• A Writer’s Advice for Comic Book Artists

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I’m not an artist. As a kid I wanted to be, but either a) didn’t have the talent for it or b) didn’t put the time needed to hone my craft. Most likely, it was both. So, I have no advice on how to be a better artist.

However, in searching for someone to collaborate with for Strongsville, I probably looked at the artwork of a hundred different artists of varrying levels of talent. I’m not an expert judge of artistry or anything… I just know what I wanted for this project, so that’s what I looked for.

In looking at these artists, I ran into certain key things that might be beneficial for an up and coming artist:

1) Go to school.

I’m not an advocate of college. I know that sounds weird, but I’m a graphic designer and I’m a writer. I haven’t gone to college for either of these things, yet I’ve found a good bit of success in both. I’m able to make a living what I’m doing. And I think too much emphasis is put on school these days.

However, overwhelmingly, the best artists I ran across all went to college for their art. I’m not sure if this is from the teaching or if it’s just from the fact that you are immersed in that world every single day for 4 years…

There are schools that offer sequential art degrees such as Savannah College of Art & Design and there are technical schools which offer sequential programs such as Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. Do your research, find what fits best for you and take the leap.

As far as what to do when you have to tell your parents that you’re going to be a comic book artist instead of a doctor? Can’t help you there.

2) Learn to Market Yourself.

A) Create an online portfolio. You can create your own web page for this, create a blog, or host it on Deviantart. But it’s a must. No one is going to hire you if they can’t see your work. Also, with your work in front of other people, it forces you to be better… you can get instant feedback.

B) Post your best, most recent work. I ran across so many portfolios of crappy work only later to realize that the artist posting the work was fantastic, but they had stuff up from 3 years ago on their portfolio. First impressions are everything.

C) Make sure that it has your contact info: email and/or phone number, so that people can get in touch with you. It was frustrating to find a great artist and have no way to get in touch with them.

D) Don’t be afraid to show your personality in your portfolio pages. Put up a bio. Tell people about yourselves. I know that in looking for an artist, I was looking not just for someone capable skill-wise, but for a personality that would be fun to work with. Your personality can be a big selling point.

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1 comment
  1. mellon said:

    some random thoughts:

    the school thing is arbitrary, and singular. what works for the goose is not always good for the gander. the thing about going to a school like the kubert school is there are no other courses besides art. and you’re there with around 200 other guys who want the exact same job as you. it breeds contempt for the work, the business, and the people very very quickly. you have to be of a certain mindset to finish, and to make a career from it. i know plenty of people that only went a year or two and are rocking the comics world, but they are a lot fewer than the many who went a year or two and just couldn’t cut it.

    i’d argue that the intensity of the environment has a lot to do with it. plus there’s a lot of dream-smashing when you really start to see how comics are run from the business side. it becomes just as much work to have fun as it is to do the work. and for a lot of people that’s a tough thing to grasp and deal with.

    i will say that i would have gotten to the place i am now without going to school, but it would have taken me a lot longer. i got severely burnt out after the 3 years at kubert and didn’t draw anything for a couple years afterward. not the schools fault, or anyone elses, i just was exhausted. i had to rediscover what i loved about this medium, and learn to deal with the aspects of the business that are not going to change anytime soon. once i did, it’s been a steady uphill battle to get headway, but that’s how it’s done.

    i also wouldn’t trade those experiences at kubert for anything. there were great ones and awful ones. i’d keep ’em all. my only advice to anyone looking to go to kubert is to go a couple years at a normal college first so you at least have that experience.

    on the marketing end:

    it’s tough, you don’t know how much is too much of yourself to put out there. i ride a very fine line a lot of the time with saying too much personal info on my site, and then i go for weeks with nothing personal at all. it can work for me or against me depending on who’s looking at my work.

    we’ll see.

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