Hello, everyone! We’re quickly approaching the end of August, and nearing the end of chapter 1 of my comic! I’m working like a crazy person on chapter 2, and I thought I’d share a brief look into how I ink a page. Enjoy!
Where did July go?? It’s been a crazy summer so far, but I’ve really been enjoying myself and getting tons of work done! In this video I’ll share what I’ve been up to, and a brief tour of my workspace!
I had a surreal moment this week: I scheduled all of the pages for chapter 1 of my comic*. All of the pages. They are drawn, inked, edited, lettered, and scheduled. There is no more work for me to do on chapter 1.
I’ve been working on this comic for years. Originally, it was in short story format, and then novel, and now as a graphic novel. Even as a comic, there are have been many rounds of drawing and re-drawing, and constantly second guessing myself. The courage to “do and let be” is something that I struggle with. I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, so much as a “finish-phobe.”
A new video! This one with no drawing or painting… just talking!
Give it a thumbs-up and subscribe if you wanna see more!
Well I did it! I finally produced a new YouTube video! I felt that an appropriate topic would be fear of failure… since that’s the main reason I haven’t produced a video till now! Please check out the video, and leave a comment with any suggestions for improvements or future topics!
These first 5 are day-to-day practices that I want to implement/get better at.
- Warm ups – I typically don’t do warm-up sketches or writing, but over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to do better… and it really works. My brain starts working, my hands start moving, and everything falls into an effective flow. Generally, I wait until I know exactly what I want to draw and then start. But that’s really hugely ineffective, not to mention stressful if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas.
- Studies – This goes for writing and drawing, I think. Trying to “render” (in pictures or words) something that really exists is great practice, but once again, I usually just sit around waiting for my muse to speak. (Muses don’t exist, btw. Sorry for bursting any bubbles.)
- Regular Work Sessions (and actually observe them) – Setting a regular time to write and draw helps your brain know when it’s time to get into a productive mode. Proof of this is when you wake up and know the difference between a day when you have to go to work/school, and a day when you have nothing to do. Your brain and your body act differently. With writing and drawing, it’s super helpful to give yourself some supportive structure for directing your process.
- Consider Audience – This is a big one and it means a lot of things… but for the most part, I forget about audience when I write and draw. It’s not so much a demographic that I’m concerned with, but am I giving my audience a story? Am I giving them something to remember? I always enjoy creating, but are other people going to understand why? Giving my audience enough narrative is really hard, but I think it’s really important.
- Be A Business Person – Freelancing is super awesome, if it works, but it only works if you make it work. Learning a bit about marketing and business-ing is HUGE, and a great deal of it can be done for free online. What blogs/comics are successful? Which ones have lots of interaction? What kind of Facebook posts get lots of attention? This may not be the fun part, but it’s important and it can potentially allow you to make more moneyz from the “fun part.”
These second 5 are attitude/emotional states I want to keep in mind.
- Love What You Do (No Matter What) – I was a cashier for a few years, and I know it’s hard to be passionate about something that isn’t in-sync with what you want to do with your life. But I think it’s important to develop an attitude of wanting to do things well, no matter what. Even if you love writing and drawing in general, there will always be days when you don’t love it. During that time, it’s important to want to do it properly. Whether you’re a cashier, a dishwasher, a janitor, a waitress, whatever: teach yourself to be passionate about a job well done, instead of just waiting for the ideal job to make you happy.
- Learn to CONSTRUCTIVELY Criticize Yourself – As a creative, I’m generally pretty hard on myself. It’s easy to point out my own mistakes and failings, and it’s easy to believe that everyone else is better. But that attitude can be turned into something positive, if I make it constructive. Looking at the work of others in an active way, really analyzing the work, I can learn about how and why those other artists are successful, and those skills can be implemented in my own work
- Be Your Own Advocate – Your family and friends will probably tell people you’re a great artist, when what they might really mean is that they love you and you happen to do art. But there is no one better than yourself for advocating your work. You’re the sole representative of your ideas, and it’s up to you to give them the presentation they deserve. Don’t treat your art based on how much other people love it: treat your art based on how much you love it.
- Immerse Yourself in Your Craft – This has been my biggest change over the last few months. I was generally a casual reader of comics until recently. Now I make it part of my schedule. Now I buy hardcopies, not just digital. I write down the names of writers and artists I like. I look them up later. Really immersing yourself in your art means just that: finding related material that will enhance your internal library.
- Find Your Watson (Since Muses Don’t Exist) – If you’re a writer or artist, you’re probably a bit crazy, and every crazy person needs a sane person who will be honest and kind at the same time. You’re Sherlock, and you need a Watson. The best part about Watsons is that they take the place of the non-existent muse. Watsons tell you (gently but firmly) that you need to work. They encourage you to do your best, and they call you out when you slack. They help identify good ideas from bad. Watsons also defend your reputation, no matter how dicey it may be, so that’s nice.
What are some good habits/practices you’d like to share?
I’ve been thinking a lot about style lately, wondering what “style” even is. How do you find your own “style”? How do you deliberately cultivate it, when it’s something that’s supposed to grow naturally? In other words, how to make something happen without making it do something it shouldn’t? As an artist, I know Renoir had a specific style, and it’s why he’s one of my favorite artists. It’s his style.
But how do I find my style? I want style!
Google defines style as “A manner of doing something” and “a distinctive appearance.” For me, style has another meaning: a visual accent. Style is the way an artist/writer pronounces their ideas on a page. Think of the word “either.” Some people say “ee-thur” and some say “eye-thur.” That’s their verbal style. Painting and drawing are unique languages for the eyes, symbolic and metaphorical. Style is the way we “say” pictures.
I mentioned Renoir as my favorite artist. His style is soft, impressionistic, but still precise and easily readable. Looking at his work is like listening to Norah Jones sing “Sunrise”… smooth, soft, but easy to understand. And decidedly conducive to coffee drinking. Performers have to learn a lot to become proficient in singing, but how they sing is influenced by how they speak; and that’s not something you consciously learn or control. You speak the way you hear.
Honest, true, raw style is essentially the same thing: you draw the way you see. In my case, I’ve spent a long time trying to “decide” on my style, as if it’s something on a store shelf. I knew I wanted to draw comics, and I happen to like Wonder Woman, so I figured that was THE style to have. Straight up DC style. But quite honestly, that’s not my style. I learned how to paint traditionally, and I’ve always (ALWAYS) preferred artists of the Baroque and Impressionism periods (drama and fuzziness.) So it stands to reason that, left to my own devices, that’s how I would draw. It’s not how I used to think I should draw, but I’m starting to realize how much stress and tension goes on when you’re trying really hard to suppress your natural style.
It’s like trying to use a fake accent for a whole week. You have to think (hard) about everything you say (“Eethur? Eyethur?”), and you focus more on the sound than the actual word. In art, it’s focusing more on the individual marks you’re making, instead of the overall visual narrative you want to make. If/when you just draw, and you don’t care about the “how”, you’ll give your natural style a chance to flourish.
It’s also a lot like meeting yourself for the first time, artistically speaking. A little bit meta. Whatever that means.
But seriouzly, Renoir.
Author’s Note: As my Life Writing class comes to a close in a week or so, I’m going to be taking this blog in a slightly new direction. This new direction is largely inspired by what I wrote about in this post, and I’m super excited about it! How do y’all feel about style?