Sunday, August 28, 2011

Keep on Truckin, my fellow Nattosoups

Growing up, I liked to dabble.  I had dozens of hobbies, plenty of interests.  I couldn't read just one book at a time, I had to read six.  I sewed four different projects at one time, wrote three different stories, I had to have my finger in several different pots.  I had trouble focusing, but that was fine, because I was exploring. 

The problem was, I didn't really stick with anything long enough to become good at it.  It was just for fun, so when the project was over, my interest waned.  I played several different instruments, but didnt care enough about ANY of them to become really good.  I had trouble applying myself, but could coast because I was intelligent. 

This is fine when you're a highschool kid.  It's awful when you're an adult.

As an adult, when something doesnt pan out right away, you have to make a decision.  Do you want to keep at it, either as a hobby or professionally, or is it time to throw in the towel and pick something safer?  Comics isn't the sort of industry where you get rich quick, heck, it isnt the sort of industry where you get rich at all.  I think most of us go into the field knowing this.  When I decided to apply to SCAD, I knew there was a fair chance that it'd be a losing gamble, that I'd end up teaching art in my podunk hometown, and that my fancy dancy art school edumacation would be wasted on kids who'd rather play cards than learn the ins and outs of the human figure.  It was a gamble I had to take.

As with anything in art, sometimes you have to take risks that make you gasp.  Sometimes you have to step out onto that tightwire knowing there isnt a net to catch you.  SCAD was such a step for me, and I've been pushing myself to keep walking, no matter how I wobble.  My art isn't the most popular in the class, I don't get the accolades my classmates get, but I keep pushing because I WANT IT.  I go to cons where I lose money, where my face hurts from smiling so much when I want to cry, and I spend late nights working because I refuse to give up.  I will not go down. 

Sometimes it feels like it's never going to get better.  I feel like I'll just keep wasting my money, my time, my youth chasing after a dream that isnt meant to be.  And then I'll realize there's an avenue I haven't tried.  And I feel hope.

You won't get anywhere if you give up too early.  You won't improve, you wont impress anyone, no one will admire your spirit if you just lay down and die.  I can't respect myself if I don't chase my dream.  I've had to earn every real human who follows me on Twitter through countless sketch posts, constantly talking about art and comics and process, chatting and supporting other artists.  I feel real satisfaction when someone I respect follows me back, and gratitude when someone I've yet to discover follows me first.  I try to show this when I prepare my Follow Friday recommendations.  I realized I could use my blog as a tool to help others as well as myself, so I've become more concientious about how I present my work.  It is no longer a 'LOOK AT ME!' but rather "This is how I did it, this is why it's important, this is what I use'. 

Write the blog you'd want to read.  Create the art you would enjoy.  Hold yourself to your own standards and stop comparing yourself to others.  Start that sketchblog NOW, keep a record of your work, solicite critiques, offer your help.  Think outside of comics.  Don't just add your friends on Twitter, seek out likeminded strangers and BOND.  Reach out and help people as much as you can.  Don't just make friends with people you can use, befriend people who need you and who you can respect.  Strive to be generous, but not a fool.

My goal now is to reach out and connect with other bloggers.  I'm naturally pretty shy, especially if I can't see the other person's reaction, so I have no idea how I come across on the internet.    I'm so horribly afraid of rejection that I've wasted valuable time that could have been spent making connections and friendships.  I have to get over that. 

I hope this isnt pretentious of me, but I'd geniuinely like to help you guys.  If you're interested in a critique, please let me know.  If there's a material I use that you'd like to know more about, ask me please.  If there's a technique I should cover but I've skipped over, tell me.  Let me be the big sister/mentor that I've always wanted to have.

So many artists act like it's easy.  They wear a brave face, smile, and demurely put you off when you ask how they're doing.  "Ohh fine," they'll smile, and wave you off.  It's not your business, you're just a customer, and nobody wants to admit that business is bad.  This facade makes life more discouraging for aspiring artists, because they don't yet know that your first few cons will probably be busts.  They assume that they're worthless right off the bat, and many of them just give up.  I want my blog to be different, even if it means admitting a few unflattering things.  If I can make things easier for someone starting out, then I've done my job as an educator, and my bad experiences were worth it.

Sorry to get personal with you guys, I've got some actual factual art posts in the works.  It's finals week for me, and I've got several things going at once, and no time to post about them really.  Week after next I have off, and I can't wait to share what I've been working on.