Internet is my true agent

By: Dessislava Oundjian

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?

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