What To Do When Your Dream Seems Far Away :: PWP #10

over-the-rainbow

The pursuit of a dream can be filled with freedom of expression and a fulfilling sense of purpose.

…but it can also be overwhelming and seemingly endless.

So what do we do when we just feel overwhelmed, unskilled and uninspired?

What do we do when our dreams seem distant and out of reach?

Press PLAY and listen to Chris and Lora discuss:

  • How to form a “Circle Of Trust” and not just a fan base.
  • When to take a break and when to press on.
  • How to reevaluate your dreams without giving up.

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{ 109 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam Kirkman

What can I say… You guys sure do know how to make the light at the end of the tunnel burn brighter! I listened first thing this morning. just what I needed. It’s 5:39am and I gotta head off to the Salt mine, so I’ll keep watch from my phone today and hopefully add more, just know for now that this episode meant the world to me.

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Chris Oatley

Ha! So glad you liked it, Sam. Your accomplishments are stunning and inspiring. Keep the faith.

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Sarah

A lot of this episode really hits home.

The short term/long term goals thing is really important and something I practice, myself. Big goals are so much more digestible and tackle-able in bite-sized pieces… and it even helps to take the smaller projects and break those up, so you can really feel yourself moving forward without being overwhelmed without immediate success.

I’m definitely in need of a stronger “Circle of Trust”. I have great friends and wonderful mentors, but what I really need is artist peers who are willing to offer great constructive criticism as I work, to bounce ideas off, etc. So… consider this a call! I’m not sure how to facilitate something like that without it seeming forced, but I made an account on Illopond a while back, too… let’s see if I can remember the password.

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Scott Wiser

Hey Sarah. I’d be willing to take a stab at offering some constructive criticism on your current ideas at least!

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Sarah

Thanks so much! I’m almost done with the first scene of my project and will be soliciting some heavy critiques… could I get your email for when it’s ready? : )

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Scott Wiser

The word “I’m” with no apostrophe, The word Wiser, at gmail will give you my full email address. Sorry to be so round about, but I don’t want any spam =).

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RobinofLeyLines

If you guys get any more timely with your topics, I’m going to have to start wearing a tin-foil hat. :)

Sam’s comments really resonated with me. In my case, my practical-but-soulless “wrong bus” is Engineering. While this provides a remarkable financial stability to pursue my dream, one of my greatest frustrations is a “Circle of Trust” void. I went to an Engineering-exclusive school, so creative-focused people were scarce. I also live in Colorado, which is not exactly one of the “hubs” of comic organizations as the coasts appear to be. I expressed this to a friend, (who I shall henceforth refer to as Jaeger because I’m pretty sure he’s a Finder in disguise) and suddenly my inbox started filling with local events and organizations that were not only artist-focused, but comic-community meet-ups! All this time, there have been groups of my peers a short drive away, but I was so convinced I was away from “the scene” that there was no point in looking. I’m so glad Jaeger thought differently! I would encourage anyone who might view their home-town as a creative desert to give it a chance — you might just find a hidden oasis!

(On that note: If any fellow Paperwingers in Denver want to come along, I’m going to the Denver Drink & Draw this Tuesday! I’m nervous as hell — my Doubt is pretty sure an Engineer doesn’t deserve to mingle with Real Artists — but I’m also really excited to take this next step towards making my dream real, and building up my own Circle of Trust! If anybody’s in the area, I’d love to meet, chat about PW, share dreams, and draw!)

Related to not relying on a fan-base as a CoT substitute or burdening them with one’s personal “drama”: I am struggling to find a balance between being real vs non-present. From 2002-2010 I published a webcomic that updated every week until I finished it about 800 pages later. And for those eight years I produced material in relative silence, like a robotic arting machine. I think that’s a huge part of why, despite content and consistency, I never developed an active community. I wasn’t a real person to anybody reading. Perhaps this is a topic better-suited to the FB page, but how do you share enough of yourself to form bonds with readers, without going overboard and scaring them away with TMI? A lot of people say “only share the good things,” but that always seems disingenuous to me. I know Persona is important to the internet world, but I don’t think maintaining an internet mask of false perfection is sustainable or healthy for me. Does anyone have any advice on how to create a healthy balance?

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Paul

Wow! I totally know what you mean about finding a hidden oasis in one’s hometown! I’ve lived in this same city in Wisconsin for 27 years and not once have I caught wind of anything remotely related to any type of artist community nearby. Then, this past weekend I discovered that this year there will be the 54th annual art festival right down the street from me.

I was floored when I heard about this event, because this whole time I though this place was a black hole for creative folks! So, I’m going to check it out this year, see what it’s all about, make some connections, and then possibly table at the festival next year.

Regarding your question, “How do you share enough of yourself to form bonds with readers, without going overboard and scaring them away with TMI?”

I would stay away from the advice of “only share the good things,” because sharing only what is good contributes to the facade between you and your audience. Yes, share good things that you are doing, but, for good measure, throw in some of your not-so-good stuff, and explain what you feel went wrong, or why you don’t think it’s not up to par with where you should be. This will give a glimpse into your “personal life” without getting too personal.

To not get too personal requires some good discernment on your part, as to whether your posts will be helpful/useful to your audience, or whether they are mainly focused on bringing attention to you and your problems/sob stories.

Have fun at the Drink and Draw, and don’t be nervous!

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RobinofLeyLines

That is awesome! I hope that the art festival is an amazing experience for you!

Thank you very much for the tips on personal vs. TMI. It’s a relief to hear an alternative to the “just be positive,” school of thought. I especially found this line helpful: “to not get too personal requires some good discernment on your part, as to whether your posts will be helpful/useful to your audience…” That really gives me a great Focus Question to ask before I post something. Thank you!

