March 28, 2010

Thinking out loud- The Do-better Conflict.

Over the last year I've surrounded myself with more and more artists that far surpass my own abilities, that I admire, that I want to learn from. Part of this comes in the form of simply watching them on Deviantart; constantly being subjected to their updates, their journals- it's very easy to be connected to an artist through that community- to be inspired. Twitter is another huge contributor, allowing me to share in not only an artists expression; but their own mind, thoughts and direct advice.

It has however caused something of a conflict-

As my own creative thoughts and processes become torn between two trains of thought.

One tells me what I should and shouldn't do, it's one that speaks from experience- one that reflects success and a wealth of practical skill. These are the people who are professionals, who are talented, who aren't talking about when they're GOING to be a success, they're talking about why they're already a success(and I should stress, with a few exceptions, they don't do so with an ego.) In a funny way, having all these rules of success put a real limit on creativity, these DOS AND DONTS making mistakes feel like they shouldn't ever be made and I'm really not sure that's good advice.

Ofcourse, before explaining the other side of the coin- I know that this 'assumption' of rules is just that, an assumption- while some artists do indeed come across as DO THIS and DONT DO THIS, it's really just advice; a guideline. Hey pal, if you want to succeed in this business? You gotta start doing more of this and fixing more of this and stop doing this.

The other train of thought is that of optimistic adventure- it's the train I've rode my whole life- the freedom to express myself however I see fit, it's the train that got me to the Felicity station. I've arrived where I am so far, as an artist, through my own self discovery and passion for what I love, I've gotten here through my own hard work and stupidly large amounts of dedication(much to the annoyance of many sociable friends I've lost in the process.)

The conflict therefore is the pressure to grow and get better, seeing more work from people beyond me- making me feel like I need to try harder. Rather than go at my own pace. This ofcourse, is no bad thing- it's the equivalent to me stepping on the gas, to evolve faster than I have so far. It is however a double edged sword as the feelings of frustration associated with it- cause distress at the non-standard I'm currently at.

One side of me wants to succeed; ofcourse! but another wants to tell stories and keep doing what I love. I guess if you want to be blunt about it you could say, do you wanna draw as a hobby or professionally? I'm not sure it's so black and white. We live in a day and age where anything can happen thanks to the internet- Scott Pilgrim is an easy-to-go-to example. But I'm not comparing my work to that, I'm not saying it has that potentional- I just know that I don't need to play by rules to succeed, do I?

I think all artists need to ask themselves why they spend so much time hunched infront of a computer. For me it's the same as it's always been, to express myself, to tell stories. When I was on the Sunnyside Podcast(A local comic-themed podcast)I was asked what my plan was for Felicity as a book, interms of printing and selling- interms of it outside of being just a story.
I was staggered by the question, I didn't know how to answer it because I honestly never thought as far as that- I never thought, hey- I can sell this story.

My lifestyle as now, holds barely a commitment, so it's easy for me to say 'Oh I draw for the expression man, not the money!' but I don't have endless bills to pay and a family to feed. When I get older and I gain the burdens of adult life heavier on each shoulder perhaps that spirit of expression will change. Or perhaps it never will, I'll just realize that if I want to keep drawing I need to focus on making it a success and not just a personal satisfaction.

To put it in context, I scrapped what I had done on Felicity Issue 3(about half of the issue)through the conflict caused by the pressure to do better. On one hand, I can't say that this is a bad move, obviously it's going to strengthen the comic as I come back at it with newer ideas for how I go about it. But at the same time- it's something that I fought hard with in order to get 1 and 2 done.

The feeling of 'IT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH YET, SCRAP IT' is what stops 99% of independent comic creators ever making a comic and I think I can say that with confidence. Sure, I hate Issue 1 and 2s art looking back now but the point is I got it done, so is the fact I stopped thinking that way for Issue 3, is that a bad road to go down?

I see improvements in my work and I feel like my return to Issue 3 will be stronger for it. I just still wonder is it right for creativity to be governed by 'rules of success' or should it be an animal, free to run wild until someone realizes it just needs to be tamed?