As this year draws to a close, I’d like to look back on what I’ve done and what I’ve learned in 2016. In order to proceed into the upcoming new year, it’d be wise to sift through the good and the bad to figure out how to improve myself. This last year has been especially eventful but even though I look back on everything with a filthy filter I can’t entirely accept that it was all bad. There were a lot of firsts, a lot of money and time spent without much gain but there were gains to be had that will prove invaluable in 2017. With that said I’d like to take this opportunity to count my blessings and even create a positive spin on the bad.Conventions: Although I spent many years planning, hoping, wishing, intending and saying that I’d do conventions, 2016 was the year I lost my convention virginity and boy was it bloody. First off, my acceptance into Anime North was based purely by chance. Miraculously I was picked and I was (kind of ecstatic). I wasn’t thrilled that I was picked under such circumstances but at the end of the day it did provide me with several things.
First off it gave me a solid deadline to get Wedding Parties together in physical form to sell. Secondly, it taught me what it was like to sit at a booth, how to set it up, how to talk to people and how to cope with being ignored by people over and over and over again. You’re gonna be passed over at conventions. A LOT. Finally, be prepared (but not too prepared.) I took a lot of things with me that were probably unnecessary because I didn’t know what would sell, ultimately, majority of it was just dead weight.
My first convention was a massive failure (financially and follower-gathering wise). But it did set a bar for me. It created expectations from a void of limitless possibilities. Where everything is potentially possible in a situation like this, it actually hindered me more going in and created goals for my next two failures.
Canzine and Doujinshi Fest came later on in the year, were much smaller but were in the same weekend. Not much money was earned and not many followers were gathered. But something DID happen. At these conventions I took a walk and talked to people. I found artists on the same level as myself. Although it’s via social media and I just throw the occasional comment out there, I do get a response and it’s the closest thing to a kinship in the world I yearn to dive deeper into.
Comraderie: I’ve come out of my shell a bit more. For the longest time I used social media as a news outlet. I discovered what artists were up to and found other artists through them. Always watching but never participating was how I played it but in order to get anywhere that attitude isn’t going to get you anywhere. So I did the unthinkable. I started participating.
I’d tweet artists, publications, YouTubers, collaborators, zine publications, you name it. I started getting more involved. I’m not even as involved as I could be but that’s fine. I’m starting to and that’s the point. After (what 5 years?) I’m starting to get the hang of Twitter and how it can work to benefit what I hope to achieve. The funny thing? They’d respond, when I asked questions they’d answer and I’ve attained so much more valuable information than I thought possible. I attained INSIGHT. CRITICISM. And although they are much further along than where I am, I didn’t feel alone.
Working alone I started to feel crazy. These artists felt like high unattainable giants who were just AMAZING automatically. But obviously that’s not the case. They all worked to get where they were. They went through the same things I did currently. This means I too could be like them one day and holy hell that’s a relief. These conversations I had along with some growing and educating gave me another thing that was incredibly invaluable.
A Vision: Going into a comic career, I didn’t have a lot of idea what I wanted to achieve. I just wanted to make comics. From the outside I read manga and several comics (but not a lot) so my expectations were based on very shallow information. What I wanted to make was something appealing to me, fun to make, but artistic. I wanted to make was something over the top yet human. Personally, sci-fi, fantasy and all those genres just don’t appeal to me. I need the human element.
But I discovered more graphic novels. I discovered more artists creating comics that were higher caliber yet casual. Over the top yet grounded. I discovered graphic novels and found that there was a place for something I wanted to do. There is room for anything I could set my mind to and it was there for a very long time. Heck I knew it all along yet it took so long to learn such a simple lesson.
The Negative: So why do I look at 2016 so badly if I gained so much you ask? It all boils down to several small things. Everything I learned and attained could have been gotten sooner if I had gotten my act together sooner. That and the slow pace of my creative growth is hindered by life. A full time job weighs you down and adult responsibilities steal time and energy and it takes a lot to do the stuff I’d really like to do. I’m making progress but this stuff eats up a lot of time, energy and money. I feel I put a lot of work into all of this but haven’t moved forward as much as I’d wished.
Despite feeling like this I intend to push the positive lessons harder into 2017. How? My next musings will delve into my personal goals of 2017. Stay Tuned!