Why are we slower?About a month ago I finally got to meet an art hero of mine, Klaus Janson, a well known pro who's been in the industry for over 30 years. A mutual friend introduced us, and we hit it off right away. The group of us went through the Village hitting pub after pub, and soon I was drunk enough to ask Klaus something that had been bugging me.
I asked him if modern comic artists are, on average, slower than we used to be. He said yes, and I agreed.
From the Golden Age until the 80s, pencillers were generally expected to turn in at least two pages a day, while an inker was expected to turn in around 3-4. There were a handful of exceptions, I'm sure, but most of the artists could pump out pages like human printing presses. In the current comic industry, it's completely reversed: while a handful of artists can still hit this speed, the vast majority can't. Pencillers today struggle to produce a page-per-day, while inkers (those who still ink with ink) are hitting around 2.
So what happened? I'v
The Detrimental AweThanks for the ideas everyone! Here's the post many of you requested...The Detrimental Awe3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Here's a sample of responses I've heard from some editors over the years when I've raised practical business concerns regarding comic book publishing:
"No, we don't know exactly what books you'll be doing, but we're (insert name of big publisher) Comics, so sign exclusive with us and not (insert name of competing publisher who has titles ready for you)!"
"This is a (insert name of big writer) book! I know he's late, but just think of how many people would love to be in your shoes!"
"The page rate isn't good, but at least you'll be getting to work with (name of big superhero whom you're supposed to be a fan of)!"
"We won't fly you out or put you into a hotel, but you should come so you can sign at the booth for us! Who doesn't love signing autographs?"
What do these statements have in common? They're emotional arguments made to sidestep yo
5 Art Selling TipsWhile I used to see "art sales" simply as bonus money coming in on the side, over the past few years it's become enough of an asset that it justifies an art dealer, record keeping, insurance, and taxes at the end of each year. It's currently 25% of my total income, and that has a lot of impact over my work. And just like storytelling, design and page flow--abstract principles that keep my career afloat daily--art sales also deserve to be studied, theorized, and understood.5 Art Selling Tips2 years ago in Personal More Like This
These are guidelines, not rules. And while most of them usually work for me, they might not all work for you, so keep in mind that my market might be different than yours. Because not only do we not draw the same, we probably have different sorts of buyers.
1. Don't stay on a book for too long
I find that doing mini series of 4-12 issues is optimal for selling art. If you spend a year doing one-shots or 2-3 issue minis, you'll be hard for buyers to keep track of because it's too infrequent. And it's hard to make an i
5 Reasons to WriteI wrote a blog once that urged comic artists to try writing their own books. I held back a bit on what I said--Punk Rock Jesus hadn't come out yet, so I didn't feel like I had the proper authority to really speak up.5 Reasons to Write3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Since then, there's been a lot more discussion about the etiquette of publishers toward their freelancers, the recent rise of creator owned books, and the effects of Hollywood moving into comics (or vice versa). And as friend of mine at Newsarama pointed out recently, I'm one of a few guys who's found a middle ground--not only because I'm writing and drawing my own book, but because my OGN is partially owned by DC Comics.
Certain events of the last year have created new concerns within our industry. Do you still need to work for big publishers if you want to "make it"? Do they deliver a better product than creator owned books? Are the Big Two treating creators as fairly as they've always been? Between the rise of digital comics and comic-based movies, are creators getting
No More Unauthorized ArtworkRegarding the debate of whether comic artists should continue selling unauthorized prints/sketches of characters they don't own, I think Bissette and his legal advisor are 100% correct. So from now on, I won't be doing any sketches or commissions at shows of any character that I don't own. Am I rolling over in fear of Marvel? Maybe, but as it states below, they're in their legal right to come after me if there's ever a dispute. I love to complain about the Big Two, but I can't (in good conscience) get upset at them if I'm breaking the rules myself. Being DC exclusive, maybe I can get a waiver that allows me to sketch DC characters, so I'll keep you updated.No More Unauthorized Artwork3 years ago in Personal More Like This
From Steve Bissette's FB page:
ALERT, ALL COMICS CREATORS: With permission, I'm quoting key points my dear friend and own legal advisor/contract consultant (since 1992) Jean-Marc Lofficier raised on his posts to a Yahoo forum discussing Ty Templeton's cartoon concerning the Gary
PROCRASTINATIONProcrastination... Being a sloth... it's a disease.PROCRASTINATION3 years ago in Personal More Like This
All of us struggle with it. On certain days you just don't feel like doing nothing at all. Other days you feel that you worked hard on something and that you're owed time-off for it. And there's that period where you KNOW you should've been working on something; after a lot of time have passed you eventually find yourself wondering WHY you even went along doing nothing for so long.
