Cartooning Isn't All Funny Business

Time x Talent = Rate. Below is a great image I found not too long ago that sums up what most clients want, versus what they are willing to pay for. And to that naivet√©, most clients overlook the many factors that go into the pricing for a comic strip. So the purpose of this post is to take clients, "Behind-the-Scenes"...

What many see as an esthetically pleasing collaboration of lines with a funny punch line may appear like it took minutes to create. However, the speed of its creation from concept to completion is far from a few minutes. In fact it may have taken a lifetime. Just like cooking, singing, or solving a mathematical equation may seem second-nature to you, it's probably taken a good portion of your life to become proficient at doing those things. It likely didn't happen overnight.

Discussing: Look Into My Crystal Ball
As a client, you want funny, but you may also want the comic strip to reflect your company's niche and viewpoints, targeting a specific demographic while still being sensitive to the feelings of others. Figuring out what a client wants may require a significant amount of time to understand, because they assume that you already "know" all this. As a cartoonist, we are required to be many things, and one happens to be a mind-reader (and this isn't that far from the truth!) From only a few brief discussions or emails, we must quickly catch on to exactly what the client wants. Most of the time, I'm presented with a theme, dialogue and the basic idea. And sometimes, what the client wants may not be the best option. Therefore, EXPERIENCE, is one of the factors that are built into pricing. Clients may need to see both options illustrated in order to themselves ‘see’ the benefits and shortcomings of either. In this case I present them with alternatives to consider with my suggestions.

Writing: Finding Funny 
One of my clients is a CPA, and another is a Real Estate Attorney. Try finding the "funny" in that business! But the nature of a client's niche needs to be fully understood in order to find the humor in situations which are generally only known by those in that profession. This is where I rely on my client to carefully explain to me their concept for their comic strip. Now some of my clients choose to write their own comedic material, and if you also have this inherent "funny-bone" where ideas come to mind quickly and easily, time and effort can be considerably cut down because then I can do what I do best; bring your vision to life and ILLUSTRATE IT!

Drawing: Where the Stylus Touches the Tablet
Art appreciation is broad and subjective. So how are cartoonists to know a client's tastes? Before discussions begin, clients are given a homework assignment; review my portfolio, style, and diversity of capabilities. For some clients, they know right away. For others, this process can take time and effort for a client to visualize their project through the cartoonists sketches. This is very normal, and most comic strip projects will go through various stages of drafts and revisions, which again needs to be factored into any pricing structure. The time one spends on any project must be taken into consideration. As with any trade, labor costs as well as parts make up the final fee. With art it's no different. The ‘time’ a cartoonist spends thinking about, researching, and sketching must be considered and given proper credit, in addition to, the beautifully executed final presentation.

Considering Your Own eComicStrip?
Art is indeed a gifted talent, but it takes practice and a considerable amount of ‘learned’ skill to be proficient enough to meet the needs of a commercial market. Digital art and the technical know-how takes time, skill, apprenticeship whether one self-teaches or studies via a college, university etc. The pricing includes the skill and knowledge of the artist, much like any other profession. This process of ‘concept to creation' can take hours, days, or even weeks, but it certainly never takes seconds. As with all my clients, it is important to know your budget and I will always try to work within that to deliver a product that you are happy with. I hope that this post helps you to better understand the steps that occur even before my pencil hits the paper. The process starts long before that stage was reached and you are paying for a substantial amount of talent and skill.

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