Coming into Flagstaff at night was the scariest driving. Hail fell so thickly i couldn't see the lane lines, and then it started to rain really hard, and then it started to snow really hard, and i was driving on snow, and I'm from CA so i'm a big wuss about driving on snow. I'm getting better at that as a result of driving in Minneapolis in the winter. There's basically snow everywhere, and driving on it is ok.
You are an artist. Make art, put on shows, and publicize yourself to win friends, make connections, and someday rise to that barely dreamt-of height;
make a living at art.
The following is a task list for each level, somewhat customized to me. Customize it to yourself.
Lvl 1: Who? Make 15 pieces of art. Have a show at a coffee shop or other place of business. Hang out at galleries and make friends with people in the art community. Repeat until level 2 tasks are possible.
Lvl 2: Oh i think i heard something about you... Make 30 additional pieces of art. Set up an Etsy with something on it. Have a show (group or solo) at an art-specific space. If your art is up for longer than a month, update it monthly. Make it look nice. Make art for and attend TBT. Make a website for your comics. Reprint SJzine and get copies to the people who said they wanted one. Get the tree piece to Angeline. Teach art classes.
Lvl 3: Local artist Make your Etsy full of objects and easy to maneuver. Attend SFZF and make 2 new friends. Table at APE. Bring all your zines and prints and small pieces. Do free sketches. Be proactive. Make back your stand fee. Start the new comic and update it regularly. Look for art teaching opportunities. Apply to two of them. Promote your website or Etsy 2 ways. Keep your website updated with shows and news. Volunteer or find work using art in the community.
Lvl 4: Kind of a big deal i will let you know when i get there.
You know what helps you get better at something? Doing it a bunch. I was inspired by Elle Skinner's biographical comix (http://elle.mysky.net) and, of course, DAR and American Elf and... but Elle Skinner was the final straw. So i'mma do two strips a week about stuff that happens to me. It's like push-ups for your pacing and composition muscles. I'm aiming to spend about 30 min. on each strip, so enjoy the art. Also, to avoid inappropriately personal content, each strip will be based on a haiku. If you can make a haiku out of it, it's not inappropriate.
Plaintive cries- I was socializing kittens. My cat pooped in the sink.
I was working on Circus Season, and i learned a valuable lesson about pacing.
First, some background. Circus Season was supposed to be a little quick over-the-summer project. A group of us, Lauren Andrews, Jamaica Dyer, Aidan Casserly and myself among them, agreed to do a little comic on the theme "burlesque apocalypse" and then release them all together as a zine. I don't know what became of anyone else's project, but me, i did 6 pages and then didn't touch it for 2 years. I wanted to come back and finish it, both because i thought it would be a relatively quick way to get good comix experience and because i just need to finish things, goddammit. So now i'm doing 3 pages a week and i'm learning a lot. Nothing like doing something to help you learn how to do something.
For instance, i learned that you don't really want more than 3 rows of panels in a single page, unless you're using Infinite Canvas or you've got a really good reason. As the plot thickened, i noticed that i was putting more rows of panels in each page to speed up the action and create tension. By page 13 it was really getting out of hand. Here's my initial page layout:
It doesn't read clearly, it's hard to see what's happening in those little tiny drawings, and the eye just skims over sections. Instead of creating fast, tense action, it creates confusing opacity. I thought i could just ignore it and vow never to do that again, but it bothered me more and more as i inked it. So i broke it up into two pages. Here's the final layout:
It's much easier to tell what's happening, especially in the long shots. Take two lessons from this: 1. Don't go row crazy! Think real hard about how your panels read, and whether you've given them the space they need to shine. 2. When you know something is dumb, fix it. If you spend 4 hours inking it and then finally give in and redo the page, you're out 4 hours and a good sheet of paper.