The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival is next weekend. I believe I have said this before, but I will keep saying it – if you go to one comic event a year, it should be this one. Comic-Con is fun, and it is interesting and cool and overwhelming, and it crosses a crazy number of media boundaries right now. But MoCCA is *AMAZING*. This is the home of independent, original, unique illustrative art in America. I get a total contact high off the sheer energy, talent and electricity of the people who gather there.
ALC Publishing will be there at the PRISM Comics booth. There’ll be fabulous, fun times there, so please drop by and meet some amazing comic artists from the only LGBTQ comics consortium that is full of awesome and win.
If you love independent comics, original ideas, meeting young artists and people who do what they want, the way they want, because they want to – the hardest row to hoe, but the most rewarding – MoCCA is the place to be. I feel more at home there than at any other event I’ve ever attended.
Because I’ll be there, yesterday on Twitter, I posted a few pieces of advice for young, upcoming artists. I get many queries, in person and by email, and I find that my answers to most of them go along the same lines. There are some rather harsh facts that most kids who want to “get into the industry” haven’t really thought through. Because professional artist and Twitter gadfly MariKurisato
forced me suggested I do so, I’ve gathered these thoughts and offer these pieces of advice for you here.
Top 7 Things Every Young Artist or Writer Needs To Know
7. No one is going to discover you if you sit home and draw/write for friends
Making your work public means you’ll risk criticism and ridicule. If you cannot deal with this, you will not make it as a professional artist or writer.
6. Putting your work on Deviantart/Your Blog is not “publishing.”
Your blog or website can definitely function as an online portfolio. But publishers do not trawl Deviantart or WordPress looking for new talent. *If* a publisher is interested in your work, they *may* take a moment to look at your website. Don’t be fooled into thinking that posting a webcomic irregularly means that you’ve published.
5. More than anything else, Publishers need you to meet a deadline without excuses.
No matter how much time you *think* you have, Life will invariably take most of it away. Your publisher does not care that your scanner broke, your dog was sick, work is making you do overtime. Deadlines are deadlines and must be met.
4. You are not as good an artist/writer as you (and your friends) think you are.
An editor or artistic director knows what makes a story or piece of art better. Listen to them, because you can gain valuable critical feedback from them. Don’t just roll your eyes and claim that it’s your “style.”
3. You may be an *amazing* artist/writer, but that won’t get you a job. Professionalism and flexibility will.
An editor may need you to draw in a slightly different way, or in a completely different style. It’s true that you want to develop your own work, but many artists start by doing assistant work for other artists. Being the go-to person is a good way to build up a great work reputation and experience. How you handle a request for this sort of thing will be a major factor in whether an editor or director turns to you later. Now is not the time to be a Diva.
2. What you do is not as important as who you know. Spend equal time on your networking as you do on your art.
Attend as many book or comic events as you can, get on Twitter and follow agents and editors. Meet and befriend agents, publishers, managers, art directors. Talk to people, listen to people and make an effort to be as visible as possible. Make a LinkedIn profile, join organizations, go to open networking events. You have no idea when your big break may happen, but if you’re at the right place at the right time with the right people, it’ll happen.
1. And lastly, no matter how stupid s/he is, your editor or publisher is always right.
Nobody likes criticism. The bottom line is – this is a job and you are a professional. Changes will be made and you will have to make them. Don’t explain why you did it that way, don’t whine. Listen to the people who are responsible for the publication and do what they need you to do they way they need you to do it. When you’re the editor or publisher, you can call the shots.
Extra Tip #1: Everyone is busy. None one has time for you. Before you email a publication, read the Submission Guidelines and **actually follow them.** Don’t email artwork if it says to not email artwork. Don’t focus on your experience writing historical drama, when the publisher is looking for superhero work. Start your email off with:
Dear Sir or Madam –
My name is /yourname/. I am writing to you to /why you are writing/.
Write a short, polite, coherent introduction, followed by a discussion of whatever it is you are writing about.
Do NOT write a long, rambling introduction of you, your story, your lifework.
You have 3 lines to impress the person on the other end that you are professional, coherent, sane and have some reasonable talent. 3 lines. That’s it. This is your chance to market your work – so, use those three lines wisely.
I hope that this gives you a clearer idea of what is important in “the industry.” Of course, I wish you all the very best of luck as well!