Journal Entry: Mon Jul 9, 2012, 7:55 AM
Listening to: "Super Triangle" by The GO! Team
Watching: The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
Ok so its been quite a while since I've made any sort of semblance of a journal on here, and I think I'm WAY overdue for it. Lots of stuff has been happening on my end lately and its caused wheat I predicted and what I currently refer to as "Art Paralysis". I understand if this journal might be way too long for some people's tastes but this is stuff I have been meaning to say for months and I think anyone who is still faithfully watches me deserves explanations for what's going on right now.
THE TABLE OF CONTENTS:
(1)The Technical Issues
(2) The Job Hunting
(3) The Day Job
(4) The Free Time
(5) The Living Situation
(6) The Future & FAQ
(1) THE TECHNICAL ISSUES: -------------------------------------
Even while I was still in school I was aware that once I left college there would be a time when there was going to be a sort of "vacuum" of sorts in my artistic routine. The large flat-bed scanners I used would be gone, the Cintiqs and powerful computers would also be replaced by my mediocre laptop, and for a time until I had put away the money I'd have to drive to the Fed-Ex Kinko's just to get something scanned (which I did for most of the summer regarding one of my summer courses). Things are a bit better now. I do have an 11x17 scanner, and I managed to put away enough money to invest in a cintiq for myself as well. My computer still is just my Intel Core 2 Laptop, which isn't terrible but not the most powerful thing (it lags an awful lot and sometimes I have to restart it if I open too many windows or applications). Right now I'm currently trying to get the drivers working right so I can plug the Cintiq up to my laptop and be able to color, tone, and letter just like I used to at school. Also I have a pretty dated version of photo-shop but that's minor, its never really stopped me before, and I can work with it. This is only a recent development and my technological situation has pretty much been crippled since I left school. As far as an actual desktop goes I don't have the money to afford one, and even if I did, my parents has placed the priority of me buying a car above that of a new computer right now (since I use their cars to get where I need to go right now, I don't have one myself), so even if I did have the money I couldn't get one.
(2) THE JOB HUNTING: -------------------------------------
Since I got my degree in the fall last year I've also been perusing finding a professional job with my degree in order to make a living wage/have health benefits/ect. Unfortunately all the leads I've chased are dead at that moment and I'm still slogging through companies, applying to several and trying to flag down some signs of interests or an interview. Most of them have former experience in the industry (3-5 years) or experience in a field or work position I haven't done in order to obtain their positions. Even for entry level ones. Others have internships but most of them do not pay and if they do its not a living wage. My parents (especially my Dad) has been really laying into me thick about making progress on this front, and I think I need the motivation, but sometimes what I get is more-so brow-beating than encouragement (I'll get into that more in Part 5). This results in high amounts of stress, and I have to expend large amounts of energy to successfully manage it. So far I have expanded my search outside my field of art to regular office jobs or anything that can give me a good living wage. I have got a few new leads so hopefully those don't disappoint. All I can do is send my resume and cross my fingers.
(3)THE DAY JOB: -------------------------------------
Currently I work a day job at a sandwich shop in an open-air shopping pavilion 15-20 minutes from where I live. Its a good job and I can't complain about it. Most people I talk to sometimes state how their co-workers hate them or their bosses hate them or are trying to fire/give them a hard time and I haven't experienced any of that there so I count myself lucky on that front. I don't drag myself to work every day dreading stepping in the door and I get alone with just about everyone there. Unfortunately, it can only offer up next to minimum wage for me (which is the federal minimum in this state), which of course is not livable off of, even with the hours that I pull right now (they've still diminished some from last year). I work a lot of closing shifts and that is when I'm the most active with my creative process, later in the night, so when I get home its usually anywhere from 11:00pm-1:00am, sometimes making it so I'm too tired to do anything when I come in. Of course another obvious cost of this job is that it eats up a considerable amount of time in correlation to my waking hours. Approximately little less than half my time any given week goes to this job, on average. Sometimes more than that. However, just because I don't live on my own doesn't mean I don't have expenses and I need this income for other things that need paying on my parts such as: Cell phone bills, Gas, College Loans, Any sort of Entertainment/Food I want to partake in that my mother hasn't already cooked, and other miscellaneous bills like getting my dreads done every month. Also just this morning I had a phone call with my boss concerning something that may have possibly put my employment in jeopardy (I'm not sure), I don't really wanna get into it, but the last thing I want to do is have to search for basic day job to stave off bills while I also search for a professional job as well.
(4) THE FREE TIME: -------------------------------------
As you've probably figured out from above, a lot of these priorities and juggling of tasks and responsibilities has left me with very little to next to zero free time to work with, and even when I make time and sit down and go "OK! DAMMIT I'M GOING TO DRAW SOMETHING IF IT KILLS ME" I can never do it 100% comfortably without thinking in the back of my head that I could be doing more job hunting instead of drawing (and then sometimes my dad just comes in and says it right to me), and thus be getting out of my situation faster than I currently am. However, as all artists and writers know, the muse doesn't just stop striking you just because you "don't have the time" right now for it. This has caused a serious back-up of ideas and inspirations in my head and on stacks of papers I keep in thick folders all over my room, every one of them being something new I want to get to while also realizing I have existing ideas and works (Step-Monster, How It Ends) to get back to at some point in the future. For me as an artist who relishes the conceptual part of the creative process the most, this is devastating to my artistic fire and my motivation. Also being away from many of my friends form college and school who also create and draw, as well as an environment that has a high amount of creative energy has drained me spiritually in a sense and is heavily impacting my work. When I do have free time I almost don't know what to draw anymore, or when I try and and slog through a list of things I want/need to do I work far too slow for my own tastes. This combination of factors has resulted in my being pretty damn frustrated and almost claustrophobic in terms of my own creativity, and the misery of it is constantly trying to drag my mental, and emotional state down even further.
