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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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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Something Positive

So Anime Midwest is over and it blew every other con I’ve ever done out of the water. This is the first con where I figured out how to display my pillows prominently, and I also debuted my very soft pillows, which sold exceptionally well.

It made me realize that I think I found my niche, which is doing pillows. It’s both something that I love to do and make profit off of so I want to hang on to this tightly.

I mean, weirdly enough, unlike everything else I do for cons, I don’t hate making pillows! Yeah it’s a pain and there’s always hiccups because I’m still learning, but in the end it’s very rewarding!

That being said, I’ve long despised being a print artist because of many reasons.

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Role Models

A long time ago I read some advice that was along the lines of “You shouldn’t publicly self-deprecate yourself because the people who look up to you will see it and it will affect them, too.”

I thought it was sound advice, me being the self-hating amoeba that I am, but then the other thought occurred to me: it was downright arrogant to assume anyone actually looked up to me. So the cycle continued.

That was many years ago. I am older now and this year I’ll be 30. In addition, this year has had a lot of changes and in particular I feel that I’ve become more comfortable in my art shoes, comfortable enough to even post my art process for patrons in addition to start streaming too.

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Shame

For a long time I was afraid to show how I draw pictures cause for most poses I use 3d models. I will throw away a picture if I draw the angle of something slightly off so using 3d to draw complex objects or poses has helped me make art that I couldn’t do before.

I was afraid that people would say, “You’re not a real artist if you have to rely on 3d! Real artists know how to draw X object from any perspective and angle!!!!!!!!” Sure, I agree that knowing how to construct an object at any perspective is an important skill for an artist but… that’s the thing, I’m not that skilled.

So that kept feeding into itself and I told myself that I’m not a “real” artist and etc etc… Even though I saw professional manga artists show their methods of using 3d (like the creator of Gantz to name one) I still felt like I was a failure because I’m incapable of coming up with X pose by myself without the help of 3d, or I can’t draw Y object at some extreme angle.

However I stopped feeling bad recently after coming upon a comic that very, very clearly traces over 3d. It feels really mean to say, but it made me realize that I shouldn’t feel bad using 3D because my art that uses 3d isn’t as obvious as that. I won’t post a picture out of courtesy, but it’s basically as if I had traced the model with my brain turned off.

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High off Fumes

Even though it’s been a little over a week since ACEN I feel like it’s been an entire month. Since then I’ve been working extra hard to shit out comics for my new series Boys Outta Luck!, I was thinking I’d been in an after-con slump for at least a month (as it usually is) but I’ve been very productive and have only had lulls in days when my wrist was hurting.

I usually have after-con slumps because I go there and proceed to psyche myself out saying I don’t belong there, I suck, etc. compared to the other artists, then after it’s done I feel like I’ve robbed everyone of their money with their shitty artwork and continue holing up in my house.

However, as I mentioned in my previous post, I got positive reinforcement for my original stuff so now I’m high as a kite on little tidbits of praise and I’m in overdrive mode.

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Impulsive Decisions

This is a long-ass post with some thoughts. I put a TL;DR at the end for ppl who don’t want to read my WALL OF TEXT.

When I first started tabling at cons in 2016 the purpose was to sell my comic and only my comic. I did not have any fanart. Unsurprisingly, I did not break even. I thought to myself, “well maybe if I make some fanart it’ll help pay for the booth while I sell the comic.” I did so and churned my first profit. I made more and more fanart until it was my entire table except the small stand that held my comic. Less and less people bought my comic or even gave it so much as a glance as I continued to decorate my table with various fanart pieces, even though I always made the effort to mention it was there for reading to customers. I started losing faith as those people always flocked to the fanart I had created, ignoring the thing that was the centrepiece of my table. I became embarrassed and too ashamed to even mention it now. It felt like a mockery. “Ha ha, look at this loser trying to sell original stuff at his table. Who cares? What a moron.” A dogma grew on me, one that stated that original art was impossible to sell at cons. After all, I only table at anime cons, of course those people want to see anime, how foolish of me. I lost hope and removed more and more original work from my table, even started marking it as free, after all who cared?

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