Resilient As a Tree: An Update During These Troubling Times

I’ve been thinking about resilience quite a bit over the last few days.

There’s a meditation on the Sanvello app about imagining yourself as a tree. As being as resilient as a tree. Because trees still grow, regardless of how nurturing or toxic the soil is from year to year. They keep growing no matter how windy it gets (and I’ve seen a lot of winds coming through and knocking over branches here. But never a whole tree). Trees stand tall no matter how cold, or hot, it gets. And people are like trees that way: no matter how hot or cold, or windy or stagnant, toxic or nurturing our environment is…we stand tall. Like the trees.

When I was on the Navajo reservation, the other students and I were guided through a sweat-lodge ceremony. Before it started, the woman who led us said, “Look at these trees around us. We people are like the trees, diverse and yet still beautiful. That tree there is short and skinny, but still beautiful. That tree there is tall and knotted and has twists in its trunk, but is still beautiful. And we are the same way. Remember that.” And I have. It’s always stuck with me.

I think, ultimately, people are resilient. Humans are resilient. We are adaptable. It’s one of our strengths as a species. We can live pretty much anywhere, from Iceland to the Sahara desert.

I think we as a species will survive what’s going on right now. Even though there are memes about “the earth is healing now that humans don’t poop out carbon emissions!” or “humans are the real virus!!!11!!” or “guess we’ll just die now.”

I’ve never been a defeatist. Or a cynic. (Or an eco-fascist, but that’s a different blog post).

I’ve been on a rather emotional healing journey for the last month, coming to grips with the fact that I have lived through rough shit. And I’ve seen rough shit. And I’ve seen other people who have been through the same crap as I have, or worse, come out as cynics.

But it’s just not in my programming. I can’t be a cynic.

I have too much empathy.

More importantly, I have too much hope.

Or maybe right now, it’s enough hope.

All of which is to say – all things considered…

I’m ok.

And that’s a weird thing to say. Because here’s the truth: a LOT of artists are getting hit REAL hard right now. With events getting cancelled left and right, or postponed until fall or winter… a lot of artists, writers, musicians, and other creatives are losing their livelihoods.

And it’s not just them: the venues they would have performed or exhibited at are closing. That means the jobs associated with those venues, from food service workers to event organizers to ticket sellers to security – they’re all getting laid off.

And what I see a LOT of on social media feeds are people ranting about folks who are hoarding. (Insert toilet paper joke here).

Honestly, the best thing you can do right now is reach out to the creative people in your life and check in on them. Ask them if they’re ok – because they probably aren’t.

There are creatives trying desperately to figure out how they’ll pay their bills and keep themselves fed with no events to sell at. There are staffers panicking over the same things.

So I encourage you to reach out to creatives. Don’t just ask if they’re ok.

Ask what you can do to help.

It can be anything, from donating money to donating food. Literally anything will help.

Because the other truth is: artists are often the first to run livestreams or other virtual events to help raise money for charities. As Amanda Palmer puts it, creatives are the first to do charity events…

But they are THE LAST to get assistance. More often, they’re the first on the chopping block to be denied assistance.

It should not be this way.

And in my opinion, I think this crisis we are all going through as a collective is making us realize that the old way of doing things is no longer working.

Now is the time to reach out and help however you can. Even if you can only just call or text to talk to someone.

As for me…

Like I said, I’m surprisingly ok. I have a lot of food (in fact, I’m organizing a little no-contact pantry swap with a friend of mine after I post this). I have a LOT saved back as a cushion, and most of it is liquid, meaning I’m not pulling from retirement savings in the event that I need the funds.

Also, to my surprise, I still have freelance clients who haven’t bailed on me during this crisis. I’ve also started working with a new startup, NeverEnding, Inc, which is exciting. And I still have KickStarter rewards to fulfill. I’m incredibly privileged to have this, and I’ve been sharing my resources however I can to help other artists.

A lot of people have been complaining about the social distancing required to contain the calamity, but I’m already a social recluse outside of convention season. At the moment I don’t have roommates except for my cats. But I have friends and family I can text and call. My D&D group is figuring out virtual playing spaces. I’ve been listening to new music and enjoying my down time. All in all, I’m ok.

