Thursday, October 18, 2018

Making Comics and Zines in Nashville!

I'm really excited to be able to offer a six week comic class aimed at anyone 18+ through Nashville Community Ed.  It's only $60 for all six classes, and each class is 6-9PM on Thursdays at the Cohn School.  Classes begin October 25th and continue until December 6th, taking a break Thanksgiving week.

I want to cover as much as I can during this class, so I've also created a lot of supplemental materials to help students who wish to use this class as an opportunity to learn or to practice drawing.  However, for students who aren't interested in art, zines are a perfect opportunity to create a book of family recipes, a collection of favorite poems, a selection of short stories, or to assemble scans of childrens' art with short blurbs.  At the end of our class, we're going to have a zine and mini comic exchange, and I'm going to take responsibility for getting everyone's comics and zines printed.

This class is my first long-term opportunity to teach adult students here in Nashville.  I've taught panels and workshops across the country, and taught elementary, middle, and college students while in Savannah, but this is the first chance I've had to teach my favorite subject-comics- to adults who wish to learn! For those interested in really diving into comics, or those who are already making comics, this class is a perfect opportunity to hone skills in a friendly environment, to get feedback from others who also love comics, and to learn some new skills!  I plan on covering story plotting and structure, script writing, character design, thumbnailing and perspective, basic human anatomy, inking with a brush, nib, or brush pen, and even lettering!  And since comics is such a deep topic, I have created loads of outside resources to help students who want to continue their studies outside of class.

I hold an MFA in comics from SCAD, have almost a decade of experience teaching comics in classes, workshops, panels, over Youtube, and through my blog, have made comics for over two decades, and have work in nearly a dozen anthologies.  I've self published the first volume of my watercolor comic, self distributed it, released it as a webcomic, and am working on finishing up the second volume for a Kickstarter release, and make new zines every year as part of my Inktober project.

I really hope to use this class as a springboard to help create the foundation for a coherent comic community here in Nashville- a group of folks who connect and can help one another grow and develop.

You can sign up through Nashville's NEC panel 

October 25th-December 6th
6:00PM-8:00PM on Thursdays

The Cohn School
4805 Park Ave, Nashville, TN 37209

$60 for all 6 classes, materials provided
End with a zine/minicomic exchange

My class begins next week, and I've been participating in Inktober despite a particularly busy schedule because I want to use the resulting illustrations as part of my zine demonstrations.  I'm both excited and a bit nervous- the class materials list has been submitted, the supplies have been ordered, and I've tried to promote the class at a variety of Nashville events to generate interest.

It seems like there'll be a decent turnout- not quite the full class I hoped for and feared, but not entirely empty either.  As of writing this, there are seven empty seats in a class that maxes out at 25 students.  I've taught before, but this feels different- not just in scope (I'm entirely responsible for six weeks of content, and responsible for making sure my students 'graduate' satisfied with the course), but in the fact that several of my students have already expressed concern about the drawing portions.  While no one will be required to draw, and I fully intend to bring in zines that feature not only a wide array of art from various skill levels, but also zines that cover a variety of topics, I hope those students will cool sharing time and space with my students who wish to learn comic craft.

I'm going to be learning a lot this semester- in many ways, teaching kids, teens, and undergrads is a bit easier, as so many of them carry an unfailing self confidence, a slight bit of hubris that makes them eager to try new things.  Many adults have lost that, and while I'm excellent at encouraging people one on one, I'm not sure I'll be as effective delivering those same lines to an entire class.  Hopefully I'll learn some new tricks.

I'm sharing this because originally, this blog was formed to not only teach, but to share experiences.  To give others perspective, and allow them to benefit from my mistakes, missteps, and few and far between triumphs.  So while I want to appear confident, because in the end, I do know what I'm doing, I also want to be honest, and admit that of course there's a little doubt, a little anxiety, a lot of unknown.

One of the ways I deal with this anxiety is through offloading- removing as much pressure from myself during my teaching hours by creating as many tutorials as I can.  This means I don't have to hit the nail squarely on the head for every student during class time, it increases my opportunities for successfully conveying information.  It also means I can hopefully cover more information- teaching drawing skills takes A LOT of time, and should be a class unto itself, but hopefully I can provide that information, teach those skills to those who wish to learn, without putting undue pressure on those who do not or cannot.  This is a voluntary class, a class students take for fun, and I want them to enjoy it.

I'm grateful for this opportunity.  Nashville hasn't been fallow ground for me- there's interest from the public, but little from institutions.  What interest there is is generally in the form of unpaid, uncompensated work, and when I've mentioned payment, most ghost fast.  I understand that budgets are tight, but most employers hiring visual artists aren't interested in the volunteer work you've done, they're interested in the PAID work you've done, and I've given plenty away for free over the years.  Nashville Community Ed is willing to split the student fee with me-$30 per student- which will allow me to purchase additional materials we may need, and possibly even cover paying Chris, my editor, to edit the additional video.  It isn't much, but it's enough to say I worked for Nashville Community Ed and was paid for my time.

If you're interested in me sharing my teaching experiences here, please consider shooting me an email to encourage me to do so!  My comments section is broken, so unfortunately I can't see comments sent to me.   By sharing my teaching experiences, I don't mean the materials- I do plan on recording and sharing the intro portions of my classes, for those of you who would like to take the class, but don't live in the Nashville area. When I say sharing my experiences, I mean sharing what I've actually learned while teaching, and advice for other artists interested in teaching.

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