Not good enough for my artistic peers
August 21, 2016 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Why can't I get over my artwork being ignored?

I've been pursuing having a "career" in cartooning and independent underground comics and graphic novels. "Career" as in, something that I love doing and that I'll never stop. I really enjoy making comics and I have a taste for the underground scene. Eventually I would love to have my work be published (fantagraphics). I see a lot of great work out there and a lot of it resonates with me. I feel like it's a world I want to be a part of and a real community I want to be in. But I've been having a real hard time connecting with others. I've met other artists (through work) who enjoy the same type of work. And they were jerks. i was completely engrossed in their work and interested but they were the complete opposite. I feel like a lot of artists I meet who share similar tastes act very elitist to me. It's kind of depressing. Should I care so much? I guess you could say the art I enjoy can be called very "hipster" and it's all very modern and beautiful. I post all of my work on social media and I've received praise from kind strangers. Yet I feel I haven't impressed the more well known artists. Ones around my age who are more successful. I don't want it to seem like I'm chasing fame but it's more like being accepted. Having my work accepted.

But the thought that my work isn't good enough to impress fellow artists crushes me. It even makes me reconsider doing art. And it's all I've got. Am I trying to please too much?

(I normally have better sentence structure and grammar so I apologize)
posted by morning_television to Human Relations (22 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I would argue that you really shouldn't aspire to associate with many of these people in the first place, given how many people associated with these circles have serious emotional issues and may abuse you for pleasure no matter how successful you become. Some cultures are simply toxic.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 6:09 PM on August 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I've read your question over a few times. I've worked in the arts and the entertainment industry for most of my adult life. I have noticed that people who are more secure in themselves and their work are really, really nice. Some are outgoing and some are very private, but most people who are confident in their own work are not jerks. The jerks tend to be those who are super insecure about their own standing in the art world. There are always exceptions, of course, but just something that I've really noticed recently in dealing with the people I encounter. I would encourage you not to seek the approval of people you think are jerks. Also, avoid people who think anything but their own work is turkey.

It's hard to make a living or even a part time living in the arts. It just is. There is a lot of risk involved. Thus the high emotions resulting in some people not treating others well.

I wish I had learned earlier in my career to seek out mentors instead of trying to impress peers, listening to them when I asked how I can improve, and to keep learning constantly. This is what I do now and the compliments come but they are not as important to me as knowing I did a good job. Seriously - cultivate relationships with people you'd like to have critique your work.
posted by Pearl928 at 6:28 PM on August 21, 2016 [31 favorites]

Some people who are just barely making it in competitive fields only manage to believe they are successful if they can convince themselves they are better than other people around them who aspire to the same thing. In other words, being a jerk to you makes them feel better about themselves. I think you should ignore them, engage with your audience, and when you feel successful on your own terms you might be ready to reengage with other professionals. At that point, when they are rude about your art or ignore you, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that 20,000 people subscribe to your site anyway, or that you've sold X number of prints, or whatever you would consider to be a marker of success.
posted by lollusc at 6:29 PM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's human to want validation from artists you respect and admire. But if you had that validation, what would you get, really, in terms of tangible benefit? Let's say a pretty swell, established artist sees some of your work and likes it. Feeling benevolent, he tweets a link to your stuff, and maybe a few dozen people click on the link and get interested and follow you, etc. It feels good and you have a sign that you're on the right track, but it ultimately doesn't really do a whole lot. Successful artists are mostly just thinking of themselves and their careers and self-promotion, and have little incentive to be friends with and support up-and-coming artists. They can't flip a switch to instantly make you successful, either. Once the shine wears off, you're back to where you were, eventually becoming hungry for more validation when you start doubting yourself again.

Rather than worry that artists in the scene won't give you attention and validation, keep making art for the many, many other people out there who are not artists, but are just plain hungry for great stuff. Keep being active in social media, getting your work out there, and feeding off of those strangers you mentioned who admire your work. Get your work in front of publishers and keep improving your craft. It is slow and there are plenty of moments of self-doubt and rejection, but that's the nature of any artistic pursuit.
posted by naju at 6:31 PM on August 21, 2016 [8 favorites]

Many artists are wrapped up in themselves and their own work. Worry about impressing readers, not fellow creators.
posted by Candleman at 6:34 PM on August 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Also - you don't have to aim for Fantagraphics right away. They're hardly underground! Start small)
posted by naju at 6:42 PM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

In general these people you want to impress are busy drawing their own art instead of looking at some rando's art.