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Paul

I’m glad I was able to help out!

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oats

Yeah, although I’ve messed up often – before I tweet or blog or say something on a podcast – I try to ask myself this in regard to my audience/ online community:

Why are they here?

It makes it WAY less about me and all about them (you).

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oats

I think you’re right on, Paul. It’s all about being real and being human.

The Internet is like an auditorium filled with thousands of people. Share details about your life accordingly.

Just like any other kind of community, we have varying levels of intimacy. It’s not that we shouldn’t be human at the most broad, general, auditorium-sized level, we just share accordingly. It’s easy to forget how public our Internet business is.

We also have to honor the unique, earned trust of our other, more-intimate relationships with appropriate amounts of privacy in the less-intimate ones.

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Lora

I have to echo what Chris & Paul are already saying. In my blog, I tend to share not-good personal details with my readers when it is relevant to them. Am I missing an update? I believe they deserve to know why. Some of it has been hard–the death of loved relatives, a traumatic injury my mother suffered. So I’ve filled them in, but I didn’t use it as a blog post to pour out my broken heart on the subject. I hope that difference makes sense!

I would also add, include these moments only when necessary. At times, they are necessary. I didn’t cut back my update schedule at The Dreamer without telling my loyal readers why. They deserve that! And it was a huge change to what they were used to. At the same time, general, lower-grade discouragements I’ve shared with my circle of trust, and refrained from posting ‘my life is so hard!’ updates in my blog.

Good luck finding that balance! I would always encourage you to be real with your readers and let them get to know you. Something magical does happen when you do that.

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Figgs

I know the feel bro. I want to be warm to my audience, but it can be hard. I don’t want to come off pandering or inscencre, but for the most part, I’m a pretty quiet guy on the web. In person, I’m a lot more excitable, but in text, I don’t have much to say.

I don’t have any other advice other than the positivisty one. I know when I read a comic, I don’t want to be burdened constantly. As an entertainer it’s our job to lift and to transport. Maybe not always lift, but you get the idea.

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samuel kirlman

Hey Sarah! On a break at the day job, checking in and just had to encourage you to jump on in at the illopond. Our experience on our second anthology proved to be exactly what this episode is talking about. Not everyone was as active, but those who were, found the circle they were looking for. We are figuring things out along the way, still new at what we are doing, but I can say from my own experience that it has become my circle. I have benefited tremendously from my fellow art buddies on the pond and think of them as my friends and support group. I hope you guys feel the same. The illopond has become a way to find that support circle, and at the same time, provide a means to an end with our anthologies. You just gotta jump on in! Paul Cageggi has thrown his hat into the ring to head up an 8 in space anthology. I’ll be giving my attentions to a second Steampunk themed anthology for release next spring. I have a mind to start one up based on animals as well. So circles within circles, the pond is a great place to come play!

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Scott Wiser

I’m so glad they highlighted you in this podcast. Little by little, you really have been inspiring others and by so doing, improving yourself. Thanks for your encouraging words on my website!

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Sam Kirkman

You are Welcome Scott! I sure hope I can reach the point where I can inspire folks. I’m going to be watch to see where your Demo Reel takes you! Excellent stuff!

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oats

Sam – have you guys ever considered…

THE ILLOPOND PODCAST!!!

???

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Sam Kirkman

How’d you know? :)
As a matter of fact we have! I’m shopping for a good mic. Soon as It’s plugged in and My garageband is warmed up, the Illopnd podcast Will hit the air with an interview of our fellow contributor Carsten Bradley! (OK Carsten you said yes remember? :) His book, Where The Rainbow Ends http://slumberground.com/ has GOT to get some attention.I’m so excited about this title! Can’t wait to get with him. Plus round table discussions with the gang and what ever else we can come up with to encourage independent creators. Get ready to skype guys!

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Chris Oatley

Lora and I have had a lot of success with the Snowball USB mic from Blue. It’s a little weird with the Skype Call Recorder but other than that it’s amazing. And no mixer required.

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Lora

I remember listening to the ArtCast episode where Chris interviewed you guys. It sounded like something very special. I remember thinking “I want a piece of that!”

Thanks for sharing your honest response last episode, and being the catalyst for this episode!

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Sam Kirkman

Hey Guys! Ya here that!? I’m a Catalyst! Woo Hoo!!!! Awe Shucks Mam, twernt nut’n. Just imagine how big my head is right now! :O The two of you have really strung a wonderful cord. There’s a beautiful tapestry of talents being woven together here and I’m just tickled to be a part of it!

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Lee Wiley

Hey Sam!
You are great Sky Captain! I can’t help but brag about you too! It has been awesome doing the Anthologies with you! I look forward to all the good things coming out of the Illopond! You let me know if you need any help with the Illopond Podcast, I’m always willing to do what I can!

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Sarah

Thanks for the reply, I have rediscovered my account and will try to visit regularly. : )

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Sam Kirkman

Please do Sarah. It is slow sometimes, but when a project is just getting started, and when it’s about to come together, there is some wonderful art chatter to waller in! Jump on a project that inspires you!

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Derrick " Captain DUTZ" Utz

Hello Sam!

I just signed on to the site about a week and half ago and once I finish my current project load and if we don’t get picked for publish then I will look at doing some work with y’all at some point. I am a fan of the genre you work on and I discovered you on PaperWings. Keep on truck’n!

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Sam Kirkman

Hey Derrick! That’s GREAT to hear! WE have been batting around the idea of having several projects running on independent threads as more people start showing up at the pond. Some of the ideas for themes are 8 in Space!, 8- a Dream Anthology, 8 bit an Anthology based on 8 bit art, I’d like to see an 8 story of original animal tails.. er, tales, and of course our Steampunk #2, so loads of possibilities! I can’t wait to see you jump into a project!

