A Very Personal My Comic Life Sundays Part 2

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My Comic Life Column 014: A Very Personal Message Part 2

C. Edward Sellner cropped

I duly warned everyone – this time was also going to be more on the personal side – but squarely aimed at all my fellow creators, no matter what medium, or level of work you do.

We as creators often face a lot of challenges with our work – how to improve our craft, how to find time, how to earn sufficient income, how to get our work in front of the right people either for publication or to build a fanbase, etc. Most of these are very practical challenges, very logistical.

What often gets glossed over is the internal struggle of the artist vs. the art. Even more so when it gets overshadowed by all those other concerns which often have far more pressing needs for solutions.

But here’s the thing every creator knows down deep, even if we sometimes forget it – the best art we will ever create will ALWAYS come from somewhere down deep in our heart and soul. Our best art will NEVER come simply out of commercial or contract work. We may get paid for it, but our best work will never simply come because we ARE getting paid.

Our best work – whether it be music, writing, art, dance, whatever – will always be a deep reflection of who we are – our priorities, our struggles, our losses, our deepest loves, our biggest questions, our greatest fears and our highest hopes. Why? Well, that one is simple, it goes to the core of what art is really all about. But, it may not seem as simple given today’s norms and perceptions.

We as a culture, as people in general around the world, have become obsessed with entertainment. The Entertainment industry is a multi-billion dollar industry just in the United States. Popular artists, especially actors and musicians, are like royalty, often earning more than just about anyone, with thousands interested in their every outing, thought and personal development in their lives.

Yet, at the same time we’ve become obsessed, many are determined to devalue the art involved and reduce ‘entertainment’ to its most superficial and commercial elements. It’s fun, not meant to be taken seriously, it’s a distraction from our daily lives, it bears no connection or direct impact on the real world. Those self-same artists whom many are obsessed with are likewise often reduced to caricatures of human beings. It’s okay for fans to go on and on about who someone is dating, changes in hairstyle, favorite foods, weight gain, or pregnancy but let any of those artists step up for a cause, make a statement on their values or challenge anything about our society and they are dismissed as ‘simply’ artists. But that’s not art.

Art, since those first scrawlings on cave walls, since those first stories told around campfires, those first songs sung, has always been so very much more.

Art is About Teaching. It has been used to teach tradition, faith, culture, principles of belief and practice. Art has helped to bring to life history and illustrate the power of science. Art has even taught us about ourselves, our fellow human beings, and much about the world in which we live. Unlike many other forms of teaching that simply present dry facts, art teaches by engaging, by connecting with the learner. This means that learning often happens at a deeper, more fundamental level. It also means art can teach things very hard to teach otherwise, including teaching us about our own innermost thoughts and feelings.

Art is About Inspiring. It may be as grand as a painting that inspires an appreciation for the beauty of the world around us, or a song that inspires us to go after a dream, or a poem that inspires us to reach out to one we love. It can be as profound as a super-hero that inspires us to know with great power comes great responsibility, or that with determination we can even overcome the greatest of losses. It can also be as simple as a comic strip that inspires laughter and brightens our day.

Art is About Challenging. Art is not just about the status quo – if it were it would not serve as escapism and would be redundant if you think about it; because of this true art always contains an element of challenge. It may be a challenge to see or think about something different, a challenge to believe in something we felt impossible or to recognize the fragility of something we take for granted. It may challenge something about the world around us or challenge something deep within. But true art should always leave us wrestling with something once we walk away.

001 It Should Be Funny

For us as fans – readers, watchers, listeners – I guarantee you can take every single piece of ‘entertainment’ you’ve ever really, truly enjoyed, the ones that stayed with you and find something of each of these principles in it. Some may be obvious, others you may need to unpack and think about, but when you do those elements will be there, even if you never fully realized it before.

But what then about us as Creators?

We create any given work of art for many reasons, but we create art in general because we feel driven to – sometimes a deep, abiding drive we can’t turn off, much less turn away from. At the heart of that drive is the heart of a student, a heart that is inspired, and a heart that faces its own challenges it so desperately wants to overcome. Now, in other folks, those things may exist as well, but it is for us the foundation of our art – at least when we let it be.

