The Next Steps: An Artist Life Detox

Okay, where has the year gone by? It’s a new month, and already September. I sent out my ‘beat sheet’, and I’m still hearing back from you guys, but I’ve also gotten a lot of great feedback. I hope I’m not boring you too much with my journey! I also haven’t responded to a lot of that feedback, but I will in due time. I sort of want everyone to get back to me before I do. I realise that I shared Vera, embarrassingly early and that is something I wouldn’t recommend for most. However, I needed someone to see it so I would avoid working in the dark only to find out what I’ve produced is all wrong. So don’t be afraid to get out there and share your worst, first drafts are always bad and it’ll only make you better.

First drafts are always bad.

In light of this, I have been learning a lot, and also considering the future (before I’ve even got started – typical). I probably won’t be able to produce comics full time, but I do want to produce something every year – even if it’s just a short/mini or zine.  Ambitious right? But I think it matters. The more I make, the more I’ll learn by doing.

For one, I expect Vera to change in story a lot. It might take a year to fully flesh out her story with minor changes to the Act 1. In fact, I spent last Thursday getting a list of pre-production ready for Vera. Pinterest boards and concepts are underway, but there is still a lot of self editing to do. Which is just so as I also finished reading Invisible Ink and have taken plenty of notes!

However, in between this I’ve been working on commissions and also changing my way of thinking. Call it a bit of a ‘life detox’. Drink plenty of water, stay away from negative parts of social media and keep my head down and focused. No processed junk food, it only affects your health and mood. So we’re going for a bit of a mental and physical detox here, with the hopes that it’ll improve my productivity and overall health.

So what was next? Sunday I started on the FZDSchool youtube videos. So far I’m picking up good tips I don’t know I would have considered previously. Such as ‘When constructing scenes with people. Have your character’s eyes look at where you want your viewer to look.’ Their eyes will lead the viewer to the focus, and so should everything else in the image.

On Monday, in addition to eating fruit all day, I also started writing daily memos with small achievable goals. Just one or two things to get done in the day, that are easy to do. As long I can cross something small off like ‘send an invoice today’, ‘reply to this email’, ‘read through this document at least once’, ‘finish this sketch’. Just listing two or three things I know I want to get done by the end of the day, and crossing them off improves my overall mood. This is especially good for when you feel like you’ve achieved nothing all day, and that thought gets to you.

On Tuesday, a lot more went down. I finally started to dig into the process of self editing. Even listening to some of my most inspirational soundtracks: The Prince of Egypt. I ended up getting caught on this, but I felt like Odessa – Vera’s sister, really resonated with the song; ‘All I ever Wanted’. Which is by the way an incredibly underrated song.

During this I’ve also been taking notes from Khan Academy’s Pixar Storytelling course. Some of you who know me, may know that I’ve been trying to improve my craft at writing and I’m taking it seriously. So don’t expect anything that was after Act 1 to stay the same. The story is ever evolving and changing, and I am embracing that. When re-reading my Save The Cat notes, I realised it was less useful to me as a starting point and more useful to me as a fixer upper and editing device.

So that’s where I am. I’m not sure what I’ll have to share next time, possibly more examples of the methods I’ve been using to improve the story, or maybe even some concepts, but it felt right to update on the first of the month.

The journey continues. 🙂

-Elm

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