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Derrick " Captain DUTZ" Utz

Awesome, I will catch you on pond soon then. Thank you!

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Dominique

Alright, after this, I don’t want to be considered one of those “shy artists” anymore. I just have to say something. What I like about these podcasts, is that, they tell me the things that I NEED to hear. The things that I can’t get elsewhere because I don’t have a circle of trust. I only have one artist friend and she’s so far away so support is lacking.

But I’m a big dreamer and tend to be over ambitious. I take on too many projects at once because I loose steam or another grand idea comes up and I’m always shelving the other stories. I try to focus on one but the next idea seems better and I just never finish. That’s what crushes me, never finishing. Picking one story to stick with is hard, but doing smaller projects first may be the best idea. Thank you so much.

My grand goal is to be published as a comic artist and I know what little steps to take to eventually get there. Also realize that it’s not going to happen over night. This has been incredibly helpful and I’ll try not to spew so much praise into my comment here. I am very grateful what you guys are doing for artists. I look forward to the next podcast!

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Lora

Hi, Dominique! Take comfort in knowing that until recently NONE of my circle-of-trust artists friends (besides my husband) even lived in the same state as me! With the internet and email, Twitter, Skype, Dropbox, DeviantART, etc… it is very easy to maintain deep connections and give each other critiques with people who live far, far away these days. Even people you might have never met face-to-face.

On your other note, there is something very satisfying about finishing a project. It’s hard to build a readership if you are constantly starting and restarting projects. Good luck with this! And we’re so glad you found PWP… at just the right time. :)

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oats

Very true. Lora, we should have said this on the episode. My circle of trustees are in Phoenix, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio.

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Dominique

P.s I forgot. You guys are really timely on subject. I was…considering giving up on drawing altogether this weekend. Thank you again.

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Scott Wiser

Inspiring! Way to seek out inspiration / motivation and stick with it!

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Scott Wiser

The Reevaluate your dream subject really rings true for me. Years ago, my dream was to write Broadway musicals for a living…yet I struggled finding the drive to work on that dream. There were on the other hand, several projects I had that actually pointed toward my current dream, which is so similar yet so different from the old one. Most of all, it’s more exciting to me personally. And it is definitely like following a scent in the air. Good thing that scent has led me here to PWP.

The projects where I through perfection out the window really do end up being more creative – I found a great motivator for me is to sometimes take a break from a big project and work on a tiny project (1-2hours tops) or doodles (5 min) which have nothing to do with the big one. Because these projects have less pressure associated with them, they end up bringing surprising satisfaction, and they help motivating me toward the big goal. At times, I’ve found more progress in these “carefree” excursions than the “serious” ones.

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Lora

This is a good point! Sometimes I get a lot more satisfaction out of a creative sketch or exercise on DeviantART than I do from my regular run-of-the-mill comic updates.

Doing smaller projects outside the box of what you ordinarily work on can really energize your creativity!

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Paul

Hey PW crew, thanks for this episode!

Last week, my old college roommate/art buddy decided we should meet up since we hadn’t seen each other in about 5 years. In preparation for this meet-up, we had discussed through email that we should each bring something that we’ve been working on, and something else that has been inspiring us. We had also discussed possibly collaborating on a few projects in the near future.

We live about 2 hours apart and decided to meet somewhere in between. This meeting turned out to be one of the greatest thing that has happened to the two of us as artists. We formed the first link in our “Circle of Trust.” We had both been craving conversation with other creatives, and had each been feeling stagnant in our creative development. We didn’t know where to turn for an artistic outlet in our respective cities, and so just decided one day to move forward with this meet-up.

We’ve decided to make this a monthly meeting, and if anyone is interested, and in the Illinois/Wisconsin area, just let me know. We would love to meet with other artists and add more links to our CoT, and bounce ideas and critiques off of each other. If anyone is familiar with that area, we’ve found that the Belvidere Oasis on I-90 is a great central place to meet-up with plenty of room and food!

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oats

Paul – this is great. Thanks so much for sharing and opening your own Circle Of Trust to the other Paper Wingerz.

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RobinofLeyLines

This is such an inspiring story! Makes me want to call up some college friends and talk shop one-on-one again. And scheduling a follow-up is brilliant. It’s too easy to say “We have to do this again sometime!” and then never get around to doing so. Particularly with how hectic schedules can get! Penciling it in before it can be forgotten seems like a great idea.

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Chad Behnke

Hey Paul, I live in Chicago. I would love to meet up with fellow Paper Wingerz to work on stuff! Let me know. Email is on the right-hand side of my site.

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Lora

You guys are so amazing! Please, keep us updated on how these get-togethers go!

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Paul

Awesome, I’ll let you know when we start opening up our meetings. I kind of jumped the gun on this, because I still need to see how he feels about it. I’m 99% sure he’ll go along with it, as we both have expressed the same concerns of not having a creative circle.

I’ll keep you posted!

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Annamarie

When listening to the tip about having a circle of trust, I immediately thought about all my amazing friends, not only the people in “real life” who encourage me and offer their advice on my work, but also friends that I’ve known on-line for nearly a decade. Having pretty much grown up together, we’ve gone through so many stages of our lives as friends that it feels like I’ve formed such a circle (or at least the beginnings of one) without even realizing it.

I’m still pretty young, having only finished my first year of college, but I’m constantly going through periods of agonizing doubt mental tug-of-war between what I am studying (English) and what I really want to be working on (my art and graphic novel). I’m the kind of person who stays to the course she’s chosen, and though I do love literature and writing, it nearly broke me when my art had to take a backseat during the school year because my college has such high expectations of their students.

