Comic Non-Sans: While You Work

Since I’m going to be hitting a convention this weekend and plan to do a post-con round-up for it next Tuesday, I figured I’d do something a little more frivolous for this week’s column.  I don’t do Formspring because I figure not a lot of people want to ask me questions the way they do other webcomickers.  But I do take into account what other webcomickers are asked, and one thing I’ve noticed a lot is the issue of multitasking … which isn’t so much an issue as a conversation starter, really.

When I was being interviewed for Intervention, I was asked what I like to have going on while I work, if anything.  I was interested to hear other people’s answers, being that some can’t have any other noise or sensory input while they work, whilst others need loud music, occasionally from specific bands or some such thing.  I’ve heard all ends of the spectrum here, really.

I know in my case, no noise = sleep-time.  This does not go well with trying to draw.  But for other people, there can’t be anything else — no music, no speech, no nothing.  I know that’s true of me when I’m writing, as I am now, because otherwise I start typing words I’m hearing.  Without ambient noise, at least in my case, there’s a sort of uncomfortable void.  And that’s the main thing that’s important when you’re drawing: comfort.  Which is pretty obvious, but it’s a matter of emotional and psychological comfort as much as anything else.

For instance, and stepping away from the usual ambient noise/music question, I also need light.  That sounds fairly obvious, but I mean light light.  In other words, with proper large amounts of light and sound and a bit of going-on, I need somewhere “alive” to draw.  That probably sounds far more Artistic than I intended, but it extends to other areas as well.  In college, were you more comfortable reading in your room, or going out on the quad (or in my case, the Sunken Garden) where there was light and noise and activity?  I’ve found, at least in my own experience, my ideal studying environment has become my ideal drawing environment.

I’ll say now … this is why I’ve never been able to wrap my head around people doing live feeds of themselves drawing.  Maybe their comfort zones are well different to mine.  Either way, the trend is one I think a lot of people aren’t ever going to approach for the same reason I don’t: these are people who wouldn’t feel comfortable with people watching over their shoulder as they work.  Nothing wrong with it either way, of course.

That said, how can one alter one’s comfort zone?  There’s no way you’re going to always be in a position where you can have the exact amount of noise you need, plus or minus the amount of light, plus or minus claustrophobia or lack thereof.  This is one of the reasons I find it so difficult to do commissions at cons: I’m surrounded by people, and by ambient noise that isn’t of my choosing.

My method, if such a thing can be called a method, is actually something artists should do anyway, which is to always be armed with drawing material.  And then force myself to sit down somewhere where I’m not comfortable drawing — be it a noisy crowd or a completely quiet room — and try to do something.  It doesn’t work often.  But when it does work, it’s a move toward stepping outside my comfort zone.

Nothing wrong with a comfort zone, obviously.  If you can have it, have it.  But I find more and more that stepping outside it actually helps me improve my art.  You’re going to be able to access a lot of different things mentally in a lot of different places.

Those are, at any rate, the ramblings of an ill webcomicker for this week.  Next week, I’ll be taking a look at this year’s MarsCon, especially its rather stacked webcomic track.

Posted on January 11, 2011 at 08:53 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, Webcomics