In general these people are also the kinds of people who are built to enjoy sitting by themselves and drawing comics, not the kinds of people who are built to enjoy having a huge social circle.

Source: been trying to get various senpais to notice me for multiple years, pretty much gave up, have collected a small set of people who would be delighted if I noticed them.

That said there are probably a lot of social things I could be doing that I'm not. But social stuff is hard. Drawing more comics is just long and slow.

I would love to have more people notice my stuff. But so would you. And so would a zillion other people. And then here's, oh, let's not name names, but pick your favorite ex-SEO cartoonist who has cranked out a ton of mediocre-to-shitty comics and applied their skills at promoting stuff, and relentlessly chased making their stuff more "viral", getting book deals and whatnot. And, you know, some part of me is consumed by envy when I see that. So I just filter those people out relentlessly and have fewer envy spikes when I check Twitter or whatever.

Ultimately it mostly just boils down to continuing to do the work and put it out there. Buy ads now and then if you can afford it. Send your shit to awards. Send your shit to publishers. Try not to feel slighted when you send a synopsis of the book you spend four years drawing to a rising indy publisher's call for submissions in the first week of them being open and never hear anything for a year, while they announce a co-production deal with a major publisher. Try to keep feeling like it's worth throwing together another short story proposal for another themed anthology that demands new characters when you already have a zillion little things sitting around begging to be done and distracting you from the epics you've been working on. Try to keep feeling like it's worth bothering to send your shit out after years of no recognition beyond your slowly growing fan base, who went from funding a $2k Kickstarter five years ago to funding a $12k Kickstarter last month. Wonder if that will be enough for people to finally notice you when you get that printed. Probably not. Wonder if you care any more now that self-pub is... no, fuck it, it's still a ton of stress and hassle and I would love to quit having to do it all myself in return for a much smaller chunk of the money off of any individual sale.

That need for validation from people you'd like to be your peers? Burn that need out. You'll get a tiny amount of it if you push for it. But you'll have to fight uphill for every bit of it. If it's what keeps you going, keeps you interested in drawing comics, then stop now and find a new hobby/career, because you're not gonna get any of that shit for a good while. Eventually you'll get validation from people who your art connects with, possibly in the form of folks saying things like "oh man I have been waiting so eagerly to back this Kickstarter" or in pledging non-trivially to you Patreon. (Set one of those up. Put a small link to it next to every page/strip/panel/whatever you make. Do not judge your worth by how large the number is, just delight that hey, now your comics buy you a beer at the cartoonist meetup or something.)

Oh yeah. And learn to take the bitterness and envy and pissiness that will come from that and put it aside. Because letting it out in public will just make it worse.

Do I sound bitter here? I probably do. I'm emphasizing the down sides. I've gotten some really good quotes from genuine senpais. Haven't socialized with them because I only see them at comic cons and have absolutely no social energy after sitting at a table selling my books all day. Someday I need to try to fix that, I tell myself that every con, but then I just wanna go sit in a dark room for about two hours and not talk to anyone after a day at the table.
posted by egypturnash at 7:13 PM on August 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

A lot of what you're saying sounds familiar to me from reading biographies of Charles Schulz. He often felt the same way, and he turned out to be probably the most successful cartoonist of all time. If you're the type of person to take heart from the examples of others, I would strong suggest David Michaelis's biography, "Schulz and Peanuts", especially the early parts.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:32 PM on August 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Think of it this way: Van Gogh never sold anything in his lifetime either.

A lot of creatives are wrapped up in trying to portray the Image of an Artist(tm) as opposed to creating art because they want to create.

I would say, try not to focus on whether your art impresses "the right people". Especially not if they're jerks who think they don't have to lower themselves to acknowledge the bourgeoisie--what a joke. They're not Frank fucking Miller.

I would look for, and cultivate, a circle of artists who enjoy the same type of work AND are supportive to others pursuing same. Forget the jerks--even if they're objectively good, so are tons of other people, so there's no need to defer to the jerks and hope they throw you a crumb or two.
posted by Autumnheart at 7:59 PM on August 21, 2016

Sometimes artists can get so far up their own ass they can't even see the value of others' work. This is super common amongst young/contemporary art scenes, and I have always tried to avoid it. You can try to get these people to like you, you can try to change your vision to fit their tastes, but they will not help you. Don't sink your time and talent into this. Great artists and art community members will encourage you right off the bat no matter what you're making. I know for me, seeing someone working and making art in ANY capacity makes me excited, and I want to support them and discuss with them.