It’s been my closest friends that have supported me through every mental hardship I’ve come up against. When I was forced to stop directly working on my graphic novel during the school year, as I barely had time to even sketch, they were supportive and encouraging. Thinking back on it, their support definitely helped me get back into really focusing on my novel and art once school was over and I finally had time. Even though I’d been scarce for nearly nine months, they were still excited about my work and my ideas, which in turn helped me to keep going! They are always there to give me their advice, opinions, and encouragement.

So anyway, what I guess I’m trying to say is that a circle of trust really is vital to artists, and I’m really glad you guys got me to think about and appreciate such people in my own life.

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oats

Oh how I wish I’d had the wisdom and foresight to start a GN when I was your age. Good on you for staying on target! Way to go!

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Damien Baumgart

Another excellent and timely podcast, guys!

My wife and I sat down the other week and did an interesting exercise where I imagined my life as a corporation – similar to the Circle of Friends. I was the CEO and then I had to imagine where my friends and family sat in the structure of that corporation.

It went something like this:

CEO: Me

Vice-CEO: My wife

Board of Directors: My closest friends and family who I trust to give good CONSTRUCTIVE advice and who back me in my endeavours.

Etc etc…

And then the Mailroom: those people who are in your life but don’t offer much in the way of support. I (possibly shockingly) put my parents here because they don’t believe that being creative for a living is a viable option and it’s their voices I hear in my head when the negativity seeps in.

I found this a good exercise because it really helps to figure out who you believe are good influences in your creative life and who aren’t so good.

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Lora

Hi, Damien! That’s an interesting exercise!

When it comes to artistic support, some people just don’t understand the creative life–and all it’s ups and downs. It is hard to if you aren’t a creative person yourself.

But I don’t think about it as who is in or out of my life, (or the top floor or the bottom floor) so much as who I share what with. Further down in the comments, Chris talks about this–not everyone gets to know everything about us. Some people you share certain things with and you just wind up getting hurt repeatedly because your expectation of how they should respond is not met. These can be some of our most important relationships (i.e. parents).

I think the best way to handle it is to selectively share certain things with certain people–not to shut them out of your life because they hurt you, but actually learn what not to share with them so they *can* be a part of your life. This way you can interact without being hurt all of the time.

No one person can be everything to you. Even my husband, who is my BIGGEST supporter and has done more for my career than anyone else (easily!!) cannot meet all of my emotional needs. I realized this early on and found other friends to fill in the gaps for him. This way I’m not hurt all of the time, and asking unrealistic things from him. So when it comes to the girly, fan-girl *squee* about the latest script I wrote? LOL. That is not Mike. Mike will tell me why the script works, and what needs fixed to make it stronger, but my friend Michelle is the one who will send my scripts back full of starry eyed scribbles that make me feel like I knocked it out of the park.

Find those friends, foster those relationships, but realize also that it’s okay if some of the people who are most important to you never fill those shoes.

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Figgs

I’m not going to lie, this one struck deep. Especially the popularity parts and how reaching out to followers is very different (and in some case unhealthy) than establishing true art-bros. I don’t have a huge fan following (not even sure I have a fan) and I don’t many art bros. But I’m incredibly proud of the Art-bros I do have, and it’s good to be reminded of that. Even if they aren’t all super stars in the field, they’re still incredibly talented people.

And Lora what you said about getting intoxicated by comments and faves (speaking from Deviant Art standpoint) is incredibly true. I recently did a few pictures of something popular and they were huge successes. But it was very hollow, and once the action slowed down, well… my ego is still recovering. Basically, I want to be known for what I do, and I guess I’d better start on that. I also want to be more involved in community efforts, but I suppose that will follow after the big project. And then there’s what you said about judging your identity based on how well you work comes out or how it is received also hit a few tender string here. I have some major inferiority complexes that I’m trying to push past, but it’s been a lose/win battle. Seeing other people constantly praised and lavished over can make me go from “well done you, you did a great job” to “Okay enough already! I give up!”. So basically Lora, congrats on highlighting at least 90% of my frustrations. I think that deserves some kind of medal.

Gah, this was kinda long winded and angsty, wan’t it?
I promise I’ll post something positive soon! I’m not always like this!

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Lora

Figgs, I think that one concept is worth at least an episode in itself. When I brought up that first point as something I wanted to discuss in this episode, my idea of Circle of Trust friends goes beyond the artistic circle. YES, having those peer-to-peer relationships are INVALUABLE (I felt so much better after I made friends with other Indy Comics professionals in the same place as me, and realized my struggles were universal, not unique to me. I realized it wasn’t so much that I wasn’t doing enough, or that my book wasn’t good enough, it is more a reflection of the industry across the board. Where as that isn’t exactly encouraging in the long run for my career of choice!! it was comforting to my ego and bruised up picture of myself.)

That being said, friends who have known you forever–the friends who watched you pick your nose in elementary school if you can go back that far, or you shared a dorm with in college–those people who “knew you before” and loved you anyway… those are the people you need to keep around. You were worth something then, you were valuable then, and you still are. They won’t rise and fall with you, they’ll be constant. And their opinion of you and what you can do is worth more than 1,000 DeviantART emoticon-laden comments.

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kaboart

Thank you guys, this is episode was very nutritious to my soul :P

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Derrick " Captain DUTZ" Utz

Ahoy PaperWingerz!

Thank you for an awesome post! Two Points on my side;

Topic #3: Whew! Thank you for the reminder that I need to concentrate on the progress. I focus too much on my goal of perfection and go against one of my mottos; Perfection is useless if it kill efficiency. Professionals produce and it is in that production that you can improve (or at least see where you need to).

