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CAREER as a CARTOONIST

Usha Albuquerque & Nidhi Prasad

For many of us, R.K Laxman’s cartoons in the newspapers were the first eye-grabber. Cartoons have the ability to carry wit, satire and punch all in one message. A cartoon can be described as a political and social observation on the happenings about the time during which it is drawn. In simple words, a cartoonist job is to hold a mirror to the society.
Cartooning is the process of drawing still cartoons, which are usually meant to be humorous. These cartoons are often featured in print publications, like magazines and newspapers, as well as online publications, like blogs and websites. Sometimes cartoons will consist of just one picture, while others will consist of several pictures. This typ

e of cartoon is often referred to as a comic strip. A very long series of cartoons, on the other hand, is often referred to as a graphic novel.
Characters and scenes in most cartoons are generally not drawn realistically. Instead, most features are exaggerated, and people and animals may appear to be caricatures or “cartoonish”. Many cartoons also have some sort of caption, or speech and thought bubbles can be used to make the characters’ words or actions apparent.

Most cartoons are meant to convey a certain message or point out some type of irony. Depending on the intended audience, cartoons might either be very complex or they may be a little simpler. For instance, political cartoons may depend on dry humor and subtle irony, and they are usually meant to put a more serious political situation in a somewhat humorous light. On the other hand, cartoons depicting married life are usually a little simpler, and they often exaggerate common marital problems, which can make these situations humorous. The process of cartooning can also be used to create story boards, which are used when producing animated films and video games.

What Does a Cartoonist Do?
A cartoonist is the person that illustrates, or draws, cartoons. Sometimes, cartoonists will also add the captions, speech bubbles, and thought bubbles as well. Other times, these words are added by separate writers. Many cartoonists have a different perspective on life than most other people. For instance, they are often able to see the humor in everyday life or more serious situations. One of the most important characteristics that any cartoonist should have is a good sense of humor.
When drawing a cartoon, many cartoonists will typically use the traditional method of a paper and pen. Later, they may scan their cartoons into a computer and edit them or add other elements, like color and words. Some cartoonists, on the other hand, will use computer software from start to finish.

Cartoonists who create story boards will usually illustrate how an animated story will come together. Typically, a storyboard cartoonist will interpret a script, and draw pictures to represent different scenes. This helps actors or animators, along with directors, see how a story should look and progress.

Cartoons entertain as well as inform. They depict current events and situations with truth and subtle humour. Political, advertising, social and sports cartoons are the most visible cartoons today. The other type of cartoons are the regular comic strips in newspapers and magazines, and especially compiled books and drawings illustrating the content of a book. Some cartoonists specialize in caricatures - pictures that exaggerate someone's prominent features, such as a large nose, make them recognisable to the public.
Animators may be called motion cartoonists because their drawings are photographed in sequence to make a film and when the film is processed at high speed the cartoon images appear to be moving. Computers help animators to create special effects. Animators mainly work in the motion picture and television industries but are valuable for the advertising industry too.
Cartoon in India has a very long history. This entered the scene with the British, but over the years, established their importance as an independent version of the masses. Late. Shankar Pillai is considered as the Father of Indian Cartooning. Today’s audio-visual media, internet, films, multimedia, advertisements, hoardings all rely on cartoons to spread messages for the public.
 
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
To make a mark in this field, one does not require a formal qualification. Unlike a plethora of institutions offering courses in painting, sculpting and photography, there are no established courses in cartooning in the country. Most employers prefer a bachelor’s degrees in drawing, illustration, fine art, painting, animation, or other related degree. The degree program should include heavy course work in drawing, painting, illustration, anatomy, computer graphics, and photography, to name a few. In addition to a degree, most employers prefer candidates with a minimum of two years’ experience in the industry for intermediate positions. An advanced degree may be required for upper level positions or at least five to seven years’ professional experience in the industry. For entry-level positions, a degree and experience through an internship or other support position is acceptable.

PERSONAL SKILLS
A cartoonist must possess:
* An excellent sense of humor and be artistically inclined too.
* Creative and full of imagination.
*They should also have the ability of lateral thinking.
* Good drawing skills that require consistent practice.
* They should also be adept in coming out with new ideas and putting those ideas into sketches.
 
Working for a newspaper, requires an ability to work under pressure. Most of the work of cartoonists is now done with the aid of computers a cartoonist should be computer-savvy too.

The thought process is the starting point of a successful cartoon; hence an aspiring cartoonist should keep himself or herself well-informed, be observant, pick up nuances and remain sensitive to atmosphere and the thought process of the average person.
The aspirant should regularly ractice on his sketchbook. He must study the physical world every day and have a ‘visual memory’ of political party and religious symbols, physical features of prominent personalities, mythological characters, architecture, etc. Graphic art software skill is necessary in most art jobs today. Another key to success is to read a lot. The more you know about life, the more you can sketch humorous cartoons.

JOB PROSPECTS
Some cartoonists work with artists who create the idea or story and write captions. Most cartoonists have critical, comic, or dramatic talents in addition to drawing skills. While many cartoonists work for newspapers, magazines, and other print publications, some also work in the television and film industry. TV and film cartoonist may draw animated cartoons, prepare model drawings and sketches of characters, and draw special effects for animation projects.

Cartoonists work for:
*Animation studios
* Film and video studios
*Cartoon networks
* Gaming companies
* Print publications
* Publishing companies

In the animation industry, they render drawings of characters, environments, and objects for small and large-scale productions. Additional duties may include developing moods and color patterns, dramatizing action, and create and paint background scenes. Cartoonists may draw characters and scenes manually, on the computer or a combination of both.

One should develop a portfolio of work and use it to get some freelance assignments and to look for jobs. The base of a formal fine arts, applied art, design and animation education would make it easier to access full-time regular jobs. Create a portfolio of your cartoons, then compile them in a chronological order and approach local ad agencies, newspapers and publishers to study their reaction to your work.
In a newspaper, the political cartoonist is usually a member of the staff. Other cartoonists work on a freelance basis. Persistence with well-drawn, good ideas can pay off. Once you are able to get a foothold in one newspaper or magazine or with a publisher, then assignments may be forthcoming.

LIST OF INSTITUTES 
Though, for those interested in cartoon animation, there are a number of animation institutes.
*Indian institute of Cartoon, Bangalore -www.cartoonistindia.com
*Sir J.J. School of Applied Art -www.jjiaa.org
* Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Baroda - www.msubaroda.ac.in
* The Masters in Animation Design course at IIT has an elective on Anatomy & Drawing, besides the Illustration elective where students are required to design a children’s book with text and visuals.
* NID -www.nid.edu
* FTII - www.ftiindia.com
* Whistling Woods International, -www.whistlingwoods.net
*Toonz Animation India Private Limited-www.toonz.in
List is indicative only

Usha Albuquerque is Director and Nidhi Prasad is Senior counseling Psychologist at Careers Smart Pvt. Ltd New Delhi careerssmartonline@gmail.com