Monday, 25 June 2012

2000 Bad Drawings

Cerebus #1, page 1 (December 1977)
Art by Dave Sim
(from the Cerebus Guide To Self-Publishing, 2010 Revised Edition)
It is a conventional and accurate piece of wisdom that "you have two thousand bad drawings in you, and once you get those done you start doing good ones." What is often not added - and really should be, in my view - is that there is a world of joy and gratification and surprise to be had in doing those two thousand bad drawings, watching them get less bad, watching your own style emerge, your own ideas take shape and coalesce and develop a life of their own. Enjoy it. Enjoy creativity, first, last, and always for its own sake. If it isn't fun, find a new way to do it that is fun. Satisfy yourself every step of the way. Draw what you want to draw. Write what you want to write. If you want to revise the earlier work, revise the earlier work. Your leisure time is your leisure time and no one else's - "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" - and if your greatest happiness is to be had in writing and drawing comic books, you are miles ahead of most of your peers, who haven't the faintest notion of what would make them happy.

Write and draw and draw and write for their own sake and to please yourself - enjoy it to the fullest, and always pursue the avenue that seems to be the most fun, that compels you, irresistibly, to pick up that pencil and start committing your words and pictures to paper. It won't take long before you can grin and say in perfect honesty: "Get a life? Man, I've got a life."


Mas said...

I loved the Guide so much when I got ahold of it (that thing is battered beyond belief now but still hanging in there). I didn't actually know there was one until I was trying to find some of the notes from the presidents that I was missing online to see if someone may have posted them (since I was having trouble tracking down the issues at the time) and someone had mentioned they were collected in the CGtSP with extra stuff added.

Anyways, battered and beaten as it is, I hold it near and dear to my heart because it caused such a shift in my approach to my art.

I used to tight-pencil the heck out of my art until I got into my thick head that penciling is the blueprint and inking is the finished art. My inking became a lot better (and/or at least a lot surer) once I wasn't trying to trace what's already there. Of course, I can barely pencil now because I've gotten so used to just putting the bare minimum on the page and going to town but I'd take that over the alternative.

I think the biggest influence the Guide had on my art was 1) "It's a slide damnit/it's a Dave Sim hand" chapter because it both got me out of going back and reworking/wasting time instead of moving forward as well appreciating that it's okay to draw like me. I'm technically better now (I guess?), but man I miss that kid that wasn't killing himself to match the "house styles" of the big two because that kid used his imagination and went all out for ideas and experimentation.

2) "It's nice to take a cool dip in the pool but you don't want to live in it" That made me keep it in my head what I wanted out of my career and being a company-lifer wasn't one of them. Get in, get out was always the plan.

3) The text posted in this very thread. "Get a life. Man I got a life." That always stuck out for me because it's so stinking true. People who don't draw/aren't artists don't get it and won't get it. I've noticed how free my life is/feels now that I don't have that constant badgering in my ear because I've tuned them all out.

There's more but I don't think you all want to read a bookpost on how the guide changed and helped me. So suffice it to say, thank you.

PS: RE: The television section at the end...about screens taking over everything. Do you hate being right?

dylanio21 said...

One of my favourite parts of the guide, when I read it for schoolio I actually wrote out this whole excerpt.