SPREY Log #24 – Understanding the world

Hello, everyone!

Another day, another blogpost. So I cut back on my social media the day before yesterday. Something like this disrupts a routine, even if it’s just thinking patterns worrying about keeping up with the platforms in question. And it creates a gap. The path of least resistance would be to fill that gap up with playing videogames or watching videos. While I love both like the next person, I was aware it would not help me with my current goals from the start, so I resisted doing that. My goal is to get more of the work done that is right in front of me.

I found help with that where I didn’t expect it. My curiosity made me listen to a bit of Miyamoto Musashi’s philosophy, just a bite. And I also listened to a summary of Marcus Aurelius’s meditations on my daily walk. Nothing of this was forced, I was just curious and wanted to know about these ideas for a long time. Obviously, I can’t digest all of it in a day, but I have finally made a start digging in at all, taking action. I am also aware of the danger of the illusion of getting things done while actually just listening to things that can broadly be categorized as „self-help“ or „self-improvement“ . But it couldn’t hurt to listen to thinkers whose way of seeing and navigating the world still hold up enough that people still are interested in their ideas. And an impact it had.

You see, Musashi and Aurelius don’t have anything to do with each other. They’re from different times and cultures, but weirdly enough the timeless wisdom they’re famous for, kind of overlapped in my head. At least I didn’t find obvious contradictions on the superficial level I’m on. Both lived lifes of an admirable level of focus and commitment. And apparently walking away from places where you get shallow approval by random strangers is exactly what both would advise to do. Trying to collect things or people instead of dealing with the work in front of oneself will not help, complaining about how unfair or challenging something is just for the sake of complaining will not help, even if it’s true. Looking for a solution to problems will help, doing the actual work, while not spreading oneself too thin. Aurelius says it better than me. Doing less things better leads to a more tranquil life. Not avoiding adversities, they are unavoidable, just hoping you are strong enough in character to persist and overcome them and grow through them. I really like these ideas. I even got offered an answer for what’s the goal in life. So it’s not about popularity or material success, there’s something that is even more important and that’s to never stop learning and developing the mind and to serve humanity with whatever you were given to serve it. Can you imagine how rich this is, especially when it’s coming from a Roman emperor? Aurelius, at one point, was the most powerful man in Rome, but his diary said he saw himself as a servant. And that probably kept him sane, who knows?

I think it makes a lot of sense to think this way. Without humility, you have sky high expectations of what you are and what you are entitled to and you’ll get burned, even if you actually get it. It’s a recipe to divulge in drama and lose one’s way. Also your sight and foresight probably isn’t that great when there’s a mountain sized ego in the way.

I had trouble to define who I am and what I want and need to do for many years. It is hard to navigate and interpret the world, there’s a lot going on all the time. But if I try to think of myself as a servant of humanity and my own virtues, not a slave, it gets a bit easier to get a grip on it. And then…there’s nothing new. No new insights. Like most people I already know what I should be doing, what I should be creating, I’m just scared of it. I would also never have thought that Miyamoto Musashi would give me another puzzle piece to get a grip on my future works. I was needlessly flopping around like a fish on land trying to establish a main medium and specialization, anything. And then comes swordmaster Musashi just saying if you have a favorite weapon or tool you are less deadly. You should be flexible and deadly with mostly everything. I cannot express how helpful this is. No, I’m not thinking about art like about martial weapons. It is about the underlying abstract principles of that statement. Yes, if you have a favorite tool you know everything about it, specialization does help you to be really good at and with this one thing. But what do you do when it is not available to you right now? I have a very real example for that. So I made some efforts to get good at using Clip Studio Paint. But now that me changing to Linux is in sight…well, I sadly can’t take that one with me, CSP does not run on Linux and whether it runs well in a virtual machine is not guaranteed. Time to deal with other programs such as Krita again. Specialization and having favorites is natural, it does happen all the time, but it must not be or become an obstacle. Apparently, anything, at any time, can be taken away from you, but new opportunities open up the same way – and you better be flexible then if you wish to make use of them. It is okay to not be a 100% specialized is what I’m taking away from this. It is okay when my works are not all in the same medium made in the same way. I can rather put my focus on making them well and finishing them. There’s endless ways of telling a story and endless ways of telling it well, but you still got to tell it from start to finish and to make it clear enough the audience can make any sense of it.

See you next blogpost!

SPREY Log #16 – Back to Execution again

One constant fact of life seems to be change, and having to adapt to it. For the moment it seems I have read enough about theme to put the book aside or only read 10 pages a day and write write write until I’ve written myself against the next roadblock.

By now, the new SPREY script has a climax, a resolution and an ending. Now I will work my way back, writing session for session until I have the full script.

