February 1, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Artist and Consistency of Vision

If there one thing that gets drummed more and more into my head as my artistic life goes on ( and especially these days) is that, consistency and determination are foremost allies in the life of an artist.

Creating an animated show for a network raises you status a bit, and puts a bit of money in the bank for a short time ( unless you are Steve Hillenburg or Seth Mcfarland, then it’s a little longer and larger). But for the most part, any project you work on that is owned by someone else is ephemeral. The plug is pulled at any time. Your life as an artist goes on.

What I find again and again, from independent webtoons done by my friend Arin Hanson at Egoraptor, to indie online comics or hard copy comic books, strips , music, blogs, photography, jewelry art and design..etc…

Is that putting out product consistently and diligently, wins the people over the long run.

Dedication to your craft. Dedication to a schedule of output. Also dedication to quality, but not to the extent it keeps you from ever finishing something or putting it out there consistently.

Hazel Dooney , a fine artist in Australia , consistently has put out new paintings on her website that are snatched up by collectors, some even before she finishes. It wasn’t always like that. And that’s what artists, animators, filmmakers need to remember, the beginning is the true test. Can you get over that hurdle where money and support seem to be invisible? Can you believe in what you are doing to follow it through? To put aside brand name , ego building but ephemeral jobs to focus on something that you could very well keep doing until you die.

I can’t keep doing Rocko’s. I can’t keep doing Camp Lazlos. Not to take anything away from those experiences.

And I know it’s a bit ironic for this post to come on the heels of posts about Kaboing coming to a stand still. But course correction and soul searching is good too.

It’s been said that if an artist can build a tribe of “1000 true fans” ( in Arin’s case its more like 470,000, with 87 million views) an artist can find their niche, their place. Arin didn’t start out that way. But over time, his audience found him.

Consistency and dedication. The ability to be frugal and find your legs in those tough early times. Build on something that can keep going if you want. You can stop if you want.


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8 Responses to February 1, 2012

  1. david essman says:

    “putting out product consistently and diligently, wins the people over the long run.”

    That and a hell of a lot of self promotion, emailing blogs, posting in forums, social media etc.

    Curious, have you ever talked to Annie Leonard about her successful story of stuff series?

  2. Matt Yeomans says:

    Yeah, man. Yeah. Great advice here. Joe Murray droppin’ knowledge bombs. Blow me up, Joe. Incapacitate me with insight!

    These days I’m working on making a splash in the comic books wading pool. Well, by “these days” I mean “for the last 30 of my 29 years of life here on this planet.” Since I’m in my momma’s belly is what I’m saying here, Joe!

    Been doin’ the drawing thing for decades. Got it pretty down. Then the Muse, she told me to work on the writing thing. Reading myriad books. Read yours (soooo good). So getting that writin’ down, that “creating” as it were. So I’m good to go, right? I’m a freakin’ creator and stuff. I’m gonna get seen by people, loved.


    There’s this whole OTHER aspect to this creative biz — THE BIZ PART! Yeah, that’s right. To be a pro, you gotta be just that: PROFESSIONAL! You gotta get up in the morning and get to WORK. You gotta get to work even when your Muse has duct taped her mouth shut and you feel cold and alone. You gotta get to work long before you ever see a single solitary dime.

    Ha, you ever get some great ideas from your Muse, only to sit back and enjoy them all up inside your head? Then you start feeling content to just let them stay there, because HECK, you KNOW it’s good, so why do you have to prove that to anyone else? I hate when I do that is what I’m gettin’ at here.

    You can draw, you can write. But can you dedicate? Can you “show up” for work? Dedication and consistency, no matter your mood, no matter your excitement levels, no matter your circumstances (I’m freaking homeless and draw my stuff in a McDonald’s for crying out loud!)

    So, yeah, man, I’m glad to have seen this today, ’cause this is what I’m working on now — getting in that production mode, achieving consistency in my diligence and dedication. Yeah, I can draw. Yeah, I can write. (Well, my Muse can anyway.)

    But can I be that professional that shows up to work every day? Can I grin and bear it when I’m hungry and tired and pissed off, and just draw and write anyway?

    Yes, I can… one day.

  3. “any project you work on that is owned by someone else is ephemeral”

    This is a very tough concept to come to terms with.

    But you’re so right – life as an artist (or anything else we are) goes on. And there are new opportunities. There are new opportunities to reach people directly and, as you say, find that niche. It will be interesting to see where this all goes and how the larger institutions fare in the coming years.

    It is a shame that Kaboing came to a standstill. But it wasn’t the wrong idea. Whatever didn’t quite work as expected there, the aim, the mission, was right. And our lives as artists go on. Great post.

  4. Stuart Collett says:

    Wow, it must be hard for Seth MacFarlane to maintain 3 shows

  5. ” The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” – Fredrich Nietzsche

  6. Matt Stevanus says:

    Truer words hath not crossed the lips of man, Joe. I have been putting content out for my idea for an animated series nonstop lately, which I’d like to talk more about with you as perhaps I could get the short on your independent showcase once it’s finished. I even noticed that by consistently producing model sheets, digitally painted scenes and characters, I have gained somewhat of a small fan following. I just love to draw the characters and see my idea come to life honestly, but am nonetheless thrilled at the thought that I have created a character worthy of notoriety. Perhaps I have the next big thing in my grasp, who knows, all that matters is I will continue to thrive off the joy it brings me to create my characters, no matter what happens. I’m still working the same crappy part time job and attending college, as well as paying for it out of pocket.

  7. randomGuy says:

    “I can’t keep doing Rocko’s. I can’t keep doing Camp Lazlos. Not to take anything away from those experiences.”

    with nick replaying all the 90s cartoons maybe you can “convince” them to pay you to make a made for tv Rocko movie specialish type thing like a big single story episode, and if that worked nice who knows where it could lead ya. or they might just say “never” like Ralph bighead……

    At any rate what was the logic was the logic behind Rocko having kangaroo parents, but a wallaby little sister? (theme song and picture in trash o madness)….

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