I posted this on my blog last year and I thought I'd post it again.
If I had a time machine and could talk to my younger self.
Dear 12 year old self,
Wow, look how young I look, I mean you look. Look, first off, shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Sorry, I’m old and frustrated with all the mistakes I’ve made, which you hopefully will avoid. Now, you’re going to make mistakes in your general life, but that will lead you to some of the greatest times too, so don’t worry about that. All I’m here to talk about is your art.
This might be a shocker, but you don’t draw comics for a living. You make some good money drawing part time, but I’m better off working a day job and drawing comics at night. At least that’s how it worked out for me. Maybe that will be different for you. You’ll end up meeting and seeing a lot of great talent throughout your life, but don’t get frustrated or turned off because you’re not as good as they are. They can be helpful in inspiring you to do better. They don’t have more talent, they have just figured out some things you haven’t yet and their art is the result of hard work and dedication. 90% of an artist’s craft is hard work, the rest is talent. Everyone has a little talent, what we do with it is the important thing.
Draw what you like, not what you think others will like. Don’t worry about everyone liking your work. There are those who will hate it, love it, and some will just not care about it. You don’t have to please everyone, and more importantly you have to like it. That’s how you grow as an artist. Do what you love and put in 100% of your effort into each piece. Finally, and this is an important one, be patient. Your time will come soon enough. Live life, be with your family, enjoy the time you have, and never stop drawing. Even if you’re not doing it seriously for a long time, once you do get back into it your muscle memory will kick in and you’ll be back in action in no time.
Let’s go back to patience. Every piece of art should be thought out and executed with precision. You should put your work down before you’re finished with each stage of its construction. Each time you come back to the drawing you’ll find something you can correct, make better or keep the same. This can help to mold your thought process too. You’ve always inked your work, from day one, so keep doing that. Keep experimenting with different kinds of brushes, nibs and pens. Once you get a feel for the style you love you’ll find the right tools for the job.
Lastly, you will not miss out on anything. Every missed chance you have to break into the industry will not be the last. There are always opportunities around the corner waiting to present themselves. You just need to focus on the art. Keep pushing your boundaries, from comic art to fine art. That’s right, you end up getting a fine art degree, but that comes much later.
Obviously I can’t tell my younger self this stuff, but I am reminding myself of what I’ve learned over the years and hopefully someone will read this and get something good from it.