Good News and This Week’s Artwork

First of all, the artwork1; More watercolour practice2 and an ink doodle I did while at work. Not much this week, sadly, there’s been a lot of alternative commitments, and a fatigue that’s been messing with my hand-eye coordination meaning I’ve spent more time inking the Britland City comic pages this week than I intended.

Watercolour Painting of Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman – Postcard Sized
Inked girl swinging from a ring
Friday finally grabs the ring!
Thank you Ken Bromley Art Supplies
I got some new practice paper which is a lot nicer than the Cotman paper I’ve been previously using – just see how smooth the inking is on this one compared with the Wonder Woman picture!

Now, the good news3;

I’ve began talks with Geek Retreat Leeds, and shall be doing a morning drawing session for the grand opening on the 28th of April. If it goes well, I’ll be working with them to form a face-to-face community for Comic Creators in West Yorkshire along with helping them with a couple of comics-related events. Keep your eyes peeled, it looks like Panel Show CC is coming back!

In addition, Britland City has now become an approved publisher of Project Wonderful ads4 so if you want to advertise on the site head-on over there and sign-up!


Watercolours and Other Things

So I purchased some Gansai Tambi paints as a birthday gift to myself as I have been wanting to get back into watercolours quite badly.

It’s taken me a while to get around to taking photos of my experiments as I rushed to finish a costume and then was out for a 4 day weekend in North Wales. I’ve also been battling against new medication side effects and a broken boiler while working to restore the Britland City comics buffer.

I finally have a day off to myself, so here’s a selection of things that I’ve gotten done since.

A Mi-Go as I imagined it before finishing the story they were first referenced in

Looking a little cross-eyed there…

As you can see, I still have far to go. I’m just waiting for a bit of extra cash to flow this way so that I can buy some more practice paper.

In other news, I have applied for a space at the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival. Let’s hope that I get it and make the investment for Thought Bubble go a little further!

Motivational Moon Goals

Right, let’s get cracking and tackle the question immediately in your mind…

“Fefe…What The Heck Are Moon Goals?!”

“Moon Goals” are the absolute craziest goals that you could dream of. The goals that mark success beyond what you would be otherwise content with. The kind of goals that make you think ‘Oh damn, is this really happening?!’.  I borrowed the name from a well-known quote that is frequently misattributed (and often blasted by grumpy people).

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among stars! – Les Brown

If you hate the corniness of calling them Moon Goals, you can also opt for “Pinch Goals” as in ‘Pinch me! I must be dreaming!’. Whatever name you pick, they’re goals that will keep you dreaming and keep you motivated as you work.1

Achieving the goals should feel be like winning the lottery. One thing about the lottery though; you can’t win if you don’t play. You will have no chance of achieving your Moon/Pinch Goals if you don’t get out there and make the things!

“What Are YOUR Moon/Pinch Goals, Fefe?”

Well, they’re meant to be a bit out-there. A bit impossible in the saturated sea of the internet, so, uh, you’ve been warned. These ARE (to my self-flagellating British self) unrealistic pipe-dreaming goals. So, in no particular order;

  • Being invited to talk on a panel at the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival
  • Being invited to talk on a panel at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival
  • Seeing my comics published in at least 5 languages
  • Being invited to collaborate with an animation powerhouse to adapt a project
  • Being invited to pitch an original idea that then gets made
  • A Teagirl Nendroid and/or Britland Series of Pop! Figures (or whatever might be the equivalent)
  • My favourite musicians write into/ending music for one of my series

So those are my pinch goals. I have them written down in my journal and I’m going to make them into a poster I can hang where I work. You should write some too – they’re crazy but dang if they’re a good motivator. As I said earlier; you can’t achieve your goals if you don’t work towards them. You can’t work towards your goals if you don’t know what they are. So, write some goals, work towards them, and make the time to do your thing!

Balancing Full Time Employment and Creative Work

I am blogging about trying to be a pro comic artist while working in Full-Time Employment. No one asked me to, but I’ve noticed the lack of blogs from people who balance comic creation around office work. In its absence, I’ve decided to try and fill that gap myself in the hopes that;

  1. At least one person working full time becomes inspired to do as much as they can in their spare time and;
  2. I improve the management of my own time to maximise my creative output.

Why Continue To Work Full-Time In An Unrelated Job Anyway?

It’s the feeling of guilt that I should be in the best job that my STEM degree allows me to do that has led me to where I am today. Also, the peace of mind that comes with financial security.
For me, the idea of creating something when I’m worrying about money is impossible. I enjoy using word-play and punny names in my writing, but it requires a brain free to run with the subconscious. As a sufferer of anxiety, if I’m worried about money there’ll be no spare resource for creativity. There’s rarely any resource for sound sleep!
You might be different, you might thrive under such pressure. I am not – in fact, to my detriment, I’m very risk-adverse.
For example; I’m currently selling the maisonette I no longer live in. This is down to two factors;
  1. House prices rising and falling – signifying a bubble that I expect is going to pop in the next few years, and;
  2. Being a landlord is stressful. Tenants are stressful. Dealing with a management agency is stressful. For my own mental health (see above) it’s in my best interests to let someone else be the landlord.

