Thursday, April 03, 2014

Gag Cartoonist Question: Does Experience Count?

A question in the email:

"My only experience in having my work published was a self-admitting slapdash advertising campaign for my father's finance business in our local paper. I have the final edits of these as a part of a small portfolio. Should I attempt to gain more exposure/experience/credibility online or through various mediums before approaching a well-known and popular publication? I feel a little intimidated, with very little work published and no really impressive examples to flash before the eyes of a prospective publisher. Help!"

When I quit my real job, with real hours and real pay, I started cartooning a lot. 

This was back in the 90s, when having a 56k modem was considered "fast." So, a lot of submissions went by regular put-cartoons-in-a-big-envelope-and-take-it-to-the-post-office mail.

I still will do this sometimes. But most editors want email submissions. Two of the highest paying national markets want me to send something called a "scrollable PDF."

I have learned how to make one of those.

But, really, the only reason that I can submit to most markets via this easy, less expensive, quicker scrollable PDF route is because I have a track record. The editor knows who I am and when they see my name in their inbox, they know there will be content there that they can use.

Let me go two paragraphs back. When I wrote "I still will do this," I mean I will put cartoons in the mail to send to potential new clients.

I figure an email will get deleted pretty fast. This potential client doesn't know me, so why shouldn't they just think it's spam. Or worse, the spam filter grabs my message and it never makes it.

But, at the end of the day, there are a lot of cartoonists out there on the web. You know that. And a client knows that. The ones that contact me out of the blue, say things like:

  • I saw your cartoon in _______ (name of publication) and it's what we had in mind for our ad campaign.
  • I like that dog race cup in your Zazzle store and we are looking for a cover artist for a new book.
  • We read about your cartoon class on your blog. Can you do one here? What are your rates?

Those are all real things that really happened. Yeah, mug design in my online store got me a book cover job.

So … the more stuff you have out there, the more people will see your work and go "Aha! That's just what I'm looking for!"

Keep cartooning, keep putting your work out there on your site, your blog, your online store, your Facebook, your Tumblr, your Twitter, etc.

At least that's why my experience has taught me. I hope this helps. 


erichews said...

Straight to the point, Mike. Thank you.

BuddyandHopkins said...

I don't think you fully answered the emailed question. I would have said that your samples do not need to be "published" but you should research the publication and submit appropriate samples. Published or not published, I don't think it matters as long as they are appropriate. If you don't have appropriate ones to submit, assign yourself a fake project and draw it up.

Mike Lynch said...

Erichews, thanks for the kind words.

BuddyandHopkins, some terrific points there.

Thanks, both of you, for making some comments today.