I applied for a grant through my state, to possibly get some funding for comics and convention appearances so I don’t have to rely entirely on my day job income, Patreon, and KickStarter. I made it to the next to last round of judging, and saw that there was a panel happening the other day to determine the finalists.
So I requested the day off from the day job, drove to the city, and sat through the panel.
Now, I was expecting to be interviewed or to have to defend my case to the panelists.
Yeah, no. Guests weren’t even allowed to talk to the panelists. So the review process was sitting in a dark, cold room for three hours watching slides and three panelists take notes.
Now, the category I submitted to was Visual Design, because apparently that’s the category you put comics in. The problem? This category also covered furniture design, fashion design, and bookbinding.
That’s right: comics, as an art form, was being judged next to furniture and dresses.
Before I get into the tangent of comics as a medium having an entirely separate language and aesthetic from dresses and furniture, let’s talk about the panelists. There were three of them. One was a fashion instructor. One was a 3D artist specializing in (drumroll, please) furniture, and the third… I think she was there because she got a design degree from OSU. Her critiques were basically, and often literally, “I didn’t like it. It looked strange,” or “this looks nice to me.”
Let’s just say, half of the 16 submissions were comics and graphic novels, and only ONE made it to the top 5 (and it wasn’t me). The rest were costume designers or other 3D artist types.
And in the final elimination round, to the surprise of no one, the comic artist got the boot.
I was really hoping for better on that day. I was really hoping that somebody in the comics field would get this grant, even if it wasn’t me – hell, when I looked at my submission on the slides, it turned out that the system I submitted my work through warped my art and fucked up the dimensions of my comic strips. So I’m not surprised that I didn’t get the grant.
But there were artists who sent work better than me, who were not furniture and fashion designers, and they got the boot because the council could not recognize that comics have a different visual language, and different aesthetic values, than the unbalanced panelists could work with.
So, fuck it. I’m not applying for state grant funding again.
I’ll just stick to crowdfunding and convention sales from now on.
Did you have a better experience with arts councils or state-funded grants? Or was your experience just as awful? Share it in the comments below. I would love to read them.
Thanks for reading.
You. Are. Awesome.