Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Feeling Like A Mad Hatter

Recently Mike Lynch was asked, "Can anyone make a living as a gag cartoonist?", and he thoughtfully replied with a blog post. Many of his points are applicable to anyone selling their wares, so gag cartoonist ~ any type of artist ~ or not, you can learn something.

Here are a few of my favorite points:
There is also the shark aspect. The idea that you keep moving your cartoons, keep seeking out new markets, carry your business cards with you at all times. And sometimes calling editors to ask where your cartoons are. Promotion, persistence, production! But this is something that is inside of you and something you have to decide to do every day, you know? It's easier just to have a "real job" and dream about it. Much easier.
Our dream jobs are often more work than any other job we've held. Hopefully we are motivated because we love what we do and we want to live the dream, but it's still more work than most realize. "Promotion, persistence, production!" Isn't that the damn truth.

Whenever I meet enthusiastic entrepreneurs, I do try to caution them ~ not dampen their enthusiasm, but alert them to the realities. But if my words dampen enthusiasm, or scare them off, well, perhaps that's just as well.

"Promotion, persistence, production!" is our battle cry, our workload, and without passion we'd barely make it to those pay days (however small and far between they are). You take a sick day, and since no one is there to do anything while you're away, you stumble back to work still less than par and with double or triple the workload. It can be daunting.

Lynch continues:
I was at a business function full of NYC business-types. This was to be expected since it was held on the fashionable edge of SoHo in a huge converted loft. One of the guys came up to me and asked what I did. I told him that I was the guy that did the cartoons for their Web site. He was intrigued, especially when I told him that that was the way I made my living. He told me, "It must be great to be creative all the time."

I smiled as pleasantly as I could. I told him that cartooning was a job. Cartoons don't flow out my hand like water from a faucet. They are work. But, like I always add, this is also a job I love.

Cartoonists can't just draw when inspired if hey want to make money. As for me, I have to produce marketable, salable work at a regular pace. I'm an assembly line, putting out good cartoons at a regular pace. I'm a marketer, aiming my product at clients large and small. I'm the R&D department, finding new ways to get my material out there. You wear a lot of hats, including that Mad Hatter one.

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