So I got my first question today from Ryan Dunlavey (Action Philosophers, The Comic Book History of Comics, Dirt Candy)
Keeping in mind the fact that since I first interacted with him as a fellow Covered artist, he has had 2 graphic novels come out and I’m too lazy to do a full comic.
Honestly, I’m not even sure how I do it. Let me give you an example of a typical day -
I work from 9 to 5:30 monday through friday and we have a one year old son. So around 6 AM he gets up, which means I get up then too. This part of the daily routine is not exciting, and really, neither is the work day itself. Weekends are pretty filled with family activities or other chores, so my available drawing time is VERY minimal on these days. So I get most of my schmoozing and joking on twitter done via a smartphone during the day, and send e-mails if I need to, which is F’N AWESOME on a phone service that gets one bar of reception in this particular building. But I do have one thing that helps with art productivity - my to-do list staring right at me -
I can sort of keep my mind sane knowing what I need to do, and can kinda visualize or mentally prepare images (or even sketch up thumbnails on post-it notes) this way. I list benchmarks for myself, P-I-C-Copy for Pencils/Inks/Coloring and Copy (if needed) so I know where I’m at and to motivate myself.
After dinner and other family stuff is done and the kiddo winds down, it’s about 9:30 in the evening and it’s FINALLY drawing time. I can usually go for about an hour and a half or so, but I usually try and bring it down by watching a 1/2 hour of a ep of Ultraseven or part of a movie before going to bed at midnight.
Here’s the funny thing, even with all that? I’m maybe the most productive I’ve ever been in my life.
The strangest thing about NOT being able to draw all that often is OBSESSING about it. And for me, I can eliminate potential problems this way, or solve issues on a picture even before I’ve lifted the tablet up. ”Man when I get to do this P-swap I’ll try this color scheme out” or “y’know what fonts’d look good here?”, etc, etc. That’s not how everyone’s programmed, but for me it helps tremendously.
I’m pretty streamlined in how I work to, most of my methods are reflex now (everything from desktop layout, shortcut keys, photoshop actions and macros, general sequencing) so when I tell someone “stop fucking using 100 layers in photoshop” and get a bit pissed it’s because I DESPISE seeing people waste their time. So many bad tutorials online…but I digress.
The other thing is, having done this for a little while I know my limitations, workload and schedule wise. Also, I don’t take on a project if I don’t want to. I used to think I was lucky in that I can draw what I want, but that’s not exactly true. I’m lucky that people will LET me draw what I want for them :D, especially with the musicians I work with. I don’t need to take on a project I’m going to slug through because I need dirty cash money, and lack the enthusiasm to complete in a quick fashion, and the more people realize that the quicker they’ll be. There’ nothing rewarding about that. I’ll walk away rather than plead my case. Not worth my time.
It’s difficult for me still because I am offered comic work pretty frequently, but constantly deny it because there is no way with my life now to commit to a full book. This sucks, but again, it’s perspective and knowing limits. Time invested vs reward, compared to web or music projects that I will have quadruple the exposure (and money) was a lesson I had to learn pretty rapidly these last 2 years.
So yeah, that’s how I do it. Having an insanely awesome family life that I want to spend most of my time on AND being entertained AND working full time AND maintaining an art career takes a helluva lot of balancing, but I had to find what worked for me. Really you just have to figure out what you can sacrifice. I sold my Xbox 360 because it was a distraction (I have a PSP which I can put to sleep so it’s not NEARLY as bad…), but that’s me. Playing the last Dead Rising game became less appealing to me than getting to work for 1up.
You really have to figure out what time you DO have instead of what you DON’T have, and how to maximize every f’n minute of it. There’s no other way to put it. Sorry this got a bit more confessional then people probably wanted, but hopefully there’s something usable here.