I thought I’d give a life update for those of you who like to read that sort of thing. Nothing scary to report, I’m still grinding away at the old “naked elf” mill and probably will be for the foreseeable future.
I’ve had people tell me they hate Patreon and that I should switch to something a little more accepting of differing opinions, but, honestly, I haven’t found anything better. There’s not a lot of ways for somebody who creates the kind of content I create to get paid.
I like getting paid.
I’ve seen some artists who kinda skirt the rules with other payment platforms, and I appreciate the reasons for their decision. I just feel a little too iffy about “doing it until I get caught.”
My personal experiences with Patreon have been overwhelmingly positive. The one time I was ever contacted by the moderators, they asked me to change my page header art, as they felt it was a little too explicit. I had long been wanting to change it, because I felt it was too out of date, so, rather than get offended, I just thanked them for the excuse to get off my butt and change it, and they were really cool about it.
I understand a lot of people don’t use Patreon because they can’t afford to right now, and that’s cool. I remember being a broke-ass student whose entertainment budget was Zero. I pirated a lot of stuff back then, not because I was trying to rip people off, I just didn’t have the money to spend. Now that I’m making a bit of money, I try to support what artists I can, when I can, but I don’t judge anybody harshly for not spending what little money they have on non-essential stuff.
That’s what I love about Patreon. Somebody can throw a dollar or two my way, or they can throw more, (please throw more!) whatever they feel comfortable with. In return, I can reward patrons with some content that I wouldn’t be able to post to DA anyway. I try to post most of my work here when I can, so long as I don’t have to put a censor bar over the image, because I really hate censor bars. I used to BE a freaking censor! I don’t want anything to do with that ever again.
That being said, I have occasionally self-censored. I was recently working on an image that kept setting off alarm bells in the back of my head. I had drawn a character in a sexual situation with an unhappy facial expression, and though I hadn’t intended it that way, I realized that someone, not knowing the context of the situation could interpret the scene in a much darker way than I had intended it.
Was I being too sensitive? Was I betraying my art? I didn’t know. Now sometimes, I have gone ahead and done some things that I thought might be controversial (like my entire body of work <cough>) because I thought the work in question needed an uncomfortable edge to convey the proper subtext.
This time though, I really questioned my motives for drawing the girl the way I originally did, and, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, even though the scenario wasn’t nearly as dark as it might be interpreted by someone looking to be offended by it, it was still kinda dark. This imaginary girl was not having a good time, and part of me was OK with that… and maybe I’m not so much OK with THAT as I used to be.
Someone over on Patreon once remarked that one of my monthly sketchbooks was a bit more brutal than usual, following a particularly bad month. I looked over the kind of things that I draw when I’m depressed versus the things I draw when I’m in a good mood, and, they were right. My work is a bit more sadistic at times when I have lost hope for the future.
I thought about this for a long time when I was considering what to do with the girl in the sketch. Then I wondered how it would be different if I changed her expression slightly.
I put a smile on her face and looked at the scene again, and, suddenly, it felt right. She was having a good time now, and it changed the whole tone of the scene. I liked it much better, and though I know a lot of people would still find it all terribly offensive, it did make me feel better in my core for having made that one, simple change.
I didn’t have that sickly taste of artistic betrayal that I got from being forced to paint bras on elves back in my corporate days. It felt like I was making a change for the better.
What does this mean for me as an artist? I don’t know. I’m changing maybe.
Over the past few years, living in exile from the life I loved so much, I’ve stared into some pretty bleak abysses (abyssi?), and I’ve come to know myself much better than I ever did back when everything was going my way. So, even though, if you asked me how I felt about having my life kicked out from under me, I’d still tell you it sucked ass. In my more lucid moments, I have to admit, I’m a much better person for having gotten a face full of failure.
One of the crazier conspiracy theories I’ve heard from my critics (I’ve got critics now! Squee!) was that I was more than one person, like one guy hiring multiple artists to illustrate my crazy ideas and taking credit for their work. Looking back at the fluctuations in my style over the years, I can certainly see some credibility in this theory, but, truth be told, I think they might be onto something. There’s more than one of me, and… I think I’ve picked a favorite.
Peace and Love y’all!