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Why I procrastinate, when I could be making comics.

Why I procrastinate, when I could be making comics.

 

Alright then,

Why do I procrastinate? Easy, I don’t think I’ll get what I want out of attempting the goals I’m trying to achieve. So, I wait til the last minute when the pain of doing is outweighed by the agony of the self-doubt I must endure while getting my task done. Yep.

 

Easy to understand, harder to overcome.

I also procrastinate because when I don’t have the desired results I can always blame it on not having enough time. Versus, the very real damage that would occur to my ego if I gave myself enough time, and was still unable to produce the quality of work I wish to create.

Like I said, easy. Much harder to explain this to myself when it’s time to start staring at the blank page. Doubly so now that I’ve taken on writing as well. Now, two blank pages want to stare back at me accusingly. Fun.

Well, crap. How to carry on? Well, I haven’t been lately. This post should have been published a month ago, and I’m like 5 years behind on my other self imposed deadlines. Which leads me to think it’s time for a huge change.

 

Where do we go from here?

Well, I’ve started with getting real deadlines. The kind imposed by the world, since I know my standards are a bit-um, lax. 

I wish I was wired differently, and I’m working on it. Until then, I’m going to apply the formula that helped me get to my first BCAF. That formula being engagement with other writers and artists in the comics community, and signing up for shows/cons.

Both come together to create public pressure, and very real deadlines. And without that since of urgency I have no hope of making my art goals happen. 

 

So, this is how I’m moving forward.

I made a google document of all the small conventions happening in Northern California which I could get to by car, and take another artist along. This has gone a long way to re-energize me, that’s the first part of the formula.

For the rest, I’m to posting this for the public pressure. And my next post will be about getting ready for Clexacon in Las Vegas. Feel free to email, or leave a comment here, and ask me how’s my progress on my print series Fat Faeries. Thanks for helping me move towards this one. See you there!

My First Official Comic Convention.(BCAF 2018)

My First Official Comic Convention.(BCAF 2018)

So, let’s jump in,

The Black Comix and Art Festival: My first Con after making my own comic. I learned so much from this experience and sold 39 0f 50 comics, which was great! I met a lot of artists and writers who inspired me to move forward on my goal of making comics and art.

(Which I promptly didn’t follow through on but more on that later.) My biggest takeaways were:

Have your elevator pitch ready and well versed.

After losing about five sells to stuttering, uncomfortable pauses and merely throwing in a vague synopsis about the weird west. I came to an immediate realization this was my sales pitch was broken.

So, I tried out a few variations on a neighboring fellow art person at the Con. I bounced a few sales pitches to them before I finally settled on the one that rolled off my tongue the quickest. And it seemed to resonate most with people who came by my table. (Customers have very little time and even shorter attention spans when they’re walking around a Convention.) Being able to present your product in way that quickly relates the concept to the customer saves the time of both parties and yields more sales. I wished I had prepared better for speaking with customers. This was definitely my biggest lesson learned.

Table with a fellow artist.

I tabled with another artist for my first BCAF. Although they were only there part of the time, it was still helpful. Since they had a comic in a separate genre than mine, I was able to pitch my own story customers who had wandered over because of their interest in the other artist’s book. I also had my son, Bob, at the table when I was away. (Heck, according to Bob, he even sold more than I did.) I was able to take bathroom breaks with the confidence that I wasn’t missing any sales and I had the opportunity to look at other artist’s tables.

Go and look at the tables of other artists while you’re at a Con.

Look to see who’s killing it in sales, or who has the nicest or most inviting displays. Take a picture of the most captivating table.

(With permission of course.)

If you see an artist with time on their hands -head over and talk to them! Not only will you find out about other events to sell your art, you might be able to find out other useful information like where to find supplies, printers, and other necessities. Just be sure not to interrupt your fellow artists during sales or chats with customers. Truthfully, you don’t have to wait until you’re tabling and trying to sell your own comic. Try and find time to talk to artists when you attend any event in your related niche. Most folks are pretty helpful with advice.

Go to the mixer/after party.

