Business of Cartooning

Getting a Portfolio Review

I was recently asked the following question through Facebook Messenger:

“I want someone to review my work so I can get feedback on what I’m doing right or wrong. I have no idea how to initiate that kind of conversation or who to turn to. What do you recommend I do?”

Quick thoughts: Sending your art unsolicited to a professional cartoonist for a critique is usually a bad idea.

It’s like wanting your car fixed, and instead of making an appointment, just driving it into an auto repair shop and parking your car on a mechanic’s lift – then expecting them to get to work.

Not good.

Posting it online on social media for a critique can be hit or miss. There’s simply no way of knowing the experience and/or professionalism of those giving their two cents worth.

From personal experience I find Artists Alleys at comic cons to be a good bet. The reason being that the artists on hand are specifically there taking the time to touch base with readers and fans. This one-on-one from an artist you respect can be invaluable.

Just make sure to ask if they’re open to doing a portfolio review. They may not depending on time constraints/sketch requests, and that’s perfectly understandable.

Also a heads up that the critique you get can be instructive and/or eviscerating depending on the artist’s demeanor. Be prepared for either.

A surefire way to get a critique is to take a class or correspondence course in cartooning. Heads up that the Minneapolis College of Art and Design has an online portfolio review for potential students.

I would also recommend the Joe Kubert School Correspondence Course (and no, I don’t get paid for this endorsement). In this case it’s a matter of getting what you pay for.

You can check out the Kubert School at Comic Cons they’re scheduled to appear at as well. The above pic is Kubert School Alum Brigid Allanson and Angie Fernot at C2E2 from a few years back.

Hope the preceding was of assistance and wishing you all the best in your artistic ventures!

-Jim Keefe

By Jim Keefe

Jim Keefe is the current artist of the Sally Forth comic strip. From 1996-2003 he was the writer and artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip. A graduate of the Joe Kubert School, Keefe likewise teaches Comic Art. Teaching and speaking engagements include SVA in Manhattan, Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs, and most recently the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.