Monday, May 6, 2013

On Keeping Control of your Creative Properties

Good morning! Let me tell you a tale... I am finally happy again, which means that at some point there was some unhappiness going on. It's strange how unhappiness, like pain, is an indicator. If you are running and you are in pain, you stop running. You figure out what is hurting. Physical therapy. Ice. Gradual work-back-up. It is much easier to be in physical pain with a clear cause. Unhappiness can be a little more subtle!

I have been on a long journey with my Surfside Girls project. There have been ups and downs. It is, however, my baby and it always makes me happy. Through a bizarre series of events I lost a little control of this project. I didn't realize it at first, but I started feeling anxious. The kind of anxious like when someone has your kid and they're late getting back and not answering their cell phone. It got worse and worse until I started getting depressed. Ooof! Not a good place to be! And so the lesson got learned and it got learned good. Stay in control of your creative properties.

Let me say before I go any further that this doesn't mean don't take editorial advice. If you are on a project and the art director points out that your composition is a bit lacking, take another look. It probably is, and why not improve your art? But I had the good fortune of going up to the CTN Roadshow a couple of weeks ago. CTN, the Creative Talent Network, is a collection of creatives who have mostly worked in animation. The Roadshow was kind of a farmer's market meets ComiCon. Totally fun. Anyhow, I ran into an old buddy Mike Kunkle who I have worked with on various animated films. He has been doing his own thing for a while- a company called The Astonish Factory. He does books and a comic called Herobear and the Kid. ( I went to his booth because his artwork is great and always happy. I told him of my troubles and he had some great advice: when we work in entertainment, we are always working on someone else's thing. Making changes according to how they want. When we work on our own thing, therefore, it should only be for us.

So I made some tough decisions. I am going it alone on this project. It will be finished in a year and a half. I am painting four pages a week until it's done. I am not looking up. When it is done I may approach a graphic novel publisher like First Second, or I may not. I may self-publish. And then I will try to sell it. The process I have been through with children's publishing is slow and wearying. I have made the decision that done is infinitely better than not-done, or changed to the point of non-recognition. Wish me luck, people!

By the way, you may have encountered this kind of sadness when you have felt out of control on a project. I don't know what you did to get out of it. I put it in a box in my brain and did other stuff. I drew Lois, the fat dog. I distracted. It doesn't hurt that my yard was in full bloom, and my husband had gone abalone hunting and put on a great ab feed. I counted my blessings in other arenas. Once I got to the true source of the unhappiness, though, I knew what I had to do. I have been infinitely happier since.