Chronicling the creative process for Pop Zeus, the forthcoming Guided By Voices/Bob Pollard tribute comic- including sketches, concepts, finished art and whatever else is in my brain at the moment.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Comic Books 101, Part Three: Tackling A Big Project

Another brain numbing day at work- been slogging through a lot of dailies. Therefore, I managed to get next to nothing done on Pop Zeus. When I am too tired to write, much less draw, I am TI-YERD! Did get a chance to screen Beautiful Plastic and some of the other nuggets on Watch Me Jumpstart last night, looking for good GBV history bits. Plan to put the kibosh on the GBV History section of Pop Zeus this weekend, and hopefully get my sketch on. We shall see.

Anyway, the second most asked question I get after "where do you get your ideas?" is "how do you do it?". A lot of folks can't imagine squeezing a big personal project into their already busy lives. Let me be the first to say that it ain't easy. There are a wealth of other priorities, distractions, roadblocks, and issues that could trip up anyone. And as I stand on the precipice of yet another huge undertaking, it's a thought that's been worming around in my brain- how do I do it, and can I do it again?

So here are some ideas that I've figured out along the way that may help (and that I need to remind myself of!). Keep in mind that this is all just off the top of my head, and I am by no means an expert on much of anything, heh. So here goes...

1. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step: Not to get all Lao-Tzu on you, but there's a lot of wisdom in that maxim. The hardest part of any large task is getting started. And once you realize that all you are responsible for is one step at a time, it makes things a lot easier. And if that doesn't work, you just have to force yourself! Sometimes I trick my procrastinating brain by getting all my materials out, but not working quite yet, and then watch some tv to make my mind all blank and distracted. And then I suddenly get started somehow, kind of like easing into a pool as opposed to jumping in. Sounds stupid, I know, but you do what you have to do to get going. Just do it! (this motivational slogan brought to you by expensive athletic sneakers made by children in third world countries)

2. Do a little bit every day: It's weird how this one works. It often feels like I'm getting nowhere because I am working at a slow pace, not getting much done at each sitting. But because i am so persistent, doing at least something every day, eventually the shit gets done. Just focusing on the next baby step, not the enormity of getting to the end is the key. In the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, be the Tortoise! The Hare just burns himself out and loses anyway.

3. Get support and help as needed: Having cheerleaders rooting you on can make a world of difference. As I mentioned above, having someone to impress can be a prime motivator as well. Sharing the workload is also good if you can swing it. I initially was trying to recruit some artist friends to help with Pop Zeus, making it more of a comic book jam, but it didn't work out unfortunately. But my friend Sean is helping with the Pop Zeus logo, which is sweet (not too good with the logo thing). And I have already gotten big time assistance and support from Jeff at GBVDB, Rich at Rockathon, Ana from DTS, Dave at LHB and I know Todd at Luna will be in my corner. Thanks all around, my peeps!

4. Make time to do it: You have to make the time in your life to do what you wanna do, end of story. I know, you're busy and blah blah blah. Hey, we are all busy these days. But what's more important- watching that rerun of Friends or creating something awesome? Working a second job to buy that SUV or rocking out? Sometimes in life, you need to isolate yourself from all that crap and the people you don't really like that much anyway to take care of the important bidness! Know what I'm saying? Which parlays directly into...

5. Make the project your first priority: Every once in a while, you have to look at your life and reprioritize- really question what you value. If you are spending most of your time doing dumb shit you don't want to do and your dream projects never get off the ground, something is horribly wrong. When it comes to my creative life, art trumps friends, activities, trips, shopping, everything. Sure, some people won't understand and maybe I will not have as styling a life as most- old car, cheap clothes (I've been Gapped), don't travel much. But without a creative outlet I feel like crap all the time. For me, there is no debate.

6. Create a physical space to work in: All artists, heck all people need a place in their cave with no distractions and where no one can disturb them. If you are trying to work and there are all these temptations surrounding you and have not the will to avoid them, consider yourself sunk. In my little room I do have a TV, DVD player, bed, and Playstation 2. But once I get going on a project, they are more of a nice break than a distraction. It all depends on how you operate. Either way, I believe all artists need room to create, surrounded by things that inspire them.

7. Don't worry about being the best, just be yourself: This is a hard won lesson for most artists. I am a total perfectionist and one of my biggest roadblocks is the fear that my work is going to suck. But as Dave Sim so artfully pointed out in his how-to comic book essays, emulating another artist's style is a waste of time. He believes as I do, that every artist needs to express him or herself- draw, paint, perform in their own unique style. And the aim for every artist and human being is to become more themselves all the time and find that style. And this requires a deep understanding of oneself and a deep self-love, which ain't easy.

So that's all I got. Have a fun weekend, good people and I will see you on the other side!


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