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UniverseX259
08-11-2015, 11:04 PM
I've been doing some thinking recently about my professional life, and I wonder if any of you have ever hit something like this.

I feel I'm outgrowing the comics projects that are offered to me. For the past 5 years most of my freelance work has been vanity projects for independent clients. Recently I began doing occasional work for a pretty big indie record label doing album covers (Including one for U-God from the Wu-Tang Clan). But these have been infrequent and for the most part I'm relying on vanity projects.

I'm not the most amazing artist in the world, but I pride myself in my storytelling abilities and people are willing to pay me for it. The thing is I don't believe the scripts I'm getting are up to par with what I know I can do. I have a controversial belief that most independent writers are just wannabe artists who were too lazy to learn to draw, so they figured that since they have MS Word and an idea that automatically makes them a writer. But good writing is HARD, and I commend anyone who can write a great story that follows a linear path that's easy to follow and has great dialog. I find myself mostly getting scripts that have one aspect that's really good but the rest are poor. The other side of it is that a vanity project is usually run by one person with no quality control. If they have poor taste then you're screwed, because their subjective values will usually trump objective values every time.

So I feel I'm outgrowing the realm of vanity projects. But the thing is I'm not good enough for the big leagues. I've submitted my work to Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Valiant, etc. with no word or rejections. I've also submitted my stuff to smaller indie publishers and either they can pay me but don't like my stuff, or they like my stuff but can't pay me. So it's safer from a financial standpoint to stay with the vanity projects. The only problem is most vanity projects I've ever worked on have never been released - How can I market myself if no one can see the work?

So I'm wondering if anyone else has hit this plateau. What happened when you did? How did you overcome it?

Jason Powell
08-12-2015, 12:11 AM
I know how you feel. I went through the same thing, still am a bit, because of different issues.

You feel like what you are doing doesn't matter and you do not know what the future holds so... What's next???

I have had some miner success in comics, meet some really cool people, but I haven't had near the success I thought I would.

So I took a break.

I started drawing again (btw I have only been published as a writer/creator so art has faded to the background in the past cause I felt I was not a good enough artist). Finding my soul again. Finding my passion again. And I spent some time with my family, which did a lot of good.

So my advice is this, not saying stop drawing, but take a break. Refocus and find your passion again.

Whatever you do, just be true to yourself.

PS: I absolutely hate the term "VANITY PROJECTS". Because it sounds like something is wrong with doing projects for little or no money. I love comics. Always will. I have spent thousands on producing them and made zero in return and I would do it again and again. Not due to vanity but due to love. People who put down these projects are usually just p!$$ed off because they have not had the level of success they believe they deserve and want to blame anyone but themselves.

-Jason Powell

UniverseX259
08-12-2015, 01:20 AM
I know how you feel. I went through the same thing, still am a bit, because of different issues.

You feel like what you are doing doesn't matter and you do not know what the future holds so... What's next???

I have had some miner success in comics, meet some really cool people, but I haven't had near the success I thought I would.

So my advice is this, not saying stop drawing, but take a break. Refocus and find your passion again.

Whatever you do, just be true to yourself.

I've considered this before. It's gotten to the point where I've even considered McDonald's since minimum wage in New York is about to jump to $15/hour. Steady money and a good hourly rate? Beats the feast or famine of freelancing!

But on a serious note, I love the freedom that freelancing provides, as well as the fact that I've been able to turn my hobby into a job. It's such a stress reliever. But the uncertainty gets to me at times, and I'm at the point where I'm considering something much more stable, perhaps an in-house design position.



PS: I absolutely hate the term "VANITY PROJECTS". Because it sounds like something is wrong with doing projects for little or no money. I love comics. Always will. I have spent thousands on producing them and made zero in return and I would do it again and again. Not due to vanity but due to love. People who put down these projects are usually just p!$$ed off because they have not had the level of success they believe they deserve and want to blame anyone but themselves.

-Jason Powell

My understanding is that a vanity project is when someone just HAS to get their pet project out into the world and acts as the ringleader, many times due to ego (Think Tommy Wiseau's "The Room" as an extreme example). In regards to my work, it's when a client (Usually a writer) acts as the editor and boss and pays other people to make their dream come to life. I've made a lot of money on these types of projects and for that I'm grateful, but as I mentioned before many times the ideas are bad and there's no quality control.

As soulless as people say corporate comics are, they're still far and above the quality of every comic project I've been offered. There's just this cognitive dissonance where a dude from the Wu-Tang Clan likes my stuff enough to put it on an album cover, yet some schlub with no credits to his name but money to hire an artist nitpicks everything I do while delivering crap script after crap script and believing it's genius. It's hard for me to figure out the objective standards of my work due to these polarizing viewpoints.

