Don’t we all flip through newspapers to first check out the ‘cartoon of the day’? These ubiquitous characters with lopsided grins and large eyes, pack in a satire and a punch. And comic strips are bound to put a little smile on our face, which is a good way to start our day!
Cartoon journalism mirrors the current happenings and provides a good platform to visualise those events in a funny yet thought-provoking manner. They can prove to be effective tools for broadcasting news as well as capturing the pulse and mood of masses.
If you can think of any news item and visualise a tickle in it, then you would be a good cartoonist. You can choose this as a full-time career option or as a hobby. Generally, newspapers, magazines and other print media employ cartoonists who have the responsibility of covering and depicting current events of interest. In addition, cartoonists are also in demand in audio-visual media, films, internet footage, multimedia advertising promotions, billboards and hoardings, designing games etc.
The huge surge in media and animation will create more demand for satirists, who will always be in demand. A cartoonist can work independently also, by accepting commissioned works like books illustrations, cover page designs, events, personal invitations, comic strips and so on.
Combination of skills
The main qualification for a cartoonist would be a keen eye and ears, out to capture any news, which can be “cartoon-worthy”. This could be social, political, business or any relevant theme. This is not an easy task as we are bombarded with news every minute. This essentially requires choosing the most appropriate theme, critically looking at it, add a dramatic touch and write a witty caption. This requires a highly creative mind as novel and clever ideas have to be though and recreated. Sometimes, cartoonists support ideas, articles or stories written by others. Thus, one requires many more attributes in addition to good drawing skills. Their responsibilities include developing patterns, settings and mood for background ideas and creating special effects, especially in the animation sector.
Thus a cartoonist would require a combination of skills, artistic minded and creative with a sharp intuition, be sensitive to issues, eloquent, and expressive with sketches and words. It is also important that they should be ethical, original and unbiased. An inquisitive, introspective and intellectual bent of mind would help in making their work relevant and identifiable.
They may draw characters and scenes manually, on the computer or a combination of the two. Some use digital tools while many use the traditional approach of paper and pencil and then scan it.
The advent of digital tools has definitely made cartooning easier. After completing plus two (senior secondary) in any discipline from any recognised board of education, a student can opt for Bachelor of Fine Arts, Diploma in Fine Arts, Masters in Fine Arts. The fee ranges from Rs 3000 to Rs 2,00,000 per annum, depending on the type of university, public or private. One could also opt for a certificate or diploma course in sketching and animation.
In short, a career as a cartoonist has great potential. It not only provides bread and butter but brings smiles to people’s faces. In addition, this work remains on, for many generations to come.
(Raghupathi Sringeri is a cartoonist and Sahana is Associate Professor, Christ, Bengaluru)