Passion over practicality

Senior and freelance artist Chris Tabares created the self-portrait  cartoon above for his social media platforms. 
His other works are published on Instagram @afganmoney.

photo by Chris Tabares

Senior and freelance artist Chris Tabares created the self-portrait cartoon above for his social media platforms. His other works are published on Instagram @afganmoney.

With the holiday season and visits by extended family, teens across the nation can expect a flood of interrogative questions. While most students are annoyed with having to answer “So what do you want to do with your life?” or “ Have you considered being a doctor?” some students dread their responses simply because their post-high school passions seem out of the ordinary. Having rejected the idea of the classic 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  work routine, these students aim to make their dream careers a reality despite the pressures. 

Senior Chris Tabares has been set on a cartooning career for as long as he can remember, however, pursuing professional cartooning comes with a unique set of drawbacks and pressures.

 “Art is kind of subjective, so you never really know when you’re good enough. Like, am I good enough to get into like, Nickelodeon Studios? I don’t know, so I just have to keep working at it,” Tabares said.

Despite consistent doubts from others, some students still encounter people who share their vision and encourage them to pursue careers that may be non-traditional.

             Tabares’ decision to pursue cartooning, while it was first met with disbelief, is now better supported by his surrounding friends and family. 

“Once I actually started making money off of my work, more people started seeing the potential,” said Tabares.

Acting as a freelance artist, Tabares operates primarily on Instagram and ranges his commission pricing by charging five dollars for a basic sketch, ten dollars for a lined and color bust and fifteen dollars for a full body illustration. Aside from the general costs, alternative pricing according to the level of complexity is also taken into account when accepting commissions.

“I found that by always having a fixed price [for everything] I would run into problems when customers wanted something that was [outside] the traditional price,” Tabares said. “My favorite commissions are the ones where I get to do caricatures of actual people and those usually run from $20 to $25 each depending on the amount of detail.”  

Supported or not, having a vision for the future is one thing and preparing to make advancements toward unusual future goals is another.  Students choosing to explore uncommon career paths occasionally find themselves preparing far in advance in order to be able to fully commit to their interests. 

Tabares made the decision last year to drop out of all art classes at Hagerty due to their primary focus on realistic techniques that went against his cartooning principles. Instead, Tabares focused on developing a brand for himself. 

“It’s all about connections and networking. I’m constantly talking with other storyboarders, following other storyboarders and just getting my work out there,” said Tabares. “Everything now is through social media.” 

Having spoken to Nickelodeon artists through Instagram, Tabares is devoted to advancing his current skills and web of connections to someday grasp a position at his studio of choice. 

“A good friend of mine actually currently does [story]boards for Spongebob,” said Tabares. “I’ve also spoken to people who’ve worked on projects like Ed, Edd and Eddie.”

Unusual or not, students who are passionately inclined toward a specific occupation post-high school have to work past public doubts and utilize their time to advance their skills in order to succeed. 

“I always tell people; do whatever you wanted to do as a kid. I wanted to draw cartoons and look at me now, I’m on the way and I couldn’t be more excited,” Tabares said.