Greetings all, Damigeron here. Writer.
Something has been on my mind for over a year, and it wasn't until I heard Kneon and Geeky announce the forum that I thought there was an excellent place to ask about it.
What are we as aspiring creators doing to make ourselves more competitive? It's all well and good to tear apart the new media whether original or wearing the skin of IPs we love or once loved or to complain about the looming threat of CalArts nepotism over the next half-decade of western animation. But seriously, what are we doing to make ourselves more desirable to studios, production companies, and other prospective employers?
When I say "we," I don't mean us collectively, I mean us individually. What are you guys doing to make yourselves better artists and writers? What are you guys doing to expand yourselves and make yourselves adaptable it what is looking like a more and more specialized marketplace of ideas?
I know what I'm doing. I'm not going to share the finer details here, considering I'm going to be setting up a blog within the next to weeks. I can however share the broad outline of what I've been doing to improve my writing competence: I research — a lot.
I've been unemployed for nearly three months, but my living situation is secure, and I've taken the opportunity between looking for work to approach research as though it was a full-time 9-to-5. I've been poring through numerous books on a multitude esoteric subject material and historical documentation, shifting subject and book in my roster every time I finish a section and take notes on it.
I take all my notes in the Java-based mind-mapping program FreeMind ( http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Download ), and once then once I'm done with the current phase of my project I'm going to be recompiling all the stuff I've researched into a master-reference series of pdfs that I can build on as my research continues. The process itself has rapidly expanded my understanding of scores of different subjects, and I'm able to make connections I would never have dreamed of before in an instant.
I don't expect anyone to have the kind of free time I have, but I'm wondering if anyone else is stepping outside of the basic craft into unfamiliar subject matter with the explicit intent of using it to make themselves a better writer or artist. If so, what is your methodology?
Honestly, the best thing I find is to keep at it. I founded my own website and released a number of comics and other fan-based things for over 22 years now, and it wasn't till 2015 that I started to get attention and now it's a fight to keep the attention going in. What helped me was doing a summer of free request drawings back then. I was unemployed and trying to build up / back an audience (that was hard hit when Inkblazers closed). People began to found my work and while I was doing some work I personally didn't care for, it brought in paying customers, attention for my work, and a rising audience and voice. Given I did teach myself code (the basic at least) back in the turn of the century which helped to a point. But I do find it important to make sure even when things are quiet and desperate to keep at it. As my own work was growing in 2015 I became homeless and worked 6 days a week from the local library doing commissions, while sleeping in my car at night. Till I could find a new day time job and place to live. Being sure to not get oneself in the mindset that you can live off your work helps. Even if it means doing art or writing part-time, work to pay bills and live, but never give up on your love of creating.
I started out with my own website. I eventually created my art FB page (which has less than 500 likes/followers). I was always changing my site cause I've never been fully satisfied with the basic common WordPress look. It's getting there at least. I also started experimenting with different art mediums and techniques and found a love for pastel painting. Several years later I became interested in expirementing with watercolor. Then colored pencils. I was able to combine all the mediums into one piece which made for a fun process in creating a piece. On the side, I would write blog posts on my website, though not a ton. I also created slideshow music videos of my artwork progress. A few years I got a kitten. I knew I would want to show so much about him because I've never had an Abyssinian before. So I created a cat FB page about him, honestly for my enjoyment. Now it's grown to over 1400 Followers/Likes, which blows my mind. Last year I decided to do a year long project of using my cat and words as a theme, kind of like Inktober, but on my own time. It gave me a chance for people to see what kind of artist my cats human was. Though I was already sharing my art on my cats page (shared from my art page, if it wasn't art of him). I've had many requests to buy prints from me, so that's where I am atm. I found two places in NY that look good for prints. I just need to calibrate my screen to match their samples. That part isn't very fun. Last year, I also made my first 'live' traditional art speed painting video, which was a tremendous learning experience. I post videos up at my YouTube (though not as fast/often as some artists). I am also taking an online/offline class on writing, from my favorite writer/novelist. But it isn't so much on grammar and technical stuff (though important still) but also the process, why you write, what story you want to tell, what in life inspires you. It's from a guy I really respect (he writes thriller, action, suspense). I decided to put my own spin on it and incorporate each chapter into an illustrative art piece, as a challenge to myself, along with the writing for the chapters/sections.
You ever heard of the saying "a good artist is one who also strives to improve their craft/work"? I think that can relate to this topic. You're only limiting yourself otherwise. And also how boring would it be to never discover new and interesting things to add onto your skills in life?
Oh yeah, if you want to check out my cat, on FB (or Instagram), look up 'MrRainCat'. Of course, my cat has more Like & Followers than my Art Page lol, but that okkk. Seeing my Rain makes people happy. It's a good way to share my work through him, I think.
I think that if you inherently have the ability to grow and get better that it will happen naturally given the chances. I became a housewife and now have a lot more time to work on my art and over the last two years have expand myself greatly in what I can do. Am I making more money because of it? No. But I have been finally able to complete projects that been on hold for a while. Really what I need to do to get more exposure and credit for my hard work is to literally pander to existing fandoms, something a lot of artist who have been successful (at conventions) do.
I'm just going to focus on my projects and continue to push my self and learn new things.