Saturday, 1 January 2011
Happy New Year And Some Stuff I Learned About Cartooning And Illustration
The caveat of any advice oriented post being of course~always take the advice of another artist with a heaping grain of salt. We all found entry to publishing by different routes, part of the creative process is finding the door in and that door will likely be gone by the time you arrive so you should try and find, or make, your own door. I got into professional publishing by doing picture books with a smaller local publisher and I got into comics through the front door, by sending work to my favorite publisher. This won't work for everyone. Not because you're not amazing but there is a great element of chance in catching the eye of a publisher. In retrospect I would have used the contacts I had fostered through social media like Twiter and especially Facebook. I'm also only five years into professional publishing so I'm sure this list could be revised annually. So, first piece of advice:
Find Your Own Door Keep your eyes open for the route into publishing. It might be a webcomic, an art rep, an art editor at a convention, a friend of a friend, friends of your parents, anyone. Really. So keep aware and keep business cards on you at all times.
Invent Your Own Worlds Sometimes the speed of publishing is that of a bullet train but mostly it's the speed of cold molasses. This was a big shock for me and it came almost right away in an early childrens book for the education market. There will often be very long editorial pauses while you work on a project for someone else. Editors are very busy people and are usually working on several projects at once and it often takes time for them to answer your questions or give you the go ahead. This isn't true across the board but it's happened often enough that I've found myself not working and with no income more than I'd have liked. My solution to this is to continually create my own work, always having something on the go. Self generated work is incredibly satisfying and it will come in handy some day. My top Shelf comic Maddy Kettle got its start about four years ago during a very long pause during a picture book. I generate ideas through my sketchbook and writing down ideas on my iPod Touch. Just make sure your personal work doesn't cause you to miss deadlines.
Learn To Be Comfortable With Huge Echoey Silence There is no better time to develop horrible, creeping, existential self-doubt than when you are working alone on a drawing. Illustration and cartooning often involve long periods of isolation, struggling with something that belongs only to you. These are the times when I find myself questioning everything. This has become so familiar to me that I almost consider it an essential element, a part of the process. Just be prepared to keep working even though you feel deep down that you are the worst artist in the world. This might not be the case if you work in a studio with others or work in a team environment like at Pixar but it is my case which is all I can relate to. Twitter and Facebook can give you a momentary sense of a huge studio with other artists it doesn't really help. Only drawing helps.
Hit your Deadlines with Precision Sometimes, done is perfect.
"Throw your heart into the picture and then jump in after it " Howard Pyle