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Week 2 update: Age and education

Welcome back. Since last week, another 29 surveys have been completed. Of the people who have answered the gender question, we're still holding steady at 68% male, 29% female, and 3% other gender identity. Self-publishers, whether in print or digital, are still dominant (61%), and 53% of respondents say they have mostly worked as writer/artists.

People working in the "mainstream" publishing sector, and especially within work-for-hire comics, are still underrepresented. If you know anyone who does creative work in this sector of comics publishing, please let them know about the survey.

For our week 2 update, I thought it would be interesting to look at the age and training of respondents thus far.

Of 270 valid responses to the question about year of birth, the average age is slightly over 34 years old, with the youngest respondent being 14 and the oldest being 63.

I also asked people what year they started their career in comics (i.e., what year a piece of comic art they contributed to was first made available for public consumption). The average career length as of this week is a little over nine and a half years.

I was particularly interested to learn about training in comics. Recent years have seen a virtually exponential increase in the number of art schools offering training in comics, and  programs like New York's School of Visual Arts, the Savannah College of Art and Design, and the Kubert School have become quite well established. What impact is this having on the creative workforce in comics?

Nearly 75% of survey respondents report having an education at the bachelor's degree level or higher. Compared with the general population, this is an extremely well educated group of people. But, while 81% of respondents say they have at some point received education or training that is relevant to their creative occupation in comics (e.g., creative writing or art classes), only 40% say their education included content specifically related to making comics.

So, despite the massive growth in programs where you can gain a certificate or degree, over half of the creative workers surveyed are basically self-taught when it comes to skills specifically related to making comics. How much the skills learned in illustration, animation, or writing programs (among others) transfer over to cartooning, layout, and so on is an open question. Meanwhile, a majority of respondents say they have never received any on-the-job training (81%) or even any on-going mentorship from other creators (60%).

Again, this is only based on preliminary survey results. If this doesn't describe your own experience as a comics creator, please take the survey and share it with your colleagues and collaborators. The more people who complete it, the more confident we can be about our understanding of what it's like to make comics today,

☛ Brienza’s introduction to Comics and Cultural Work

The Work in Comics survey: Week 1 update