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Greenberg: Life one year after the lay-off

Yesterday was the first year anniversary of Steve Greenberg’s lay-off with the Ventura County Star. Steve reflects what went well and not so well reinventing himself as a freelance artist.

So here I am, a year out of work. On the one hand, Iâ??m pretty much a full-time editorial cartoonist again (other than whatever illustration and graphics assignments I scrape up), something I hadnâ??t been since the mid-1980s, and draw nearly every day. The quality is good. And I am pretty much my own editor. There are editors on all the publications and web sites I contribute to, but itâ??s not like the old days of trying to run sketches by editors in person; Iâ??m very self-directed now. Iâ??ve become an online cartoonist, a niche cartoonist and an alt-weekly cartoonist. In some ways, my visibility has never been greater. I can set my own hours, can run errands anytime and have time to visit my parents (both 87, and needing much more assistance from me).

On the other hand, here in my mid-50s Iâ??ve never worked so hard for so little money. Iâ??m home alone working most of the time, which the dog and cat do appreciate. There are days of battling boredom and depression. The market for outside jobs (when Iâ??m able to look again) is wretched. And when youâ??re a freelancer, as my friend Scott Shaw wrote on Facebook, youâ??re essentially always on deadline.

Community Comments

#1 Steve Skelton
December/2/2009
@ 11:30 am

Steve, my heart goes out to you. I think it is something a lot of us have been experiencing. These are difficult times and opportunities are few. I keep thinking back to Howard Tayler’s terrific presentation at the comics seminar. He spoke about the infusion of new technology ( I believe the source was the book Freakonomics) and how it can displace and disrupt other technologies. All of us who have a career in print are experiencing this displacement now. It is very hard to find your way through this. Best of luck for a great second year of being an independent. Find those opportunities and make the most of them.

#2 Stacy Curtis
December/2/2009
@ 12:02 pm

I think one of the hardest parts of going from editorial cartoonist working in a bustling newsroom to freelance cartoonist working from home is the lack of human interaction during the day.

It was one of the challenges of being a freelancer that I hadn’t anticipated.

#3 Pat Crowley
December/2/2009
@ 2:47 pm

I took the buy-out from my newspaper a little over a year ago.

Since then I’ve worked days nights and weekends for- next to nothing.

As for internet- I literally can’t GIVE my work away. I can’t even get the courtesy of an email telling me to “f**k off!”

Hold on to your jobs, folks. It’s never gonna be better than what you have right now.

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