Topic #5: Re-asses your goals. This is awesome! I only have to add that I made a major breakthrough a short while back. Years ago I attempted to start my own comic just to see if I could even produce one. First 5 pages rocked! Then it began to suck. I am not a writer. Then a writer friend recently contacted me and asked me to help him. I am now 13 pages in on a 16 page submission and I only deal with penciler problems, not writing. I am no longer alone.
When chasing our dreams we also need to look at the end result and realize that we wont be working alone so we don’t always need to get there alone. Comics are made by writers, editors, pencilers and colorists. If you think you can do all of that and keep a schedule then you are either a demi-god or in need of a little solution. Chris, Lora, Mike and the team have set up this awesome meeting ground and if nothing else it can help you not be alone. I have learned a lot from my collaboration and I recommend it in your learning process too!

Lora Questions: This is a positive! What awesome techniques or methods have you learned from making a web comic do you feel would help you when going to the printed form? Also, do you have a good source of know ledge for someone to research how to make money with webcomics? Please don’t get me wrong, I know it wont break the bank but a little profit is an eventual goal. I just don’t technically know how to do it. Would it be through a website service or itunes? just clueless. Thank you!

Love for the podcast! – Thank you for the laugher and jokes during and after the podcast recording. I can tell that you all really enjoy making it and that helps the listener. I recently started listening to another podcast hoping to increase my knowledge and when they introduced themselves it sounded like they were at a funeral. There is a podcast that I may have gotten spoiled on that i have listen to for years and the hosts are excited and that makes me excited too. I really care about this industry and thank you for making it more enjoyable!

Yo’ Ho’ and a bottle of Rum!..er, no, I have not started drinking yet.he he
Captain Dutz

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oats

You should blog if you don’t already, Cap’

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Kaytea Petro

Hey,
I heard in the episode you keep talking about the Yellow Pond group, but I can’t find them on Google at all. Can you provide a link to their site?

Thanks! Great podcast! I’m already much more productive because of your timely and effective advice.

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Kaytea Petro

Nevermind, I see it up above now.

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Chad Behnke

You guys really know how to deliver the bitter-but-necessary medicine at the exact dose exactly when I need it. I haven’t illustrated for illustration’s sake in a long while (I’m a web designer) and I’m really struggling to get back into that mindset . “Make progress and stop waiting for a breakthrough” was just what I needed, even though the breakthrough that I need right now is simply the plan to move forward! I’ve been trying to do more freeform thinking and thought exercises since the last show to try and escape all of the mental ruts I’ve managed to get stuck in. Thanks for another great episode!

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oats

Glad we’re helping, Chad. That’s why we’re here.

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Jake Ekiss

I think I’ll join the chorus of “wow, good timing”. I’ll say, it strikes me that the things artists forget most often are the progress they’ve made thus far and the vast gulf between the end of a project and the culmination of a dream. To illustrate, an anecdote:

A couple of years back, right as I was starting my first long term stretch as a freelancer (lasted a year, good times, hope to be back soon) I went to Atlanta and visited some artist friends at what was then Gaijin Studios. I was chatting with Cully Hamner about how good it felt to finally be freelancing (doing comics no less, educational ones, but still!) and how I felt like my career was finally getting to this point where I could relax a little about it. Cully cut me off and laughed. “Dude, I’m only starting to feel that way about my career right now”. This was right around the time his run on Detective was going and right after the announcement of his series RED with Warren Ellis was getting itself a movie. He was really making some noise over at DC. It stunned me. He was over ten years my senior, a vet in the field, with studio space, consistent comic work, a great set of artistic friends to inspire him every day, the works. He HAD the dream, and had had the dream for quite some time at that point. And yet, he only then felt like he was just then getting to where he wanted to be. And for a while, it really unnerved me.

Months later, when my freelance gig was coming to an end it finally really sunk in what that must mean. I suddenly started to feel like I was backsliding because I was going to have to take a day job again. And then it hit me. Turns out “the dream” doesn’t have a plateau. It’s not like some mountain that stops at some point. There’s not really a moment where you can stop climbing and say “yep, all done now”. There might be rest spots, sure, places where, along the journey up this endless mountain you pause to take in the view, but overall, it’s a long, unbroken process without a definite ending.

What ultimately I took form the experience was the notion that, as long as I’m doing the work, I am ALSO living the dream. So long as I am pushing towards it, making progress, in a very real way I already have it. I can’t fully articulate the amount of self loathing I was able to drop with this realization. While I still hate myself for slacking from time to time, it’s far less often, and I find without it I get more done. Self-loathing tends to lead to depression, and the one thing depression is good for is keeping you from working.

I know now the mountain is endless, that I’ll always feel like I could be doing more, getting better, but knowing that feeling is a part of me, that it is constant, and that it is not unique, is tremendously freeing.

On the notion of a circle of trust. I found one, largely through happenstance, and to keep them around we formed a “studio” of sorts (we don’t have offices… yet). Let me tell you, that’s been one of the best moves of my life. Finding peers at your level, collaborators, if not in action then at least in attitude, is a tremendous thing. And it’ll help remind you that all your problems as an artist are universal, and that we all struggle. And in that way, those problems become that much smaller.

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Jake Ekiss

Is it slightly disturbing that my comments to your casts are becoming longer as time goes on? Yeah, I’m writing dissertations over here. Someone stop me before it’s too late!!!

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Sam Kirkman

Nah, don’t worry Jake, I’m loving this! Keep em coming!

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Jake Ekiss

Oh good, I was starting to be really concerned there. ;)

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Teri

Loved the podcast, and as everyone is feeling and exspressed… VERY TIMELY AND NEEDED. Thank you, I can breath again!

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oats

Glad we could help, Teri.