We're not perfect creatures, it HAPPENS.
But being a procrastinator compared to being a hard-worker is a measure of how serious you take yourself.
If you have a regular 9-5, come home whether it's a long commute or short one, and then taking care of family matters (wife, kids, or parents), it can be pretty hard to keep yourself focused. That's a valid reason for struggling trying to stay focused on a creative project. Life is hard in that aspect. You're definitely a hard-worker in that regard. If you do all that and then work your
Experiment Part 1: Training Your EyeSo my buddy karuvan is trying to learn how to draw properly. He's been on a roll as far as progressing. But he's stuck at a standstill. This is an experiment that I've done with him and that he's working on in order to train his eye. I decided to share the conversation and experiment with you guys for you all to apply to your study habits and advancement in drawing and art.Experiment Part 1: Training Your Eye3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Karuvan: I randomly drew over my old pic. Ain't gonna do it over, was just curious on how much I could have done better.
Robaato: Quick question... like... who's work at this point do you really want yours to be close to? I'm tryna gauge what level you're trying to achieve.
K: lol... Joel is becoming a huge influence.
R: Ok. I have a test for you.
R: I want you to replicate this picture exactly as it is to the best of your ability:
Top 5 Mistakes (I've made over the years)To many people in comics, I only arrived a few years ago with Joe the Barbarian. Then came Hellblazer (completed in 2008 before I began working on Joe), American Vampire: SOTF, and finally Punk Rock Jesus. Once in a while someone will mention Off Road (an OGN I did with Oni back in 2004), but for the most part it seems like I've been published only these last few years when in fact I've been published professionally for a decade now.Top 5 Mistakes (I've made over the years)3 years ago in Personal More Like This
This isn't a plea to have everyone go back through my previous work--in fact, I'm glad that a lot of the books I've done over the years aren't on readers' radars. I'm proud of it all, but the books above are a nice, tight group of titles to be associated with. They're all in a similar brand, they're all recent, they all have good creators/publishers associated with them, and the artwork is mostly consistent. Go back further than that, and you'll see artwork that looks nothing like the stuff I'm doing these days. (Although Off Road still holds up to some de
Exposure, Getting Better, Having the ChopsEXPOSURE & GETTING BETTER AT WHAT YOU DOExposure, Getting Better, Having the Chops3 years ago in Personal More Like This
I'm only going off of my own personal experiences talking about these few things. (And I'm not specifically talking about ONLY dA here.) So take it with as many grains of salt as you can.
I've recently been asked questions like "How do I get people to see my work?", "Why am I not receiving commission inquiries?", "Why isn't anyone following my work?", "What can I do to get better?". Often, and I answered it before, the answer is as simple as this:
Create, as in, DRAW. PAINT. RENDER. SCULPT. You have to do develop a tolerance (or the obvious definition: LOVE) for creating if you want exposure and to get better. You have to LOVE the drawing or illustration that you HATE how it came out in the end. You have to ask yourself after every piece, what could I have done to do that differently. And you have to do this frequently.
Some folks come on the scene, post once or twice a week, and expect an audience to flock yo
5 LevelsI've spoken as guest speaker a number of times over the years (come visit me at SCAD Atlanta in January). While I'm not the best or most patient teacher, I think my strength is my pragmatic and blunt approach to the business side of comics. In order to help the students think of a "5 YEAR PLAN" (more on that in an upcoming post), I'll often break down the different page rate levels of comic book artists as a way to help analyze the playing field of our industry. If there's a ladder to success, what's wrong with defining each rung? I imagine such a breakdown helpful for moving up in most any industry, not just comics.5 Levels4 years ago in Personal More Like This
Here are the 5 LEVELS of comic artists as I see them--NOT based on talent but on page rates, popularity, and the prestige of the titles the artist works on. You might define them differently or have more than just 5, but I find that less-is-more when it comes to people being able to retain information.