I'd suggest widening your horizons in age and genre when looking for artistic peers. Contemporary/digital/strict aesthetic art communities are very toxic, too. The pretentiousness of them is something I will never miss.

I also find pretentiousness to be a sign of lacking artistic literacy and understanding.

My most valuable connections are artists who push my understanding of what "good art" can be, and they mentor me as well as discuss with me as a peer. If you want to catch more fish, widen your net.
posted by InkDrinker at 10:05 PM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Admittedly these observations are based on experiences a few years old... but a lot of alternative cartoonists I've encountered are MESSED UP. I used to frequent the Comics Journal message board, and it was kind of ghastly to see how many of the artists I admired were really into weird pranks and mind games and gross sexist and homophobic stuff. It was like the worst of 4Chan or Reddit or something, and these were some of the very best Fantagraphics guys we're talking about. (Even Seth comes across like kind of an asshole bully in Joe Matt's comics. Seth!) I think younger cartoonists, the webcomic and Tumblr crowd, probably have a lot less of that sneery Gen-X dude energy going on. I don't think the kids drawing comics influenced by James Kolchalka and Adventure Time are seething with anger like that. But if you're trying to get in with that Fantagraphics crowd, it doesn't surprise me a bit if the artists you've met acted like jerks.

I'd say focus on improving your work and meeting friendly, supportive artists and don't focus so much on trying to impress Tony Millionaire. Maybe at some point you'll earn the respect of the Fantagraphics crowd. But you can be really excellent and still get no love from your favorite cartoonist. Ask Jaime Hernandez, who's spent his career having his stuff dismissed as "too cute" by his idol R. Crumb!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:43 PM on August 21, 2016

Some people are assholes. You should avoid those people, whether they are artists in your field or not.

I don't want it to seem like I'm chasing fame but it's more like being accepted. Having my work accepted.

I totally get it, but I also note that your audience seems to like your work when you post it on social media. That's also valid acceptance.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:42 PM on August 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

I feel like it's a world I want to be a part of and a real community I want to be in. But I've been having a real hard time connecting with others.

I don't know indie comics, but go out there and volunteer at events. Help setting up tables and manage the door. Please don't shove your work in other people's faces immediately after. I've been cold-approached at events and events are stressful enough for me, that I will probably just non-committal & flee (and you'd think me a stuck-up jerk when it's just that I feel taken aback). Honestly, the best way to be part of a community is to take part and not take advantage.

Get to know people, make friends, and then in casual settings ask if you could get feedback on your work.

I work as a professional creative. I spend a bit of my time doing pro bono mentoring for other people in my field. This is what I tell them:

+ There is no 'magic bullet'.
+ There is no short cut to success or recognition.
+ Being recognised by people who are apparently more accomplished in your field does not mean you too will become accomplished and well-known.
+ You need to do this creative work for your own sake and because there is an urge inside you to create. Don't do it because you want other people to like your work or laud you for your contribution. You need to do this creative work for your own sake.
+ Don't do work just so you can collect 'likes' or hearts.
+ Being a full-time creative in any field is really, really, really hard. You won't earn a lot. You will spend your Saturday night redoing a piece of work. You will spend your days doing admin and squeeze in creative work whenever you can find the time.
+ Many people you will meet in your creative field will be independently wealthy or have access to things like studios, publishing, or materials. You need to ignore that and keep working. The world is not an even playing field but talent always wins out.
+ It will take years before you see any progress. Years. It is never an overnight thing and if you see something that looks like an overnight success, it will be the result of a lot of hard work over years.
+ Broaden your horizons and look beyond your immediate field. Think outside the box. How can you improve yourself? How can you do things in a way that nobody else does?
+ Sit down and do the work. Don't wait around for inspiration or recognition of previous work. Keep pushing yourself.
+ Think strategic: work in the industry in entry level jobs for a few years (I did five years before I was comfortable going self-employed) expanding your network and getting to know the industry. Think small - go to local events, be rock solid support of your local scene and submit your work to up-and-coming places.
posted by kariebookish at 5:44 AM on August 22, 2016 [8 favorites]

So, I have curated exhibits with artists at that level or whatever (by which I mean folks who have been published by Fantagraphics or Drawn & Quarterly or included in Kramer's Ergot and what have you). I definitely approached those artists initially as something of a fan. I remember really worrying about asking a sort of famous cartoonist for his contact information at an expo and I was trembling! Then, over time, I guess I just got over it. Now, I just focus on basically providing a space to expose audiences to an artist's work that I truly admire, and I don't worry too much about whether they'll, y'know, wanna be my friend. I try to do as professional a job I can within the DIY community I function within and be supportive of their artwork, but I don't worry about, like, I don't know, being a part of a tangible community. The community that matters to me is made up of other people in the small city where I live. To clarify, I haven't had any bad experiences or anything like that with these artists. In fact, it's really been the opposite. I've grown a little and changed a little with each project I've worked on with an artist in this context, and it has enriched my life in many beautiful ways. But I would still say that I barely know any of those people. I just consider myself an admirer of their artwork.