I went to the mixer the night before, and it was really great to meet other artists and writers. Some of them were pretty successful in their careers. And it gave me an opportunity to talk to professionals in a more relaxed atmosphere. Everyone there was either interested in starting- or in the midst of professionally creating comics and art. To know its possible for regular person like me to make it in this industry was really powerful. Knowing this filled me with a sense of purpose and a greater appreciation for the craft of making comics. The day of the event was so hectic, it was great to meet the artists before the Con.

Be professional!

(I must admit I didn’t quite nail this aspect of my first ‘professional’ con.)

If you’re like me and a huge fan of comics, it’s a difficult yet incredibly crucial step to transition from fan to professional. I’m pretty sarcastic and ironically hammy in my day to day. Unfortunately, I presented a bit too much of that side of my personality. It’s fine a trait, and is perfect to exude as a Con goer, but it’s quite unbecoming as a professional.  (I’m not saying I shouldn’t of been myself, but I definitely could’ve been more confident and less fanboyish towards, well… everything.) The people around you at a Con are not just artists, they could potentially be future collaborators. So always present your best, most professional self.

One last thing, I have a natural talent for putting my own art down. I wish I had not asked for so much critique from other artists. Women tend to needlessly apologize for being present. I found myself doing this, and resolved never to do that again. So, remember if you show up, you’re good enough to be there. Period.

All in all, I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be and stumbled quite a bit but I can’t wait for next year! I’m definitely going to go  back with a few more comics and a lot more knowledge.

 

How I got into the right mindset to start a comic.

How I got into the right mindset to start a comic.

First the ephemeral,

I decided to finally set out and create that comic I said I wanted to make. All things considered, it’s the only thing I regret not doing. Well that, and not owning a Maserati.

Anyway, I feel good about starting the comics creator journey. The writing of the comic has been not too difficult. (I’m not a writer and can happily allow myself the mistakes I must make.) But with the art on the other hand, I’m terrified. 

I’ve quickly realized my self image is cocooned around being an artist, and I find it hard to allow myself the room I need to fail. So, I had to come up with some ways I could break through my fears. Here the are a couple of the ideas that have helped my mindset change a bit.

Now the practicalish,

Leaving room to fail along the way will help to keep you going.

Somewhere along the path of becoming an “artist”, I ended up losing my aspirations. What I’ve come up with to remedy this is to go back to calling myself “an aspiring artist” in my head. This way my small and even big failures feel okay.

Screwed up that line? It’s okay, I’m still learning. Didn’t quite nail that perspective? No prob, I’ll get better the more times I attempt it.

The official name for this way of framing a problem is called a growth mindset. It’s the type of thinking that allows you to move through your mistakes, without having your ego take too many crit threats. Which is kind of a god’s send for folks like me who already have a thin skin.

Quiet that critic!

I’ve worked as an artist for a while. Though I’m not new to art, I’m a new comic artist. That simple mental shift has allowed me to quiet the critic that has always been so present, and all too vocal in my art life. (I have also taken to telling myself this is the first time I’ve been 34. As I’m only partway into this birthday mistakes are bound to happen.) Not allowing my inner critic to over rule my creativity before I put pencil to tablet hehe, digital has been a breathe of fresh air. I recommend using this mindset or experimenting with other ways to drown out any inner, or outer critics for your own creative sanity.

Any progress is good progress.

Look, I wish I could tell you this grand story about how I got up on my horse and prolifically created like 10 comic books from my new found reasoning. But, realistically, after I came to all these grand realizations, and I got a whopping five of sixty pages done. Yep. Cinco. I hear you tittering out there, and I don’t appreciate you for it.

Though it’s not much, it is how far I’ve come. Considering the fact I’ve never drawn much past a single page sketch for a comic before this. I’m pretty darn happy about it. While I’m not quite prolific yet, I am on my way, yay me and that’s the most important part.

And lastly,

Framing is everything!

Instead of being bummed that I’ve only got five pages done of my comic, I just decided that’s all I need to begin. And I started a new comics line called Hella Novella Comics.com Where you can get my stories in 5-8 pages per month. Now, off to the Black Comix and Art Festival (BCAF 2018) with me. Next time, I’ll tel you how it went! Bye..

Sketch Smith

About The Artist

Sketch Smith is a artist living in San Francisco, California. Read More.

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