State of the Union, October Edition
Howdy All and Happy Friday!
After five weeks of writing about copyright law, I figured I would take a break and spend this week doing a bit of introspective navel gazing by looking at what I have been working on for the last couple of months and what I have planned for the final two months of 2014.
Working Hard for the Money
The most significant project I have worked on in the last few months was a series of commissioned pieces that I did for my buddy, Chadwick Ginther.
In the past, I had avoided commissioned work, mostly because the few earlier opportunities I had to do commissioned work had all been unpleasant and frustrating experiences, which always resulted in the commissioning party disappearing before paying me for my work. Given that, up until around two years ago, I was extremely limited in the amount of time I had to devote to my art, it left a particularly sour taste in my mouth when the rare hours I got to spend drawing felt more like a thankless chore than a fun pastime.
Fortunately, the experience of working with Chad on pieces for an illustrated version of his short story, A Simple Twist of Fate, has changed my mind about doing work for “filthy lucre.” I enjoyed the challenge of getting those pieces done and, because I was getting paid for the work, I feel that the finished products were stronger than some of my other pieces, because I did not allow myself to “excuse” the small errors that I sometimes ignore when I am drawing something doing for myself.
I believe that the lesson to be drawn from this experience is that commissioned work can be a fun and rewarding experience (both artistically and financially), as long as I am careful who I pick to work with.
With that in mind, in the coming months I will be looking for other opportunities to do more commissioned work. I look forward to the challenge of finding people who I want to work with, who also want to pay me to draw.
An Itch Only a Katana Can Scratch
The other major “project” I have been working on in the last few months has been a comic strip featuring a left-handed samurai, who I have taken to calling the Southpaw Samurai.
The first strip featuring this character was done as a way of “rewarding” myself for completing the work that Chad had commissioned, by drawing a bunch of things that I love, but do not draw often, including nature scenes, samurais, ninjas, and cinematic framing.
I was so pleased with the result of my first Southpaw Samurai strip, that I felt like I could not leave the character alone, so I am presently continuing his “story” in a second strip (in which I try to incorporate even more extreme cinematic framing).
I have no idea whether I will continue on with this character beyond this second strip, but it is actually kind of nice just seeing where this character and strip takes me, without following some kind of “master plan.”
What Comes Next
I have written before about my tentative plans for 2015, including my plans to start up a webcomic in January, 2015.
However, as I enter the last two months of 2014’s “Year of Drawing” exercise, I am beginning to think that I am not quite ready to commit to something as serious as a regular, weekly webcomic (though those who know me well may not be surprised to hear that I am leery of any form of commitment…ba dum bum).
One of the main reasons I am rethinking my webcomic plan is because of the great experience I had working with Chad on the commissioned pieces.
Having a project that had start and end dates was pretty great, both in terms of giving me an end goal to work towards, as well as a finite set of illustrations to get done. Because the project had a “come hell or high water” end date, it forced me to plan out a timeline for getting those pieces done (which involved a lot fewer late nights of drawing that I expected).
In addition, given how “goal” oriented I tend to be, it was pretty easy to motivate myself to work on those pieces, particularly once I started ticking them off my “to-do” list of the illustrations, one by one, as they were completed.
Finally, I found an enormous amount of satisfaction in completing that project and, because of the fixed deadline and the amount of pieces that were commissioned, it also made the month I worked on them my most productive month in 2014, in terms of artistic output.
With that in mind, I am currently thinking that I might find both more satisfaction and more completed pieces in 2015, if I tried to find similar commissioned projects to work on and filled the time between working on an illustration portfolio.
In addition to the extra income this scheme would bring (and who does not like more money?), this plan would also have the added benefit of forcing me to push the limits of my artistic range, which is probably more important to me, at this stage, than starting out a comic strip with a consistent art style and subject matter.
That said, I have not made a firm decision one way or another, and I still have just over two months before 2015 is upon me, so who knows what the coming year might bring.
The Joy in Writing is In Having Written
One final thing I want to mention this week, as it relates to next year’s plan, is the question of whether I will be continuing with this blog in 2015.
While I am proud of the work that I have put into this blog over the past year (which includes over 48,000 words, or roughly 176 pages, of writing), it is always a struggle to find the time necessary to write this blog. It seems that, more often than not, I find myself writing my weekly entry late on Thursday night, which means I cannot ever make plans on my Thursday nights (since it usually takes roughly three hours to write and edit these blog entries), and it often makes for a very sleepy start to my Fridays.
Now, one easy way around this would be for me to just get a draft done of the week’s entry on the weekend, but that level of forethought has, thus far, escaped me.
I am also thinking that, if I am going to devote three hours a week to writing, in addition to the minimum seven hours of drawing per week, it might be good to try using that time to write something other than a blog entry (comic scripts, screenplays, or short stories, maybe), though I suppose that may still leave me trying to cram those three hours of writing in at the end of the week, unless I can force myself to be more disciplined with my writing.
In any event, as with my plans for next year’s drawing, nothing has been decided, but those are the options I am currently mulling over.
So, with that, we come to the end of this week’s blog entry!
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts, if you have any questions or concerns regarding this week’s entry, please do not hesitate to drop me a line, and I hope to see you back in seven days!
Until then, I have some drawing to do.
Yours very truly,
Kevin B. Madison