I see this in aspiring artists and even from some established professionals – art with no soul, no deeper connection to who and what the artist behind it is. For aspiring creators, they may be trying too hard to mimic what is already on the market to prove they can cut it as a professional. For professional creators, it may be work they don’t enjoy, that is simply paying the bills, or over time their work may have been reduced to a mere discipline, or distraction. In either case, that art is probably doing little for the fulfillment of the artist.

As a creator, as an artist of any kind – to truly create – dig deep. Face your demons, wrestle with your doubts, push against the rough edges of your life and the world around you and see which ones rub you raw. Figure out what inspires you, what makes your heart sing, what makes you laugh from the deepest part of your gut, or cry tears of joy. Do it for that creator-owned thing you so desperately want to make and find ways to do it for every single paid job you take.

As artists, true artists, we have a calling. It is an awesome responsibility and an incredible honor. We are called to be the touchstones of humanity, to plumb our depths, soar in our heights, and to then transform that into raw fodder and put it out into the world around us so that others might find that work of art that helps them do the same. Your struggles, the ones that keep you up at night, are the same struggles so many others face – the strength you muster to face them and put them out there in the world might inspire another to face their own. A dream that inspires you, might just be a dream that, captured in art, could inspire a generation. Even if it’s not a specific issue, at the core, every hero’s story is a story of overcoming all odds isn’t it?

Last year I swore 2016 was going be the year I got more focused on my own creative work but other than the ongoing My Comic Life strip and a few other things, I’ve found myself struggling. I’ve found myself having a harder time writing and doing full art than I’ve had in a long time. As I shared last column, there’s certainly been a lot going on this year, including a lot of stressful and life-changing things that certainly could disrupt the process, but I had difficulty putting my finger on the exact cause, until recently.

I realized I had been so focused on improving my own writing and art, so focused on managing and overseeing other’s writing and art, thus focused on the form and not the underlying function, that I’d lost touch with some of that deeper passion, that core from which true art arises. Oh, now most of the stories I want to tell come from that deeper core, because I was very much in touch with that when I first formed the seeds for each of those – but now, I think I was trying to start them without tapping the primal energy that originally inspired them in me in the first place.

End result? I realized I first had to do a bit of reconnecting with that fire, that core, that passion. I had to once again truly create in order to create true art, and not just go through the mechanics and motions. That has ended up not only reawakening that art, that creative fire, but it’s also reawakened some other arenas of my life, ones that inspired the column and invitation last week, ones that inspired this column, and ones I will talk more about on my personal sites later on New Year’s Day.

For 2017 and beyond, my resolution is to do the kind of art, to be the kind of creator, whose every piece digs deep, goes to the core, makes my heart sing, and I’m pretty excited about the work so far. Here’s hoping for a very creative year.

NEXT

If you want to follow more personal stuff I post regularly on my personal Facebook page which will include a major post later today (New Year’s Day) and will be relaunching my blog first of the year.

To get first looks at all my creative work, you can check out my Patreon, which will be building up after the new year. Right now, I’m doing a Classic-Print-A-Day for the Holidays, sending out hi-res file versions of my entire classic print library to all my patrons. New stuff will be appearing soon.

Next week in this space, we get back to the creative process and start our Penciling 101 series! Don’t miss it!

NOW DISCUSS…

What’s your story? Share if you like, post here or email me anytime at CEdwardSellner@visionarycomics.com.

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About C. Edward Sellner

A full-time professional freelancer, Sellner has credits as a comics writer, prose author, colorist, artist, and editor from multiple publishers. He is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Visionary Creative Services, one of the best-known production studios and digital publishers in the industry. The studio opened in 2006 and since then has published over 70 different titles in its digital line, and been involved in over a hundred different projects in production. Its clients range from Hollywood producers to international sports stars to other studios and publishers. It became the first independent studio to enter the licensing game with the announcement of its Deadlands license, which has since been published in comics from Image and IDW and novels from Tor Books. The studio also hosts a successful internship program where interns get practical, real-world freelancing experience, including paid work on actual jobs fitting their skill levels. Learn more at www.visionarycreativeservices.com!