Other than that, a couple of depictions of the Executioner are on the visual menu for this week as well as working on a commission. I don’t like how I had to sacrifice some time lately that would otherwise have gone into drawing, but my focus is not unlimited. Wishing myself and you the best for the week. It might well be that the next blog entry is in a week. Enjoy and use your time well.

See you next blogpost!

SPREY goes into Repair Clinic!

(SPREY Log #08)

Dear readers!

I might have mentioned it already, I had to divert much of last week to my health and other art unrelated things. Now that I’m easing in into my work again I come back with fresh eyes, like after a long needed break. And I see things that seem obvious now but absolutely haven’t been before, because I was too close to them!

SPREY needs an emergency reconstruction hiatus starting immediately. It is so ironic! Making this comic has taught me so much about comicmaking that it’s impossible to continue working on it like I was working on it so far. SPREY 1st draft offed itself because it was actually successful. It was successful in teaching me the basics. And I first had to understand that I need to take this hard step and that I must change and keep changing.

This does not mean SPREY is over though. SPREY does not go to the backburner, not for a single minute. I am working on it like before, you will just not see new pages for a while, which might look like inactivity from the outside.

Here’s what’s happening in that time:

Today(16.August 2021) – 16. December 2021

  • Writing a new, proper and complete script for SPREY
  • The set and definitive format is a printed comic
  • I cannot tell whether everything fits neatly into one volume yet, but I don’t want to go beyond a maximum of two to three.
  • I will still later upload the finished pages on my website and possibly other webcomic sharing pages
  • The lore DOES NOT CHANGE. What you read in the webcomic so far stays in and is canon, it will just receive a visual upgrade and might just have some more context added or have it’s place in the narration changed depending on what the new script says.

1. January 2022 – 1. August 2022

  • Making a dummy. I will draw the whole comic in thumbnail form, all the pages from start to finish, doctoring on visual storytelling and pacing, color keys unless I decide to leave the comic black and white (I prefer finishing it during my lifetime) and whatever else comes up.

2. August 2022 – 16. December 2022

  • making the final designs for all characters, environments, props etc. in the comic,
  • if necessary figuring out a style bible

And then?

The next phase is drawing the final pages and I honestly can’t make any prediction at all how long that will take, as I haven’t drawn like this before. But my guess is you will read all and any edits to this plan in this blog as soon as they fall.

Why are the announced times so ridiculously long?

I read if you are inexperienced with something, it will take you four times longer than you think it will take. Now look at my numbers again and see what I hoped it would take. For some things I do have actual evidence from my own experience working on SPREY so far. For example, I wasn’t able to just draw my way into a consistent visual style or actually finish designing any character looks or environment on the fly between drawing pages, that doesn’t seem to work (at least right now).

Of course I do not intend to work as inefficiently as possible, but I will probably only know what is efficient and what isn’t afterwards. Also, there is more stuff than SPREY going on in my life, I have accounted for that in the numbers, too.

If there are changes to the schedule(and there will always be changes) for example if I finish a thing a month faster or need an additional month, I will update you about it on my blog.

Last words

Finally, this blog will not shut up. Far from it. I might provide you with regular reports on how things are going, possibly also tossing in some sketches from time to time. I stopped being scared, now my projects should be scared of me.

See you next blog post!

A challenge in writing

Blogging is great. It helped me to get through some stressful times by blogging daily reminders about my mission and my general thoughts about my progress to myself. Also, it made me write. Don’t underestimate the power of giving your thoughts and ideas a written form over a prolonged period of time. That’s how you get better at writing. And it changes something. My confidence to write anything down went up. Lately though, my original way of blogging stopped working for me and I only realized that after a couple of troublesome months.

How were things before? I took “just write” as a guiding principle and was writing like the words and topics would come. There is nothing wrong with that. Most writing starts like this. What else informed my writing though – I was under pressure a lot and worrying about how to get to success as fast as possible please. I didn’t really define what that success was and I couldn’t. Things began and ended in comfort and comfort was what I reaped. Seeking comfort is not a thing that brings you ahead in life though. You will not live a life if you want to avoid the pains it brings. For the sake of it I was not always daring to observe things as they were or think thoughts until their end. It’s hard to do that when you are rushing by and hoping you are not hurting already or hurting yourself more. You cannot escape the pain though, not without even bigger pain later on once you can’t run anymore. And delayed pain that comes back to you has the potential to be even deeper. Regret and shame are never far away, but you can have them without any particular reason as well.

So what? I’m telling you to not live in your comfort zone? You’ve heard that before. Have you considered how deep such a comfort zone can run as described in the paragraph before? Things are getting better for me lately. I would say I have found calm in myself that is not temporary. And that is also what causes problems for this blog right now. I’m feeling the lack of the spite and pressure that usually was there and don’t know what to do with that gap. I am not lacking anything that I would miss. I can still work. I can work even better than before. But I guess I wasn’t ready for a good change, good emotion. I am questioning myself, how can I be so at peace and happy when I’m not “there” yet with my life. I haven’t made it yet. I guess you don’t need approval or certain metrics to be allowed to feel a certain way. There is a lot of work to do on the way ahead, but I’ll gladly face everything.

