As far as the dude goes, he’s secondary. A closed door is always secondary to the prayer you say in front of it. Go back to your prayer instead. Ask what’s in your prayer. What did you want from this closed door? What did you imagine behind it? All of the beauty and light and fun and passion that you are imagining lives inside your cells already. You are a creative force in this world and you can make art using this lonely, intense feeling you get from your prayer.
This week I’m thrilled to announce the release of my latest podcast episode with writing coach Deb Norton, a long-time friend and extraordinary creative resource.
I’ve known Deb since I was 13. She brought me into my first writer’s group and taught me so much about working with my inner critic in the company of other dedicated creators. She was a huge inspiration for the 100 Demon Dialogues project, so I’ve been itching to talk with her for a while. We ended up recording an hour-long conversation about creative resistance, grit, risk-tolerance, accountability, limitations, shame, self-knowledge, protection, NaNoWriMo, recovery, process, and so much more. You can listen to the audio through SoundCloud, or watch the video if you’d rather see us wave our arms while we put everything to rights.
As a fun bonus exercise, we decided to collaborate on a series of seven prompts that will help you get to know your own Inner Critic a little better. The rules are simple: set a timer for 6 minutes and let your demon do the talking. It always wants your attention anyway, so give it the floor and see what happens.You can write lies, you can write truths. Just make a mess.
A new prompt will go up at 9am PST every day this week. You can find them on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Patreon, Facebook or via this blog. (Gracious, that’s a lot of social media. Something for everyone, I guess!)
Thanks for reading, and good luck with the prompt! I look forward to hearing what comes up for you all.
Hi friends, I am very excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at Creative Mornings this Friday (October 6th) at 8:30am at the Armory Theater here in Portland.
Creative Mornings is a free monthly lecture series where speakers appear on stages all over the world to deliver thoughts on a communal theme—all before 10am on a Friday. This month’s prompt is PIONEER, and I’ve crafted a talk all about belonging, childhood passions, and curiosity that I am super stoked to reveal.
I’m also hand-drawing all my slides, which has led to working on things like this all week:
WHAT IS THIS PERSON DOING WITH THAT FIRE EXTINGUISHER AND ALSO THAT BABY? Come to The Armory on Friday to find out.
Seats are free, and the CM Team provide donuts and coffee to get you pepped up in the early hours. All you need to do is reserve a spot through this website. I look forward to seeing you there!
I have new video up from my time at The Animation Workshop in Denmark, where I was teaching a class on webcomics and social media earlier this month. (This is the first time I’ve had video footage of my public speaking—thanks, Sam!—which is really exciting.) If you’re a person who makes things on the Internet, or a person who wants to make things on the Internet, or a cartoonist, or a budding creator—this probably has some utility for you.
Things I cover:
How I ended up doing what I’m doing now (full-time adventure-cartoonist-ing, most days)
How social media has enabled me to succeed in crowdfunding, freelancing, and basically everything else
What sailing has in common with being an artist (it’s more than you think)
Communities and gratitude economies and how they shape our work
My unified very vague theory of How the Internet Makes Us Better People
What you can gain by giving your work away for free
I had so much fun teaching at TAW, and I hope this talk distills some of the stuff we were exploring and discussing over the course of my two weeks there. If you enjoyed it and want to see/enable more, feel free to check out my Patreon page! I post a ton of behind-the-scenes, nitty gritty, creative-in-the-trenches stuff there every single week, and I’d love to have you on board.
If you like spaceships, comics, radio drama, and the practice of making things, let me recommend a really fun podcast! The Galaxy of Super Adventure is part one part galactic adventure saga, two parts creative advice round-table. It’s run by my comics pals Ben Hatke, Zack Giallongo, and Jerzy Drozd, and this week’s episode (all about FEAR) features a guest appearance by yours truly!
I play Bold Space Adventurer and Sensitive Artist Lucy Bellwood, crashing in for a talk about artistic anxiety and self-doubt with the help of my sentient French mustache sidekick, Polly (pictured above).
The whole series is a hoot, and I highly recommend listening to it from the start, but if you just want to jump in for this episode, check it out here. Enjoy!
Hi gang! First off: big thanks to all of you who came out last month to say hello at Emerald City Comicon. It was incredibly cool to see so many familiar faces and get comics into returning hands. I promise I’ll keep cranking ’em out so you’ll have more to enjoy in 2015.
Now: I have a whole bundle of audiovisual treats for you today, taken from various panels and speaking gigs I’ve done in the past few weeks.
First up is It’s Not Too Dangerous to Go Alone, a great panel run by Kenna Conklin of Geek Portland on having the guts to make your creative career happen. I got to speak alongside Erika Moen, Dylan Meconis, and Angela Webber, which was a treat in and of itself, but I also feel like we hit some great points about motivation and starting from scratch.