THREE TIPS FOR DRAWING CARSYou know that green ellipse tool that you bought in art school? Do you know how to use it for something other than oval shapes? Do you know what those "cross-hair" marks are for? And do you know how to use it for technically correct perspective drawings?THREE TIPS FOR DRAWING CARS2 years ago in Personal More Like This
TOO many comics artists don't, and it's driving me crazy. So instead of starting a blog that starts showing examples and naming names, I figured it was better to make a quick tutorial. And this isn't just for cars but also for guns, fire hydrants, and millions of other machined objects found in comics.
If you go through this and you're still stuck, please don't write to me. I'm happy to show you at a convention to make it clearer, but within a blog this is the best I can do. Check out "Perspective for Comic Artists by David Chelsea" for more.
Cars are a whole lot easier to draw if you know how to properly use perspective and ellipses. The more familiar you are with the math, the more fun it is to draw cars. Once I figured out th
5 Year Plan*Because I'll be teaching in about a week at SCAD, I've been thinking a lot about what to tell the students. And I wrote it out so that I could solidify it in my head. This stuff is for younger artists mostly, so feel free to skip.5 Year Plan4 years ago in Personal More Like This
When I spend time with another comic artist, sometimes I'll ask, "What's your 5 year plan?" In other words, what steps is he taking in order to gain control over his career in order to move up the ladder? Usually I don't get much of an answer.
The reason I think many comic artists aren't forward-thinking has to do with the way our industry is set up. Whether by conscious design or through the neglect of its participants, younger freelancers get into a habit of complacency while hoping for a chance to suckle from the teet of a major publisher. Waiting around for a career doesn't promote the idea of freelancers taking active control of their OWN careers.
If I had to sum up the 5 Year Plan
GraysLast week when I said that I wouldn't be doing con sketches of copyrighted characters, I had no idea that the news would get the coverage that it did. But seeing as how I helped poke the hornet's nest--and having taken the time to read the opinions of readers and other artists--I feel like it would be helpful if I responded to help clarify what's been happening.Grays3 years ago in Personal More Like This
First off, I think that what happened regarding this issue highlighted the BEST of our industry. I'm thrilled with the results, although I don't find Marvel's statement reassuring (more on that later). When we learned that Marvel was pursuing the $17,000 from Friedrich, we came together as concerned professionals and fans and managed to affect the situation. Even though we disagreed, at least we weighed out the options. And we even came together to set up funding to help out Friedrich. With the use of Twitter, blogging, and proper action from the media outlets, w
Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 2Here's the continuation of yesterday's journal discussing the importance of hard work. If you missed it, click here!Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 22 years ago in Personal More Like This
In part two I'm gonna talk about one of the biggest roadblocks I hear from artists who are having difficulty getting in to good study habits, so without further ado...
WISDOM NUMBER TWO!! Don't wait for perfect weather and stop making excuses. So often I hear things like "I don't want to waste paper" or "I don't know what to draw" or "I haven't found a good tutorial" or "I don't want to study perspective" or any number of things along those lines. I'll be blunt and just put the answer out there now: get over it. If you want to be an artist, you have to do the work, end of story. And with all the time you've spent thinking, wondering, being uncertain, and searching for that magical art secret of power, you could have filled 10 pages in your sketchbook today and inc
In Defense Of Making A Living Through ArtThere's a frustrating element I've noticed lately in regards to Art. "Art with a capital 'A'", as a friend of mine calls it. And I suppose this blog was triggered by the cancellation of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan game Fighting is Magic. The fandom lost its collective shit because Hasbro sent the developers a Cease and Desist letter. The entitlement was just amazing to watch, and even worse was the sheer ignorance. Some of it stupid, like "Technically, all fanworks are parodies, so it's not illegal!" and "Copyright laws are so stupid!" to cruel, like "They can just take their development overseas, then Hasbro can't stop them!"In Defense Of Making A Living Through Art2 years ago in Personal More Like This
I was baffled by this. Because Hasbro had the right to protect their intellectual property.
