be simple caricatures (a picture of a person drawn to create a comical effect) or related to subjects like the political ecosystem in the country, the world of movies etc.
  2. Fantasy Cartoonist: As a Fantasy Cartoonist, your artwork will be fantasy-themed without any connection with worldly experiences and reality whatsoever. The primary purpose of your creations will be to generate laughter for e.g. you may draw pigs flying or dinosaurs sitting at a computer or a hungry tiger shopping at a supermarket! There is no essential subject matter to your handiworks except that it may tell an interesting but unreal story of fictional characters maybe! Your creations may be used for video games, animation, toys etc.

What does a cartoonist do?

As a Cartoonist, you will be involved in the following key roles and responsibilities:-

  1. Creating and preparing model drawings and sketches of cartoon characters, by providing details from memory, manufactured products, live models, photographs or other reference materials.
  2. Using a variety of instruments and methods involving pen and ink, charcoal, watercolors, oil paints, laser printers, computer software, calipers (a type of measuring instrument), fountain pens, paint sprayers etc. to build your designs and characters.
  3. Integrating and developing visual elements, like space, line, color, mass, and perspective, for producing the desired effects to convey emotions, ideas, or moods.
  4. Studying different related techniques/technologies and learning how to apply them to your artwork and design endeavors for making them more effective in capturing additional attention and interests of your audience.
  5. Photographing objects, images, or human faces at public spaces for using the photographs as reference material.
  6. Interacting with your colleagues and clients to understand scripts and creative ideas.
  7. Maintaining portfolios of your artistic works as a demonstration of your interests, styles and abilities.
  8. Marketing your artwork through mailings, brochures or on Websites.
  9. Setting up exhibitions of your artwork, creations and illustrations for sale/display or submitting your artwork to various art galleries or shows.

How to become a cartoonist – Educational Requirement

After Class 10, you can either go for Diploma / D. Voc / Certificate courses or complete class 11-12 in any stream.

After Class 11-12, you can go for Diploma / D. Voc / B. Voc or any Bachelor degree courses in any Art / Design related disciplines or any other fields.

Various private/public vocational training establishments across India offer courses on ‘Cartooning’ or related disciplines.

You may find something interesting at This is a national-level organization to represent Cartoonists of India. They also provide training to budding cartoonists trying to bring all Cartoonists (amateurs and professionals) under one roof. They have an open gallery where you can showcase your ideas and art for free. They also have a gigantic archive of over 2000 books in Hindi, English, Tamil and Kannada.

Job Opportunities

You may get work opportunities as:

  • Caricature Artist/ Illustrator
  • Cartoonist
  • Animation Designers – Sketching and Fine Arts
  • Artist – Visual Design
  • Sketcher/ Digital Colouring Artist
  • Freelance Artist
  • Comic Book Illustrator

You may get various opportunities to create your artwork for:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Comic Book publications
  • Graphic Novels
  • Children’s books, songs and rhymes
  • Posters
  • Web-Series
  • Publishing Companies
  • Animation Studios
  • Television Channels broadcasting children’s cartoons

Salary of a cartoonist

At the entry-level, with 4-5 years of work experience, you may expect between Rs. 12,000 –25,000 or more per month.

After having 6-10 years of work experience, you may expect between Rs. 20,000 – 35,000 per month or even more.

There is a huge demand abroad for trained and skilled Creative Artists, Caricature Artists, Sketchers etc. from India, with solid experience in ‘Cartooning’, in countries like Canada, Australia etc.

If you start working as a freelancer then you may earn around Rs. 20,000 –Rs. 30,000 per project or assignment and even more.

Career Progression in this profession

You can grow to be a Senior Creative Artist, Senior Concept Artist or Chief Illustrator etc. after substantial work experience.

You can gain a lot of fame through open contests and exhibitions and later create your personal art gallery maybe.

You may grow as a freelancer and serve a clientele with renowned publication agencies or digital advertising groups etc.

You may also serve as a teacher for some years and then form your own art school too!

This pathway is expected to show moderate to decent future growth. It’s time India develops its own comic empire! The growth in the sub-sectors of the Indian Media and Entertainment Industry showed substantial growth. The Television industry is expected to grow in terms of employment volume to 0.64 million by 2022 from 0.28 million in 2017, translating to a human resource requirement of 0.36 million. The Print Media industry is expected to grow in terms of employment volume to 0.13 million by 2022 from 0.07 million in 2017, translating to a human resource requirement of 0.06 million. The overall industry growth of the Media and Entertainment Sector has been estimated at a rate of 13.10% compounded annually to touch the mark of 39.68 billion US Dollars by 2023 from 22.28 billion US Dollars in 2018. India’s media consumption has been growing at an alarming rate of 9% in the period 2012-2018 compounded annually. This is 9 times that in the US and 2 times that in China. Revenues from the Advertising sector are forecasted to reach 18.39 billion US Dollars by 2023 from 9.44 billion US Dollars in 2018. The Digital Advertising industry in India is expected to grow at a rate of 32% compounded annually to touch the mark of 2.93 billion US Dollars by 2020.

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