Jason Powell
08-12-2015, 02:36 PM
My understanding is that a vanity project is when someone just HAS to get their pet project out into the world and acts as the ringleader, many times due to ego (Think Tommy Wiseau's "The Room" as an extreme example). In regards to my work, it's when a client (Usually a writer) acts as the editor and boss and pays other people to make their dream come to life. I've made a lot of money on these types of projects and for that I'm grateful, but as I mentioned before many times the ideas are bad and there's no quality control.

As soulless as people say corporate comics are, they're still far and above the quality of every comic project I've been offered. There's just this cognitive dissonance where a dude from the Wu-Tang Clan likes my stuff enough to put it on an album cover, yet some schlub with no credits to his name but money to hire an artist nitpicks everything I do while delivering crap script after crap script and believing it's genius. It's hard for me to figure out the objective standards of my work due to these polarizing viewpoints.

While I agree that people who produce a comic for the sole purpose of fame or fortune are doing vanity projects (but that can be said for any Marvel or DC project because they are doing them for the sole purpose of making money); I disagree with saying a person who sees their idea through even though they know it will not make money is doing a vanity project.

Every project I have ever done, I did for the love the medium (not fame or fortune). Sure I hope I could make a living doing what I love and I really wish the projects could just break even so at least no one loses anything, but if they do not I would still do them. Is that vanity? Now if you say an amateur and Indy project, I am fine with that, but saying vanity is just a put down to everyone who works on them.

I mean the term "VANITY PROJECT" is just used to liberal and often negatively so I do not like it.

-Jason Powell

RonaldMontgomery
08-12-2015, 05:52 PM
Now if you say an amateur and Indy project, I am find with that, but saying vanity is just a put down to everyone who works on them.


Thank you for writing this. I've put a chunk of change into my first book to make it the best it can be. Seven years of crap writing, quiet failure and disappointments before now. If I had any vanity, it left with the last decade.

All that's left is the crap writing. :p

Kevinlearn
08-14-2015, 11:00 AM
I know how you feel.

I have been freelance illustrating for years and every now and then I get someone who wants to turn their writings into a graphic novel because they believe it's easier to get published (and turned into a movie) than publishing a novel. And most of the writing is horrible. No character development, horrible dialogue, and a bland plot- if any at all. But they are pumped about it, thinking it's the next blockbuster. It's tough.

I started working on my own story a few years ago, as I like telling stories with images and it's hard to express complex ideas in single illustrations. However, unlike you, I can't exist in NYC on my illustration career and require a day job to make ends meet. At times I wish I could live off of my work, and other times I'm glad I have a second career that pays much better than penciling pages would.

But I hit those plateaus too. And sometimes it's hard to bounce back. But I'd rather be making images and failing to find an audience, or failing to meet my ideas to execution, than not doing anything at all.

Scribbly
08-14-2015, 02:26 PM
I wont call these VANITY projects. I rather call them EGO projects.
Maybe you should start a ego-project of your own.

Screwtape Jenkins
08-14-2015, 04:30 PM
So, wait, you guys are telling me my script is not the next big blockbuster?

I find that hard to believe.

Stewart Vernon
08-14-2015, 05:42 PM
Just to flip this around for fairness... I'm sure there are also writers out there who feel like they aren't getting the best artists to illustrate their idea. I imagine a lot of people on all sides get teamed with people who aren't as complimentary to their work as someone else might be... it's a give and take where to tell the best story you might have to work together to get the best final product.

That said... no matter what your skill level or how good your idea, it's always frustrating to feel like you aren't appreciated for what you can do. I think as much as is possible you just have to keep trying and keep doing what you're good at, and get better wherever you can... and yeah, you kind of have to hope to get noticed.

Some really great talent is overlooked... and some mediocre stuff gets published. It's hard to say what is going to "hit" in any given moment. Trends and fandom evolve and change, so it's a moving target.

Kevinlearn
08-14-2015, 08:39 PM
No, totally. I imagine there are writers that have similar frustrations with artists.

And what's popular and printed isn't necessarily quality either. There's plenty comics that I have no idea how they got published. But in your case Screwtape- blockbuster script, 100%. Keanu Reeves and shit.

dmh_3000
08-14-2015, 09:37 PM
One question, why not go find a writer you like and ask them directly if they want to hire you?

You could go through the indie shelves at the store or look online and find something with a writer who you see as being at the level you want to work with. Find their contact info through google and send them a message saying that you are available and what kind of story you're looking to draw. And since these people would already have industry contacts, they would have an easier time getting published through a company.

Don't know if they'd pay you or not though. From what I understand most artists doing Vertigo/Icon/Image creator-owned work aren't paid up front if they co-own it since there's more chance of profit than someone from here would see. I've heard conflicting things.