You know the type -- that doodling type. Every time there is a pen and paper on the table, they will be sketching something down, with a mysterious smile, giggling quietly and making funny faces. Vlad Kolarov is no exception -- however, he has built a carrier out of his funny habit. If you are no Internet stranger, probably you have already seen his work. It might be a Yahoo ecard, or a funny cartoon on some web site, a greeting card or even his online portfolio (http://www.vladkolarov.com). Vlad has been around for some time.
Q> Why did you decide to become a cartoonist?
R> I don't think I ever had a choice. Obviously I was born with the cartoon gene - I've always loved to doodle and create my own little world on paper. As a kid at school I noticed that my cartoons made people laugh and brought me some respect. That's a nice feeling. So to get paid to do it is the best. In spite of my law education (which I actually have never used), I decided to follow my stars and become a full-time cartoonist/illustrator. It turned out to be a very tough job but I also love the fact that I make my own hours and work at home. And it's great having a job that deals with humor.
Q> So how did it all start?
R> It all started in 1989 (my God! That makes me almost as old as the Triceratops). It was a very exciting time. After some time freelancing, I landed a job as a cartoonist for the biggest Bulgarian daily newspaper "24 hours". Several years later I decided to expand my horizon and moved to Vancouver, BC with my family. I've been living and working there ever since -- I love the place!!!
Q> Vlad, how do you find new markets? Do you make any "cold calls" or do you wait for the clients to call you?
R> Finding new markets is the key to being a successful freelancer. As an artist working at home you should be always looking for new clients. I contact magazines, websites, greeting card companies, etc... Also, they contact me. I find having a web site portfolio very useful (check it out - http://www.vladkolarov.com). A freelancer MUST promote himself in every way possible. If one simply waits for clients to come to him, they'll never make it.
Q> Share a marketing secret with our readers.
R> Always be creative! For example my latest idea is to use the power of the Internet and turn my fans into my agents. Anyone who recommends me and brings in a new client will receive 15% commission of what I get. So if you want to make some extra money -- spread my name around:)
Q> You have such a wonderful drawing style! Do you have any art training?
R> No. I've had some art classes, but I was not very good -- so gave up and started drawing what I like instead. I noticed that my style changed a lot during the years, and eventually it is what you see now. I am a fan of the simple forms, so that is what I am after. Less is more (except in the bedroom):)
Q> What is the schedule of a man "working @ home"?
R> My day starts at around 8AM. I start with answering my mail, then drawing cartoons and promoting my work. The nice thing is that each day is a new challenge with a different project and a different client, so I never get bored. This usually goes till 8PM -- six days a week. Freelancers must work as many hours as possible.
Q> What is the business side of cartooning?
R> Tough...Professional cartooning IS a business. I am the president of Cardsup Greetings Ltd., which is a full-service multimedia company. We (it is a company, remember?) specialize in humor, but we do almost everything -- web design, interactive animation, web hosting, logo design, etc. We also provide humor content to web sites -- right now we have packages of daily cartoons and ecards that work great for marketing web sites.
Q> What is the best thing for you as a cartoonist?
R> Being my own boss. Being able to work from home. Having my wife and kids around me. Cartooning can be quite rewarding:)
Q> Where does your inspiration come from?
R> I am often asked that question...The truth is that after all these years my inspiration comes from the bills I have to pay...Deadline a inspirational too. This is a creative business, and as such, you need some reality biting you from behind.
Q> Is there a secret for being successful?
R> There are no secrets. Being successful comes with a lot of work. You won't be successful if you sit all day in from of the television set. You must promote yourself and produce new material each and every day.
Q> Do you work with any agencies? Do you think they help the artists?
R> No. I've had my share of rejection slips. Agencies are business representatives. In some cases they can help -- having someone out there promoting your work is nice. But they are not a guarantee for success and if you can do the work you don't actually need them. That's why I LOVE the Internet -- that is my true agent! And remember, if you recommend me -- you'll get paid!
Q> Tell us a bit about the selling process. Do you have set rates for your work and do you give discounts?
R> I do have set rates, rates that I usually charge but I am very flexible. Each client has a different budget and a different need. There are a lot of factors that go into determining how much a cartoon costs, and there is always that negotiating process. No client is too small or too big for me. I never turn away clients.
Q> Vlad -- what's up with the name?
R> Contrary to the wide spread rumor, I am not related to Dracula. I was, however, born in a small town on the river Danube relatively close to Transylvania. That could explain my taste for dark humor.
Q> Do you ever laugh at your cartoons?
R> Guilty, your honor! That has happened from time to time. But what I prefer is seeing the others laugh at them -- that is my biggest reward!
Q> How do people react when you tell them you are a cartoonist?
R> Most of them do not understand what that is...May be it's my accent, or may be it's such an exotic profession. How many cartoonists do you know?
About The Author
Dessislava Oundjian is the marketing Guru behind http://www.etoon.com -- one of the largest searchable cartoon databases in the world. Find T-shirts and other custom apparel, get information about licensing our cartoons or send e-cards.