One of the common traits exhibited by the majority of cartoonists I've met is of being humble. Genuinely nice folks who are generous with their time, and supportive and encouraging of others, most the time egos are held in check by some simple realities. Like a lot of artists in general, there's a dual awareness of being endowed with a creative skill not shared by many other folks, coupled with the realization how simply awesome it is to actually make a living (in the best of situations) doing what you love.
Here in Maine we're living in temporary quarters that are situated right up against National Park lands and bordered on the other two sides by a cemetery and a golf course. Besides having fantastic access to strolling opportunities, sometimes several times a day the drive to and fro will wind about milling herds of golfers. As a non-player, it's an "activity" (I use that term loosely given the propensity of players who use motorized carts) that never ceases to make me wonder. It's an extension of my perspective on consciously choosing one's priorities and habits and how that will ultimately play a decisive role in fostering any creative, artistic endeavor, whether as a student, amateur or professional.
Via a recent post on Boing Boing, this is an excellent talk given by J.C. Herz for the Ringling College of Art & Design's 2011 Commencement Address:
"Habits are powerful – people don’t realize how powerful habits are, and how much of their success or lack of success in life is attributable to sheer habit. Be aware of your habits, and what is turning in from an occasional to a regular thing, and what are the regular things that you don’t even think about any more, because they are so habitual that they have become invisible. Down to the very basics: how much and when do you sleep, what you eat, how you sit, whether you walk or bike or drive. When and where do you get your best ideas? What sorts of activities and conversations leave you feeling happier and smarter? What do you continually do that leaves you feeling demoralized. Be mindful of your habits. Make them intentional."
(More mullings below the fold...)
Here's a round-up of reposts from some of the other recent advice columns that have caught my attention.
"You don’t grow by staying within your comfort zone. You’ll be a stinky stagnant little pool of moldy potential with little insects buzzing around and having desperate sexy times and laying eggs all over the damn place. You need to get your creative juices flowing like a big majestic waterfall!"
Keri Smith's "Secrets Shared" offers up even more observations on successful strategies:
"I presented this list to my illustration class today. It was targeted to illustration but I realized it has wider applications. Simple truths I have learned over the years, many I’m sure you have heard before. I am hoping to give them some mental tools to work with as well as tools of the trade. Part of being successful is having a belief in yourself and the process"
John Allison's "A Hundred Dance Moves Per Minute" posted "A Manifesto For UK Indie Comics In 2010":
"The points below are what I've learned doing indie comics as a career. There's always room for art for art's sake, for hobbyism, but these are the lessons I've learned for those who want to escape that prevailing mood."
Jason Thibault's Optimum Wound compiles "23 Ways for a Comic Artist to Survive and Thrive in any Economy":
"This was originally a to do list that I wrote for myself. I was trying to think of as many things that I could do as an artist to expand my reach and get the word out there. Some were stupid so I immediately omitted them and tried to chisel this list down to only the good stuff."
Lastly, topping off the growing roster of compiled advice and dovetailing perfectly with this particular post, here's a 2009 article "How To Write Like a Cartoonist" from Scott Adams ("Dilbert") first published in the Wall Street Journal:
Okay, so this golfer hits a majestic drive, and follows it up with an awesome chip and an improbable putt. The golfer pumps his fist and dances a little jig. He turns to his caddy for a high-five and gets no response. "Wasn't that some great golfing?" the golfer asks. The caddy says, "Yes...but it was the wrong hole." - Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page C12 Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved