I remember back in Highschool I had this vision of what I was going to be doing with comics. I had these grandiose ideas that I'd land some graphic novel gig that was "Hollywood famous" and I'd be rolling in the dough, signing autographs for adoring fans, lights, camera, action--etc. ...and I did that, actually. I landed a Hollywood-famous graphic novel gig. I wasn't rolling in the dough but I had made more money than I'd ever seen in my entire lifetime, considering that I was of the below average - minimum wage working class up until that point. I went to cons by my own admission. I didn't have big companies sponsoring me so the funding usually came out of my own pockets. And there were a few fans of my work who I did live commissions for (thankyou guys, I was able to eat for another week). Dream accomplished right? ...but I ask myself was it worth it. Well, yes and I have a few regrets.
Doing comics professionally is sort of a dream come true. Key term there, "sort of". The problem I have had with it is that I've been doing something that I love, as a JOB. A rather unpleasant, corporate-like job. I've cried on the shoulders of a few close friends about it throughout the years. They've likened my work situation to an abusive relationship. Here's a list of stuff I hadn't considered when I got into doing comics "professionally": There's always drama, there's lies, there's manipulation, there's questionable legal stuff, contracts (oh my god, so many contracts), threats from angry or upset clients, and ass-raping taxes that make you wish you'd worked a 9-5 in some chain restaurant. Luckily, I've avoided lawyers, so far, but those threats (and daggers) just fly left and right. So you have all this going on, and you get hired to do a project that you're just not into, and the book is a total flop anyways. *le huff le wheez*
I have avoided being vocal about this stuff because I was worried how it might affect the future of my career. However, if you're an employer or client and you're reading this I will have none of what's listed above. NEVER AGAIN!
So what did doing comics professionally do for me? Well, I learned A LOT about the industry and general making of comics books. I laid a lot of myths to rest as well. I was a little girl once that thought the only way to make it was to get a big ol' publisher to publish my work. There was such a barricade to getting into the industry when I was an animation student. The whole concept was mysterious, and it seemed impossible to gain access to that mystery world. How do you get a job without work experience!? It's some sort of riddle! There's no sure-fire way to explain how to get in other than it's only a matter of time for most. But once you're in, you're invited into the teeming metropolis of the creative industry. After you survive swimming through the shark (and piranha)-filled moat that is.
Some people would say that having printed books got my name out there...but let's be really honest. What got me noticed was actually me just doing my own personal work. Someone would see a drawing or painting I would be working on and it would lead them to discovering my published books (or hiring me). I used to think that I owed my success to the people I worked for. NEVER EVER THINK THIS. You, yourself, all your hard work, perseverance, conviction, and passion is what earns you your success.
Now, I've had some bad experiences when I first started my career path. A lot of it was almost enough to turn me off of ever doing comics again. But it's because of this, I think I became impassioned to fight for what I really want. Money pays the bills (and creates them), so I have to keep doing comics as my profession, but the thing I value most is creative freedom. I've been fortunate enough to find publishers who are like-minded in that respect. I mean look at Squarriors. That's what happens when a publisher lets me have free rein. aw-yeah boi~! A happy, healthy artist = good art!
MORAL OF MY STORY: Mind the sharks and piranhas, children.
Drinking: pumpkin spice coffee