Cartoon Artist: Career Profile, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a cartoon artist. Learn about education requirements, job growth and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Children`s Book Illustration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Cartoon Artist?

Cartoon artists may draw political cartoons and comic strips, or they may create animated cartoons. In today's world, almost all multimedia art is done digitally at some point in the process, thus much of the work is completed within computer programs. Aside from drawing, cartoon artists may conduct research regarding story elements and animation styles. These artists may start by creating a storyboard and end the process making edits recommended by directors, designers or other clients. Take a look at the table below for an overview of some jobs in cartoon art.

Cartoonists Animators
Degree Required Bachelor's degrees are common, though not required Bachelor's degrees are usually required
Education Field of Study Fine art, design Fine art, animation, computer graphics
Key Skills Artistic ability, creativity, business skills Artistic ability, creativity, computer and time management skills
Job Growth (2018-2028) 1% (for all fine artists)* 4% (for all multimedia artists and animators)*
Median Salary (2018) $49,380 (for all fine artists)* $72,520 (for all multimedia artists and animators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is the Career Profile of a Cartoon Artist?

As a cartoon artist, you could draw paneled illustrations that convey your opinions about current events in the political, social and sports realms. You also could draw cartoons to advertise products and services or use them to tell humorous or dramatic stories in panel form. Some cartoonists draw individual cells that can be used to create full-fledged animated cartoons, though many animators now use computers.

What Are the Education Requirements?

Though formal education may not be required for employment, you may want to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts program or some other postsecondary training in art or design. Professional training can allow you to hone your skills. Typically, a fine arts program includes English, social sciences and art history classes, while a specialization in art or studio art will focus your other coursework in painting and drawing.

Some independent art schools offer specific training, with more opportunities for studio experience than a traditional college or university program. Degrees are usually available in art or art and design. You can find many accredited fine arts programs through the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Also remember that part of your professional artist's education will include the compilation of your best work into a portfolio, which can greatly increase your chances of building a career in the field of cartoon artistry.

What Is the Projected Employment Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of fine artists, a category which includes cartoonists, can expand 1% between 2018 and 2028. Job opportunities for multimedia artists and animators are expected to grow 4% over the same 10-year period. Competition in both fields was expected to remain intense, with a large number of talented people vying for jobs.

Cartoon artists who work in journalism could see their job prospects dwindle as more newspapers trim their staffs. These professionals may find forums for their work on political websites and in online publications. Cartoon artists involved in animation should see more opportunities through the production of video games, TV and movies, according to the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Outside of animation, a similar artistic job is one of an art director. Art directors are often responsible for the layout and artistic style of printed works such as magazines, newspapers and packaging. Because so much of cartoon creating is done digitally, another closely related career is that of graphic designers. These professionals use computers to create artistic layouts used for ads, brochures and more. Since the visual quality of websites is just as important, web development is another closely related career that depends heavily on computer savvy and artistic skill.

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