Monday, October 31, 2011

Hate it or love it

With the launch of our Kickstarter project, and the release of our first book this week, I am posting, tweeting, commenting, and even blogging more than ever. This is great for spreading the word about my project, but it is also creating a huge, social media-based, hater magnet.

Now, if you started creating believing that all of the feedback that you received would be all sunshine and kittens, you should not be an artist. Since the dawn of time there have been doers, and there have been haters. Once, a caveman made fire for the first time, and somewhere nearby was another caveman complaining that it was too hot.

Quick question: What's the difference between a hater and a fan? Answer: Nothing! They both read, listened to, or watched your art, and if they took the time to comment and share their feelings about it, then you struck a chord with them. In that respect, mission accomplished! You reached your audience and made them feel something. Hootie and the Blowfish sold millions of records, and had more haters than any other band I have seen in a long time. People actually bought tickets to their concerts to go and hate! But I say a ticket sold is a ticket sold.

Most haters will come right out and insult your work, however there is another kind of hater. This particular kind of hater gets under my skin even more than the overt hater. I'm talking about the stealth haters. These covert operatives belong to your same groups or forums. They work with you, and sit next to you in class. You see them posting and/or discussing other work, but when it comes to yours they hate silently pretending to casually ignore or to not see what you're doing. In reality, they are hating with the heat of a thousand suns! However, I figure if the stealth hater had something negative to say, they'd just come out and say it, so the fact that they do not either means that they are very polite, or they LOVE your work. Either way, I say keep doing what you're doing.

Whether outright insulting you, or just blatantly ignoring you, the hater is a necessary evil. Make no mistake about it, hate is not constructive criticism, but we as artists need feedback and sometimes the hate can even drive you to improve! I can't tell you how to deal with each and every hater, but I can tell you that they are a part of the process. So enjoy the smell of the rose, even if it does have a few thorns!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Part-time lover

My older sister gave birth to her first child today, and I took the day off to be with my family. The baby wasn’t born until the afternoon, so I spent part of the morning working on “Vigilante Project.”

The extra time spent got my mind racing as I imagined what life would be like if I didn’t have to go in to my day job every day. In a strange sort of coincidence, a friend and fellow creator in our Indie Comics and Art Forum asked, “How many of you balance a day job and your comic art workload every day, and how do you manage to get things done?”

I have a wife and three kids so they take priority. I also have these things called bills, so my day job ranks pretty high on the list as well. After work I rush home to be with the kids while the wife works her part-time evening shift. Once she’s home we do dinner, have some family time, give baths, and then put the kids to bed. So my creative work happens from about 9pm until midnight. I wish I had more time to create, but we do what we can, when and how we can.

There are starving artists, and then there are artists with day jobs. One has no money, and the other has no time. Do you know why cubicles are all the same shade of headstone gray? It’s because that’s where creativity goes to die.

Back in 2009, I was working as a commodities broker when I finally had enough of the cubicle life and decided to start creating again. I called my best friend (and writing partner) Phil who was living his own private hell in the retail sector and said something along the lines of, “We are too damned smart and too (expletive) creative to be punching a clock, and making somebody else rich.” It was on that phone call that we brainstormed and created Vigilante Project.

So how does an artist with responsibilities find time to create? By setting a schedule and sticking to it. I try to devote at least two hours a day to my creative endeavors. I no longer have the luxury of pulling all-nighters. If you can, go for it. Take advantage of that time and freedom. Enjoy it while you can. For the rest of us, make a schedule and stick to it. Get and stay disciplined. Set timers if you need to.

Examine your goal, and reverse engineer it to this very moment. For example, in my mind, Vigilante Project is already a success. In my head, we've signed with the publisher/distributor and the book is a success. We’ve got the TV series on HBO or Showtime, and damn it, we’ve even won a couple of Emmy awards. Every day I ask myself what I can do to further my dreams. Then I do it. You should do the same.

I got so much more accomplished this morning! It was blissful and it was torture all at the same time. But I can’t dwell on that. Instead I am asking what I can do in the time allotted to get one step closer to that Emmy on my mantle.