I will say, because convention season has been effectively cancelled for the next few months, I will be doing a livestream every Saturday on YouTube until further notice. These livestreams will run from 1 pm to 3 pm EST. Each livestream I’ll be doing different things.

This Saturday, from 1 pm to 3 pm EST, I’ll be drawing commissions from my latest KickStarter campaign. Who knows what I’ll do the week after that?

Thanks for reading, and for reaching out.

Keep being awesome.

How I’m Preparing to Freelance Full-Time (Again)

preparing to freelance full time image post of author appearance artist alley table setup

If you’re a patron on Patreon, you know this already, but I turned in my two week notice at the local gas station I work at part-time. I’m now preparing to freelance with a more open schedule than ever before.

For the last year or so, this has been the situation: because of the part-time gas station gig (with indeterminate hours from week to week), there were times that making comics had to go from a full-time job to a part-time one. Then right back to full-time. It was a strain on my energy AND the energy of my clients.

Now that I’m leaving that station job, I’m freelancing more fully again.

So what am I doing to prepare myself?

Well, first thing’s first, I turned in my two week notice at the gas station, rather than just walking out or saying, “I QUIT.” This is not just to protect my ass just in case I need to get the job again. It’s also more professional of you to turn in a notice, instead of leaving at the last minute.

For the last week and a half to two weeks, I’ve been analyzing my income streams, which are these:

  1. Patreon (this includes producing The Legend of Jamie Roberts). It’s a weird day when you realize your passion project is paying for your groceries. A weird day, but a GREAT day.
  2. Making comics for clients. I have one dedicated client whom I’ve been working with for years. I have two whom I work with when they have work for me (which is intermittent at times). And I’m hoping to get more clients to draw/write/letter/design for.
  3. Commissions, which encompasses anytime someone wants me to draw their D&D characters or even family members or pets. This is usually through KickStarter, but I get occasional odd requests.
  4. DoorDash and/or other labor. However, I live in the middle of nowhere, so DoorDash isn’t as lucrative as it would be in a major city.
  5. Ko-Fi. This is still new, so I’m not sure how much this will bring in. But I’m keeping it in the income stream lineup.
  6. Consignment Deals. This one I only have to check in once every 3 to 6 months. So the income is not as regular as the other streams. But it pays out once a quarter, so it works.

KickStarters WOULD make the list, but they are exceptionally situational. Also sporadic.

I’m looking into other income streams. I’m considering going back to Gumroad to sell ebooks through (I want to avoid Amazon as much as I can). Otherwise I’m looking for new clients to fill out the gaps.

I’m also looking to launch a new KickStarter campaign. But you should sign up for the (free) email newsletter for more details on that. I’ll talk about it with subscribers in their inboxes tomorrow.

If there’s an idea that you think is worth considering, make a suggestion below. I’ll look into it.

Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

My Goals for 2020

I’ve been thinking about my goals for 2020.

After I did some journaling and thought exercises (thanks to this 3-part video series from Marie Forleo, called Decade in Review), I realized that I accomplished a LOT in ten years.

I graduated college, got my art showcased in a gallery, published a LOT of books, got a table at SPX (my dream come true!), and SO much more.

So I’m eager to see what the 2020s will bring!

But I want to do more than just look at my goals for 2020. I want to make some goals for the next decade.

You may remember from my bullet journal post that I stated: I overestimate what I can do in a day, and underestimate what I can do in a week.

Well, the same is true for years and decades.

I overestimate what I can do in a year, but underestimate what can be done in ten years.

If you haven’t done the decade in review exercise, I HIGHLY recommend you try it. It’s a good way to tap into not only what you’ve done, but what you KNOW you can do in the near future.

With that in mind…

I’ve thought and pondered over goals, and I’ve decided on these top 3 for next year.

Why 3? Because I’ve learned from this year that setting more than 3 goals makes it hard to accomplish any of them. So 3 AT MOST.

Here’s my top 3 goals for 2020:

  • Thumbnail The Legend of Jamie Roberts in its entirety.

I’m a little ashamed to admit that The Legend isn’t entirely written out. I have an OUTLINE. The first seven chapters are written. But the second half of the story still needs to be scripted.

