From time to time I get various people from all walks of life asking me what being a freelancing comicbook artist is like. More specifically, what is involved in being a freelance comicguy. Well I wouldn’t know about anyone else, but my philosophic approach to all of this is twofold. One being “Your Quality of Life” and the other is “Your Career Mindset“. I gotta warn you first off that I talk a mean talk, but I’m not all that successful in both of those things because I get really lazy sometimes.
“Your Quality of Life” is basically what you want out of life. What are your goals? If your goal is to make a million dollars, you could feasibly do it through comics ie: Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, etc. But that is really rare. There are easier ways to make a million ducketts than comics.
Now, if you get genuine satisfaction being involved in the creation of comics, then hey, you’re good to go! Obviously, some of the perks also include, being the boss of your schedule, no commute (usually) and being involved in an industry of hugely talented people.
“Your Career Mindset” Well, this topic is much more involved. Many people bitch about the hardships of comics, namely when there isn’t enough work to make ends meet. To which I must mention that, yes, it is tough, but you may be forgetting the most key element of your chosen career path. YOU ARE A BUSINESS. You are the head honcho of your own business. Whether it fails or prospers is ALL you.
Most of the people that fail miserably are the ones that forget that they are manufacturer supplying a good. What makes being a comicbook artist hard, in my opinion, is that as an artist you tend to get “artistic” Those qualities usually put most people on the opposite end of the “Good Businessman” spectrum. Let’s face it, as an artist, most people want to just sit and draw/create pretty pictures. A lot of artists could care less about the success of their business. With that point, I urge people wanting to break into comics to seriously think about their future goals and career plans.
Another key point is to always step back and see where you are in the grand scheme of things. Always do this objectively. The realities of business is harsh and honest. Do not expect to be coddled, you will just set yourself up for a huge fall. Being a freelancer is as close as I can get to being at the forefront of capitalism. There are no safety nets, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How many hamburgers would McDonalds’ sell if you had to wait 3 hours to get one? How about if you get the burger and it’s not cooked? Or ultimately, if the burger just tastes like ass?
Never forget that you are producing a good and your business is only as good as your product!
So all of the crap aside, how do you create a successful business? Hahahaha I don’t know! Mine sucks!
But some of the principles of good business are all applicable.
Advertising. Send tons of samples (even if you are already working) People won’t know you are there if your voice isn’t heard.
Quality Control. How good is your art? You should always be learning and applying new things. Keep up the quality of your work but, Great Jeebuz, hand it in on time.
Diversify. Where would Sony be if all they did was make great radios? They may do well, but they wouldn’t be the giant they are today. Learn to paint, ink, anything and everything that involves your trade. Who knows, maybe you can’t draw that well, but you are a phenomenal inker. I’ve gotten by when comic work was slow by doing Toy designs.
Create the market/opportunities. Comics just aren’t going your way? Reinvent it. Don’t wait for editors to call you with a job. Create jobs for yourself. Submit some proposals to Image. Submit sreenplays to movie studios, why wait?
Quit bitchin’. Sure, there’s politics in comics. There’s politics in all walks of life. Deal with it. Work around it. But whatever you do, don’t paint yourself into the corner of defeat, know whaimsayin’?
That’s pretty much it, I think. If you are reading this line, then I can’t believe you read all of that crap, hahahahahah! phew….