An association for cartoonists

What do illustrators in Australia want from a peak body?

Above: Jase Harper‘s arm working on comics

Our respondents

Fig. 1: Are you currently a member of the Australian Cartoonists Association?

What kind of work do they do?

“Comics for service design prototyping, album artwork, short comics”

“Toy illustration and design, storybook illustration, magazine illustration”

“Illustration, motion graphics, comics, natural history illustration, book design, graphic design”

Fig. 2: Please describe briefly the sorts of art work you do. (a word cloud based on responses)

Who’s influencing us?

Fig. 3: Name a few artists you consider to be your contemporaries in the kind of art work you do.

How are we communicating, and what are we talking about?

Fig. 4: In the last few years, how far have you traveled to meet up with other artists?

“Overlap of different creative industries. It’s surprising that, for example, comics, animation and games don’t interact as much as they could considering how they all deal with storytelling methods (at least in Australia). And of course, industries beyond the entertainment sphere. There’s a lot to be learned from other disciplines.”

“Representation of women/non-binary artists and POC in comics.”

“Narrative structure and writing (practical tips I see shared tend to be about the visual side of things).”


Theme 1: You don’t have to be making a living at it to be a “real cartoonist”.

All-In — people making most or all of their money from drawing or drawing-related work.

Part-Time — people making some of their money from drawing but who see themselves as cartoonists/illustrators. Many have an arts day job, or make money in other arts fields.

Moonlighter — people making some money from drawing but who might or might not consider it their “calling”; they have a day job and freelance on the side. May release creative work through publishers.

Hobbyist — people making little or no money from drawing. May be retired, aspiring or students.

Non-Artist — people who aren’t artists, or who dabble, but identify strongly with the “scene”/industry.

Fig. 5: How much of your income is derived from your art work?

“I haven’t got anything like a career; merely a thing I can’t stop doing.”

“Have an award for amateur submissions.”

“Provide resources for new artists getting into the comics scene, and resources for established hobby artists who want to make the change to professional artists.”

“Help me get in touch with people for work experience, as a mentor to help me break into the industry or to collaborate with others so my ideas can get out there.”

Theme 2: “Cartoonists ain’t cartoonists”.

“‘Cartoon’ sounds humorous and lacks association with serious graphic novels.”

“I identify as a manga or comic artist which I would consider different to cartoonist.”

“‘Cartoonists‘ sounds more exclusive to gag or political cartoons.”

Fig. 6: Members’ question: The ACA should be for political cartoonists primarily — agree/disagree?

Theme 3: ACA members want a young, diverse Association.

Fig. 7: Members’ question: What is the one thing you would most like to change about the ACA?

“Open up and try to encourage more cartoonists, comic artists, animators to join.”

“Listen to the youngest members. They understand the new technology that will be used to create future work.”

“Expand on what an artist is.”

Theme 4: Cartoonists outside the ACA want a union.

Fig. 8: Non-members question: What would “your” ACA do for its members?

“Help negotiate pay and union stuff for full time workers and also help out freelancers with quoting, getting paid, paying tax etc.”

“If you don’t already have it, a tool that provides pricing advice…”

“Provide information and advice relevant to the job, such as freelancing, contracts, how to deal with difficult clients, professionalism, copyright, where to go for legal advice, etc.”

“Advocate for them politically over rights, promote them on social media, run workshops to teach technical skills, offer comprehensive basic info for emerging artists about working and quoting and writing contracts and invoicing. Have occasional gatherings. Offer links to support groups and mental health tips! (this industry is rife with mental health problems. Too much time alone!)”

Theme 5: Cartoonists are everywhere, but the ACA isn’t

“More learning opportunities and ways to connect the flyover cities and regions with areas where there are more opportunities. I don’t really get the chance to get to Melbourne often enough but I’d love to meet colleagues when I do get there.”

“Living rurally means most of the benefits from membership are in major cities.”

“More WA meetings — (but I don’t want to run it!)”

Cartooning in 2019

“Being a cartoonist has never been a more isolating trade than it is today — it’s vital for any industry to congregate and share ideas and new concepts. In our trade the boundaries and new markets are woefully ill-defined and it’s important to keep up.”

“The social network and friendships formed. The work network and the learning network also.”

“Connected to other artists having discussions about working in the industry.”

“I feel in touch with people who are living the dream I have always dreamed for myself. It gives me hope and a connection, however slim.”

A peak body, or a social club?

“Organisations should value themselves and their members enough to remain relevant and inclusive.”



David works in service/strategic design: He draws comics at Squishface Studio: Other stuff:

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