But, I also wanna add that that world, that community, is not really as awesome as you might imagine it is. Here's my anecdote: So there is an artist who lives in my geographic region. He is an incredibly kind, gentle soul and a true original. I loooove his work. What I love most about it is that he isn't ripping anyone off. He isn't making work that is derivative of Fort Thunder or whatever. He is really making his own path. I try to purchase or promote his work whenever I can. Over the years, he has slowly gained a few fans here and there, but he is not even on the radar of a publisher like Fantagraphics.

Anyhow, I was once at a small press expo with my then-boyfriend and this artist approached a table run by one of the "cool" publishers (I'm not gonna name names, but they were really hip for a while). This artist was a fan of their work and he wanted to buy a book or a zine, I guess. Anyway, when he walked away, they started making fun of him. That ugly instance made me really see through those guys. I mean, yes, sure I later hung out with one of them in a foreign city and we went to a bar with a group of people and I got to see him as a person in a slightly more full way. I'm not saying he or his publishing company was evil. But still, he made fun of a gentle, kind, and talented artist probably just because he didn't look "hip." It was disappointing and years later I know whose work I wanna support wholeheartedly.

So, it's a weird thing is all I'm saying. If I were you, I'd make your work, I'd focus on making friends who are kind and good people, and I'd try to participate in small press expos and things like that. Don't worry about trying to get in with the "cool" crowd or trying to get picked up a certain publisher. Life's too short to chase that shit.
posted by pinetree at 7:23 AM on August 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

hi! i'm a working indie comics professional who joined just to talk to you about this. how's that for notice! :D

kariebookish and pinetree just gave you a lot of good advice, and egypturnash has also given you a brutally honest look at what the hustle can be like, which is definitely one reason you're getting the brushoff if you're coming up to people at shows. don't let their social media game fool you: most indie artists are at shows to make enough money to keep afloat until the next one, and a fun afternoon for you is a long day of hard graft for us. any socializing is going to happen after hours, but please understand that even then a lot of us are tired, hungry, and totally out of gas when it comes to making nice with strangers. it's nothing personal.

even if that's not specifically the situation, i feel like that's sort of what might be going on here, that you don't understand the difference between where you are and where an established working artist is. can i be blunt with you? you're not impressing "well-known, successful" artists (and seriously, don't evaluate that just based on what they say on twitter or whatever) because you're not on their level. you haven't paid your dues, you know? it's like you're coming up to gordon ramsay with a box mix cake and being like hey buddy i'm a chef too, let's rap! gordon probably thinks your cake is nice enough but you ain't a brother chef by a long shot, not yet. you see what i mean?

also stop, stopstopstopstop, comparing yourself to other artists your age. stop right now, today. this is like thing number one that is going to make you crazy and waste your time in this business. life is not grade school. like, in a way it's meaningless, but in another it's also kind of devaluing their work, you know? it's like you're saying being the same age means you started out together on a totally equal playing field, put in exactly the same amount, degree, and quality of work, and yet somehow they got ahead of you?? you don't know how they got where they are. you don't know what advantages or disadvantages they've had and you don't know how they played them. you don't know them. focus on you.

because that's ultimately the best thing you can do about this: concentrate on your work instead of chasing approval, because the latter can only come from the former. if you'd like me to give you a portfolio crit and some advice about getting published, hit me up through metafilter's email and i'd be happy to talk shop with you! you absolutely have what it takes to get somewhere in our business as long as you're willing to put in what that requires these days.
posted by beyonce coming out of her well to shame mankind at 8:23 AM on August 22, 2016 [6 favorites]

The comics world is very competitive and clique-ish. Competitive in the sense that, it's hard to get noticed and you are competing with many others who are striving for the same trappings of success. It's also competitive in the sense that, everybody has their internal sense of where they fit in to the hierarchy. Who's more successful/well-known than whom, who's the better draftsman, who's the up-and-comer, who's the hardened veteran who has "paid their dues," who's the hot trendy person who got profiled in the New Yorker. You might be a "wannabe" to someone who's an indie success, but that person might be a wannabe compared to a more mainstream success like Art Spiegelman or something.

