I don’t often use this blog for soapboxing about artistic issues, but this comic deserves a bit of an introduction. It’s part of a short conversation I had with my mother (a freelance writer and former cartoonist) a few months ago while working on an illustration job. I’m proud of how far I’ve come in the past year in terms of understanding my financial worth and being unafraid to charge money for what I do, but moments like this still leave me a trembling, anxious wreck. Money and creativity have a fraught relationship at the best of times, and somehow financial matters always manage to cut to the heart of many people’s insecurities. We often believe we’re worthless. That we’re frauds. That someone will come forward one of these days and expose us. It’s only a matter of time. Taking risks and charging a fair price for the services we offer opens us up for the ultimate confirmation of these fears. If someone refuses our price, we are indeed worthless.
Of course, this is a load of bullshit.
Charging people money for something you love doing shouldn’t be difficult, yet somehow it’s one of the greatest challenges facing new artists in the field. We’re steeped in mixed messages telling us that creativity is simultaneously priceless and worthless. “How hard can it be?” people ask, turning around in the same breath to babble about “talent” and “genius”. The attitude I encounter most often involves folks looking wistfully over my shoulder and saying “Oh, I could never do that” — as if drawing is some God-given jar of pixie dust rather than a craft honed over hundreds and thousands of hours. Conversely, onlookers or employers can be astounded at the amount of time and effort that goes into a job — “Surely it doesn’t take that long!” “But that’s so much work!”
How can we create a system where artists don’t have to overcome so many conflicting viewpoints simply in order to get paid for their work? Of course, a great deal rests on having the confidence to realize that self-worth and artistic worth are separate entities. Often it just takes guts to be calm and up-front about asking for your price. By being professional about our financial requirements, we set a precedent for other artists in the field. But it can be hard to know where to start. It’s a lesson I learn and re-learn every time I take on a new job or decide to increase my fees in relation to the amount of experience I’ve gained since starting out as a freelancer.
This is an awful lot of gabble for such a quick comic, but it’s an issue that’s really important to me, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts. If anyone wants to read more, I’ve included some helpful links to other essays on the subject at the bottom of this post.
I didn’t come into the Studio this weekend so I had no scanner access, but here, better late than never, are this year’s Hourly Comics! (You can pick up on my salami jokes by reading last year’s installment right here.) Busy, busy times, but a whole lot of fun.
As promised, here are the details for the two free workshops I’ll be teaching next week at Reed College. These puppies are open to the public and will involve SNACKS. Do I have your attention yet? Good!
First up is Freelance Badassery 101: Maintaining Enthusiasm in the Face of the Unknown (Monday, January 21st, 5pm-7pm). This is a long and fancy-sounding name for a very simple class. The goal is to help you figure out what you love doing, then empower you to do it more and do it better. It’s a class for anyone wishing to light a creative fire under their ass. It’s gonna have some nitty-gritty info about contracts and taxes and invoices and other business things that might be useful to a freelancer, but what comes first is the Work. And that’s what we’re going to tackle head-on. BYO creative self-doubt demons. They’ll be begging for mercy by the time we’re done. Facebook event with directions and other info is here!
The second workshop is Kickstarter Bootcamp: Harnessing the Herd to Make Your Creative Dreams Come True (Wednesday, January 23rd, 5pm-7pm). This will be a hands-on, practical info workshop for those wishing to fund their creative endeavors. The first hour will cover Kickstarter basics, then we’ll critique specific projects. If you have something brewing that you’d like feedback or advice on, bring it in! I’ll be spilling all the dark secrets I learned while riding out the True Believer Kickstarter (730% funded?! How is that even POSSIBLE?!) and incorporating lessons from other successful projects in the Portland area. Facebook event with directions and other info is here!
Both workshops will take place in the Gray Campus Center at Reed College (3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.). The GCC sits in the central Quad and also houses the College’s dining hall. Parking is available in the North Lot (enter on SE Steele and SE 33rd) or the East Lot (enter on SE Woodstock and SE 36th). The workshop will be held in the Campus Center conference rooms, GCC B, GCC C, and GCC D. Most anyone should be able to steer you towards them, if campus maps prove unhelpful.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me at lucypcbellwood(at)gmail(dot)com!
Hope to see some of you there.
A couple challenges from the last few weeks. Remember you can always join in on these suckers by heading over to the Artistic Veggies tumblr! A new challenge goes live every Monday.
I’ve also been blasting through the last of my Kickstarter custom comics! Thank goodness for that. The most recent strip was a requested Firefly / Doctor Who mash-up for Jason. I never really find the inspiration to draw fan art unless someone specifically requests it, so this was a fun one.
Okay, back to work!
Hello everyone! It’s 2013! Isn’t that crazy? I think so.
This year was my first as a Real Live Cartoonist, and it’s been a hell of a ride. I was about to start writing a list of all the stuff that happened, but I got exhausted just thinking about it. Let’s just say A Lot of Stuff went down. Comics, dance, work, travel, freelance, moving, breakups, unbreakups, practice, growth, change — and 2013 just keeps looking better. I have another two months at Periscope (which, for the record, is the most inspiring and wonderful work environment ever), two of my comics will be published by people who are not me before July, there’s a new issue of Baggywrinkles in the works, and it’s looking like I’ll be traveling to at least FIVE conventions this year. I’m excited, inspired, and ready to make more art. What more could a girl ask for?
I also got a very kind mention in Tony Cliff’s 12 from 2012 list for Paste Magazine. Tony is the mastermind behind the adventures of Delilah Dirk – one the most beautifully-executed and delightful webcomics out there today. I’m immensely chuffed to see Baggywrinkles alongside such an impressive gaggle of names, and I highly recommend that you go check out the rest of the group. There’s just too much awesome stuff happening in comics right now.
Speaking of awesome stuff, here’s some exciting news! The story I’m illustrating for Symbolia Magazine is now officially underway. Here are all my thumbnails laid out and ready to go:
The issue with our story won’t be out until June, but expect several sneak peeks as I work through pencils and inks over the next couple months. Sarah Mirk has put together some really powerful stories, and I can’t wait to start working on them in earnest.
Weekly drawing challenges continue unabated. Here are the 50 Hats I promised last week:
And I’m making noises about doing an alphabet series involving figures from Classical Greece — gods, goddesses, heroes, legends, etc — as a tactic for improving my inking technique. Here’s a photo of the Athena sketch that got me started on the idea.
If you have any favorite Greek figures, perhaps you’d care to leave their names in the comments? I’ll probably be taking suggestions as I go…
Apart from that, work continues unabated. I’m in California until next week, and then it’s back to the grey northwest for more drawing, more food carts, and more…nope, those are basically the only two things I’ll be paying attention to for a while. OH! I’m also going to be teaching some workshops later this month: Freelance Badassery and Kickstarter Bootcamp. Keep an eye out for dates and times as soon as I have them.
We’re really done now.
I count myself lucky to not suffer from dreadful PMS very often, but for some reason I’m having a DOOZY of a time with this month’s Reminder That I Have A Uterus Celebration. In an attempt to salvage what has been an otherwise fraught, tearful, and frantic Friday, I have spent the evening drawing (and laughing at) this comic. Enjoy.
Those of you who follow me on various platforms around the Internet will doubtless know that I drew a little silent, supernatural story for Cloudscape Comics last month. Their full, ocean-themed anthology won’t be out till next year (boo), but they’ve been kind enough to let me share the story with you here on my site (yay!). The drawings are by yours truly and the story was penned by Shannon Campbell, the brains behind VanCAF (where, incidentally, I’ll be exhibiting again next year!). But enough talk. On with the comics!