Career Tips And Opportunities For A Professional Cartoonist.

A picture is worth a thousand words but a cartoon is worth a thousand pictures for it has an immense power of communication and a mass appeal than any other communication tool.

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For a common understanding, a cartoon is a comical drawing, at times satirical. But contrary to the common perception, cartooning is a powerful communication tool, a sharp weapon to ridicule the unjust and a platform to mould public opinion apart from creating good humor. The genre of cartooning is the mirror of the contemporary issues. R.K. Laxman, the icon of the contemporary Indian Cartooning opines ‘cartooning is the art of disapproval and complaint and it treats men and matter with a certain healthy skepticism and good humored ridicule, but never malice’ While inaugurating the National Cartoonists Conference, 2009 at Bangalore A.J. Sadashiva, former judge of the Karnataka High Court said…the power of cartoon is such that it can bring down a government…’ As the perfect combination of wit, satire, and punch, the genera of cartoon has carved a separate niche for itself in the world of mass communication.

Origin and Growth


With its roots as Italian “cartone” and Dutch/Flemish word “karton”, (meaning strong, heavy paper or pasteboard), a cartoon is a drawing made on paper. The development of cartooning as a comical and satirical art is said to be credited to the Italian brothers Annibale and Agostini Carrcci, who in 1590, produced a series of drawings called ‘ritratini carichi’ (meaning loaded portraits. This gradually led to the word ‘caricature’ and then to cartooning. In modern print media, a cartoon is a piece of art, usually humorous in intent. The element of satire gradually appeared with the further growth of the art. This usage dates from 1843 when Punch magazine of London applied the term to to satirical drawings in its pages, particularly sketches by John Leech. The modern-commercial cartooning owes its origin to a beginning by Walt Disney in 1920s. Since then, the art has seen no cessation. Apart from news and magazines, its presence can now also be seen in audio-visual advertisements, films, hoardings, banners. The information boom and the expanding horizon of media have further nurtured cartooning as a wonderful art of expression, a comic relief. That is why cartooning has emerged as a separate discipline in the journalistic studies. This very medium has given birth to animation as the multi-billion industry of the present time. When cartooning was in its nascent stage, companies like Disney pioneered the task of commercial cartooning and today it is a household name worldwide. In fact, we all are spell-bound with the charm of such lovable characters like Tom and Jerry. Mickey and Donald. Not to go further, our own Cartoonists like R.K. Lakshman, Mario Miranda, Sudhir Dar, etc have taken the field to soaring heights of success and turned it into a sought after career of the contemporary times in our country.

Potential of the genre

It is true that animation, the progeny of cartooning has captured the audio-visual media, cartooning will continue as an inseparable part of the print media. It will exist as long as print media exists. It has and will have a bright future despite the onslaught of the computerized 3D animation. Youngsters gifted with excellent drawing art, imaginative analytical ability can try out their hands in the world of cartooning. One has the following ladder to cross in order to reach the heights of successes:

  • Trainee Animators
  • Junior Animators
  • Senior Animators
  • Art Director

Potential Employers


Newspapers and Magazines :

Almost all the national and local dailies have a regular column for satirical cartoons. Some newspapers are popular just because of their cartoon column. That is why there is always a need of cartoonists on a regular/ contract basis in the newspapers and magazines. Children’s magazines have been and continue to be the potential employers of cartoonists. The characters like Chacha Chaudhary, Sabu, Pinkey, and Phantom are the icons of India cartooning and people love them. This is the success of their creators.

Toy Industry :

Toy brands also require cartoonists in order to produce the miniatures of popular cartoon characters. Series of babies dolls, toys of Human, Mickey Mouse etc. are some creations that have been originally created by cartoonists and them took the shape of toys with the help of machines.


Animation film studies :

2D animation is entirely dependent on cartoonists. Hindi films ‘Hanuman’ was a miracle of 2D animation. With the success of such movies, the art of 2D animation has obtained a new role of passing on the cultural legacy to the younger generation in an interesting way. That is why the genre of 2D is expected to flourish further in our country.

Advertising Agencies :

Use of 2D and 3D animation is gradually increasing in print and audio-visual advertisements and even movies. This trend will increase in order to woo the segment of child-consumers. With this, the demand for the cartoonists will also increase.

