Common Questions of Freelance Cartoonists

An experienced freelance cartoonist responds to common questions about gaining local, regional and national freelance work.

| January/February 1970

  • gym'n'swim cartoon
    Cartoons that are specialized to certain businesses in both the picture and gagline are most likely to turn profit.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

  • gym'n'swim cartoon

Lately, I've been getting a lot of mail from semi-professional and aspiring cartoonists, in which the same plea for more detailed scam on the avaricious art of selling advertising cartoons is repeated — over and over.

Although I've pretty well switched completely into the humor-writing field, I still have plenty of cartoony blood oozing through my veins — and I am greatly interested in seeing a lot of potentially successful ad-cartoonists make the grade. Especially since there is about 10 times the money and a thousand times the chance of making instant sales in the fascinating business of supplying fresh ad cartoons to businessmen, commercial houses and general industry — all of whom are ready and eager to fling money at the cartoonist who can offer them exactly the right advertising artwork they need for their products and services.

What is an Advertising Cartoon?

Any drawing in which either the cartoon or the gag line carries a commercial message — and the best kind slathers a commercial message in both gag line copy and in the picture.

Must I Work Through an Agency?

Hell, no. When you sell ad cartoons you are your own agency, in a sense. Although there is a lot of very nice gold to be gotten by accepting ad cartoon assignments from agencies, the easiest (and, in my opinion, the best) way is to simply contact your own clients, sell them on your ideas for drawing public attention to their service or product — and collect your own fee.

Must I be Liscensed?

Yes, if you plan to set up a regular ad cartoon service and operate as fully as any other type of advertising agency. In most cities and towns this license fee rarely amounts to much more than a standard 25 dollar commercial selling permit and having it is more than worth the cost. Possession of the license keeps the Merchants Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the other local associations very happy with you. It may also pave your way into businessmen's luncheons, etc. and you will want all the recognition and acceptance you can get. Leave rebellion of convention to the starving magazine freelancers.

Should I Advertise My Service?

If you think it will help — but there has never been a more successful method of getting clients than by going out and cornering them, in person, with cartoons or a sketch pad in your hot little hand. Men who cannot draw look upon artists with a strange admiration. You impress them and — if you can impress them favorably — you've got the campaign half-won. The other, remaining half is providing material that will please the client.

Should I Have a Phone?

Yes, if at all possible. You'll find yourself getting a lot more repeat orders if your clients can easily contact you. Contrary to freelance magazine cartoonists' thinking, few of today's buyers like to bother writing letters.


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