Advice to All Artists

I’ve posted a few things recently that I wanted to put somewhere in one place. They’re “art/webcomic tutorials” of sorts, but more about planning and mental states rather than actual drawing.

Advice to someone thinking of starting a webcomic

I’ve noticed a lot of people that said, “I’m going to start a webcomic” but didn’t succeed. Here’s what I think about creating a webcomic:

Webcomics should not be created because you want fame and fortune. Webcomics should be created because you either have a personal purpose for it (for me, I wanted to get better at art), or because you simply have a passion about drawing or comics. They also require dedication, be it a daily, weekday, two/three-a-week, weekly, or even monthly. Passion is a fleeting thing. One day you may be all abubble with it, and the next you’re hunched over wondering what you were so excited about. Without dedication, you’ll never get through the dark spots where passion wanes.

Let me tell you… a daily comic will drain you like nothing else. I’m spending hours a day updating Trivium. Even a weekly comic can be agonizingly difficult if you don’t have the passion. A webcomic is a big undertaking.

I recommend creating a dozen or so strips/pages “off the record”, using the full creation process from pencil-and-paper to ready-to-show, to see if you can really do what it takes on a regular basis.

The mental state of an artist.

I have a theory about how an artist is supposed to think. I’ve encountered a number of very, very good artists that insist that they’re terrible and their art has so many problems. I have yet to encounter an artist that is perfectly satisified with any piece of art that they have created. I find the whiners very annoying, especially when they obviously have talent, so I decided on the best type of behavior that I should follow.

1) Always be happy that you’re drawing. Draw because you love it. Honestly, graphic arts is a terrible, terrible business field. It’s saturated, if nothing else. Art is something you’re going to be doing because you love it, not because you want to make money off it.

2) Focus on how much you’ve improved, not how “bad” your existing art is. If you compare your art to other people’s art, you’re only going to end up hurting yourself. Compare it to you own art: your older pieces. (Never throw anything away, and make sure to date them!) Go back as far as your childhood drawings if you need to, but focus on the improvement you’ve made, not how far away you are to drawing like another artist does.

3) Never be satisified with your work. The moment you’re satisified, you will stop improving.

Advice to someone thinking of starting their webcomic over

First, the comic is yours. You do whatever you want with it. If you really want to start over because you know you can make it so much better, then by all means, do so.

Second, don’t you dare start over.

I’ve read a lot of webcomics in my time (I have over 100 on my list that I read regularly) and one of the wonderful things about them is art evolution. I’d show you an example of my own, but I’ve only been dong this for about six months, so I’m going to show you the first and latest Schlock Mercenary, which started five years ago.

Amazing, isn’t it? And if he had started over every time his art reached a new level, he wouldn’t have as many readers as he has, and he wouldn’t have gotten near as far in the plot as he did. We’re always learning, and there’s nothing wrong with improving over time.