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RobinofLeyLines

Just wanted to post a follow-up to exploring local groups and pushing for that Circle of Trust:

I went to the local Drink and Draw for the first time and it felt WONDERFUL. I’ve never been able to just hang out around creatives, and doing so felt like finding “my people.” It was amazing to meet people who were not only interested in my work, but had plenty to say about their own. Screen-plays, comics, novels, even people studying (Yay!) Tarot. The hours flew by and I could have easily stayed there longer. I can’t wait to go back, meet more people, and be come a Regular!! Thank you for helping to give me this extra push to reach out!

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Sam Kirkman

That’s GREAT Robin! So glad to here it. I look forward to seeing the fruits of your new found camaraderie!

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RobinofLeyLines

Thanks Sam! If nothing else, being there made me want to give my absolute best on my own work (and plenty of people willing to be a quick model for reference) so at the very least I think my page quality will improve! Now I just have to accept that I will be making a fool of myself in public when drawing. I never realized how much I stick out my tongue while drawing until surrounded by dozens of people!

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Sam Kirkman

HA! ME TOO! :o) my family makes fun of the expressions I make while drawing. We are literally acting out on paper what ever we are putting our characters through and that emotion shows up on us too. I find it hard to draw in public. I’m gaining confidence, but it is an emotional challenge. Just one more we have to deal with I guess.

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Lora

Sam, do a couple of conventions with your own table if you haven’t yet. That will get you over your fear of drawing while people watch! That, and you’ll learn how to draw and talk while people watch you… It’s all the myth that it has to be perfect, which it doesn’t. :)

We had a drink & draw here in Columbus for a while and I LOVED it. For some reason it never caught on, even though we have a fantastic art community. I miss it.

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John P Garrett

Chris and Lora,

What a great episode and I could relate to Robin’s comment about the Tin Foil Hat.

I also took the wrong bus when I was young thinking it was a temporary detour, but lasted several decades.
I also ended up in Engineering via Drafting (before CAD) as that was a way to be paid to draw. My art has stopped and started many times due to a congenital hand tremor that frustrated my ability to draw.
Flash forward to 2007 and was 2 years into a 4 year Digital Animation program when I was laid off from Aerospace and the economy tanked. Unable to continue the program I took an early retirement and have been trying to build my art skills since.

I am involved in a online Children’s Illustration course/community lately and hope to create a picture book eventually.
I am also interested in Wildlife illustration and still work at that, but not sure of any commercial viability in that area.

Thanks for all the hard work for us “PaperWingers’. ;0)

~John

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oats

Great to hear that you’re still at it, John. I think there’s quite a market for wildlife illustration.

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John P Garrett

Thanks, Chris.

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Lee Wiley

I hope you guys will be in my…(SLURP)…circle…(SLURP)…of trust…(SLURRRRP)…Nice slurping on this one, Lora!;) I’m so late to the discussion on this one! But I really had a good time hearing about how to keep those dreams in reach! I feel like you guys have become really good friends! I think the hosts Q&A is gonna make that feeling even more. A Question I’d like to throw out for Lora is “what sources do you go to, to get inspired and improve your craft as a comic artist?”

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oats

Ha! There’s even more to the SLURP story than was evident in the episode. It’s become a bit of a running gag during recording sessions.

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Lucas

Best. Timing. Ever.

I have some great friends. Ironically, the most creatives are not in the arts field. But I do miss a person who I can talk about “look how that child maintains her balance” without looking weird (yep, it happens).

Congrats for another awesome Podcast!

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oats

Awesome. Yeah, Lucas. Clearly, there are a lot of people here that are looking for the same thing. I encourage you guys to fire up some more formal/ intentional circles of trust.

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Lucas

You’re absolutely right.

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samuel kirlman

Hey Lee! The experience really taught me a lot. More than that, it has lead to some awesome relationships with all of you. Think of what you want to share interview wise. your not in a NDA with expiration date are you? We’ll keep you informed on the progress of the podcast. Appreciate the kind words!

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Steveland

Just found your pod cast and listened to all of the episodes in one go. My journey into being creative was that I had an idea for a story and being the visual person I am, I needed to get it down onto paper. So I looked into 3D to do animation shorts. Now one of the projects is a sci-fi story and the other is a story based on a young boy (Logan Starblazer) and my motivation is that I want to produce the story about his adventures so that my son can enjoy it.

After a while of looking at the 3d aspect, I decided that the best way to proceed would be to learn how to draw, so this is where I am at in my journey, the long term goal of producing this story, the short goals is to learn the 2D basics so that I can realise my thoughts down. This is what I need to do, I have the ideas, characters, motivations but I have the block of knowing what they look like (more of the inside out approach to creating a character). I have some of the world mapped out but I need to figure out all the steps. So it would be good if a pod cast could be done on that topic – How to build your world for your characters.

So right now, I’m looking at building up my networks, being a person that soaks up information. I’m looking forward to developing the stories that I have in my head.

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Lora

It might be faster, and more efficient to network with an artist on a project. If you’re at the beginning stages of learning how to draw, teaming up with an artist might save you a lot of frustration and time! Paper Wings is turning into the kind of community where I think connections like this will start to happen. Good luck, and I’m so glad you found us!

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Steveland

I’ll look into that, what’s the best way to proceed in terms of getting an artist to work on a project like that.

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samuel kirlman

Hi Steve! Good to see you here in the paper wingers comments! Chris and Lora’s show was Tue best place to start! For more world building and character fleshing check out Art & Story if you don’t already listen to them. Jerzy Drozd Mark Rudolph, and Kevin Cross put on a great comics based creator centered podcast. A while back they did a series entitled, Your Comic from the Ground up. great series and many dedicated to character development. Starting ok the inside is the best place to start. how they look won’t matter much if their hollow. Give them depth, then give them a face. welcome & hope to hear more from you soon!

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Steveland

Thanks for the welcome, like I mentioned, my problem is that I just can’t draw what I see in my head, so I’m right at the start :)

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Melony C.