Finally, it’s like there’s little money in comics if you can be a regular Batman artist and worry about paying the bills. I’d need to build up a strong audience, and a Patreon balance, before I would think about quitting full-time work.

What I Currently Do To Be Creative

I use my free time to develop new skills, just like all those self-development articles advise.
On my commute to work, I study a little bit of basic Japanese (thanks, Duolingo). It used to stem from an obsession with Japan, but these days its a genuine fascination with the language. Maybe a dream of working with a Japanese publisher or animation house influences it too!
On the commute home, I generally read a couple of articles on Medium or on my phone. Sometimes I listen to some music. The walk home from the station is one of the rare times I let my brain do its own thing.
When I am finally home from work, I take some time to chill out with my partner and make some dinner. Finally, I pull out my laptop and get to work for a couple of hours until I am sleepy.

What Would I Like To Change?

I’d like to grow my network. Find some more comic artists in my position, and definitely find some local comic artists.

I’ve got a page from Facebook from my last attempt to make a local comics collective; named Panel Show! I struggled to get it kicked off because bookable spaces for creating was limited at the time. Recently, I’ve noticed that my city’s central library has an art room that looks bookable. It also seems to come with an event listing on the library’s website! There is Laydeez Do Comics, who host talks and panels. I should definitely keep up with local artist Una, who hosts plenty of comic workshops.

One of the skills I need to develop is relaxing without the need to be looking at a screen or listening to a podcast. It is a skill. I need to give my brain opportunities to do its crazy creative thinking thing.

I need to get my thoughts down more. Teachings, frustrations, mistakes; they all need recording. I could improve my creative process if I write it down. I’d like to contribute to the creative landscape. It’s not doing anyone any good to have it all stored up in my forgetful noggin, at any rate.

I also need to work in time to read more comics and graphic novels. I’m ashamed of how bad I am for consuming things by other artists. I spend too much time on Reddit, so I can switch that to comic sites like Comixology, and WebToon (by LINE). Suggestions for working with comic reading appreciated!

Finally, I need to get into a creative momentum. I need to find a rhythm that gets those comic pages scripted, drawn, and published online with consistency. I’d be daft to think I could build an audience without having anything to show them!

One Final Thought, For Now…

I really do hope that my blog helps someone. If it doesn’t, I hope it can be an entertaining record of one lady’s life creating comics, drawing stuff, and working.

Updates and all that Jazz

Following a much needed trip to the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival (nothing more inspiring than seeing a bunch of successful comic artists), and a very pleasant email chain that I’ve been having with someone who is commissioning me, I felt like it was time to update this blog with what I’ve been up to, what I’m currently doing, and what future things I’m planning. 

Without further adieu;

What I’ve been Up To;

  • Practice, Practice, Practice.
  • I managed to get my hands on a 2nd hand Surface Pro 4 that was still under warranty so I’m getting to grips with drawing directly onto a screen again.
  • Drawing D&D characters – my own and my party’s
  • Playing D&D…and PUBG…and Crypt of the Necrodancer.
  • Some leisurely travel this year. Helsinki for a (non-typical) Finnish wedding deep in the heart of the wilderness, Insomnia61 (my first LAN ever!) and LICAF.
  • Reading some very useful books regarding story-crafting.

What I’m currently Up To;

  • A long term character design project for an indie RPG video game for one of my long-time friends. I’m designing the four PCs and it aims to 1) both embrace and dispense with clichés and 2) be accessible to a large group of people. We’re hoping that there’ll be a character for nearly everyone to relate to!
  • A series of smaller character commissions for /r/dnd following a post of my Celestial Pact Warlock to Reddit.
  • 日本語が学びます!
  • Retconning Britland City so that The Novelteagirl never happened because it is a story that requires my scientifically-minded main character to hold an idiot ball for an entire week

What’s happening in the Future?;

  • Making Britland, Making Britland, Making Britland! 
  • A long weekend trip to Belgium in December to see a couple of creative friends back from the SheezyArt days.

Redraw: The Novelteagirl Cover

I wanted to redraw the Novelteagirl cover. New version on the left, old on the right. It’s amazing what not having to rush for a competition deadline (and a couple of months of on-and-off life drawing) does for your artwork ?. I’ve been trying to improve my digital inking by resisting the urge to do sketchy inkwork. It’s challenging but also fun to see major improvements in aestetics with a tiny bit of effort.

Keen eyes might notice that I’ve used it as the bg for my portfolio. I like the bright colours!