What Is the Work Environment for Cartoonists?

Cartoonists tell stories with their drawings.
i Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Cartoonists entertain, give people food for thought, and often find the humor in complex public issues. Although many well-known cartoonists are men, women have made important inroads in the field. For example, Hilary Price's "Rhymes With Orange" comic won the "Best Newspaper Panel" award twice from the National Cartoonists Society and Liza Donnelly's cartoons are featured in the "New Yorker." Getting to draw for a living might seem like fun, but cartoonists must also be persistent and thick-skinned to succeed.

Primary Duties

    Whether working as a staff cartoonist for a publication or working freelance, cartoonists come up with ideas for their creations. They may get their inspiration from daily life, their communities or current events. They may also draw inspiration from other cartoonists. They draw their cartoons by hand or on computers. Cartoonists may write their own cartoon dialog or work with writers. Freelance cartoonists must market their own work, and submit work to print and online publications. Some also sell their cartoons through syndication, while others self-syndicate their cartoons. Some freelancers offer their services to individuals, businesses and government agencies.

Work Settings

    Cartoonists often work in comfortable, well-lit art studios and offices. Self-employed cartoonists usually work from home. Staff cartoonist jobs are available, but they are few in number. Newspapers, online media, greeting card companies, publishing houses, advertising agencies and animation film studios employ professional cartoonists.

Work Schedule

    Staff cartoonists normally keep regular, 40-hour work week hours, but may put in additional hours to meet deadlines. Independent cartoonists have flexible work schedules, choosing when and how much they work each week. Full-time freelancers typically work long days, including weekends and holidays when necessary.

Working Conditions

    Cartoonists mostly work alone. If they are collaborating with other cartoonists or writers on projects, they attend meetings to brainstorm ideas, troubleshoot problems and discuss the progress of their projects. Cartoonists are often under pressure to seek new, fresh ideas and to meet tight deadlines. Self-employed cartoonists have the additional stress of paying business bills and taxes, keeping their records in order, and generating more work to maintain their incomes.

the nest