Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Organic Business Model of Cartooning

I was chatting with my pal Mark Anderson yesterday about the cartoon markets. Even though we compete for the same markets, he's a great friend.

Speaking for me: the big change that I am seeing is that either my sales are small (a cartoon sold to an individual for a presentation, a dollar from a t-shirt sale) or they are large (drawings for an ad campaign). I'm no longer selling a couple hundred dollars here, a couple hundred dollars there. I think this is because those sales, mostly to magazines, are rarer. Obviously, traditional print gag cartoon markets are not buying as many. Heck, last week's New Yorker had only eight cartoons in it!

But people still love cartoons.

When I quit my real job 10 years ago to cartoon, I thought I would have this model for business:


You draw those one-panel cartoons and mail them out.

But I found out that there is an organic process to all this. Here's what I mean: a cartoonist friend was editing a cartoon-a-day calendar for Barnes & Noble. Would I like to submit some cartoons? An editor called me; Reader's Digest was publishing a book. Would I like to be in it? So, now I had a


and it was all because my cartoons were getting seen. And then I got an email from a fellow in London who had seen my cartoon in a magazine during his lunch hour. He didn't buy the magazine, but remembering my name, he went back to his office, Googled me and found my site. His UK company was going to do a big ad campaign, and would I be willing to draw some cartoons for it? And so now the


was in full swing.

And the more revenue streams, the more places your work is seen, the better.


Anonymous said...

It's so logical, isn't it.

The hard part for me, is keeping my momentum at a maximum. If it falls below 50mph, the bus will explode. ;)

Anonymous said...

I picked up some unexpected illustration jobs by submitting panel cartoons. One gig lasted two years. You just never know.
We're in a transition period, combined with a tough economy. Oy!!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you got all those neat jobs Mike, makes me hopeful for having a possible artistic career someday....

Mark Anderson said...

To quote Seymour Skinner, "the times they are a'becoming quite different."

I think you're totally right here. It's either very small or very large. There's really only a few good magazine markets left, and greeting cards seem slow to me lately too.

I've read that recessions are when smart companines go after larger shares of their markets, but what if that market is perpetually shrinking?!

So, when are we gonna start drywalling, Mikey?

Anonymous said...

I believe the key is not to wait for a market to find you, but rather take stock, take a good look around, and approach new markets YOU want to work in, with your work, talents and expertise.

Times are changing fast. Dare to dream big and think outside the normal conventions.