Second is Erika’s Freelance Like a Rockstar panel, with Steve Lieber, Dylan Meconis, and Amy Falcone. (I nabbed this recording on my phone, so the quality is a little less spectacular, but you can still hear everyone!) We discuss all the juicy freelancer topics like finding jobs, self promotion, pricing strategies, and *gulp* contracts. Valuable fun for the whole freelance family.
Finally, I got to participate in a panel on Setting Realistic Goals as part of the MakingComics.com Massive Open Online Course last week. I really enjoyed getting to digitally discuss project management, scheduling, and work/life balance with Jared Cullum, Jen Vaughn, Damon Gentry, Eric Shanower, Christina Blanch, and Patrick Yurik. Plus this one has video so you can see all our weird facial expressions while we talk.
Phew. That’s all from me for now — I hope these discussions are useful to you all!
Yes! It’s here! Convention season! Madness! Excitement! Comics! Emerald City Comicon, the Pacific Northwest’s biggest comics event, is THIS WEEKEND and I want YOU to come out and say hello. The show runs all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Washington State Convention Center. Hours are 10-7 Friday and Saturday, and 10-5 Sunday. Also: event tickets are sold out! So I guess this is really a post for those of you who are already planning to be there. You can find me tabling with a slew of folks from Periscope Studio at Table Island 1214 (see the ginormo map at left) with my shiny new swallow postcards, a brand new issue of Cartozia Tales (#3! At last!), print editions of Grand Adventure, the full suite of Baggywrinkles comics, and many other goodies. I’ll also be on two (yes, TWO!) panels: On Saturday: It’s NOT Too Dangerous To Go Alone: Finding the courage to do it yourself “How long have you been thinking about starting that comic, game, or band? Feel scared? Join the club! Just don’t let it stop you. Learn how navigate through self-doubt, motivational issues & lack of know-how on your way to victory!” With Erika Moen, Dylan Meconis, Angela Webber, and Kenna Conklin Room: HALL C (610) Time: 11:20AM – 12:10PM And on Sunday: Freelance Like a Rock Star “Do you fantasize about being self-employed but you just don’t even know where to start? Shh, shh, little friend, no more tears – this group of seasoned pros is here to share their hard-won knowledge with you so you can freelance like a rock star, too.” With Matt Bors, Erika Moen, Steve Lieber, and Dylan Meconis Room: 2B Time: 4:00PM – 4:50PM See you in Seattle, friends!
I don’t often use this blog for soapboxing about artistic issues, but this comic deserves a bit of an introduction. It’s part of a short conversation I had with my mother (a freelance writer and former cartoonist) a few months ago while working on an illustration job. I’m proud of how far I’ve come in the past year in terms of understanding my financial worth and being unafraid to charge money for what I do, but moments like this still leave me a trembling, anxious wreck. Money and creativity have a fraught relationship at the best of times, and somehow financial matters always manage to cut to the heart of many people’s insecurities. We often believe we’re worthless. That we’re frauds. That someone will come forward one of these days and expose us. It’s only a matter of time. Taking risks and charging a fair price for the services we offer opens us up for the ultimate confirmation of these fears. If someone refuses our price, we are indeed worthless.
Of course, this is a load of bullshit.
Charging people money for something you love doing shouldn’t be difficult, yet somehow it’s one of the greatest challenges facing new artists in the field. We’re steeped in mixed messages telling us that creativity is simultaneously priceless and worthless. “How hard can it be?” people ask, turning around in the same breath to babble about “talent” and “genius”. The attitude I encounter most often involves folks looking wistfully over my shoulder and saying “Oh, I could never do that” — as if drawing is some God-given jar of pixie dust rather than a craft honed over hundreds and thousands of hours. Conversely, onlookers or employers can be astounded at the amount of time and effort that goes into a job — “Surely it doesn’t take that long!” “But that’s so much work!”
How can we create a system where artists don’t have to overcome so many conflicting viewpoints simply in order to get paid for their work? Of course, a great deal rests on having the confidence to realize that self-worth and artistic worth are separate entities. Often it just takes guts to be calm and up-front about asking for your price. By being professional about our financial requirements, we set a precedent for other artists in the field. But it can be hard to know where to start. It’s a lesson I learn and re-learn every time I take on a new job or decide to increase my fees in relation to the amount of experience I’ve gained since starting out as a freelancer.
This is an awful lot of gabble for such a quick comic, but it’s an issue that’s really important to me, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts. If anyone wants to read more, I’ve included some helpful links to other essays on the subject at the bottom of this post.