Cartoonist Draws on Business Success

by Gil Zeimer on January 27, 2011
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Marty Wall has a dual personality. By day, he’s a signmaker and salesman in a large San Francisco firm. By night, he’s a cartoonist with an alter ego, Fritz.

We spoke to Fritz, whose creates custom cartoons for businesses under the Rackafracka banner, about how he got started and his goals for the future:

ISBB: How did you get into cartooning?

Fritz: I grew up always wanting to be a cartoonist. I used to trace cartoons out of the newspaper and comic books growing up and of course drawing during class, but I think everyone did that. After high school, I went to the local Iowa State University to study art, but it wasn’t known for its earth-moving art program, and I realized that if I was going to do cartoons, I needed to go to a school where I could be taught illustration. So I chose to move to San Francisco to go to the Academy of Art University and earned my BFA in Illustration. After I graduated, I got my first cartoon gig doing a custom cartoon for a direct mail campaign for a Realtor. I had no clue what I was getting into, but when I got my first check for the cartoon, I thought that there might be a whole world of businesses out there that might want to use cartoons in their marketing.

What do you want to do with this career?

I think just anything having to do with cartoons. Syndication would be the top goal, but with the Internet these days, people from all over the world can hire me, not just traditional media. In the meantime, I like providing humorous cartoons for businesses who want a unique, custom way to get their message to customers. Plus, it’s quite an ego boost when I see my cartoons in print.

How do you find the time to do cartoon illustrations?

When I got serious about cartooning, I realized that I had to have a business discipline.  Every day, I start drawing at the same time and during that window of time, I don’t do anything else. If I get done early, I work ahead to the next day or project. This way, I slowly work ahead and create a pipeline so when life happens and I can’t do any drawing that day, I’m able to recover without being stressed out about missing a deadline.

Where do you get your cartoon ideas?

Most of being a cartoonist is writing. I get asked the question all the time, “Where do you come up with your ideas?” The truth is, I make it a habit of getting up every morning and writing. I’ll make lists of things I’m thinking about or think of famous sayings that people say. I’ll scan the news for trends in pop culture and write those down. You have to be able to observe what is going on. I find that once I have a good idea the drawing is easy. By being disciplined and doing it every day without fail, then when called upon by a client to come up with something funny, you have an easier time getting the job done.

How do you use your blog to attract new customers?

I post everyday on my blog. Most of them are cartoons and this not only serves as entertainment for my loyal readers, but it’s advertising for me, since people who may want to hire me can browse my library of cartoons to check out my style of drawing and humor. My website is constantly changing and evolving – and now has over 500 cartoons – which I think is fun. People don’t go to a website more than twice if the information isn’t changing.

I also use my blog to remind people of all the different ways they can hire me. I use my website to show potential customers all the different ways to use cartoons and how I can make it happen for them. Plus, my blog is a way that they can get to know me. It builds trust.

What’s your best cartoon success story?

One of the most rewarding stories of how my cartoons were used for business was a job I did for a Salesforce.com consulting firm, Enpio. The owner, Ray Simon, hosted a monthly networking meeting for the local non-profit industry. As a reminder of the up and coming meeting to its members, he would hire me to do a custom cartoon to match one of the topics that would be discussed at the meeting.

Ray told me that one of the people on the email list, we’ll call him Bob, never showed up for a meeting. But one day, Bob called Ray with a referral, which turned out to be Enpio’s biggest client that year.

See, Bob knew that every time he got an email from Ray, there would be a funny cartoon in there. It kept Enpio top of mind to Bob and when the opportunity came, Bob knew whom to call.

For more information about Fritz Cartoons, or to commission a business cartoon, contact Fritz via his website.

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