Being in the Four Corners area of NM there are a lot of creative people here but most are fine art southwestern types and generally think anyone that likes graphic novels, advertising & pop-art are low-level mouthbreathers. It really hurts when you put your all into your work only to get comments that really chaff your cookie like “oh, so that’s low art.” Needless to say I have stayed away from any of the local art groups since, although I do have feelers out in case a new group forms that likes art similar to my own tastes. I keep checking at the local colleges, but nothing so far.

So I’m looking for a few good friends here to join my Circle of Trust (and mutually into theirs if they like), please? I can Skype or something along those lines so we can get to know one another. I would appreciate anyone’s help/advice/friendship. Thank you for this great place to meet up Chris & Lora.

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samuel kirkman

Hey Melony!
Welcome to the Paper Wings community! I think you will find the attitudes of everyone here much more welcoming and accepting. I have a great appreciation of all forms of expression, and find that those who value art forms based on supposed “High” and “Low” designations really miss out on so much. To me there is only good and bad art. No mater what form it comes in. If it makes me think, feel laugh or cry, it’s a win! If it is parroting, self absorbed and alienating, Then it’s a BIG LOOSE. I truly opened up and became alive in my art when I shook off the affects of the “High Arts” mind set of art school. I feel quite happy in my new found freedom. :o)
Welcome again and I look forward to your sharing more!

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Steveland

It is a shame when that happens – all you can do is concentrate on your own art and have the mindset of being open towards others.

While I’m on the newly paved creative road myself, I’ll be always happy to network with other like minded people.

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Niki Jackson

I found this episode so helpful, I’m needing to set new goals and so much of what you said really lifted my spirit. It does get hard sometimes as it is a no end in sight kind of lifestyle. I’m a painter and sometimes I wonder where I’m headed but I know this is my calling I just need to ‘do the work!’. Love that.
I have a few people I can talk to as a circle of trust which is great. Just wish I could have a bit more direct contact perhaps on the phone or something. I’m in the UK and they are in the USA.

It’s great to be lifted up by your friends and I totally agree about not going to your fans.

I’m at the point where I need to emerse myself far more in my painting and getting work done as I’ve been distracted too much by ‘things I have to do’ ie: procrastination = computer work!

Anyone else find it hard switching from creative zone to business mind?
I find once I’ve spent a certain amount of time doing marketing and other stuff online I find it really hard to get back into creative mode. But once I’m back in, I don’t want to come out lol.

Great to have this creative community, thanks Chris and Lora!
Niki

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Lora

I have a hard time making myself do the “business” stuff. The creative comes so much more naturally to me. Chris is quite passionate about this topic though, so I’m sure we’ll address it more in different ways in upcoming episodes.

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Niki Jackson

That would be great!

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oats

Great to have you here, Niki! There are a bunch of people here in the community that I’m sure would love to do some Skyping and Circle-Of-Trusting. Skype and Face-Time are AMAZING.

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Niki Jackson

Thanks Chris, be good to get to know people here more. Looking forward to more episodes.

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Steveland

Here Niki – I’m a fellow Uk’er as well. Be good to network and get to know others in the community.

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Niki Jackson

Hi Steve
That’s is great to meet another UKer!! It certainly would. Do you have a blog or website?
Niki

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Chey Rasmussen

I’ve been working off and on trying to get a Web cartoon series off the ground with a friend of mine for a couple of years now. It still feels far off both in terms of my skill level in animation and in the development of the characters and setting. My buddy Lee Wiley pointed me to this podcast and it is exactly what I needed to spark my desire to actively think about it again and work on all of this more consistently. Thanks you two for what you’re setting aside time to do here!

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Lora

Give Lee a big thanks for sending you our way! We’re all about doing personal projects like the one you described. So I hope our podcasts are helpful in getting you where you want to go.

Welcome!

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oats

Yes! I’m so glad you’re here! We definitely plan on covering animation more in the future. And thanks to Lee for spreading the word!

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Carolina

Hello!

I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your podcast. It’s well organize, full of great tips and resources. Thank you for make me aware of the existence of the illopond. It seems like a great group and really want to try to be part of their next book. Love the collective spirit! I’m actually trying to start my collective and they were a great inspiration as what can be accomplish as a group. I’m a graphic designer that wishes to be a professional illustrator and your tips really help me to keep me motivated during my work week. thanks
ps: I did a small post about your podcast on my blog. Hope you don’t mind. Just wanted to share to great news!

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Chris Oatley

Thanks for blogging about our show! And yes, the Illopond peeps are GREAT!

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samuel kirlman

Hey Carolina! I’m excited to hear that you are interested in the illopond! Jump on in! that’s the best way to get The most out of the site. Denver is wrapping up Boo! A spooky kids anthology and there are a couple more books reving up.8 A Space Anthology, Steampunk #2 and one based on 8 bit graphics. a couple more are being bantered about so don’t be shy. feel free to comment on the works in progress. that’s one of the best ways to meet everyone. and be sure to make it a weekly habit to share here with all us paper wingers! Chris and Lora have started something wonderful! Glad to meet you!

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samuel kirlman

Hey Carolina! I’m excited to hear that you are interested in the illopond! Jump on in! that’s the best way to get The most out of the site. Denver is wrapping up Boo! A spooky kids anthology and there are a couple more books reving up.8 A Space Anthology, Steampunk #2 and one based on 8 bit graphics. a couple more are being bantered about so don’t be shy. feel free to comment on the works in progress. that’s one of the best ways to meet everyone. and be sure to make it a weekly habit to share here with all us paper wingers! Chris and Lora have started something wonderful! Glad to meet you!

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samuel kirkman

Ooops! Sorry, must have had the hick-ups!

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Melony C.

