Comic book artist Josh Adams talks about the world he finds himself in, the industry, the family, the personality traits….
First off, I was to apologize for missing last week’s article. Personal matter had to be attended to and coupled with some horrific deadlines there just hasn’t been time for me to do hardly anything at all.
Well, it’s given me time to think. I’m not terribly sure what the future holds for me but it fills my heard with the kind of excitement that walks the line between base jumping with a parachute or base jumping with cement shoes. Not to worry, though, I shouldn’t over dramatize my life or career as they are both above water and nothing that most people haven’t had to deal with on a daily basis. It’s simply made me appreciate the daily life of my fellow men and women with greater respect.
It struck me recently, that with the approach of three rather large conventions this month that there will be a lot of young men and women with portfolios venturing up and down the aisles in search of work, and while Marvel and DC have established very effective talent search events with formats I’ve found that they are rather constricting.
I’m not saying they are bad, it just works better for artists with a particular schedule. For most artists who have bills to pay it becomes continuously frustrating and hard to balance creating sample pages with creating work to make ends meet. This is a biased opinion, I suppose because I fall into the latter category but, honestly, with the direction the economy has been going here in the US, it’ll develop into the majority of artists looking for work.
In light of that, it seems appropriate to share some of what I think works when trying to find work in the convention environment. Before I go on, if you’re an artist who can find the time to create samples for Marvel and DC and still get the bills paid, participate in their talent searches. The reviewers do know what they are talking about and even if you don’t get work you will get good direction. I’m not telling you to stop reading, you should take as many notes about getting work as you can cause it’s not easy.
First off, conventions are dangerous places for the aspiring artist. It is sooo easy to spend money at a con, so come prepared, budget yourself and don’t spend money on food there cause it’ll drain your wallet faster than you would believe.
Second, keep a cool head and when something doesn’t sound right, don’t be afraid to graciously disagree or say no. This really only applies to money because the standard business practice for an artist, outside of money is to always say “of course I can.”
If you take your time at a show one thing you may notice is that there are A LOT of publishers out there. Way more than you would expect, and sometimes the smallest ones pay better than the ones that you have “sort of” know about. Take advantage of the publishers that come to the shows. They are all looking for artists like we’re going extinct. There are so many writers in the industry and publishers have their fill of them; what they want is artists.
At this point I get between 3-5 emails a week from writers wanting to do work on spec for a publisher. I created my own folder in my POP account for them. It drifted past the 350 mark a couple weeks ago. It just goes to show you how many people are looking for you.
IMPORTANT: you’re going to do some jobs that pay terribly, but it’s a necessity. We all have to pay our dues in this industry and that is something I am doing right now. I consider myself lucky to have work published by DC and a Batman cover sitting in their drawers with my name on it. Hey, on a complete tangent, bust down DC’s doors and ask them to publish my cover already, it’s been there for a year. Heh.
I do a lot of searching and meeting with people to find the jobs that are right for me and unless you can hold out, getting $50-$60 per pencil and inked page is pretty standard, and unless you’re really fast, that’s not much to live on but it has it’s benefits. If you do a few of those gigs, you will greatly improve your chance of getting noticed, because A.) you’ll have learned, artist are always learning with each drawing they make and B.) instead of having a portfolio of originals to show a bigger publisher, you have a book to give them, a real tangible piece of evidence that says “hey, I can do this,” and while they may not jump up and say “you’re hired” they do know that while you are going to them for work, you are going to five other places for work and they just might miss you if they aren’t careful because, you, you are have done it before and are willing to do it again.
I can’t say it’s easy, it’s not. I won’t tell you that chasing these publishers down will get you work. For all I know you’re a shitty artist and just shouldn’t be doing it. If you really want to know you can come find me a comic con and I’ll look at your portfolio, I can be pretty brutally honest.
There is the off chance that comics just aren’t for you. If that’s the case you need to find that out as soon as possible. I’ve seen people who quit their jobs because they want to be an artist in comics and they simply are not meant for it.
On a completely different note, the title of this week’s article is indeed a reference to the show, the Prisoner. If you aren’t aware there is going to be a mini-series remake of the show with Sir Ian McKellen and Jesus. I am looking forward to it but I always have a fear that it will simply not compare to the original. I don’t honestly know how it can. The original Prisoner was a brilliant show that paved the way for modern sci-fi dramas like Lost, Fringe and Flash Forward. The lead Patrick McGoohan, was a brooding genius on the show with a fiery temper and an inner monologue that, like in life, only he could hear as he led us through the show with circular conversation and dramatic silence. I know that sounds odd but it’s a great change of pace from the everyday show where the protagonist has to tell us about every single move he makes to take down the “bad guy” who simply has to tell us his master plan before he does away with his nemesis. I will watch the show, and hold judgement, but my fear is that it’s too little too late and shows like Lost may have stolen the new Prisoner’s thunder.
I mentioned some time ago either in an article on in the forums about a Flash piece I did. Well, I have a scan of it here in progress since my time has been pretty filled with gigs. I’ll be posting more artwork on my site and my facebook fan page, all of which you can get to through www.whatwouldjoshdo.com/
Do enjoy! For next week, since I mentioned the remake of Prisoner, let’s discuss the best and work remakes, be it comic, movie, adaptation, even music since I’ve noticed more than a few of you are pretty big music buffs.