I was chatting recently with a friend who realized his dream of writing comics over the past few years. His arc has been interesting to watch, as it followed a path reminiscent of my own. And while I tried to help point out his likely destination at the start, it’s something he had to discover for himself. Here are some lessons learned—and confirmed—from his experience.
Avoiding the Pigeonhole in Your Portfolio
I recently had a couple new prospective projects arise, and they both reminded me of the importance in diversifying one’s portfolio. It’s easy enough to fall into a pigeonhole, based on one’s own style and experience. My online portfolio conveys a diverse cross-section of my work—the comic books, editorial cartoons, and spot illustrations I’ve had a hand in—and highlights my cartoony aesthetic. But the recent inquiries called out a need to expand the scope of my portfolio to attract potential new illustration clients.
If you’re looking for an excuse to draw (on top of your usual deadlines or ongoing projects), this is your month. October is marked with annual events that let you put ink to paper (or stylus to tablet) to get your art on.
Last week I discussed how “life comes at you fast,” so you need to be flexible and reactive. Think of this week’s post as the flipside of that same coin. One way to roll with the punches to your schedule or projects is to also be proactive when you can. Case in point, while last week I talked about needing to shift gears and tackle a new topic for my editorial cartoon despite being ahead of the game for that week. Sort of buried in that was the fact that I’d managed to get a jump on my deadlines by tackling the editorial cartoon early that week.
Life Comes At You Fast
According to my Google Docs dictionary, adaptability is “the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions.” And this week, I was reminded how much adaptability is a requisite quality for any comic creat
For the record, I’m not a lawyer, just someone who’s faced a number of contracts over the years. So a quick disclaimer that you shouldn’t consider this post as professional legal advice; if anything discussed here piques your interest or concern, follow up with a real legal adviser.
As a cartoonist with regular weekly deadlines and commitments to other projects, taking time to draw just for myself is something I struggle with the most. What’s helped me in this regard, though, is the realization that art done for “fun” also provides an opportunity to experiment and exercise muscles not flexed with your usual projects.
A couple of weeks back, I wrote about the various responses—good and bad—my editorial cartoons get on Twitter. And honestly, there are times when Twitter feels like a particularly hellish part of the social media landscape, especially when it comes to political commentary, where the critics and trolls (and likely more than a few Russian bots) run wild. Thankfully, though, there’s more to Twitter than just political gristle, and in terms of general comic creation, it’s a great place to emphasize the “networking” aspect of a social network.
Just as comic books have several awards, including the Oscar-equivalent of the Eisner, editorial cartoons have a number of opportunities for recognition outside of the Pulitzer. Being the latter half of the year, it’s now the season where these awards begin to ask for submissions and nominations. While sitting down to revisit the past year’s worth of cartoons can be rewarding in its own right, it’s also an annual tradition fraught with self-deprecation.
I’ve written in the past about how a frequent benchmark for an editorial cartoonist is either making the reader laugh or making them angry. Based on that, I must be doing a fantastic job, because the latter was rampant in Twitter responses this week.