What’s the hardest part about being an artist for a living? What makes it all worth it for you?
A lot has changed since art has become my full-time job. I used to only draw when I felt like it, now I have to draw even if I feel uninspired, or unmotivated. I had to learn to turn that switch off, and treat it like a job, and not as a hobby.
I also had to kiss my social life goodbye! As a freelance artist you are always working. I try to separate my art and life as much as possible, but I’m still surrounded by it. I still work all day, and I almost always take my sketchbook to bed to knock out a few more ideas before sleep. Days of the week don’t hold any meaning; whenever I go out on a Friday I wonder why there are so many people around. “Oh yeah, it’s Friday night. This is what normal people do.” As much as it is liberating, it’s also a bit alienating.
I also try to plan my jobs a year ahead. As a freelance artist you never know where your next job is going to come from, and you don’t want to be stuck for a period with no work, so I’m constantly lining up two or three jobs ahead, just so when I finish one I’m sure I’ll have something new to jump into. This too is bit is stressful.
There are a lot of amazing artists out there, and remembering this keeps me on my toes. I’ll never be the best, but I hustle and I always strive to improve myself. Things that help me stay on track are having a daily routine, getting up early, writing out a list every morning of the day’s goals, and always trying to find ways to be excited about what I’m working on. Lucky for me I am easily excitable, I love breakfast, and I love making lists.
What makes it worth it though, is I love drawing. I LOVE IT. I love making comics. I love starting a new page and buying new paper, ink and brushes. I love telling stories! I love the people I work with, I love the people I meet. I love thinking about the syntax and language of comics. I love esoteric discussions about the comic book industry. I love the opportunities I’ve had in life because of comics.
The second I stop loving it I will find something else to do. Comics are hard work. Comics are relentless. Comics will break your heart. Comics are monetarily unsatisfying. Comics don’t offer much in terms of fortune and glory, but comics will give you complete freedom to tell the stories you want to tell, in ways unlike any other medium. Comics will pick you up after it knocks you down. Comics will dust you off and tell you it loves you. And you will look into it’s eyes and know it’s true, that you love comics back.
I am totally comic’s bitch forever, but if the day ever comes that I stop loving comics, that will mean they have become unrewarding. Why draw comics if you don’t love them unconditionally? You’ll just become bitter. Ultimately that is why I draw comics: they are rewarding, and satisfying on a personal and emotional level. I still self-publish books because of this. If I wanted to make money I would have stuck with story-boarding and commercial art, but that’s not why I’m here. And by “here” i mean on Earth.