I was staring angrily at my computer screen. My final in my advanced composition class was due, and I was hours later in the process than I thought I would be at the time. My phone rang. On the other end was the excited voice of my younger sister who had just graduated from high school and was making her way slowly through her freshman year. I was starting my second year as a graphic design major and was struggling to take care of myself.
“Patrick! You’ll never guess what I discovered today!” I was annoyed at the sound of her voice. Mostly I was agitated at being behind on my assignment and was only thinking about how quickly I could get off of the phone with her.
“Yeah, what exactly did you discover?” I grumbled into my bulky Nokia cell phone (it was 2004).
“I’m an artist! I just took an elective art class and I absolutely loved it! I’m an artist like you!” I choked at the sound of this. How could she think that she was an artist after taking just one class? I had been trying to become an artist since I was ten and here was my 19 year old sister claiming that she was an artist after only one day.
“Well, that’s great sis. You know though, you aren’t a real artist.”
“You might be able to come to be one someday, but right now you are just thinking about becoming one. It takes years to become a real artist.” There was a silence on the other end of the phone.
“Well, I think that I’m a real artist…” Her voice quivered on the other end of the line.
“That’s insulting. I’ve been working to become an artist for over a decade. It is insulting to me that you feel like you could just be like me after one day…” More silence.
“W-why are you so mean?!” She yelled into the phone crying.
“Look, it’s just insulting for me to think of you as an arti-” Before I could finish I heard a ‘click’ of a dead phone line as the phone went dead. For several minutes I stared, angrily, at my computer screen. I felt righteous and annoyed simultaneously. How could she think she was an artist? I sat there for another 15 minutes, then I bowed my head in shame. By telling my sister she wasn’t an artist I had become all of the people that had told me I wasn’t an artist as I was forming my perception of myself. I tried to call her back but she wouldn’t pick up the phone.
As I became filled with shame, I equally became filled with resolve. I wasn’t ever going to tell someone that they weren’t an artist ever again. I had to break the cycle. I was a person that had to fight against that judgemental cruelty from other “artists” ever since I decided I wanted to become one, and now I had become one of those cruel, arrogant, artists. I vowed then and there to not only never again tell someone that they weren’t an artist, I vowed to go one step further and go out of my way to encourage artistry in others.
That happened to me about 11 years ago. In a lot of ways that story is exactly where the “How To Make A Comic Book” MOOC came from. When I received the $10k from Coursera to design the course there was a lot of suggestion that the course was to be more technical. I knew though that, especially when working with new artists, the emphasis has to be on encouragement and safety to pursue trying new things. This podcast, the #comicfuel podcast, is all about embracing the sentiment of encouraging artists to think about the important things in their practice (happiness, harmony, and balance). Each month I will be answering questions submitted to me by the students in the “How To Make A Comic Book” MOOC.
This is the first #ComicFuel podcast. I’d like to dedicate it to my sister.
Jump times to go to different parts of the podcast:
- 00:00 – Pre-Show Patreon Ad
- 00:39 – Show Opener
- 01:21 – Show Introduction
- 12:07 – Jared Cullum On His Return To Art
- 17:03 – Question 1: Scaling Work
- Matt, Canada: Every instructional book I read is geared towards making 22 page monthly comic books or just cartooning in general. What how to advice is there for someone who wants to write a 100 page plus graphic novel
- 27:28 – The Ven. Robina Courtin Discussing How Opinions Limit Us
- 31:35 – Questions 2 & 3: Beautiful Work
- Gustavo, Colombia: Is beautiful artwork really that important to create a good comic? (Most comics or graphic novels, i have read tend to have beautiful art, great story and inspiring too. But when i try to imitate them, i feel depressed as i cannot draw that well.)
- Sourav: I am currently writing comics in my country, and I am worried because it seems that my ideas are not commercial enough. There is an emotional content, but not the spectacular they want to see. How can i add excitement and action to my stories without sacrificing its substance?
- 46:00 – Daily Comic Challenge Ad
- 46:50 – Question 4: Character Consistency
- George, Canada: I try to make all my characters look different when I design them, but I end up putting the same face on everyone. How can I make sure each character looks unique every time I draw them?
- 54:15 – How You Can Help Comic Fuel
- 56:50 – Show Outro
All show notes are available on the Comic Fuel Wiki:
- Episode 1 Show Notes: http://comicfuel.wikidot.com/wiki:episode-1
- All questions ever asked on the show: http://comicfuel.wikidot.com/wiki:all-questions