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What kind of education do I need in order to become a Cartoonist?

I’ve always liked to draw, and watch cartoons since I was in Preschool. It feels like Cartooning is the perfect career for me. In fact, there was someone who inspired me to become a Cartoonist in the first place, Craig McCracken!! He is a cartoonist, and not only was I inspired by him, but other cartoonists who make animated shows for Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network. As I watched one of McCracken's animated TV shows, I fell in love with his animation and design, and it looked really colorful that I couldn’t help but beg to accomplish this goal in order to pursue that career, and that’s how it inspired me. So, if I get this career, I’d be extremely satisfied, and live my best, dream fulfilled life. #design #career #cartoon #cartoonist #animation

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4 answers

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Gates’s Answer

Hello Alex,

The other two answers here are comprehensive and offer truly excellent advice. I would add to the list of schools, Rhode Island School of Design, that offers an excellent BFA in Animation program, as well as Illustration and Graphic Design.

While having an art degree can help you find a way into the industry and make your resume stand out, there are so many pathways to becoming cartoonist. For example, Stephan Pastis, creator of Pearls Before Swine, was a lawyer before he quit to become a comic book artist! Another cartoonist, Lynda Barry, combines her love of comics with teaching and lecturing. Sometimes artists have to find multiple ways to financially support themselves while they pursue their creative interests. Teaching can be a great way to to do this!

Here are some books that I recommend reading for any aspiring comic artist:

Making Comics by Scott McCloud

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Syllabus by Lynda Barry

What It Is by Lynda Barry

Finally I will wrap up by saying, draw all the time, every day! Draw from life, draw from your head, draw draw draw! Many times people think that artists have raw talent, but most of the time it is just time spent doing it.

Best of luck!!

Thank you comment icon Thank you very much, Gates!! When I have the proper time to review all the stuff to do, I'll let you know about what I learned. Alex
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Jenny’s Answer


That is a fantastic answer that you have already received from Thomas - with a very worthy list of top schools for those programs.

Just a little personal venture to share with you - when I was trying to figure out where I wanted to work within the entertainment industry, I ended up completing a Certificate in Traditional Animation at Glendale Community College. It was very affordable and gave me some great insight into what a career in cartooning or animation would look like.
It took me 2 years, and I met and worked with some of the top animators in the industry.

While I absolutely agree with Thomas that you should check out the schools he suggested (as they hold much more esteem in the academic world than community college), with the pandemic, I would look to see what community college courses you could take to help foster your education in this discipline while the state is relatively shut down.

Through my art classes at GCC, I found the life drawing classes very important to realize how to draw movement, stretch and fabrics. I found my character design class to be very meaningful, and ultimately I met some incredible professionals that steered me in the right direction for where art would end up in my career.

Furthermore, with animation school at the top of my resume, I got a job with the Walt Disney Company - and have been working for the company for 5 years now.

Best of luck with your future endeavors!

Thank you comment icon Thank you, Jenny! I’ll try looking into the Cartooning classes next year hopefully. Because I’m still currently in school, and I’m planning on taking the class at College. 😊 Alex
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Thomas’s Answer

"Most employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in cartooning, drawing, illustration, fine art, painting, animation or other related degree. The degree program should include heavy coursework in drawing, illustration, anatomy, painting, 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.

Which Schools Offer Cartooning Programs?

A number of schools offer formal cartooning or comic art programs as well as art and illustration programs with heavy coursework in cartooning or comic art. Among the best are the School of Visual Arts (SVA) and California College of the Arts (CCA). SVA is one of the first colleges to offer cartooning as a major. The school offers a BFA in Cartooning with 35+ courses offered. Design and Build Comics, Digital Coloring for Cartoonists, Drawing with Ink for Cartoonists, Principles of Cartooning, Still and Moving: Low-Tech Animation, and Web Comics are just a few. SVA also offers a BFA Illustration and MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay.

CCA offers a unique low-residency MFA in Comics. The program focuses on three aspects of the creative process: the history and culture of the medium, the craft of making comics, and the critical analysis of students work. Graduates leave the program with a book-length comics project.

Other top programs include:

Columbia College Chicago, BA, BFA Illustration (cartooning, drawing, painting, typography, digital illustration, figure drawing, and more), BFA Animation
International School of Comics, Academy of Visual Arts and New Media, Comic Art or Illustration (three-year vocational programs)
Michigan State University, Comic Art and Graphic Novels Minor
Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), BFA Comic Art
Savannah College of Art and Design, BA, BFA, MA, MFA Sequential Art (cartoons, comic books, comic strips, graphic novels, Manga, children's books and storyboards); BA, BFA, MA, MFA Illustration with a Minor in Publication Design
New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA), BFA Comic Arts or Illustration
Sessions College for Professional Design, Cartooning and Sequential Art, AOS Illustration, Cartooning and Sequential Art (courses)
The Center for Cartoon Studies, MFA, Certificates, and Workshops in Cartoon Studies
The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, Cartoon Graphics (three-year vocational program)
University of Oregon, Comics and Cartoon Studies Minor"
Thank you comment icon Thanks, Thomas!! 😊 Maybe I’ll look into those classes and colleges when I’m prepared and organized. I found this response really helpful!! Alex
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Simeon’s Answer

I'm not as familiar with the actual educational requirements to be a cartoon artist, but I have some recommendations for the self-teaching side of the equation: I would recommend taking a look at Skillshare. There are a lot of offers and free trials, but they have a wealth of skill classes that have amazing production quality. Also, I would check out some of the animation channels on Youtube such as New Frame Plus and Extra Credits. These channels have not just helpful videos, but also have very engaged communities that spend time together on Discord and Twitch. You can find really kind souls that will point you towards free resources, advice, and opportunities.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Simeon!! I appreciate it. When I’m prepared to search for skills of becoming a Cartoonist, I’ll browse that Skillshare website you’ve been talking to me about. Alex