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What Does a Cartoonist Do? Where Do Cartoonists Work? ACR Takes a Look.
|California College of the Arts||San Francisco||California|
|Columbia College Chicago||Chicago||Illinois|
|International School of Comics||Chicago||Illinois|
|Michigan State University||East Lansing||Michigan|
|Minneapolis College of Art and Design||Minneapolis||Minnesota|
|New Hampshire Institute of Art||Manchester||New Hampshire|
|Savannah College of Art and Design||Savannah||Georgia|
|School of Visual Arts||New York||New York|
|Sessions College for Professional Design||Tempe||Arizona|
|The Center for Cartoon Studies||White River Junction||Vermont|
|The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art||Dover||New Jersey|
|University of Oregon||Eugene||Oregon|
What Does a Cartoonist Do?
Cartoonists draw advertising, political, social, and sports cartoons. Some cartoonists work with artists who create the idea or story and write captions, and sometimes the cartoonist will write captions themselves. Most cartoonists have critical, comic, or dramatic talents in addition to drawing skills.
In the animation industry, cartoonists render drawings of characters, environments, and objects for small and large-scale productions. Additional duties may include developing moods and color patterns, dramatizing action, and create and paint background scenes. Cartoonists may draw characters and scenes manually, on the computer or a combination of the two.
TV and film cartoonists may draw animated cartoons, prepare model drawings and sketches of characters, and draw special effects for animation projects.
Where Do Cartoonists Work?
Many cartoonists work for newspapers, magazines, and other print publications, while others work in the television and film industries, game design, advertising, and more.
Other Schools to Consider:
Selected Campus Locations:
Animation Career Review Rankings:
- Top 25 International Animation Training Programs (#25) - 2022
What is the Job Outlook for Cartoonists?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports employment information for fine artists such as illustrators and painters. The outlook for these artists is similar to the job outlook for cartoonists. Employment for fine artists, including illustrators, painters, and sculptors is expected to grow 6% for the 2016-2026 decade, which is as fast as average for all occupations. This will add 3,100 positions to the current (salaried) workforce of around 53,400 artists.
The states with the highest employment level in this occupation are California, New York, Florida, Ohio, and Texas.
How Much Do Cartoonists Make?
The median annual wage for fine artists is $48,960. The lowest 10% earn less than $22,020, and the highest 10% earn more than $101,400. Multimedia artists and animators average $72,520. The lowest 10% earn less than $40,870, and the highest 10% earn more than $124,310. Cartoonists working in the animation industry can expect their salaries to fall somewhere in between fine artists and animators.
In addition to industry, salaries will vary based on geographic location, type and size of company, and many other factors. For example, the highest paying states for fine artists are:
- Connecticut - $80,010
- California - $76,230
- Oklahoma - $65,140
- New Jersey - $62,840
- Arizona - $62,200
Some of the lowest paying states are Arkansas ($24,510), South Carolina ($28,070), Montana ($31,150), New Mexico ($35,110), and Missouri ($39,430).
The top paying industries for fine artists are:
- Computer Systems Design and Related Services - $88,100
- Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services - $86,700
- Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing - $81,630
- Motion Picture and Video Industries - $80,320
- and Related Services - $72,250
Salaries for the top five industries with the highest levels of employment for fine artists are:
- Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers - $52,200
- Motion Picture and Video Industries – 80,320
- Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers - $46,780
- Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools - $57,890
- Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers - Not Reported
How Do I Become a Cartoonist?
Most employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in cartooning, drawing, illustration, fine art, painting, animation or other related degree. The degree program should include heavy coursework in drawing, illustration, anatomy, painting, computer graphics, and photography, to name a few. In addition to a degree, most employers prefer candidates with a minimum of two years’ experience in the industry for intermediate positions. An advanced degree may be required for upper level positions or at least five to seven years’ professional experience in the industry. For entry-level positions, a degree and experience through an internship or other support position is acceptable.
Which Schools Offer Cartooning Programs?
A number of schools offer formal cartooning or comic art programs as well as art and illustration programs with heavy coursework in cartooning or comic art. Among the best are the School of Visual Arts (SVA) and California College of the Arts (CCA). SVA is one of the first colleges to offer cartooning as a major. The school offers a BFA in Cartooning with 35+ courses offered. Design and Build Comics, Digital Coloring for Cartoonists, Drawing with Ink for Cartoonists, Principles of Cartooning, Still and Moving: Low-Tech Animation, and Web Comics are just a few. SVA also offers a BFA Illustration and MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay.
CCA offers a unique low-residency MFA in Comics. The program focuses on three aspects of the creative process: the history and culture of the medium, the craft of making comics, and the critical analysis of students work. Graduates leave the program with a book-length comics project.
Other top programs include:
- Columbia College Chicago, BA, BFA Illustration (cartooning, drawing, painting, typography, digital illustration, figure drawing, and more), BFA Animation
- International School of Comics, Academy of Visual Arts and New Media, Comic Art or Illustration (three-year vocational programs)
- Michigan State University, Comic Art and Graphic Novels Minor
- Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), BFA Comic Art
- Savannah College of Art and Design, BA, BFA, MA, MFA Sequential Art (cartoons, comic books, comic strips, graphic novels, Manga, children's books and storyboards); BA, BFA, MA, MFA Illustration with a Minor in Publication Design
- New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA), BFA Comic Arts or Illustration
- Sessions College for Professional Design, Cartooning and Sequential Art, AOS Illustration, Cartooning and Sequential Art (courses)
- The Center for Cartoon Studies, MFA, Certificates, and Workshops in Cartoon Studies
- The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, Cartoon Graphics (three-year vocational program)
- University of Oregon, Comics and Cartoon Studies Minor
Awesome Animation Fact: In model animation, set workers create movement by physically modifying models such as clay figures (claymation) or changing the positions of puppets (puppet animation). Each time this is done, a new scene is recorded on film or video. Because motion is captured through the position-by-position image of the models on single frames, model animation employs a technique known as stop-motion animation. The Christmas favorite Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a classic example of stop-motion animation. —Encyclopedia.com