Art Fight 2020 Summary

This year was the first year I joined Art Fight. Art Fight is an annual art trading game where people draw each other’s characters (usually) as an “attack,” and the person in question can choose to “defend” against the attack by drawing the attacker’s character.

>mfw I found out what Art Fight actually was.
>mfw I found out what Art Fight actually was.

I had heard about it from a writers’ discord I’m in. My first impression was that people drew each other killing each others’ characters, which I thought was metal as fuck (literally “art fight”) and was excited to find some 19 year old girl’s bunny OC and draw it getting torn to shreds with sixty pellets of lead. When I found this was not the case, I actually felt really disappointed 😅 and thought the entire event was just a lame glorified thing to draw peoples’ OCs.

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Perspective

A friend linked me a post on twitter and in the little promo blurb directly beneath the post was a link to their comic. They said they make 40-60 coloured panels a week, and work 8-10 hours on their comic every day. I decided to check it out, because I was dumbstruck… 8 hours a day on comics?!

The first thing that hit me was how simplistic the art was. The lines were rough, the characters were flat coloured with a simple soft shadow over most of them. The backgrounds were composed mostly of CSP brushes that were laid down very quickly. Not that any of this was a bad thing, because of the sheer amount of content that this person has to output. The art did its job to tell the story and anything more is just unnecessary polish.

But when I saw it, I felt… relief. Like a weight off my shoulders.

I felt okay.

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I can’t decide anything anymore.

Recently E*sy has been cleaned of Jojo content (with rumours that Stone Ocean is coming out soon), more specifically, there have been takedowns affecting every Jojo artist of all calibers, popular and small artist, and a lot of people have been looking at other places to setup shop. Including me.

The problem is that fanart is still fanart, infringing on others’ IP is still Bad, and no one wants to deal with that. Getting your account terminated can happen on any storefront, E*sy or otherwise. I’m not gonna discuss legality of it, but I’ll say that fanart is the reason I can pay my bills, and that’s probably the same for many artists, so you know my stance on it now.

Because of this recent event, my hackles have been raised quite a bit for the past several days due to various things. First, I love Jojo, so not being able to share my Jojo merchandise with other fans who want to buy it outside of cons makes me sad. I love spreading the good word of Jojo and limiting my ability to do that sucks.

I am not fighting the fact that the company wants to protect its IP. That is well within their rights. But this is my second problem: My original stuff doesn’t sell because I can’t create marketable ideas/products and my tastes are too niche.

While looking up threads on this fiasco and seeking out possible other options than selling on E*sy, someone’s comment in particular really rubbed me the wrong way. The short version of it is that they treated fanartists condescendingly and said that their original art does well on E*sy therefore proving that original works are just as viable as fanworks.

I looked at their store and… well it was just animals. Of course their shop was doing fine. Their original work appealed to every person on the fucking planet.

It’s not that simple for everyone. I want to make nuns and angels and priests and religious shit for my original merchandise. Who the fuck wants that? Very few people. Every single piece of original work on my table is carried on the shoulders of my fanart. If I get rid of all my original work my sales wouldn’t suffer in the slightest.

The only original art I’ve been able to sell with sort-of success is anything with Incubus (people love his design for whatever reason), but it’s not like I can do much with that- usually it’s like 1-3 pieces of something Incubus-related per con. Which I consider fucking mindblowing next to my other original shit which has exactly Zero sales.

And, people suggested doing cute animals: yeah, I did that. They sell as frequently as my other original works, which is…maybe one per con. Why would people buy cute animals when they could buy a character they like? The connection is greater for the latter.

I thought of starting a series of cute/fanservicey angels, but I was reminded that nearly every piece of original art I’ve ever done has sold poorly so my feet sunk into the mud, unable to get a solid footing. I’m also abysmally fucking terrible at character design so it’s not like I could make a really stylish character that could appeal to anyone either. I just have accepted the fact that I can’t create marketable stuff without relying on other IP.

It’s easy to say: “Just do it!” But I see dollar signs disappearing before my eyes and more merchandise no one will buy sitting in my already-full closet.

“Art that you love sells! They will know how much passion you put into it! Make what you love, not what sells!” What a fucking joke. The fanart I gave the least of a shit about and barely put effort into was my biggest seller for several months.

What should I do? I just don’t know. I’m so lost.

End of 2019

It’s been four cons that exceeded my expectations and I still can’t tell if my success is just one big cruel joke ready to flop on me at any moment or if I’m actually doing something right. I really don’t know anymore.

When I count my numbers I felt positive, that after years of floundering around I finally can make living wage like normal people do working at normal people jobs. Something that I have not had for many, many years.

But the other part of me is disappointed in myself. That it took a whole decade to figure out what I wanted to do. I talk about feeling inadequate compared to younger and more successful artists because I think I could’ve had some vague inkling of success in my early 20s like them if I just pushed myself, but I didn’t. I… really didn’t learn anything.

I told myself I worked really hard in 2019 but I don’t think it’s enough. Is it ever enough? Did I actually work hard? What do I do all day, anyway?

When I compared my art from 2009 to 2019 it looks pretty much the same, just the one on the right I spent more time rendering. Like I haven’t learned anything. Have I? What can I do differently, a decade later?