(5) THE LIVING SITUATION: -------------------------------------
As stated before, I currently live with my family still, not something I'm hanging my head in shame at, but not something I take pride in either. Its simply a fact of necessity right now, and I think its something me and my parents both understand. However from here things just start to shoot off in every direction. Me and my father since my teenage years have never gotten along that well in my opinion and though I love him as a Dad I can't say I enjoy the man's company often due to the veritable powder-keg that we both seem to be sitting on when we talk about any subject that vaughly has to do with: my art, jobs in general, other examples of successful people, opportunities for networking, or a multitude of other "landmines" as I call them. Because of this I'm constantly reminded by him of things is should be doing to "maximize" my success or marketability, the list of which I could not probably all fit into my schedule without quitting my job (which I stated before, is needed to pay bills). Such suggestions include: Take writing classes at the local community college to improve my writing skills (will cost money and time), go down and embed myself in the local art scene in down-town Columbia by chatting and networking with people at art shops and galleries, do more life drawing of objects, plants, cars, and animals, do more life drawing of actual people in a realistic way, get enough material together to self-publish a book and get it out there for people to see/buy, get a professional website up and working, ect. Every time a reminder that one of these tasks hasn't been completed yet, intense frustration builds into an argument usually which emotionally infuriates me and mentally scrambles me for a good hour or two while I collect myself together and calm myself down. This is obviously detrimental to all other activities I have to perform throughout the week (i.e, my day job, and my own personal work) given these "butting of heads" happen at any given time. This also puts me under a constant state of high stress, aggravation, and sometimes even sheer confusion due to me always waiting for when the next thing between us is going to pop off.
(6) THE FUTURE & FAQ: -------------------------------------
So where does this leave ToxicToothpick's art into the future? I'm not sure right now. Don't panic though I'm never going to stop drawing and making comics. This is just what you call a "road block" on the road of life. Everyone's got 'em. And I think I was overdue for even a speed bump if you ask me. It'll be all the more satisfying when I finally get past it all. To premptivly keep the comments from becoming a Q and A pool I'm just going to tie up any loose threads by answering some general questions down below that some have already asked me and others might be thinking after reading this journal:
So when are we gonna see more "Step-Monster" and "How It Ends"?
Step-Monster will definitely be picked back up in its second volume for me to work on when the clouds clear on all of this. I am not done with that story and I know a lot of people want to see it continued. So do I. As far as How it Ends goes, I'm on the fence right now as to whether I want to continue it from when I had to stop on it such a long time ago or whether I wanna save it for some sort of reboot on its own site. I have to still mull that over more.
Can't your parents help you financially with a car/computer if you really need them?
My parents borrow money from me on a semi-weekly basis to tie themselves over financially until their next paychecks (of course, they pay me back). Because of that reality right there, I don't think that's a very good well to try and tap for money if you get what I'm saying.
What sort of work are you trying to do right now in your free time?
I'm trying to work on some simple one-shots and self-contained stories I can compile into a book and publish for sale at conventions or to give to editors at said conventions, as well as just to promote my own work in a professional way. As you can imagine, this progress is coming along very slowly.
Is this why the commissions stalled out the gate again?
Pretty much, and again I apologize for it. It seems I just have impeccably bad timing when it comes to choosing the time to do them.
Is there anything I can do to help?
The fact that you all are being patient and waiting for me to return with fresh art, and vim and vigor is all the help I need. Just knowing that people are still anxiously waiting for me to come back really gives me a good feeling. I don't need money or financial donations, please, use your money for yourself. If you wanna doodle art though I won't say no. (;
It sounds like you should really just move out man.
Not when I don't even currently have enough money to cover one week's worth of rent and utilities at an apartment, aside from the fact that I don't own a car so I'd have no way to get around (I don't live in the inner city so there are no buses), thus making where I could work and where I could live be under very tight proximity restraints.
Are you gonna leave deviantart for some other personal site?
I plan on making my own professional site, but even when I start up loading stuff on there too, I'll still be on here as well. Deviantart has always kinda been my home so I'm never truley gonna just "leave".
The journal was "too long, didn't read" Can you give me a shortened version?
OK, RECAP TIME THEN. My technological situation has been completely crippled until recently, and now its only "not ideal". My hunt for a professional job, while absorbing most of my time has been fruitless, my day job absorbs the rest of my time but is necessary for paying off bills, the two obligations above have consumed all my free time virtually, my living situation adds additional stress from my parents, and my future seems too far off to call right now.
So there you go, that's the jist of what's been happening since...ehhh I dunno. I'd say fall of last year. I'm trying to set a deadline to have a professional job by the end of this summer, so fingers cross there. Thanks for hanging in there with me and if you bothered to read the whole journal, I appreciate your time. Trust me, these last few months have taught me that time is pretty much more valuable than money. When its gone, its gone, there's no earning more of it.
Here's to the future. All I've got is hope right now.