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Cartoonists At Work – A Report

Graphic Storytellers at Work: Cross-industry opportunities for cartoonists, illustrators and comics-makers, [is] a new report which explores how the skills of cartoonists, illustrators and comics-makers are being applied. This happens across a diverse range of industries such as health and education.

The Australia Council for the Arts commissioned research to look at workplace opportunities for graphic artists and finds good news for those willing to look outside the newspaper and comic book mediums for all their income.

Demand for graphic storytellers is growing.

Health – graphic storytellers help people understand complicated medical ideas.

Education – their skills [are] useful in an educational setting.

One in four surveyed artists make 100% of their income from creative work.

New opportunities are emerging for the use of visual language.

But it is not all rainbows and lollipops: “Making a living as a graphic storyteller can be challenging.”

While there are some making a good living, being a graphic storyteller can also mean having a mixed career with half of the artists surveyed supporting themselves with work that is non-creative (50%). Almost half reported ‘lack of financial return on their practice’ as one of the top two challenges for their practice (47%).

ArtsHub took a look at the report:

New research reveals that cartoonists and illustrators are flipping their skills to be more useful across a range of workplaces with one in four earning 100% of their income for cartooning and comic-making.

Surprisingly the report also found that of the group earning their income solely from their creative work, 43% are high income earners, making more than $100,000 per year.

[David] Blumenstein [Deputy President of the Australian Cartoonists Association] wants to change this attitude. ‘As the deputy president of the ACA I’ve been trying to push us in the direction of helping cartoonists to understand that there are other ways to make a living than to draw a little joke strip in a newspaper and that’s what a lot of the current memberships are about and that’s what they think cartooning is, but it’s so much more,’ he told ArtsHub.

The Sydney Morning Herald concentrates on the changing demographics:

The gender gap has flipped among the ranks of Australia’s young comic artists and cartoonists, skittling stereotypes and heralding a new wave of graphic artists.

New research commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts shows more than half of artists aged between 18 and 39 are women (54 per cent) and one in five identify as non-binary or transgender (19 per cent).

Men account for 27 per cent of this young talent pool, compared to 85 per cent of all male cartoonists and illustrators over the age of 60.

Download the full Graphic Storytellers at Work report.

Community Comments

#1 Brian Fies
March/18/2021
@ 12:20 pm

Yeah, I’d have to see the math on that. This rosy picture of the business doesn’t match my experience. I know a lot of cartoonists and can think of maybe four that earn more than $100,000/yr at it. A huge majority need a day job or supportive spouse to pay the bills. Maybe the grass really is greener in Australia.

I’m very happy to see graphic medicine identified as a market and outlet for graphic storytelling. Again, I think the article way overestimates the market, but it’s a good and important one.

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