See, I've been a freelance artist for a while now. And it's hard. It is so freaking hard, and part of the reason it's hard is because the default attitude of most people you deal with is, "We're not, like, going to pay you a lot. Or give you i
Importance of slowing downHey guys,Importance of slowing down2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Looking over a lot of student work I'm starting to see a pattern. Consistent panicked drawings
with careless mistakes due to intimidation by the clock. Remember that more marks don't
equate to better drawings. I'm apprenticing with Kevin Chen and there's something he said
that I think I should share with you. " If in 5 min all you get is a head, shoulder and ribcage, that's fine.
I'd rather your marks be correct than have you rush and draw all the way down to the foot and have proportion, form
and shapes off."
I was fortunate enough to take a class with Mark Westermoe back when Associates was open. If you
watched him draw you would think he was the slowest artist ever. But he always got more "actual" drawings
done than any of us in the time allotted because all the marks he made meant more than any of ours. We
just had a lot of lines. His 5-10 min drawings were well.... pretty much finished.
So remember, take your time, have a c
Don't ever tell me this! (or to any other artist.)I saw something like this pass me by on Facebook, with just the first 10 points.Don't ever tell me this! (or to any other artist.)3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Together with some others we could name a lot more.
How about you? anything like this ever happened to you?
Things you shouldn't say to an artist.
1 Can you do the artwork for this job for free? It will be a good promotional piece for you. Get you some word to mouth advertising.
2 Mom Look! That painting is just like that picture you downloaded from the internet and got framed for the living room.
3 Wow. You charge THAT much? You make it look so easy.
4 If you don't make it so detailed... Just scribble something down... Can I get it cheaper?
5 If you use that piece you already got and change it a little, can I get it cheaper? You already have done most of it.
6 I can use a Photoshop filter to do that exact same thing.
7 You are lucky... you don't have to work, you just have to sit and paint all day.
5%If you're reading this now, it means you're roughly in the 5%. Most people who go online to read about comics will end up reading previews and "top 10" lists--subjects we all, or course, enjoy. But the articles/blogs that critically analyze our industry are usually only read by two types: people in the biz whom are affected by this stuff, and the few readers who are interested in reading more than word balloons when it comes to comics.5%4 years ago in Personal More Like This
And I'm not knocking people who don't care to read these articles. All readers are contributing to the industry with their buying power, and I'm thankful for them, even if they're not in the 5%. I admit, if I had a normal 9-5 job and a boss that was kicking my ass 5 days a week, I might not have the tolerance for these sorts of articles either.
That being said, I think we need more of these articles/blogs written from different points of view--more from creators especially. The 2010s will likely be r
4 Kinds of StorytellingHere's an old journal from 2010 about storytelling. Because I have a lot more readers these days, I think I'm going to start reposting some of my earlier posts for my newer audience. So for you old timers, feel free to skip.4 Kinds of Storytelling2 years ago in Personal More Like This
In full disclosure, I slightly edited this journal to make it a little more balanced (while also fixing a ton of typos).
I feel like the word "storytelling" gets thrown around a lot in our industry. Yet when I look out there at some comics, I don't always see a lot of evidence for it.
It feels like people in comics pros--myself included--often use the word only because we feel like we're supposed to. Over the years enough professionals have been accused of being poor storytellers to the degree that everyone is now afraid of being a pinup artist as opposed to a bona fide storyteller. But it's not enough just to claim you're a storyteller.
Most people reading this probably h
Had the Urge...…to write this because I'm getting repeated questions that are pretty much along the same lines and rather than direct each one to my FAQ, I have a different way to answer the question, which is basically:Had the Urge...3 years ago in Personal More Like This
"Why am I not getting anywhere in my art? What can I do to get better? No one is liking my work, how can I get more people to like my work so they can pay me?"
The real question you should be asking yourselves is:
"Why am I drawing?"