I’m not really sure… well, whatever it is, it’s better than this ugly fucking thing I did near the end of 2008.

It’s depressing, but I guess I just have to keep going.

The Future, Behold

So since I surprisingly actually made a living wage at Youmacon (like, a real, normal wage that normal people who work normal jobs actually make), I was able to pay off the final debt of my student loans and I am now free. Free from a degree that I used for exactly…three years of my life.

Anyway, now that that’s over I can start some fiscal-related things like putting away money for a house and other investment stuff. I wanted to treat myself to something nice since I never spend money on myself other than buying stuff in the AA at cons, but all I can think of is old people things like buying nice furniture or actually seeing and being able to pay a dentist. So that isn’t really fun. The amount of things I want has dwindled as I became older. Instead I just went to dinner and splurged a little.

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Youmacon Aftermath

So avoiding the complete dumpsterfire that was the drama surrounding Youmacon, it was my best con so far. Some observations:

1) I had originally made my small loaf pillows as an alternative to people who gawked at the price tag of my big pillows. However, people preferred the big ones, and were really receptive to the backing I used. When they asked about buying big pillows that had sold out, I offered to sell them the small versions, but many of them declined. For a while I had been afraid that I had nothing to offer that was different than manufactured pillows from Alibaba. After all, you can get double-sided pillows made for cheap that are several inches bigger and you don’t even have to do any work for them other than drawing the image. It’s time-consuming and expensive just to sew my 10-inch ones, so I felt inadequate next to manufactured ones. The fact that people preferred the backing I use made me feel good, like I do have something to offer, and I don’t have to give up my craft just because other people order theirs off of Alibaba.

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Update on where Wingless is

All right, here’s the thing. It’s been difficult for me to get back to start drawing Wingless, namely cause I don’t have any fucking time anymore.

Reasoning is, doing cons is now my full-time job. My “full-time job” when doing Wingless used to be… well, only drawing the comic, but cons have started to become actually lucrative for me, so I’ve transitioned into it being my literal job. After releasing my latest product line this year (pillows) I’ve tasted the sweet nectar of Success™ and since then have attended/applied to more and more cons and will continue this upward trend.

That means that 90% of my time spent is creating merchandise to sell, leaving me little time to do any thing else. That also means that I have less creative energy to work on stuff related to drawing, because if I’ve spent all day drawing at work, most of the time I’m too exhausted to draw anything substantial or creative when I’m done with my work for the day. I already barely scrape by doing one Boys comic a week.

Now, I don’t want this post to be DOOM AND GLOOM, so here are some things that I’ve taken into consideration for starting up again, given my situation:

  • Because it takes a billion years to draw a comic, I’m probably going to switch to doing flat colours only for Wingless because shading doesn’t really provide anything valuable other than “it’s pretty” (which I’ve talked about in my other post why hearing that shit is cancer to me).
  • Building a buffer again will be hard so there probably will be a while between me actually starting to draw it again vs. actually releasing pages.
  • I also have to redraw all the characters’ reference sheets and stuff since things have changed in the past year and a half so the way I draw them is different now.
  • I’m training an “apprentice” to handle 3d model stuffs for me so I don’t have to spend time setting up scenes. We also spoke about them possibly doing lettering & colouring; though it’s tentative, and I’d have to create style guides and such for that. But, either way, it will take some workload off of me which is nice.

Again I’m sorry for delaying this further, I know people have been looking forward to it but I honestly wasn’t expecting this turn of events in my life. But I believe this is for the better for me, even if it does mean less time for drawing comics, because I can actually, like, make a living and shit off of being a weeb. It’s crazy.

Trying to stall a dying earth

Because doing cons has basically become my actual job now instead of just a thing I do sometimes, I’ve become more aware of how much waste I create and I’m trying to be more conscious about it.

Yeah, the earth is dying. Yeah, it’s arrogant to assume that anything that I, a single person, does is having a grand effect. Yeah, it seems pointless. But humans are creatures of anxiety, and if it clears my conscious to do it then I will live my life in this way instead of feeling guilty, pointless or not.

As much as I love creating cute packaging in cellophane plastic bags, I researched some alternatives to such things after reading some starting points from this twitter thread.

Other useful thing that was posted in the thread of what’s the difference between biodegradable vs compostable. Basically compostable > biodegradable because if it’s compostable it leaves no residue behind (only good stuff for plants); biodegradable sometimes leaves toxic waste behind.

This post is mostly detailing different types of packaging to use.

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The Power of Not Giving a Fucking Shit

For a long, long time I’ve been deeply disturbed at how long it takes me to make comics. And somehow after five years of making comics I’m still crawling at a snail’s page to crank out a page. Meanwhile comics like Stand Still, Stay Silent update four times a week and continue looking beautiful and I’m like ????????? The fuck kind of alien sorcery is this?????? huh????? how???????

I remember crying about it to other webcomickers on a webcomic FB group several years ago, I didn’t get too much advice on it and I just had to figure it out on my own. That seems to be a common theme. I never seem to absorb anything that anyone says to me. I just have to learn it by myself, even if someone already told me it, I have to be the one to discover it. Anyway, that was the first step I took of not detailing every single fucking rivet in an armour piece, but of course that was just one very teeny tiny step.

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