Ever Thought of Cartooning as a Career
We Speak to leading Political Cartoonist Martha Richler
When did your interest in cartoons start ?
I've been interested in cartoons since I was a tot. My Dad was a writer of 'political' satire and so the house was flooded with books and mags, including the unmissable Private Eye. I had all the Ronald Searle anthologies, and of course The New Yorker was always around.
Do you need to have any particular qualifications to become a cartoonist ?
No, you don't need any qualifications, except for a love of politics, a love of drawing, and a thick skin. It can be very tough out there. I started in Canada, at the Globe and Mail, in a newspaper war with Conrad Black who just started a new national paper called the National Post.
When did you decide that a career as a cartoonist was for you ?
I started off with a news-based pocket cartoon and then moved to the Evening Standard. There were cutbacks and I was given the main editorial cartoon. There were more cutbacks and I was made redundant in 2008. George Osborne has happily reinstated the cartoon and Christian Adams now draws the editorial cartoon.
It's a struggle for most cartoonists because newspapers have become draconian and are cutting back on creative talent. There is always online. I now publish with PoliticalBetting.com , a respected hub of political opinion where the first political polls appear. I also publish in print - editorial cartoons for The Jewish Chronicle, for example.
How competitive is the market place for cartoonists in the UK ?
It's competitive, but I would put it differently - with the economy so unpredictable and unstable, it's difficult for cartoonists as there are very few jobs. But there are perfectly wonderful cartoonists out there who work to earn money in order to draw. In art history there is a tradition of artists being resourceful and not even being recognised in their own lifetime. I think what counts is the good work you produce - not how you pay your bills. Some people measure salary or income as the measure of a professional cartoonist but I don't agree: I think it's the body of work.
What is a normal working day fo you ?
My normal working day starts with the Today Show and ends with Westminster Hour, Radio 4. I look at the news online and all the newspapers. I have to speak to people and take the temperature each day. I draw a political cartoon every day. I publish the strongest ones online on Political Betting and now you can Tweet your cartoon and Instagram your cartoon. It's great because you get such a response - I think the internet is good news for cartoonists.
What advice would you give to any budding cartoonists as a career choice ?
I would encourage anyone to cartoon. Just have a backup plan for earning your daily bread.
The internet is wide-open and full of inspiration. The key problem is how to monetise our work online.
Patreon and other outfits online are trying to tackle this problem. Hopefully it will be resolved because there are a great many artists and writers facing the same problem.