Thursday, June 18, 2009

You should do that for a living, but don't quit your day job.

At every job I've ever had, sooner or later, someone will see a sample of my artwork (usually not even a good one) and say "You should do that for a living! You'd be famous! I always appreciate their enthusiasm, but I've grown very tired of having to react to that statement. They always look confused if I start to tell them the various harsh realities of the art and cartoon worlds. I don't even bother getting into the fact that the kind of things I want to do in those fields aren't even going concerns in the marketplace, just all the various hurdles and roadblocks facing anyone motivated to create art, music or film/video. Another thing they don't consider is that in that one workplace, I may have a standout ability, but outside, even limited to the more local population, I'm just another one of thousands. And perhaps not even one of the best positioned to get noticed.

Everyone has their own mix of talents and traits. Many have an artistic gift along with a ability to market themselves. Many can promote themselves vigorously but really have nothing special to offer. Many have the creative abilities but have almost no ability to find or exploit entry points into the business of their choice. To my dismay, I'm in group 3 here.

It's not like I've done nothing. I've lost my share of contests. I've sent out packets to people I thought might see something in my work though may have just as well sent them to Jupiter. I've even sat at tables at comics conventions, signing autograph books for people who had no idea who I was and didn't even buy one of my mini comics. There's one major thing I never did do, though. I never went to any school for it.

I always felt, and still do, that art is not something that should require schooling in the formal sense. Sure, there's tons of beneficial information to be gained by doing so, but you shouldn't be punished for not going through the mill if you do alright teaching yourself technique. And yes, the right art schools can provide you with connections in the people you meet and mingle with while there. I may well have enjoyed the experience if I could have afforded it, but that just didn't work out. The problem is this particular roadblock seems to come up all the time. Every time a new visionary creator/artist shows up on the scene, there's those school credentials again proving that without it, the chances are even smaller. I'm usually left with the feeling that without that certificate that says someone other than me showed me how to be creative, I might as well take all my home-grown, self-taught art and pound it down a rathole for all the biz cares.

As I've gotten older I've lost some of the feeling that I have to make it in my chosen field. It's such a tiny niche, and the competition is staggering. I'm constantly finding examples of published, produced and marketed art that is poor at best. Hundreds of things I know I could have done better. How do they get the work while I'm unknown and working in a mail center? There's no perfect, fair formula for who gets real work in the field. I know a lot of them made it by working harder at getting noticed than I have, keeping at it even with a growing pile of rejection letters.

If I had known way back when that I'd get to this age without making any progress, I'd have given more of a try to get into the field regardless of what was being produced at the time. If I had tried back then I may have met up with a young John K and ended up as an original "Spumco Big Shot". Or maybe I could have had a major impact on a lesser studio like Filmation or Ruby-Spears and helped them make something decent. Oh well, too late for that, but it's not too late for something to happen. Just a longer learning, study and practice period before trying to do something with it.

Right now, I'm steadily working on turning my first effort at a more or less full cartoon from what you could call a "color animatic" into a fleshed out cartoon so I have something to show. In the meantime I'll have to keep the day job, though.


No comments: