The Chase

I wonder sometimes if commodifying my hobby was a mistake.

Art is the only thing I’ve traited into. So I thought it would be a good idea to make money off of it, right?

I say I’m a professional because I’ve worked as an artist. But the word entails a degree of skill. How could I feel comfortable saying I’m a professional when children half my age can draw just as well as me?

I feel every path I’ve taken has been the wrong one. As if I spent the years constructing myself completely wrong- the wrong way to make an artist in this modern time.

I don’t like drawing fanart. I’m not interested in drawing trendy aesthetics. I don’t draw popular things or things that are universally loved, like kawaii animals or meme stuff.

I could make up for these things with a high degree of skill, which I fail to possess.

With social media being the way to get eyes and make money, the fact that I don’t have any of these things has made me into a walking marketing failure.

Last year, there was a hashtag trying to feature artists on the blue bird site that had under a certain amount of followers. In an amazing display of ignorance and blindness, a user with 60k followers proceeded to tweet something along the lines of, “It’s okay, guys! Follower count doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t mean your art is bad!”

Then what does it mean? Of course follower count doesn’t mean anything to you. You already reached a comfortable baseline, your tweets can reach an unfathomable amount of people within seconds! What about the rest of us who are trying to reach people to view our products, our commissions, the things that pay bills? Maybe follower count isn’t so important when you are hobbyist, but when you are trying to eat, of course it fucking matters! Don’t be so blind!

Another artist, whom I adore, tweeted something similar that was like, “You all think having 10k followers is gonna pay all your bills, 10k followers is barely anything.”

I get that not all 10k people are gonna buy something on a new shop update, but holy shit, you are forgetting your REACH. I have about 850ish followers on the blue bird site, and the amount of interactions I get on average is 1% of my followers – sometimes even less.

Even taking in account the same math for someone with 10k followers, that’s at least 100 people who might interact, which sure as fuck is a higher chance for something to happen than at 850 followers!

It makes me circle back to my previous point. I don’t have high skill level, so I should be drawing trendy stuff people like to get followers, shouldn’t I? I need to eat too. But I say, well, I don’t actually like drawing that stuff.

It’s my job, isn’t it? And a job isn’t supposed to be fun, that’s why it’s called work. So I need to work to be seen and get more reach. I just have to pick the thing that I hate the least and build around that, since I’m going to be mediocre forever, I have to pick my poison. Either study endlessly or draw trends, and drawing trends has results that are more immediate.

…Is that it? The correct conclusion?

This is where I arrived at? Is it right?

I really envy people who make marketable art who don’t want to jump into a coffin.

Bad Tutorial

The entirety of 2020 I hated everything I drew and it got worse as the year went on. Here in 2021, my feelings haven’t changed and I still hate everything. I think it’s because my hands can’t match what my mind is envisioning, so I automatically assume the worst of everything placed on the canvas.

I bought two expensive art classes that I’m kind of banking all my hopes on for actually liking art again, one of my goals this year is to make something I actually like and don’t hate five seconds after making it or five seconds after it’s done . So far I haven’t achieved it yet. So I’m just kind of lying in wait for February for when the class starts. If I still hate everything after I finish both classes I dunno what I’ll do with myself, really. Probably just delete myself off the earth haha… anyway….

Continue reading Bad Tutorial

I’m Old, again.

My birthday was recently. I know I haven’t posted much on this blog this year. It’s because I haven’t really done anything this year or had much to say. Covid really did a number on us all. I would’ve normally liked to post my thoughts on a couple cons I went to for the first time, but yeah, no cons. So I’m just gonna have one long-ass rambling post.

Once again, I’m one year older, and my birthdays just remind me of how far behind I am from my peers, and how I can’t connect with anyone younger than the age of 25. I shake my stick at the whippersnappers and tell them to get off my fucking lawn.

Continue reading I’m Old, again.

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.

Continue reading Art Fight 2020 Summary

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.

Continue reading Perspective

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.

Continue reading The Future, Behold

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.

Continue reading Youmacon Aftermath