I mean, I take a look all the time at people who may not be skilled or whatever, and I'm sure they don't feel the best about their work (or they may), but they always have something to say that made them feel good while drawing it. Saw a sunset beach picture earlier that someone drew/painted and of course, it's not professional-looking at all. What ringed to me was the fact that in their comments, they said they "enjoyed it and was a relaxing piece". Not complaining about how the sand looks too crappy or the colors in the s
Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 1So this has been on my mind a bit lately and I was just struck with the sudden urge to write about it. It's a bit long so I've broken it in to three parts, but if you're a beginning artist I would recommend reading through it, it might just get you aimed in the right direction.Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 12 years ago in Personal More Like This
This started a couple days ago when I was trolling facebook and someone had posted some artwork, and one of the comments was something along the lines of "Nice! What tutorial did you use for this?" which prompted an immediate and violent facedesk on my part. I hear things like this all the time and would like to help dispel some myths about learning art; so after 9 years of drawing and 3 years of hardcore education and study, here's what I've learned about how to get better at art:
WISDOM NUMBER ONE! Getting better demands consistent, hard work. That's it. That's the magical secret that great artists never seem to get to in their tutorials; it's that one pivotal thing that makes the difference between
Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 3And now for the dramatic conclusion to the epic trilogy. Heroes will rise, bad habits will fall, in this last chapter we'll discuss how to focus your efforts and learn the most and improve quickly with your studies. If you missed them, click these links for Part One and Part Two. And now for...Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 32 years ago in Personal More Like This
WISDOM NUMBER THREE!!! Work smart and leave your comfort zone. This part is my qualifier for art school, tutorials, and educational resources in general, because they can be good, but only if you make them good. Once you've gotten in to the habit of drawing consistently, it's important to start being mindful of what you're drawing, how you're drawing it, and why you're drawing it. A key ingredient of success is hard work, but if that work isn't purposeful it might not move you
GET OVER YOURSELF!Oh, before I begin:GET OVER YOURSELF!3 years ago in Personal More Like This
If anyone know any fantastic 3D Zbrush (and Maya, though the originality in Maya is hard to find these days; everyone's building off of stock models) modelers, please let me know. I'm looking to hire a peep for some Rat Rage prototypes for figures in the near future. They have to be good with catching the original art exceedingly well, as well as astounding anatomy work. THANKS IN ADVANCE.
Also, I'm working my new gig + Rat Rage + miscellaneous. Haven't sent ALL of the commissions out yet, but they are definitely on their way. Had to begin the new gig earlier than I thought.
GET OVER YOURSELF!
Sometimes it's good to give yourself a pat on the back for your accomplishments. When you get done with a piece that you poured blood, sweat, tears, saliva, and urine in, you feel like you can throw the whole planet of Earth into a different galaxy. Those are very natural feelings. You have a right to be proud of yourself for what you've done.
But pride is an
the myth about talentMany people are under the assumption many of the high profile artists in the digital art community are mainly good because of talent. This is not completely true(in my opinion). What does make them great is the simple fact of constant and regular practice. But if you still like to cling to the word, then talent is just in other words an ambition and motivation. This word,"talent" has been branded with something that you think is something that can only be inherited and if you dont have it you are doomed to fail. Many people has lost potential careers because of this.the myth about talent3 years ago in Personal More Like This
well folks let me put that myth to rest because i think anyone with ambition and motivation can learn any tool and any skill.And if you are not learning it, it is because you are not working hard enough on it.its simple as that.The practice will open your eyes and you will develop to see things in different ways, once again this has nothing to do with talent. Once your understanding of all the levels of art gets wide
the importance of failingsOften times i see many artists on all levels expressing their expectations from their current progress and seeing it as they fail. They feel this way because the type of level that is set is not only high but its constantly changing to grow higher even as they are progressing passed levels of artistic skills.the importance of failings2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Imagine a horse rider holding a fishing pole with sugar(your artistic level you want to reach) by the end of the string. And you the artist is the horse pursuing it.You are progressing forward but your goal is also being set higher as you progress.
And of course you will never ever reach the level that is constantly changing and i think this is an idea that every eager and striving artist should be comfortable with. To be comfortable with failing.This is not to say that you wont reach new levels , because you will.The levels you set up when you started out are much lower then the levels you set in your current phase.
The tough part is of course to stay on trac