Matt Lichtenwalner

Mobile mapper for TomTom - roaming the US and Canada constantly. Maybe a bit of art and/or writing here and there to spice things up.

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Did some drawing tonight. My newest character in a new D&D campaign we're playing just over the summer. We're a troupe of bards.

My character (Quinn) is an eloquence bard, and he's a changeling. Think of him as the face of the group.

Anyway, I started drawing him previously, but hit that point where I just decided that I hated everything about that version so I started over tonight.

So far, I'm a bit happier about it.

Of course, by next week...

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"It's a nice day to start again!"
Oooh, you’re right.
Heh. Yeah, I kinda thought the same while I was working on him. It wasn't intentional, but I'm kinda glad it shows that way. :)
 

You'll get that awful pun in just a second...

I'm working on (yet another) new illustration project. Or rather, I'm picking up work on an idea I had a while back.

I've been looking at Patreon for a while. I would LOVE to do something that allowed me to make some decent money on illustration stuff.

Here are the problems with that concept:

  • I'm not that good. That's not an attempt at some kind of false humility. It's not an attempt to seek praise. It's fact. If you're feeling like jumping to my defense, please don't. Trust that this is an area where I am likely better versed than you. You'll note that I don't tell musicians whether they're good or not. I tell them whether I enjoy what they did. I'm certainly not qualified to say whether or not they're good at what they do. Same concept applies here.
  • I'm driven to distraction. I don't know if things would be different if there would be a bajillion dollars on the line. So far, no one has offered me that much. In fact, I've pretty much only ever made $4 per drawing with exceptionally rare exceptions to that rule. Anyway - it's hard for me to stay motivated for anything more than 'quick hit' projects. One or two single character illustrations for a small gaming manual? No problem. The dozens and dozens of drawings for my own card game? Well, how long have I been working on them and they're not done yet?
  • I like simple illustration work. This is significantly tied to that last item, but it also deserves its own point. I don't have any great desire to do uber in depth, full colored, fully rendered illustrations with complete backgrounds. The amount of hours required versus the reward (up to this point, we're talking purely personal here - see aforemented low paying gigs) has just not been in my favor.

With all of this in mind, I had a recommendation from someone on Google Plus: Paper Minis.

For those who might not be familiar: Paper minis are kinda what they sound like. You've likely seen the small lead miniatures that some gamers painstakingly paint and use to lay out their table top gaming sessions (think Dungeons and Dragons). Well, you can now buy plastic covers which allow you to take a small drawing (printout) and use that as your character, or in the case of the game master - the NPCs / monsters.

You put the paper minis into a stand - something like this.

Anyway, I thought I might give it a shot. It seems like the kind of thing that works on Patreon: give even a small amount and you get access to all the paper minis that I create (they will come out in sheets (PDFs) that you can print at home). Give a little more, and you'll be entered into monthly(?) drawings to get a free custom drawing. Give a lot? You'll get a custom drawing from me each month.

Dunno. There are probably bugs to be worked out, but I need to start to find them.

Which brings me to the title of this post. I really am ridiculously verbose sometimes.

This guy Bruce Gulke created a program called Tablesmith a long time ago. It allows you to create your own tables (think 'recipe') and randomly generate results from that table.

I love the program and paid for the 'registration key'. Something I very rarely do in this world of exceedingly functional freeware. I think it has uses far outside gaming for folks like writers and concept artists.

I created one to give me some quick descriptions to use for a starting set of characters to be used as the initial set of minis to describe the project to potential Patrons.

Below is a quick screen grab of some of my initial results.

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5/9 '16 2 Comments
1) Then keep doing it until you are good. Copy the greats (privately), try different techniques, try the opposite of your usual style, try different tools, draw for an hour every day until you like what you see.
2) Distraction and reward are different things. How many stories are there out there of illustrators who were given 50% of a sizable paycheck up front, who blew deadlines or handed in shitty work at the last minute? If you want to write for compensation, that's a separate topic, and I'm the wrong person to answer that question. If you have trouble with distraction, SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP AND GET IT.
ADD is a harsh mistress.

3) you like simple illustration work. Your style is your style and there is nothing wrong with that. Charles Schulz built an empire based on pen and ink drawings of a round headed kid and a floppy eared dog. Just keep drawing.

I asked Ed, my former advisor, once, about how to write the kind of play people want to see and theaters want to produce. He said that kowtowing to trends and chasing what it seems like people want is not going to result in an honest product. If you create what's true, honest and real for you, it's going to resonate with people who are waiting for it.
So, I wrote Wreck of the Alberta.
First and foremost: thank you for the well thought out response! I'll take each of these one at a time:

"1) Then keep doing it until you are good... draw for an hour every day until you like what you see."

You're right, of course. I should point out here that I don't say "I don't like what I do." I actually do (most of the time). When I said that I'm not that good, I should have completed the thought by adding "...in comparison to those who sell a lot of illustrations." Much of the problem is in marketing. Some of it is not. I was accounting for the parts that are not.

"2) ...If you have trouble with distraction, SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP AND GET IT. ADD is a harsh mistress."

Again, I agree. I DID go and talk to a psychologist many years back now. He gave me a referral to a psychiatrist after re-testing me for ADD. While he said I don't have an extreme case or anything, I'm *cough,cough* years old, and I know the 'coping techniques' and they haven't worked thus far. I, of course, proceeded to fail to stay focused long enough to set an appointment with the psychiatrist. Which would be funny, if it wasn't also frustrating and sad.

"3) ...I asked Ed, my former advisor, once, about how to write the kind of play people want to see and theaters want to produce. He said that kowtowing to trends and chasing what it seems like people want is not going to result in an honest product... ...I wrote Wreck of the Alberta."

In my 'perfect world' scenario, I do some writing and some illustrating - for the variety of things. The two seem to activate different parts of my brain meats. Writing is very focused - logical (even when it's pure fantasy I'm writing) and illustration is almost entirely... I don't know... mindless? Kinda a zen thing? I'm not at all shocked by the current popularity of adult coloring books purely because of how I feel when I'm drawing.

Anyway - on the thoughts of your former adviser: This is going to seem like extreme hubris coming from me (vs. your adviser, who, you know, gets paid to advise...) but I don't agree. Or rather - I think it's a kind of scale.

On one end of the scale, you have what I'll call Pure Art. That's without compromise exactly what one wants to write/draw/paint/whatev. On the other end of the scale, you have Pure Sellout. I think of the guy who likely wrote the most recent 8 Steven Seagal films, for example. (Yes, perhaps it's a matter of love for him. I wouldn't bank on it.)

Why does it matter? Well, I've been listening to MANY hours of audio book and podcasts that focus on self publishing. The topic of Writing to Market comes up often, and is hotly debated. You have proponents on both ends of the spectrum. As with most things in life, I find myself thinking that there's a balance to be struck somewhere in the middle(ish) for me personally.

tl;dr version: Don't let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good.

(Said the guy who's making Jack and shit from his creative endeavors.)