To achieve this goal, I’m going to draw one thumbnailed page in my sketchbook every day (except Sunday). That’s 313 pages to sketch out overall. While I don’t think The Legend of Jamie Roberts will be THAT long, it’s still a good goal to have to sketch a page a day.

  • Read 1 new comic per week

I’ll be blunt: outside of The Legend of Jamie Roberts and commissions and freelancing, I’ve been in a creative rut. Part of that is due to… just working a lot. But part of that is also due to my not reading very many comics anymore.

Also, I started Indie Comics Hub with the goal of reviewing indie comics. And I’ve been woefully lax in actually reading indie comics and enforcing deadlines on myself.

So I hope that by reading one new comic every week, I not only get the creative juices flowing – I also get to write reviews to post up on Indie Comics Hub for comics readers to enjoy.

  • Get my friend Sean’s book to print

I promised my friend Sean that I would help him get his collection of prose and poetry to print. It’s been a dream of his to see it happen, and I know more than he does about publishing books, so I offered to help.

That said, I’ve been taking my time to help him with this. (Sorry, dude. I had a lot going on).

But 2020 is going to be different, dammit! We’re going to get these stories together, and we’re going to get them to print.

(And if we can do it without using Amazon, that’s even better in my book).

What about my goals for the next decade?

Oh, I have some big goals in mind to accomplish in the next ten years. Like…

  • Paying off my student loans entirely (my pipe dream is to do this in 5 years).
  • Saving up for – and getting – an RV to live in, and
  • Learning how to sew to make my own dresses.

I will certainly be doing more than this – it’s a decade, after all – but these are my top 3 picks for Goals for the 2020s.

What are your goals for next year? How are you going to keep track of them? I’d love to know!

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Adventures in Moving: An Updates on Searching for an Apartment

Adventures in Moving is my latest blog post series, where I share updates on my search for a new place to live.

Today I’ll share what I’ve discovered so far, which is this:

SOME places are willing to make exceptions regarding pet policies. You just have to ask.

See, my potential roommate and I are totally ok with sharing a place. However, our rooming together would make us a 3 cat household. (She has 1, I have 2.)

Most places, I have discovered, have a 2 pet limit.

That said, some places are willing to make an exception, but you have to ask about it.

Also it may depend on other factors. Like:

  • is the landlord sitting on a lot of empty properties that need filled? Or are places scarce (as in, only 1 or 2 places are available for move-in)?
  • are the cats indoors exclusively? (Which, ours are).

I also suspect it depends on how good of a credit score you have, as well as your past renting history. I don’t know though – I haven’t had a credit report pulled on me yet while searching for a place.

Anyway, there’s at least 1 place in the Columbus, OH area that looks promising. But there are also a lot of places in Toledo that fit our budget better.

I haven’t toured the Toledo places…yet. But I will this weekend.

Yep, I’m out of town again. This time it’s not for a convention – it’s to visit friends and tour some potential apartments and houses.

Wish me luck, yo.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

I Got A New Laptop

Their name is Loki and you will show them respect.

Yes, I finally have a new laptop to replace my 7-year-old laptop, Odysseus. (Yes, I do name my devices after legendary figures, thank you).

I also replaced my dinky Wacom Bamboo with a Wacom Intuos Pro.

Full disclosure – I was able to replace these thanks to help from family. While I was able to save back some money of my own, they helped to chip in towards a new set-up. I wanted to point this out because:

  • the idea of a self-made entrepreneur is bogus and we need to stop promoting this idea. (For more context, look up the Amanda Palmer story “take the goddamn donuts.”)
  • and that’s it.

But now that I have this new set-up, it’s taking a little while for the arts-related work to fall into place.

For one thing, my program of choice, Clip Studio Paint, needs to be reconfigured all over again. So that’s taking a little extra time.

Long story short: The Legend of Jamie Roberts is being delayed. I’ll try to have an update up by tomorrow, but it may take longer than that. We’ll see how it goes.

Blog posts and KickStarter updates will continue as normal. (In fact, there’s only about 24 hours left on the Dragons: A Sketchbook KickStarter, wink wink).

Otherwise? That’s all I’ve got at the moment. Technical configurations are just going to take a hot day or two.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.