While people DO manage to make friends within that community, nobody is there to make friends. Conventions and other public-facing events are also frustrating because fans/strivers can sometimes be oblivious to boundaries and personal space and social cues.

I haven't seen your work so I can't comment on it from the standpoint of technique. But based on what I have seen in the independent comics scene, you might be falling into a minor trap of believing that because your work is thematically similar to other popular works, you can't figure out why your work isn't catching anyone's attention. The unfortunate reality is that quirky, hipster comics are a dime a dozen. Take a really hard, cold look at your work and ask yourself, NOT: "Is this good enough to stand on the shelf next to other work in the genre," but rather: "Is my work remarkable, unique, memorable enough to stand out among the crowd?" When the shelf is crowded, it's not enough to merely be as good as the competition. Your work has to have some special something to get noticed. Sometimes the special something comes from the artist's transcendent technical skills (I'm thinking about someone like, say, Craig Thompson), but more often than not it comes from something more ineffable, like "charm" or "soul." Or it comes from someone's story being uniquely interesting, even if the artwork isn't the greatest.

As others above are saying, just do your work for your own reasons and don't focus on the need for acceptance/approval from other artists. That's not to say that you should try to get rid of that desire, because I don't think that's possible. But that desire shouldn't be a distraction from the amount of time and energy you will have to put into your work to get as good as you want to be.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 8:30 AM on August 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

Hi! Not-terribly-successful-cartoonist-club member here, too! I struggle with that sort of thing also. But I've HAD friends who were established cartoonists and it did NOTHING to resolve this. Now I don't bother to try to associate with creators who I like because I find it interrupts my enjoyment of their art. A few years ago my focus really shifted to just getting people to read my stuff, because comics are about communication. And lets face it, being friends with a successful cartoonist doesn't mean you are getting your stuff in front of any more people, it just means you have an artist buddy to talk shop with. And you can find that without trying to suck up to people who've made it, have baggage from being in the industry, or who are weird about other artists.

Find some creators who are at your level, or who are a little above your level that you can team up with at shows, trade art supplies with, share info with, binge drink with, whatever your needs are. Also, lots of the newer indie comics people got their industry footing by making a collective or group and supporting each other. At this point in my artistic career I would kill for that (I've convinced myself I'm too old to make that happen now).

To tie it all up, what makes you think successful cartoonists know shit about good art? Regular people buy books. Get your ego boost from your audience. Or concentrate on getting one. I did a show last year where I sold some stuff but mainly talked to people who liked my art, and that was incredible! At a previous show I spent most of the time talking to the artist at the neighboring booth about pens and ink. Also awesome. Couldn't have thrilled me more if I'd had a one-on-one with Joann Sfar (also my French sucks, so...).

You know what my big, celebrity ego-boost is? Not when (random successful) cartoonist I follow <3s a picture I drew on on Instagram but when (favorite musician, not person I know in real life either) Dave Sitek does. Find your justification somewhere that matters?
posted by palindromeisnotapalindrome at 11:36 AM on August 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had a look at the stuff I could find through the link on your page and nothing drew me in. You say you post "everything on social media" but I'm seeing two cover pages for mini-comics on your web site and I can't read them anywhere that I can find on the web; I can't even buy them. Like, no matter what I think of your style, there's nothing I can go and share and say "Hey, read this, it's cool." I have to wade through a lot of sketches. Other people's sketches are...I mean, look how freakishly famous the odd cartoonist who can sell A SKETCHBOOK to the general public is. It's just not a thing people are hankering to see unless they have already read your stuff and loved your stuff.

I looooove comix and you are barely giving me crumbs. And yeah, in 2016, I do expect free samples before I pay (at least more than postage) for something, at least without a reputable publisher's imprimatur and good reviews.

Since I can't find any way to even start to appreciate or evaluate your stuff, I'm not clear on how you're expecting pros instead of just fans to be able to. You are not working hard enough. You have a blog post up from a full year ago telling people that you're opening an Etsy shop and "I've only listed two products right now but I'm going to be adding more throughout the next few weeks. It's still in the beginning stages but it's going to be running full force soon." I can't even buy a mini-comic off the Etsy shop; it's just dead.

