Hi all. Raise your hand if you are self-taught! I see those patinated palms. Me too. One of my favorite recent posts on Muddy Colors was this useful one about a Goal Folder by the tremendous Tommy Arnold. I’ve also heard the elucidating Tim Mcburnie mention a similar concept in his resource-rich youtube channel. What a great way to make a little map of which summits to look up to as you mountaineer your way to creative bushido glory. I yearn to improve, and we all know that this is an endeavor only reached by much toil, and it helps if one has a plan.
I began by assembling 8 interior comics pages that I’ve done somewhat recently that I think are a good survey of what I can successfully do. Naturally, I see quite a few shortcomings. It’s always been difficult for me to estimate my own faults without steering into the territory of neuroticism and self-abuse, but i believe that border is where growth is found the most. If you have any wisdom of how to more perfectly walk that line, please share!
I constructed a goal folder a few years ago, but looking back, it was just too broad in scope. A lot of the artists in it had little to do with each other and it was hard to harmonize a common thread. I put it aside, and it got very dusty. Somewhat recently the golden wind of ambition and all of its coincident dopamines descended upon me, and I recrafted a more focused and tighter “goal-collage”. I’m a comics artist, so as much as I love painters and illustrators, I excluded them and paired it down to only 8 comic book pages whose elements I directly wanted to integrate. Of course, this collection can shapeshift as needed. Each has elements I know I can eventually grasp with enough study. The artists included are, clockwise from the top left: Dave Mckean, Sean Murphy, John Paul Leon, Mike Mignola, Sergio Toppi, Matteo Scalera, Chris Samnee, and Jordi Lafebre. No deep cuts here- these folks are recognized for a reason. I’m aiming HIGH here.
I’ll make some quick observations here, and stay positive. Immediately, I think that if I could put about 30% more effort, sweat equity, into my pages, I would reap some generous rewards. More effort could be marshaled in the planning of each page, and each’s design. Also shifting that effort and precision to areas of importance in each page. I believe that I can expand my lung capacity here, and persistence of focus, so that I can develop these drawings more fully before I get tired. Comic books are always racing against the clock, but they are also racing against how much you can do before your brain just GIVES UP, locking shut like a cramped muscle. I mean look at all the elements these people are juggling on each page! It’s way harder than it looks. I could also strengthen my fundamentals in regards to lighting and figure drawing. For most of us, these fundamentals can be a lifelong quest. I also think I could become a better alchemist combining the reference materials. I would like to know how some of these people accomplish that, and I anticipate some grilling at the hotel bar next time I can get some face time with them at the conventions.
I could go on and on here on where I can improve, but y’all are no doubt a watchful crowd and can deduce a lot of the same things I would. I’ll be examining these more closely as I go along. I’m also a bass player, and one of the reliable ways to improve rapidly is to record/video yourself and then listen to it. It will hurt a bit. The impurities reveal themselves when you’re not caught up in the moment. This is a close visual approximation of that technique. I may do some updates of what I discover. Good luck, gospelers!