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.
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.
Continue reading The Future, Behold
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1) I had originally made my small loaf pillows as an alternative to people who gawked at the price tag of my big pillows.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.
Continue reading Youmacon Aftermath
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.
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.
Continue reading Trying to stall a dying earth
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.
Continue reading Something Positive
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?
Continue reading Impulsive Decisions
ACEN 2019 is in 4 days and I seem to be suppressing my anxiety pretty well. I have no idea how much stock to bring to an event this big but I’m not going to bring my button maker and I’m not sure if it’s a good idea or not. It takes up a lot of room in my luggage and on the table, it also means I have to print sheets of buttons beforehand and -HOPE- they’re used and not a waste of ink.
I made 12 of each of my popular designs and 6 of my not-so-popular designs so I’m hoping this is enough per day. We decided we’re just going to drive the hour back and forth each day instead of getting a hotel. No idea if this is a good move or not but we’ll see. The plus side is that if I run out of something at the con I can simply go home and restock the next day.
At Anime ZAP, I released 4 of my new meme buttons which were an insane hit and I sold out of all the ones I made (about ~10) of them in a single day. This is the only anomaly I’ve had where I’ve sold out of so many in one day. For comparison, at 2018 Anime Midwest, the highest selling button design was bought 10 times through the entire con.
I’ve also bought a new flipbook display for my prints and sticker sheets. At my last con, I had a rotating stand with prints clipped to the top and the idea was you could spin it and take the prints that you wanted to buy off of it. Well, that didn’t work because people were scared to touch it.
With this one, I hope that because it’s an open book, it’s more inviting for people to flip through and look at. The only problem is it does not show holographic prints very well because of the protective cover, so I think I should make a little sign that says “flip up the cover to see the holographic film” but it will probably be a waste of time because no one at cons ever knows how to read and everyone is afraid to touch anything on tables.
Another change of my booth is that I’ve upgraded from a 2-cube high display to a 3-cube high display. This does get in the way of prints on a 6-ft table but if it’s an 8 ft table (most of them tend to be) then it’s all right. But the rest of my table’s setup is just me going “?????? hmm will this fit?????? where will I put this??????” on Thursday and praying that everything will turn out alright.
Cons are scary and I have no idea how I continue doing this shit.