Friday, October 31, 2008

Cartooning - Generating Ideas Through Cartoon Brainstorming

Cartooning - Generating Ideas Through Cartoon Brainstorming
By []Ken Nelson

Without question, the number one question every aspiring cartoonist asks is, "Where do you get your ideas?" The thought seems to be that there is some secret method, that only the professional cartoonists are aware of, that provides an endless stream of cartoon ideas. Not true. In fact, the hardest part of the job, and the part that the most successful of us has learned to cultivate, is the process of generating ideas. Once you master the art of the Cartooning Brainstorm, you will have a generous array of ideas at your pencil-tip.

While there are no quick -and-easy 3-step methods for conducting a Cartooning Brainstorm session of your own, there are a few principles to keep in mind as you begin your cartooning career.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The only way you'll get good at anything is to practice doing it. This is true whether you're playing sports, learning and instrument, or developing your career as a cartoonist. You must keep at it day in and day out. Sitting down and focusing on coming up with funny ideas is the basis for your career and it will get easier with practice. To shamelessly borrow an old Nike slogan, "Just Do It".

Carry a Sketchpad at all Times

Your sketchpad is your lifeline to the cartooning world. Carry it with you and take advantage of those down times in your day when you are doing nothing and could do something productive. "What down times?" you may be asking. True, we're all busy - too busy in fact - but there are times during the day when you can steal a few minutes to write or sketch. In a doctor's waiting room, in line at the grocery store, at a stop light, in a theater waiting for the movie to start - point is, there are many opportunities during the day and week to make the most of your time.

Be Observant

Consider yourself a life reporter and record everything that interests you. It doesn't even have to be funny; that will come later. Write down and consider everything that you find funny, interesting, odd, shocking, etc. Record those weird thoughts that float through your mind, and don't try to edit yourself at this point - just observe and record. Later you will use these observations to spark your brainstorming sessions.

Consume Lots of Brain Food

Along the same lines as the previous point, you need to feed your brain. Educate yourself! Study different topics, take notes, make illustrations. Turn your TV watching into an educational endeavor by keeping your sketchpad handy to capture anything that interests you. Maybe that documentary featuring two African tribes beating the bejesus out of each other with sticks will result in a classic cartoon, and maybe it won't, but you will have turned an hour of passive TV viewing into a productive educational experience. If nothing else, just developing the habit of creative curiosity will pay dividends.

Take these tips and apply them. Then, when you're ready to come up with ideas, sit down with your sketchpad and start brainstorming. Set aside a time of quiet uninteruption and start moving your pencil around on the paper. Go back through your notes and observations and start connecting things together. See if anything strikes you as funny. If it does, run with it!

Ken Nelson is a freelance writer and cartoonist. He markets his unique brand of humor at the Flogwear site where anybody can purchase t-shirts, mugs, aprons, calendars, and many other items printed with his cartoons and writings.

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