So dealing with one’s own emotional development is a thing, at least it is a thing for me on my road. You could encounter something like this on your road, too, and when it happens, you have an edge now. You are not hit by absolute surprise. You can ask one question more what it could be that blocks your path. Embrace that you change. Be curious about it. Dare to feel what you feel and feel it until it is over. You will meet the peace you made with yourself on paper again when you look at your writing or sketches later. And don’t forget that you are in charge and don’t have to accept you developing into something you don’t like. You are free after all.

New arc for this blog

This is a special blog entry.
When you see bigger bumps or gaps on my blog, that can mean one of two things. Either I’m in a creative crisis and barely functional (this is absolutely normal for creatives, it’s a natural ebb and flood cycle), or working on something so big and captivating that it absolutely derailed me from writing. Sometimes both overlap.

I’m doing well lately. I’m keeping my head down and focussing on getting my day to day work done, almost unaffected by whatever else happens. I had an insight or two while drawing and in the breaks between, so today I will touch on the very foundations of this blog again.

I started this blog to document my art journey towards “making it”, leaving records behind of how exactly I did it, what worked, what didn’t work, and what pitfalls to avoid to save yourselves some time.
I have changed since starting the blog. I think when I started I was convinced most pros had some or the same secret they weren’t telling us, even when they were pretending to tell us their full success story of how they “made it”. There was always this very real gap between them, their ranks, and me and my fellow aspiring artist colleagues who still hadn’t yet joined those ranks. We could do whatever we wanted, follow all the steps, at the end of the day we wouldn’t get in. Now with more experience under my belt I’m seeing things differently.

“Making it” turns out to be a surprisingly personal thing. I set my goals, I decide what I’m doing to get there and – of course – I have to actually do these things. And whatever I share with you here on this blog is not and never was universal advice that would work for anyone for every “making it” goal. There is no universal “making it” advice, unless it is so vague that is loses it’s substance again. So the pros did not have one secret. It is more likely that most couldn’t tell you what “their” secret actually was if not a combination of hard work, luck and connections. And the ratio of these things is different for everyone again as are their personal unique circumstances.

So if I want to do you the best service I can I must focus on the personal in my personal journey for the future instead of looking out for the universal. Although I will confidently state I’m a painfully average person anytime, I recognize that the circumstances of my journey are unique – as are yours. We are all beautiful unique remixes of the spark that gives humanity art if this makes sense.

What follows is really hard to write for me, but it is necessary. You must know who is writing this blog, you must know how this person is looking at the world and what the “making it” goals are, so that you can assess how to interpret what I say and what you can use. I am an unworldly dreamer that seeks comfort. That is not a criticism, that is a type. But what keeps me going is that at the same time I’m a hard worker that doesn’t accept giving up or whatever else is identified as defeat. It actually makes perfect sense. That’s two worlds colliding in the same person all the time, creating a lot of creative energy from that friction. Whatever I am, I am not bored, I am always on the lookout to do things to make the pain stop. This can either be a powerful feedback spiral to relentlessly following the dream and working hard to make it come true – or it can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as eating for short-term comfort, literally to feel better. And just to reiterate, I am not the only person who is like this, this is a type, although from what I understand one that is rarer in the spotlight or expressing themselves as this.

Dreamers have to be careful with their goals. If it’s too unworldly, it might never come true, because it can’t be done. But what if you can still get it done? Then we end up with innovation which pushes what people thought was possible and is good for everyone.

I might have mentioned it before, but my dream is to tell a couple of stories. I have a list with exact names and summaries. And guess what, SPREY is one of them. I must realize them either as comics or as videogames(most likely RPG-ish) to keep things in a scope a single creator can manage. This dream never changed at it’s core. I love the craft(s) more than anything, so with some things I literally can’t be motivated with money. That is the dreamer’s curse and privilege. But I still must exist in this world, so money is still a thing. I have humbly and without much fanfare started to learn how to code. Whatever my creative ambitions are, I must live with certain realities. I embrace art commissions and freelance work though, of course, but I try to be as responsible as possible just in case there is another long drought that can happen at the beginning of any career. There’s zero drama in this, no bitterness. Others have done this before me.

Rereading this I can’t even tell you what is so special about my stories. I have never asked myself this question. It just is. I came into the world with it. Let’s uncover the qualities of my works together on the journey as I’m learning more about myself and my creations. I realized that I have to change. It is my nature to seek comfort, but I have to be an inverse version of myself if I want to succeed. Everyone struggles with something after all. And I will admit, I’m already curious how I will do it.

See you next blogpost!