The Australian Cartoonists Association. A guide. Part 2
By Jules Faber
Last fortnight I touched on the benefits of the Australian Cartoonists Association’s website which features, among other things, portfolios of our membership and links to their websites (if they have them).
I will always advocate how vital and important this service is to our Membership because I’m someone who has benefitted a great deal from having my work on display there. In Australia, we have numerous publishers and purveyors of cartoon works, whether it be for magazines, comics, advertising or any number of things. People need illustrators and cartoonists. One of the go-to websites professional people will visit looking for just the right style of artwork is the ACA website.
Back in 2013 I was approached by a publisher who, with an author of a new book for kids, was looking for a cartoonist to illustrate a chapter book. It wasn’t to be anything incredibly detailed or complicated – they just wanted simple cartoon illustrations.
The publisher chose three people from the choice of cartoonists and the author chose three. Fortunately for me, those two lists had me on them and I was approached to see if I was interested. I wasn’t told who the author was, I was just asked to illustrate a brief section of the text to see if I’d be suitable.
Whatever I submitted must have worked because I was offered the job and we were off and running. That publisher was Scholastic Australia and the author, in case you hadn’t guessed yet, was Anh Do. I’d been offered WeirDo, what became one of the most popular children’s book series in recent years. To date we’ve sold over 1.1 million copies in the series with the 10th book out in a few weeks on 1 April. We’ve won multiple awards including Book of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards and now the series is headed to the US to see how it fares there. Plus there’s an animated TV series in the works!
Whilst I’m very proud of all that, none of it may have happened if I hadn’t been on the ACA website showcasing my work to publishers, editors and advertising agencies! I’ve always believed that to succeed in this sometimes difficult industry it’s important to have a network of support behind you and being a member of an organisation like the ACA has been of great benefit. My story isn’t an anomaly either; plenty of other members have benefitted from being visible on the ACA website.
Aside from all that, there are plenty of other benefits. Like the friends I’ve made in the ACA, the international exhibitions I’ve been invited to take part in or the benefits to my freelance business by being recommended for work or offered gigs by cartoonists who need another pair of hands.
Overall membership is a modest investment each year that in my experience continues to pay for itself. I’ve been a member of the ACA for 21 years now and haven’t regretted that for a moment. It’s weaved itself pleasantly into both my professional and social life and the Stanley Awards have become an important yearly event on my calendar.
There are yet more benefits to membership to discuss but I’ve told my story over too many words for this fortnight, so I’ll leave the next part to next time.
In the meantime, if you’re considering a career in cartooning or illustration, give what I’ve said so far some thought. Being a member of an organisation of like-minded folk can help us survive as individuals in business and can help take some of the loneliness out of our profession. In the old days there’d be art departments with other artists to go and have a beer with on a Friday afternoon but those days are far behind us now. Being a member of the ACA gives us that chance to catch up with folk who do the same job and lean on each other for advice, encouragement and friendship.
I’ll be back in a fortnight, but why not check out our website and see more of what I’m talking about: www.cartoonists.org.au