Worthy

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.

Phew!

Comic time.

Money

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Useful Links:

Jessica Hische: The Dark Art of Pricing

Katie Lane: Why You Should Raise Your Rates

Katie Lane: Be a Freelance Rock Star

Mike Monteiro: F*ck You, Pay Me

ROM, Periscope, & Comics Underground

Bad-ass Baggywrinkles reader Aaron Meyers recently asked me to do a commission of ROM the Spaceknight. Who was I to refuse? My apologies to Mr. Meyers, Mr. Gosling, and anyone whose childhood memories I have defaced by creating this thing.

In other news, the first print run of Baggywrinkles #3 is SOLD OUT! Gonna reprint that sucker ASAP, but expect a delay of a couple weeks as I sort out some print quality issues and juggle other comics work. Also: today was my first day hanging out at Periscope Studio, where I’ll be interning for the next three months alongside some of Portland’s finest comics folk. Words don’t really convey how excited I am to be in a place that looks like this:

Also: huge thanks to everyone who showed up at Comics Underground last night to hear Baggywrinkles #3 performed with a live cast and sound effects. It was such a treat to perform in front of all you nice people. Here’s a blurry picture of me being sassy about the Lady Washington (Thanks, Cory!):

That’s all for now! More art soon…

Melville & The Peking

I recently had the pleasure of doing some illustrations for my friend Justin Hocking, whose forthcoming memoir, The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld, will be released next September from Graywolf Press. Justin is the Executive Director of the Independent Publishing Resource Center, where I got my Certificate in Comics and Independent Publishing. If any of you Portland folk don’t already know about this fantastic resource, I highly encourage you to check it out. While the book goes through final revisions, Justin was kind enough to let me post these here on the blog for y’all to enjoy before they appear in print. So here’s some boaty goodness!

New Figures, Old Injuries

Somehow, I managed to re-injure myself after my neck trauma from a week or two ago, which meant a weekend of lying around on my back in a lot of pain again. I don’t like pain. I don’t like being inactive. So the minute I managed to get to the chiropractor and start healing, it was back to the drawing board. Fueled by the anxiety of not being able to draw for two days in the midst of a ton of deadlines, I’ve been churning through things like crazy. Sometimes I feel like it’s never enough, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, here’s some figure drawing.

For figure drawing this week, I picked up one of those Pentel pigment pens at the art store because I hadn’t had time to go home and get my regular supplies. I’m not going to lie, I really struggled this session. My figures felt lifeless and poorly planned, painting with the brush was tricky, I invariably used too much ink, I couldn’t get the essence of the model on the page. But I pushed on, and by the end of it I’d done two pieces I was actually quite proud of. I debated putting them up here in isolation, but I want to own up to the days when I’m just not feeling it, so here’s the whole bunch.

This is a pattern I experience time and time again (feeling like my work is rubbish, drawing anyway, getting through it, and arriving at a place of excitement and inspiration), and the more it happens, the more I can say “I know you think this horrible now, but just keep drawing.” It doesn’t make the despair of the earlier stages less horrible, but practice teaches me that it’s just a phase. Hopefully one day it’ll be gone altogether, but given that I hear about it from just about every artist I admire, I don’t have my hopes too high. And that’s okay.

Still Truckin’

Slogging ever onward through the deluge of orders. Custom prints wrapped up today, limited posters signed and numbered, offset print run in the works…it never ends! Just put in orders for t-shirts this morning as well, so if you’re excited to get some True Believer swag you’re in for a treat. To keep the blog active in the meantime, here’s the latest commission I churned out for a backer who happens to be both a doctor and violinist! What strange and wonderful times we live in.

Live Wire! Radio & Other Escapades

Busy times, everyone! I’ve got a recap of the last couple weeks (including the awesomeness that was VanCAF) up over on the Kickstarter blog, and since I’ll be bum deep in fulfilling rewards for the next lifetime I’m going to let that speak for itself for now.

In the meantime I’ve been buzzing around Portland getting my draw on — most recently with the excellent folks at Live Wire! Radio, who were kind enough to invite me over to live sketch one of their shows. For those of you unfamiliar with Live Wire!, they make audio-based delights to enrich the mind and tickle the fancy of any discerning radio listener. I strongly suggest you check them out. This particular taping featured rock star guests like Lizz Winstead, Ted Rall, Daniel H. Wilson, Mike Russell, Star Anna, and Kasey Anderson, as well as Faces For Radio Theater, the house team of actors and entertainers responsible for keeping things real on stage. And here, in all their messy glory from my much-the-worse-for-wear sketchbook, they are!

Sadly, this was the last show of the season, but I’m looking forward to more of these in September. Keep an eye out!

I’ll leave you all with a couple Vancouver-themed pages from my sketchbook…

Until next time!