Cartoonist profiles: Vlad Kolarov
You know the type — that doodling cartoonist 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 career out of his funny habit. If you are no Internet stranger, you’ve probably 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. Vlad has been around for some time.
Question: Why did you decide to become a cartoonist?
Answer: 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 you classmates 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?
A: 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?
A: Finding new markets is the key to being a successful freelancer. As an artist working at home you should always be 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. 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.
A: 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 a commission of what I get. So if you want to make some extra money — spread my name around 🙂
Q: You have a very recognizable drawing style! Do you have any art training?
A: 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’m a fan of the simple forms, so that is what I‘m after.
Q: What is the schedule of a man “working @ home”?
A: 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?
A: Tough…Professional cartooning IS a business. I’m the owner of Cardsup Greetings Ltd., which is a full-service design and multimedia company. We specialize in humor, but we do almost everything — web design, print design, brand identity, interactive animation, 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: Contrary to the wide spread rumor, I’m 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
Q: What is eToon.com?
A: eToon.com is a cartoon licensing service, which I started in 1998. In 2018 we did a major site redesign, with a clear and simple architecture, which makes it easy to purchase and download cartoons. It’s a multi-market: cartoonists can join, add their own cartoons (watermark protection is automatically applied), descriptions, keywords, etc. They have their own shops with unique URL, a dashboard and detailed reports on sales. The cartoons are stored on Amazon Cloud and instantly downloadable after a purchase (clients get emails and invoice emailed to them). I’m very happy with how the site is growing and I look forward to making cartoons more accessible to our business partners.