Thursday, April 18, 2013

Grant Submission: Post-game

Today's post will be a bit long and probably ramble at times. (the grammar will likely suck as well. ha ha) I'll be explaining elements of my failed grant submission, which I've kept pretty close to the chest while I was awaiting the Sequential Artist Workshop's decision.

I learned about the SAW grant one day completely by accident. There was a website that had a feed that posted up Twitter tweets from writers and artist who do sequential art and I clicked on the wrong one. This click took me to Kate Beaton's Twitter page, where she had just tweeted the link to the Sequential Artist Workshop's web page, specifically the page that listed their grants.

I had not really given any thought to pursuing grants. I'm sort of 'old school' in thinking that, a man puts in his hard work, "pays his dues," and eventually gets things to a point where he can do the dreams he knows he must do. The idea of seeking some funding to help along my plans (besides, ya know, working and saving up) just never really registered. I never was one to have many heroes to sort of mold my life after. I did have some people I admired though and most of them went through the long process and worked hard until they kind of "made it." For me, that was pretty much the only way to do it. So, seeing what was required for this grant in front of me and realizing what that cash could do to help along some stuff I had stewing, change my perception. It struck me as an opportunity I had to go for.

The SAW grant is awarded twice a year to projects that the Workshop feels are creative and interesting, done in any form of sequential artistic styling (comic strip, graphic novel, illustrated kids book, etc.) As long as I have been doing graphic design (either as my main or secondary job, about 12 years now) I've had the desire to do varied sequential art projects. But, as stated before, I had not really been thinking about full investment of time in them, because I needed to build myself up so I could focus considerably on them. Finding this possibility of funds being received SPECIFICALLY to go into a project, was fantastic.

But, there was an interesting catch.

The deadline date for the submission was 1 month and 2 weeks away, by the time I discovered it. If I didn't go for this one, I'd have to wait nearly all year long for the next opportunity to submit for a grant.

Thus, I decided to take up the challenge and go for the March 15th deadline.

Now, with such a narrow window of opportunity, the race was on to get it all together for the deadline. I had to fill out an application, create a website for the submission committee to view, and write a working script to draw up. (I'll make sure to explain that, for anyone who doesn't know about the way a sequential project works, in the comments below.)

On days where I'm in the middle of a design job and waiting for emails back on layouts I've sent in for approval, I write short stories. Most of them don't go for many pages nor are that fully fleshed out to be worth showing. I had a few concepts I was fond of and just wanted to stretch another creative muscle of mine. With the deadline being so near and me being a bit unprepared for it ( story development-wise) I decided to dust off one of these shorts and convert it from prose to script.

The particular piece I selected, was a story called "Thanks, Jules!"

"Thanks Jules!" (the title partly inspired by both the TV show "Psych" AND an in-joke with a few people I know..which is a bit long to share in this posting) is at its root, a straight-forward story of a young man who meets his truest the beginning of the last year of all existence. It also happens to be somewhat of an allegory for, the futility of people seeking love and acceptance, while their view of having a future of any sort, is bleak and quite skeptical. A LOADED story, to be sure, but my meager goals for the submission were simply this: The first 6 pages, intro-style, of the first chapter (which would end up being 16 pages.) My thoughts were that if I had about a month (likely less due to obligations I had that weren't work or personal related) I could AT LEAST get that initial set-up of story in the first 6 pages.

It looked easier than it ended up being.

I'll refrain from all the gory details but, besides a few hours during my church's annual retreat, every single day of that month working on the project was sporadic and disjointed.
The quality of the art didn't suffer, though. It flows together nicely and I was actually far more meticulous with my approach at the drawings than ever before (especially due to the images needing to tell a story, as opposed to my usual design work, which is normally a static image). I think each page was...drawn twice? And there were two sets of thumbnails for them as well (mostly due to some script tweaking that happened in the mid-month.)

Despite all that, though, I can't say the whole time working on it was wonderful. I had to push myself further than I ever have and really approach my work ethic from some intriguing new angles. There were moments that, due to those obligations I mentioned before, I had to stay up very late, miss meals, not get to do my regular exercise regiments, etc, etc.

Still, I loved the process of creation, waking up every morning to put together something that I came up with, from initial concept to final pages.

Hopefully, I'll get another season in which I'll be free enough to try for a grant. I've got a taste for it, for creating a story with my words an images in hopes for sharing it with all of you.

- Conduct Lionhardt

Ink rough, for a panel from page 2
close-up inks of a panel from page 2

Ink roughs of a panel, for page 3

Ink roughs of a panel, for page 4

Ink roughs for a panel on page 4

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Back from a cool experience

Hello again.

I'm actually shocked at how much time has passed since I last posted something on the blog...Definitely a lot more time than I honestly wanted to exist between postings.

It is kind of crazy when you become so wrapped up in your work/life that things you wanted to make an important priority become the first to be ignored. Unfortunately for me, the blog ended up being that.

However, today's post is a catch-you-up on what's consumed my many hours away.

I had an opportunity come along that I couldn't let pass: A submission for a sequential art Grant.

Sadly... I return to you empty-handed. Some other lucky and talented people were awarded the grant money from the Sequential Artist Workshop. For me, however, it was an experience which ended up being full of valuable lessons. I learned quite a bit about my ability to work under a tight deadline (made even tighter due to several events in other non-paying obligations I have, coming out-of-nowhere,) inking my own pencils, composition, writing, and putting in the right amount of time on character design.

The project challenged me in ways that my graphic design work never has, expanding my understanding of the differences between 'static' image design (that mostly comprises graphic design jobs I get tasked,) and feeding into a greater sense of what will be required for my advancement toward the illustration field, in terms of sequential storytelling.

Despite putting in major hours at the drawing table, writing (and RE-WRITING my entire script,) building a web page to display the work, and providing additional essay material to map out my process, I ended up with the beginning to a graphic novel but, no means to continue putting in large amounts of time on it. Still, in this instance, the JOURNEY was the thing, taking me along a much needed 2 months and suitably giving me the experience and knowledge needed for future work in sequential art and narrative.

I'll likely go for a few other grants I've heard about at some point. I have plenty more pages and other ideas that I'd love to see meet the light of day. Some of it is stuff I've always wanted to do but haven't been able to focus on due to...well, needing to spend time on what pays FIRST.

So, with that grand experience behind me, I'm back to good ole' "Conducting Thoughts," sharing some of my thoughts, artwork, NEW music, and interviewing creative people about interesting subjects. I see the site has had some nice traffic from unexpected places and I'm hopeful they'll be more as I try my best to post up things that are worth stopping by and see/read.

Thanks for reading!

- Conduct Lionhardt