Television Production Companies :

There is a flood of animated programmes on the TV channels. With the advent of specific cartoon channels like Cartoon Network, Disney and Pogo, only the sky is the limit of the cartoonists.

Publishing Houses :

There are specific publications base on cartoons. These publications have become a part and parcel of childhood in urban areas. With the unlimited stock of Indian mythology and timelessness of the characters, the cartoon publications will maintain their popularity and so will the cartoonists.

Free Lancing :

You can also set up a unit of commercial cartooning. The adventure will make you a bread winner as well as an employer for other.

Future of Cartooning As A Career :

Availability of a giant pool of talented and creative cartoonists/animators in India has made our country a hub for outsourcing. With more and more mediums making use of cartooning/animation, the demand for professional cartoonists is expected to multiply in the years to come. it is thus emerging as a very creative and highly paid career. That is why the field has a very bright future as well as immense potential to absorb innumerable cartoonists. The increasing importance can be understood with the increasing attention being given to the sector. The Indian Institute of Cartoonists, Bangalore was set up in 2001 specifically to promote professional cartooning in India. It has been doing a commendable job for encourage the genre. The efforts include organization of national conference of cartoonists and felicitation of cartoonists for excellence every year. The National Cartoonists Conference discusses problems and issues of cartooning in India and explores the possibilities of developing the field. Such patronage and encouragement will certainly bring Indian cartooning at ‘par with the International trends.

Types of Cartoons Vis-À-Vis Skill Needed

Apart from having a good artistic skill; you will have to possess some other qualities for being successful in different steams of cartooning. Some of these qualities are inherent while some you may acquire by learning and practicing.

General Humour Cartooning : You will have to be witty at heart with an ability to see the things through a comic vision.

Political Cartooning : You need a good knowledge of politics and also the journalistic temperament.

Children Cartooning : A sound knowledge of child psychology and children’s perspective to see the things and people.

Editorial Cartooning : Journalistic experience added with an analytical ability as well as a sound knowledge of different spheres of life.

Economic/Science Cartooning : You are not expected to be a Science or Economics wizard but possessing functional knowledge is necessary.

Computer Graphics-Based Cartooning / Animation : Knowledge of computer graphics, ability to operate various multimedia software and of course imagination and creativity is required.

Types of Courses Available

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) / Diploma in Fine Art
  • Diploma in Fine Art
  • Masters in Fine Art (Illustration / Portrait Painting)

Basic Requirements for Being A Cartoonist

  • Excellent Drawing Skills
  • Keen Observation
  • Developed Imagination Power
  • Analytical Ability
  • Readiness To Work Very Hard

Institutes Offering Related Courses (List Is Indicative)

  • Indian Institute of Cartoonists, No. 1, Midford House, Midford garden, M.G. Road, Bangalore 560001.
  • Sir J.J. School of Applied Art, Dr. D.N. Road, Mumbai.
  • Institute of Fine Arts And Design, College Road, Chennai – 600006.
  • Santhaan’s Chitra Vidyalayam, C/O Chitra Kullan, 179 Singanna, Chetty Street, Chindadripet, Chennai 600002.
  • Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University of Baroda, Vadodara.
  • The Raye Burns School, F37, Narain Vihar, New Delhi – 110028.

Some Facts To Be Known About Cartooning

  • Father of cartooning : David Low
  • Father of Indian Cartooning : K Shankar Pillai.
  • R.K Laxman is Ramon Magsasay award laureate for his contribution to the field of cartooning.
  • Some foreign cartoonists of world fame: Peter Arno. Charles Addams, Gary Larson, Charles Barsotti, Chon Day and Mel Calman.
  • Some India cartoonists of world fame : R.K. Laxman, Irian, Ranga, Sudhir Dar, Sudhir Tailang, Pran, Kutti.
  • Punch Magazine of London is said to be the pioneer of satirical cartoons.
  • R.K. Laxman’s common man of ‘You Said It’ fame featured in a commemorative postage stamp released by the Indian Postal Service on the 150th anniversary of the Times of India in 1988.
  • Sudhir Dar represented India at the first International Cartoonists’ Conference held in London in 1970.
  • Low cost, high quality animation production has made India an ideal destination for outsourcing.
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