Becoming An Artist/Illustator – Continuing The Journey

I started getting serious about cartooning when I returned from my last deployment in mid-2008. Since that time, there’s been a number of starts and stops, direction changes, mis-steps, arm-loads of rejections, and no shortage of disappointments. Balancing that, there’s been incredible opportunities, exceedingly pleasant surprises in the form of unforeseen offers, financial rewards, and a wonderful group of people who follow my work. And most importantly, I’ve learned a great deal.

Giant Crocodile copy

We left off with a few good markets for cartoonists to submit to. We mentioned The Funny Times, Saturday Evening Post, and American Legion magazine. These are all paying, solid markets. And the most important take-away from the last blog post: produce. Produce 6-12 cartoons every week (more if you can swing it), without fail.

Here’s just a few of the benefits to holding yourself accountable to a workable, professional-level production rate: first, this is a VERY competitive market-place. It’s not okay to jog in this race when everyone else is running for everything they’re worth, unless you free yourself of the burden of expecting to win. You won’t. Second, the quality of your work will continue to improve. The more you write, the more you put pencil to paper, the more you experiment with digital programs, the better your work will become – a mathematical certainty. Third, you’ll quickly build a significant inventory of marketable, sellable material which will end up becoming useful across more than one market category. Fourth, by recognizing the importance of consistently creating new material, you’ll understand the need to schedule and organize your time. You’ll begin prioritizing like a business, which, if you expect to rise to the level of professional cartoonist or illustrator, you will need to do – the sooner the better. Time is your most valuable commodity – don’t waste it.

Breath Mint copy

That said, here’s a few more markets – some I’ve mentioned previously, some I haven’t. Keep in mind, these are exceedingly competitive, making the likelihood of rejection a certainty. But get past that and understand you’re not here to hit home runs ever time you step up to the plate. This is a process, and as long as you consistently contribute to that process and are committed to moving forward, you’ll get there.

The New Yorker – Arguably the single-most desirable place to be published for single panel gag cartoonists and illustrators. As a result, it’s almost certainly the most difficult to sell to – when you see the names and quality of work contained in the magazine, you’ll understand why. Many of my cartoon heroes are New Yorker cartoonists: Mort Gerberg, Mischa Richter, Christopher Weyent, etc.) . This one is on my bucket list – to have just one of my cartoons published there. Pays over $600 per black and white/ink wash cartoon.

Curtain Guy copy

Playboy – I know, I know, you buy it because you like the articles and cartoons – you weren’t even aware there were naked women contained within its pages. They, like the New Yorker, are the Mount Everest of cartoon markets. They purchase the same class of sophisticated cartoons as the New Yorker, and have published the work of such legends as Eldon Dedini. Pays over $600 per color or black and white/ink wash cartoon.

Reader’s Digest – Family friendly, mainstream cartoons are the order of the day. While the magazine has been struggling with issues related to its bankruptcy, there has been apparent effect on either the volume of cartoons it purchases, nor on the timely payments to cartoonists. Pays over $600 per color cartoon.

Harvard Business Review – Considered the premier high-end business magazine in the market. Like New Yorker, they gravitate toward sophisticated, business-related topics. Pays over $600 per black and white/ink wash cartoon.

pitched battle

I’ll cover more in a future installment. We’ve been covering the magazine markets thus far – we’ll also touch on the changing dynamics in syndication and the who, what, when, why, and where’s of submitting to syndicates. Until then, keep moving forward!

10 thoughts on “Becoming An Artist/Illustator – Continuing The Journey

  1. Roy Delgado has had his cartoons in many, many magazines over the years,
    and still has not had one published in the New Yorker.
    He’s still trying – what persistence!
    Though I don’t know him personally, I have had some correspondence with him –
    what a sweet man.
    Roy has mentioned this rejection many times on his blog. Here it is..

  2. Thank you for your advice. You’re absolutely right; cartooning is a profession just like any other. Happy I’m still enjoying it after all these years.
    (The American market is perhaps a bit too farfetched, unless I make wordless cartoons?)
    Greatings from Holland

    1. I’m glad you found the article useful. We now find ourselves in a global marketplace, so I can’t see why you wouldn’t feel comfortable approaching American markets – go for it!

  3. Great advice! I’m an illustrator, not a cartoonist, but everything you say is applicable to illustration as well. (I confess I’ve never been a big fan of cartoons, but yours are making me into a convert.)
    Thank you!

  4. I just wanted to stop by and say thank you. I took your advice and submitted my work to Cartoon Stock and got a favorable repy. I appreciate the time you take to mentor new artists.


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