I’ve always felt that in order to grow you must take risks, make mistakes and then learn from them. This has been a prominent theme for me as an artist this year, and I’m pleased to say that 2017 has been a year of growth and ascension.
I started 2017 by emerging from a somewhat lengthy hiatus and I needed to finish PROJECT SURVIVAL PART III: ULTIMATUM. This was a grueling task –I’d taken time off in the middle of a chapter while my artistic voice experienced a rapid growth, creating a bit of a disconnect between what I had built and where I intended to go with my story. I finished off the chapter feeling discontent. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed producing it, but PART III was also a huge learning experience. ULTIMATUM was a bit ‘clumsy’ - it had many mistakes and certain milestones missed the mark, which created a few weaknesses in my plot. No worries though – there’s always room for improvement, and the only direction to go is forward!
I took a couple months to prepare for the release of PART IV: DEMIGOD, spending a lot of time on self-reflection. I realized that I needed to dismantle my old paradigm of thinking, and just let PROJECT SURVIVAL become what it feels it should be. One of the biggest changes I’ve made aside from altering the format of my comic has been the addition of color, something I previously did not want to tackle. I love the effects of a black and white comic – the limitations of grayscale evoke a certain level of creativity within me, but it was also safe. I think of PROJECT SURVIVAL as an experience, and I wanted to do something that would take it to the next level.
Aside from that, after moving out to the Pacific NW I fell in love with all the lush colors. It’s much different from back home in Colorado, and while I love the beauty of the Rocky Mountain state there is a certain harmony here in the forest that can’t be found anywhere else. So many beautiful hues and patterns! I felt it was important to channel my current inspirations into my art and so I launched PART IV in full color after doing a test run on a special side comic.
Introducing a new element into my art not only challenged me to rethink the way I work, but it exposed a lot of weaknesses in my process. A lot of the strengths in PROJECT SURVIVAL have been dependent on my comfort and experience working in black and white – this isn’t a bad thing, but if we’re thinking about it in the long run I would’ve inevitably hit a wall or grown stagnant. Adding color to the process has forced me to address these weaknesses earlier, and to also look at the world entirely differently.
Switching to color comics has been a bit of a wonky process! Making a full color comic is a lot different than coloring an illustration; just like any element or tool in a comic, color is used to “speak” to the audience and progress the story. This means there must be balance not only within each panel but with the relationship they share with the others. This has been a bit of a challenge, especially considering that the tone of my story can change pretty quickly depending on the situation. Finding a style that I could work in with comfort and versatility has been a huge focus during this transition.
Each color episode thus far has been a bit of an experiment, and each imperfection has taught me where to go and where not to. My entire process has changed as well – the best I can describe it is I feel so much freer! I don’t think about things so much, I just feel them. I’ve come to develop a really colorful style that feels very natural. I think this is super important when creating a comic, because the less energy you spend trying to figure out how to do something “right,” the more energy you can use to just express yourself.
This will be a continued process for me over the course of this chapter and those to come, but I’m very fortunate for all the support I have been receiving with the risks I have been taking. It’s hard enough to develop a skill, but doing it in front of an audience adds another layer of pressure! But the encouragement I have been receiving from readers and peers has been really awesome, and I appreciate that there are people who want to see me grow (and PROJECT SURVIVAL as well!) so thank you. <3
The year is almost over already, but there has been so much accomplished and so much more to do! I can’t wait to see where I’ll go next. J