I receive many emails asking questions on žhow do I get started as a cartoonist?Ó amongst many others, so hopefully below you will be able to pick out infomation that fingers crossed will be usefull.
How did I get started as a cartoonist?
I went to art college & did a mixed course & then I started as a self employed cartoonist back in 1988.
I approached the obvious sources for work, newspapers, greetings cards etc but quickly realised every other cartoonist was doing the same creating tremendous competition. It's not always the best that are accepted, as service is also a big plus & if a cartoonist is servicing a publisher well & at a good rate, then they will be reluctant to change from my experience.
What I would advise is to source other areas of work that don't quickly spring to mind. I turned to advertising, generating cartoons for adverts, publications such as leaflets, brochures etc for leisure centres, advertising agencies, private companies amongst many others. I now generate work to promote crime prevention, health & safety, employment & stacks more as you will see from the variety of work showcased on my site.
Individuals ie 40th birthday cards for obvious reasons people don't want to spend much, although this is all right to get started as it gives more pratice & starts to get your name about locally.
You will need to find out what happens after your cartoon has been generated, ie gain a basic understanding of print & internet uses.
It would be good to gain computer skills as nearly all my work is drawn by hand, then scanned & worked up on screen in various softwares. The good thing about this is all your work can be catalogued easily, being catalogued you can call them back up to be used by somebody else under a license agreement.
Take note of what styles are out there & try to build your own. When I was at school I used to copy Disney characters for the other kids (& sometimes get paid in sweets so I knew from an early age this was worth while) which was great because I learned about form, stance, expression, colouring & render of characters so iIt's actually good to copy other peoples work just for your own practice, then try things out in your own style.
There are lots of openings for a cartoonist such as advertising, education, animation, games, books, point of sale, web, health, company newsletters (have a word direct or offer your services to printers & design studios).
Try & think past what most are thinking as to where you can see yourself & that way there will be less competition & easier to be seen. You need to stand out visually.
Be careful as to where your work is seen ie make sure the standard of other peoples work is that & better than your own (keeps you striving to improve).
Copyright is a right granted to creators under law. Copyright in all artistic works is established from the moment of creation - the only qualification required is that the work must be original. The copyright owner has the exclusive right to authorise the reproduction (or copy) of a work in any medium by any other party. This includes storing a work in electronic form. Any reproduction can only take place with the artist's consent. Permission is usually granted in return for a fee, which enables the artist to derive some income from the use of his or her work by others. Permission to copy must always be sought from the artist.
Information is in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Pricing of cartoons...
You'll need to gather as much information as possible before quoting on all jobs ie what the intended use is going to be, is the image going to front an advertising promotion or is it going to be sold on, such as a design on mugs, what are the print qtys or time period for use if digital etc.
When selling an image you can assign rights. This is where you retain the copyright but agree that the image will only be used by your client with in, say the UK for example. This means you are free to sell it else where. If you do sell the copyright always make sure it is on the supplied image as a whole only & not in part ie as it stands complete only. This means they are buying the picture & not the character. So if you came up with the next Mickey Mouse & you had sold an image as a whole only this means they would have the rights for that only but all other poses, scenes character development etc would be yours. Also remember to put a limit on the usage of the sold image.
Say if you do sell the rights for a character you may wish to put in a clause that states any future deleopment of the character must be undertaken by yourself if you are able to do so within a realistic agreed time scale.
You need to play it also by gut feeling. Being strict protects you but at the same time your client may feel your limitations are too restrictive & you may lose the job.
Costs - I have two costs: 1st a generation cost. This is the time to actually produce the cartoon. If the intended use of the cartoon is small then I would probably only make this charge. If the use was what I would call a reasonable usage & upwards, I would include the second charge being a copyright usage fee.
Selling rights or copyright - at least half again of the generation fee if it's a small job. The rest is how much you think it is worth & how much your client is prepared to pay. Have confidence in your work & be prepared to negotiate if you want the job. Also you win some, you lose some & that is how it will always be. Sometimes take a small fee to get in with a client to show them what you can do but make it clear that the reduce fee is not the normal but is a goodwill fee & next time your charge will be more the going rate.
I've just jotted down random pointers that have come in to my head so I hope you can put it all together & hopefully it will be of some use.
How much do I charge?
Basing jobs on an hourly rate is too open ended for clients (unless inhouse studio work), so there are various ways to cost a job...
1) If your client requires a number of cartoons, calculate a unit cost which can then be allocated to (A) simple (B) medium (C) more time consuming scenes for example.
2) Base the work on a half day or a full day fee. This needs to be a realistic figure, not only for yourself to cover time, equipemt & include a bit of profit etc but also for your client so they will be happy to have received value for money & consider you for repeat work.
If you do not know what the going rate is for a job, that is probably because you have not built up the experience as yet. This will come in time as each job you will have a gut feeling for žthat one went too cheapÓ or žyes I was pleased with that fee & I am sure the client will consider me for more workÓ.
The above info has quickly been jotted down to hopefully help. In time I will re-right the above and add too it.
All the best with cartooning.