Weekly Visions 12.29.16: Our New Year’s Resolutions

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If you’re a regular you may have noticed – we’re quite proud of our name. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s largely because when we chose a name for the studio, we wanted a name to grow into, and we feel we’ve done a pretty good job of doing that so far. But what exactly does it mean for us to live up to that name, to grow into it?

Most assume it just means producing top quality content, garnering top recommended lists, awards, and other nods, which we’ve done. Others assume it means being first or best at what we do and we’ve hit those marks as well in a lot of ways. All of which is wonderful, but only a part of what living up to that name means for us.

For us being Visionary is about being the best creative studio for creators – a haven where creators are treated fairly with respect and appreciation, where they are front and center in their work, as invested as they want to be and taken care of while doing it.  It’s also about being the best creative studio for publishers – going above and beyond to make sure everything they need is done not just to spec, but to perfection. It’s about being the best creative studio for retailers – where they see us as we see them – vital partners in launching any product or series. Our product carries our brand and we’ve always done our best to support retailers and venues on every front, even when others just step back and let the publishers carry that weight.

Most importantly it means for us to be the best creative studio for our clients and our fans. Whether it’s someone who’s hired us for a project, or someone who’s plunked down their hard earned cash for one of our books, we want to make sure they get everything they expected and so much more. It’s one-on-one client and fan relations, answering questions, working out solutions, getting things done and in the hands of those wanting it that plays a big part of what being Visionary is all about. Call our main line, you get one of our Chief executives, email us, you get one of our key staff, message us on Facebook, you get a response almost immediately. We love meeting people at conventions (it’s why we do so many) and we love nothing more than when someone gets excited about a new book from us because it means we got it right.

But there’s more to it than just that.

023 Let's Call It Visionary

For us being Visionary also means making a difference, making an impact, not just in the market, but in the world. Sure we want to tell great stories with stunning art, stories that are fun, some epic, some twisted (hey, we are the Deadlands people after all). But we also know the power of comics and fiction to inspire, to teach, to challenge and that to us is what truly makes visionary work.

We’ve always done our part giving back, to local communities, to the industry, but in 2017 you’ll see a focused effort on Visionary’s part to broaden that on multiple fronts and begin reflecting that in some of the new content we create. We’re thrilled that in 2017 we’ll be announcing multiple partnerships with museums, learning centers, and other non-profit organizations that are all about broadening our horizons and reaching for a better future as we create stories that embody those bold and visionary ideals.

After all, for a studio that got it’s start in comics and went with a name like Visionary, part of its mission has just got to be about saving the world, right?


Meet Our Latest Interns

Visionary is closing out 2016 with it’s single biggest class of interns ever. We introduced most of the crew already, but we added three final, dynamite members to the team and we are looking forward to great things from all these amazing creators!

JordanJordan Loux
An Alfred University (NY) graduate with a BA in Communication Studies, Jordan has a passion for media. He enjoys reading, writing, film and any other medium that works to convey a story. Recently he has returned from a year abroad working at TTV Productions in Israel.

 

 

 

JasmineJasmine Wilson
Jasmine is an aspiring comic book, children’s book, and cartoon writer. She was born and raised in Atlanta, GA and has always loved visual culture, specifically photography, comics, cartoons, and graphic novels. Jasmine is currently a senior English major at Howard University and plans to utilize her background as a writing tutor, editor, and researcher of comics as a Visionary Intern this year.

 

 

BradfordBradford Spady
Bradford Olander Spady is an artist with a focus on character design. A graduate of Langley High School in McLean, VA, Bradford studies cartooning at the Cafritz Art Center at Montgomery College, Takoma Park, and professional on-line art classes with Schoolism, based in Canada. Bradford has worked on a special White House Project to design the 2011 Christmas card and participated in a half day at Disney with two Disney illustrators for one-on-one tutoring. He has had solo art shows and is now a proud intern at Visionary. Bradford resides in Reston, VA.

 


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Next, in a special release at midnight New Year’s Eve, check out the latest My Comic Life column and strip from our CCO C. Edward Sellner, with some major announcements! Be sure not to miss it and Subscribe Now!

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