Alright to open up myself to some friending my skype name is paint_it_strange. I’ll be on tomorrow afternoon 7/31 (about 1pm mst) if anyone wants to chat then. I don’t have a webcam (it’s on my list but am just too poor atm to get on) but I do have a mic and can talk at least. :) Anyone else up for some chatting?

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David

Hey. I know I’m late to the party, as I usually am, but I just wanna say how much this blog means to me. I just found it recently and it really speaks to me and gives me encouragement when I feel down and out.

My dream is to be a comic artist, to publish a graphic novel, or a bunch of graphic novels. To do that as my means of living. Many times I feel like I’m too old, to untalented to even get close to that dream, but I’ve been taking a few steps forward, and thanks to the great advice I get from this blog and your podcast, I hope to take several more steps forward.

One of my many problems is that I’m just not good with people, and way too introverted for my own good. It’s tough to interact with others, even on the internet. I hope I can get past that, but in the meantime I feel like I should say something, since PWP really did speak to me.

Thanks for what you do. Hope to comment more often around here.

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Chris

David, thank you so much for your contribution. And welcome to the community! It is an honor to have the company of a sincere and creative person like yourself. Looking forward to hearing from you more in the future. Thanks for your support.

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Terry Biddle

Apologies for the very late post. I just happened to listen to this the other day. Thanks for recording it, because I think it’s one of the most honest things that’s rarely ever talked about.

Sam Kirkman’s letter really spoke to me, I can really relate to it. Lately, I’ve been asking myself everyday “what would my life be like now if I had just stuck with my original career goal and tried to break into animation at Disney?”

I took some turns along the way too, left art school, got a degree in TV/Film production, saw the struggle of making an actual living in that field and went back to get a master’s in graphic design.

Now as a full-time graphic designer, I feel creatively unfulfilled. I’ve spent the past few years trying to get into full-time illustration, some jobs here and there…but nothing steady.

And now I’m back full circle to visual storytelling. I’ve spent the past year or so working after my day job on my creator owned comic book. Released each page as a semi-regular webcomic, and have recently completed the entire first issue, writing, coloring, inking all myself.

My fan base is incredibly small, and I feel like my story doesn’t lend itself to the webcomic format (no instant gratification). Plus…I sort of used the webcomic format as a way to work the kinks out in my storytelling. I think I got much better as I went along. (It was rough in some of the earlier pages.)

Recently, I submitted the edited 1st issue to some comic publishers. I have been rejected by all it seems, though I did receive a very encouraging rejection letter from one publisher, which I very much appreciated. You can view it in it’s entirety here: http://tbiddy.com/qv5vUF

It’s really, really hard to work a full-time job, and then work so hard at night on something that doesn’t seem to be getting you anywhere, particularly when you’re married and have other obligations (like pets and/or kids, BILLS). My friends have told me that “it just needs to get in front of the right people.” Who ARE these people?! LOL!

I do have a big overall dream, a vision for where I’d like to be…but for now I’d settle for just being able to make a real living doing the one thing I think I was put on this Earth to do. Draw.

I truly appreciate podcasts like this because, I really think it does take special people to take the time to put some encouragement like this out in the world. Many thanks!

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RyanF

Hi, longtime listener, first time commenter. I’ve listened to this specific episode twice now since I get into low points every once in a while. I’m currently in college right now with one year left and I feel like I want to go out with a bang. I have so many things I want to do so I can take myself to a whole new level. Unfortunately, I feel that I’m only doing this to impress my classmates who I’m a little jealous of. I also fear that I’m not working hard enough to justify taking breaks off my work because I don’t think my skills are up to their level. Because of this, I’m extremely reluctant to just go out and speak to them because I don’t want to come off as bothersome. I really want to hit my goals, yet I have no idea what I can do to get over myself and just ask people for advice. This is a stupid thing to say, I know, but I hate not knowing things, it frustrates me and I feel it slows me down. I just feel so impatient that I can’t swallow my pride and just sit down and learn. Do you think this is stupid of me to have these thoughts?

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Joe Giampapa

Hi All
I am really late on this comment. I just heard it. I love the content of the Pod Casts. I am in the Animation industry. I have been for 20 yrs, and I still feel like I know very little, I’m always learning.
I recently got fed up with pitching Ideas to studios. My little circle and I try to push each other to do our ideas our self in smaller forms.
I am attempting to take a series Idea I had and write a children’s Chapter book for ages 8-11. I got the idea from things my middle child was interested in. I know it would do well. I’ve have a lot of parts of the madness blocked out . I’m trying to write it out as a Script 1st , only because I am familiar with that format. then I will tackle the conversion to book.
As like everyone else I fight the battle of pushing myself to work on it after a long day of work ,kids, and house stuff to do. This Site and Chris’s other site are great was you look at things from a different angle. I look forward to listening to more. and check out links Lora and Chis suggest, Like Illopond.

Thanks again
~Joe

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Jason Love

Is that business course online for the information age by chance Internet Business Mastery? I have the course, but still need to finish a few of the modules. That course is a way better investment then my MBA.

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Anneliese

I’ve been going through an extremely extended creative spell laden with discouragement (admittedly mostly from comparing myself to much younger, extremely talented artists) and I came looking for this again as I remember it helping so much last time. And, unsurprisingly, it’s just as encouraging today as it was back then! It’s so refreshing and insightful to hear practical tips instead of vacant encouragement (which of course is nice to hear! But not always very useful in the long run as it’s so easy to fall back into the pit shortly after); having very little artistic support throughout my life it’s been really tough, and this was a great re-reminder to get out more and meet some like-minded people when my non-art degree gives me some space to breathe (and draw).

And the resonance of the last thought just makes me smile! Thank you again Chris and Lora, your endless willingness to help is inspirational in itself. :)

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