Firstly, thanks for all the birthday well-wishing. Veritable.. mountains of well-wishing. Though I'd be just as content postponing my birthday until next year. And then maybe the year after that, and after that..
A year older and a year wiser. Well, the latter is debatable. But definitely a year older! This year has been a wild, satisfying, disappointing, exciting one. It marks my first total year as a freelancer, which has been simultaneously one of the most liberating and terrifying career leaps I've ever made. Thankfully, the studio I've ended up working with for the entire year has been a very welcoming one. The workload can be immense, but outside of being paid, there are few rewards greater than seeing your work animated in a game after toiling on it for hours. Getting to visit Barcelona was another fantastic perk.
I really can't complain at all about work, this year. I've worked with the guys from Wayforward, Vigil, did a bit of here-and-there for my old studio Spidermonk. I've been quite comfortable here in Texas, and even recently started house-hunting. Though to be fair, it doesn't come without a price.
The most obvious being time. Time isn't a commodity freelancers have in spades, that's for sure. And you wouldn't think it either, given that you can work from your own place, on your own terms, make your own hours, choose your own clients. You know? It all sounds too good to be true, until you realize you have to pick up the slack for about a billion other things you wouldn't think of were you working in-house with a studio. I've had a crashcourse in business matters, and I've come out of it mostly successful, but with a mess of bruises to show for it! I am terrible at managing myself.. as a matter of fact I think Zombiesmile all but took up those reins for me, even from the distance we're still at (VISA/green card stuff ETA is 02/13, btw). Very thankful for all the help she's given me, seeing as how she's far and away my superior when it comes to freelancing experience.
But yeah, time. Time I wish I could spend here. Well, you know what I mean. At my desk, drawing stuff for myself. As grateful as I am to have steady work and a roof over my head, I feel like I've been missing a part of myself for the past.. well I don't even know how long, anymore. I miss making gigantic, rambling journals. Participating in contests, HOLDING contests.. you've no idea how long I've been trying to piece together a new, streamlined, fun art competition. Though I wonder, is there anyone still out there on dA that would enjoy doing that sort of thing? I'm loathe to use the word "OCT".. they were very popular for a time, and I have fond memories of that time, for the most part. But nowadays I'm not getting the same sense of energy that was present in those endeavors. Though to be frank, I think the whole notion needs a serious retooling. As I said, streamlining. I think a return to art-focused, short-but-sweet material would do wonders. Have you ever heard that one question regarding video games? It goes something like, would you rather play a game with 60 hours of content you enjoy, or a 5-6 hour game that completely blows you away? Don't get me wrong, I love me some big, sprawling games myself. But have you ever played The Walking Dead game, by Telltale..? Yeah.. exactly.
So I have something more like an art jam in mind. Still competitive, still character focused. But much, much more focused on art. Short, intense conflicts, with a set page limit to keep everything compact. I'm not saying there isn't a place for the more meandering, plot-heavy model anymore? But I do think the sheer time commitment it takes can be off-putting to people who have things to do on a daily basis. And, well, to be honest, if I want to write a big sprawling story that's big on dialogue and plot, I might as well be making my own comic with that time, I figure. With a contest, I kind of just want to go all-out and have a good time arting it up. Especially with something as cathartic as big, bombastic fight scenes. Maybe I'm the only one that feels this way, I dunno! I could always gauge interest with a poll I suppose. Or heck, if you have any thoughts on the matter, please feel free to let me know in the comments. It would be appreciated.
But that's just one thing I'd like to do with extra time. It'd be easier if there weren't a million other things competing with that thought. I still have a mountain of your characters to add to that megaposter, I still have an INCREDIBLY delayed sketchbook I've wanted to put out for the past year and a half but keep running into snags. I still want to update regularly to dA, but you know what's actually been stopping me in that department? Every time I sit down to draw a character or two, I get hit with this guilty feeling that I've already done more than enough to introduce people to them, and what I should really be doing is focusing on actually TELLING THEIR STORY in the first place. Which puts me in a difficult place, because trying to tackle a graphic novel while working full time for a game studio is a tall, tall order, but I'd still like to update dA.. so I end up in this continuous loop of starting to draw, but then rethinking it over and over and getting nothing done. Then it's the next work day and I'm back in the loop again. Haha. Ah well. Here's hoping this following year I'm able to better free myself up and just draw for the sake of drawing. Even if I'm not releasing a comic about Ree, or the girls of Living in Sin, or if the starts align my god even a reboot of Everafter-as-it-should-have-been, I should probably not think on it so hard that I keep myself from drawing ANYTHING about them and sharing them here.
For the people that keep coming back to my side of the site despite a severe lack of steady updates since like.. 2009, I'd like to start giving you all a reason to come back, you know? With the notes and compliments, the fanart and cosplay, all those amazing things I've continued to receive for these past few years, I'd like to start making it up to you. And myself, really, because I've been denying myself the simpler joys of just drawing art for arts sake for way too long now. I hope I can rectify that. Though until then, all I can continue to say is thank you, to all the folks that do keep swinging by. The same folks who have come over today to wish me a happy birthday.
You guys are, without sounding.. too overtly creepy.. my LIFEBLOOOOOOD. YES THAT'S RIGHT. But no, hear me out. It's totally true. No sacrificial altars involved, I promise.
On my worst days, when I feel like I've fallen off the proverbial art-horse, you guys are the ones who shove me back on with sizzling hot pokers of love. When I feel like I haven't done anything of merit in far too long and am in danger of just being totally forgotten, you guys give me the confidence to get back on my feet, to shut the hell up and just draw. I have received the most wonderful notes over the past year, from people asking permission to cosplay, asking when certain webcomics will renew themselves (and if any of you remember, add three more months to the time that will happen.. ohoho), or just tell me that I've inspired you. I can't possibly overstate how amazing this is. This is not bragging, this is not me asking for a sudden influx of this kind of correspondence. As I said. I just can't overstate what that means to me, every single time. Even if I don't get a chance to respond to your note, your frontpage comment, your questions, etc. I know that's kind of a hot button issue on dA from time to time, artists who never reply to people who ask them/poke them/note them with something. But you have to know, even if I don't. I've read every single last one of them. And just because I'm a forgetful ass with the memory capacity of a severely impaired sea snail, it goes straight to my heart. I mean, obviously it does, or I wouldn't be acting like big mushy super-thankful what-the-hell-is-he-drunk End right now.
I want to start a short story series this year. I'd like to begin livestreaming more. Get more tutorials up on Tumblr. Hold another contest. Shamelessly draw more character stuff even if I don't get to a single comic about any of them. Introduce people to the world I've been building for the past year, based on a bit of art I uploaded last October. I'm feeling pretty damn energized.
So let me close here and get to work, dammit. Thank you, guys and gals.