State of the Art: Narrowing My Focus

Good afternoon, all!

This past January, I thought a lot about my goals as an artist. And then I got swept up in everyday things, and promptly forgot about them. February seemed to come out of nowhere, and I was hit with the realization that I had no idea what my plan was for this year. I didn’t have an order in which to delegate my tasks, I didn’t know what my next steps with my projects were, and I didn’t have any solid due dates for anything. If I continued in this manner, I knew the year would eventually come to a close and I would have relatively nothing accomplished. 

So, I sat down with a blank sheet of paper and my planner, and created an itemized list of things I wanted to accomplish and planned out what I would tackle each month! Comics progress, illustration challenges, holiday art, merchandise, Twitch stream events, commissions – so many exciting things! 

And then I realized that was insane and I would not realistically have the time nor energy to tackle all that. I made myself a cup of tea and settled into the comfy chair in the living room to think.

Last year was hard. I felt drained and sad and frustrated, and one of the only things that kept me making art was connecting with you lovely folks on Patreon and with my Monday night art stream folks. I indulged in fan art and sickeningly adorable illustrations, trying so hard to find the fun in making art again. And…for the most part, it worked. I was drawing and painting more, and I ended the year with a reasonably-sized body of work. 

What did I want to focus on this year? If last year was about finding the joy in art-making and keeping up my motivation to create, then this year should build on that foundation. As I finished my tea, I decided I wanted to hone my existing art skills and work on acquiring new ones. I wanted to be more intentional with making comics and build up a good portfolio. I made another cup of tea and got a new sheet of paper.

This year, I plan to:

  • Finish the pitch for The Epiglottis Effect and send it out to publishers
  • Revise and complete Late Spring Daffodils, and begin publishing it online as a webcomic
  • Consistently make and post journal comics
  • Make more zines
  • Submit to at least two comics anthologies
  • Work on existing skills, such as anatomy, gesture, character design, expression, watercolors, and inking
  • Develop skills in color, lighting, lettering, backgrounds and interiors, composition, and page layouts

I have to admit, I’m pretty excited! I feel like I have some of my energy back, and I want to see what I can accomplish when I set my goals clearly like this. I’m a bit sad that I can’t balance these goals with all the other things I wanted to do, but ultimately I think it will be better for me in the long-run. I can only do so much with the time and energy I have left over from my full-time job and from life in general, and I need to be mindful of that. I don’t want to burn out – I have too many stories I want to tell. 

Hope you all are doing well! Stay safe, wear a mask, be gentle with yourselves.

Author: Katie McMahon

Katie is a comic artist and illustrator living in rural New Hampshire in a town mostly populated with elderly folks and roving gangs of sassy turkeys. She enjoys reading comics, playing board games and RPGs, drinking fair trade tea and coffee, discussing feminism and social justice, and cracking the best groan-worthy jokes the internet has to offer.

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