(Also, are you approaching the artists you admire as a fan, as a would-be peer, or...? I think the Gordon Ramsay comment is apt.)
posted by kmennie at 12:08 PM on August 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

(Having posted what I posted, I now feel like I was totally unfair to Tony Millionaire and Seth! I admire the hell out of both artists' work, I think they're geniuses. Seth has always come across as a very decent fellow to me other than when he was depicted in Joe Matt's comics, so it may be that Matt's depiction was inaccurate. I don't know. Millionaire's behavior did irritate me on the old message board, but I've never met the guy and that was years ago. I don't think it's fair to hold up either artist as an example of the messed-up cartoonist type I was talking about and I regret my words there.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:32 PM on August 22, 2016

Annie Stoll is often on Twitter, sharing inspirational things that are actually really supportive and helpful.

Indie comics can absolutely be cliquish in that people tend to have groups of friends but I would say it's much less impenetrable than it seems. I'm sorry some of the people you've met have been jerks. Not knowing who or how you approached them, I can't offer you specific advice on what may have gone wrong, but while comics is about networking, it's about networking in a different way than traditional networking. It's about making personal connections.

Go to every small press show you can, even if you can't table. Go as a fan, or volunteer. Interact with other creators as just regular people, because they are. Someone being published by Fantagraphics just means they were published by Fantagraphics -- a lot of them are still struggling for the next job/book deal/project. Bring samples of your work if you're meeting people in person, but don't lead with them. Listen more than you talk. It's not about what these people can do for you. It's just about being out there.

It also works online. Are you on social media sharing other's work? Are you doing it without expectations for reciprocation? I think, like say, on Twitter, it's fine to say "I just read a cool comic by @[name]! Here's a link!" and that's it -- the person can respond or not (I think doing the "@[name]: I liked your comic!" especially to a creator you don't know, comes across as invasive). Celebrate the comics you like and that inspire you and people will begin to notice that. Keep working on your own work and sharing it. Do it because you want to be doing it. Do it even if no one else cares. You may not become best friends with the creator you admire the most, but you'll find your circle.
posted by darksong at 3:16 PM on August 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

is it possible that you are using the wrong approach at the wrong event? if it's a more meet-and-greet event, or a big hall full of people selling zines and graphic novels, then those artists may not have the time/ability/inclination to go wild over your work. they don't know you, and maybe they're trying to network for themselves, or whatever.

i am also a creative professional and ive observed that the successful folks who are well-established in their careers are often really happy to help, to look at a portfolio or whatever, but it has to be a right time/right place kind of thing, like at a workshop or portfolio review, or because you have a mentor/mentee relationship going on and they have offered to help.

but at a regular ol' event? they are swamped at public events, stressed out by hangers-on trying desperately to be noticed. and not because they are jerks but because they have their own agenda at that event and anyway, they can't give you helpful feedback in that setting. like, to really tell you anything constructive might require a deep dive into your work, a real sit-down talk, which is honestly kind of a big ask, you know?

also... you say you want to keep making this work because you love it, and that you'll never stop. if that's true, then that's admirable. that is what is impressive to professional artists (or many that i know), is the ability to just grind away. real recognizes real, as they say. just keep at it, keep your nose to the grindstone. don't let this need for external validation cloud the picture.
posted by iahtl at 7:01 PM on August 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Firstly, stop comparing yourself to others. It's not worth it. It not only crushes your confidence, but it also hampers your ability to properly develop your own style. If you truly can't help it, at least let it motivate you to improve your work by taking drawing classes or pushing your art in other ways.

It's hard to answer you succinctly because you're talking about several very different things here. Connecting with the 'scene' and having your work accepted: Do you want to connect with more fans? More comic artists? Both? Are you looking for praise from fans or other artists? Both? Do you want to sell more work? Each of these things needs a separate strategy. There's no 'one-shot' solution. Pushing yourself to make more and better work and promoting it well is generally part of all the answers, though.

Also seconding everything kmennie said. I actually tried for a while to find your work, any of it, anywhere, and only found a couple multi-panel comics on Coroflot. I can't tell from those what your narrative style is like, nor did I see any stylistic consistency in your portfolio that would help me figure out what kind of comics you are making. I see a lot of sketches, and some random comic panels scattered in your Instagram, but no comics.

If you want to be recognized, you've got to put your work out there. Consistently. And at least a good chunk for free (sorry, I don't make up the rules). That's how you build up a fan base that is willing to pay for your collections and prints and so on. There are no shortcuts.

You also might want to make your social media and contact info clickable links on your website ;)

You have drive and passion. Please don't let others' opinions take the joy out of art for you.
posted by ananci at 10:57 PM on August 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

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