Fireside Chat: Part Two (THE THING BEHIND THE THING…)

A Fireside Chat, with ToddIn this post, I’ll shatter the normally calm and cool exterior that many of you think I have. Spoiler alert, I’m going to reveal an incredibly miserable person underneath. This is a long painful rant, so brace yourself.

All my life I not only wanted to be an artist, but a SUCCESSFUL artist. That means financially as well as “socially”, if you will. The results of this social media test I talked about in my last post just confirms what I already knew, which is I create artwork in a void and can’t get anyone to notice and/or engage in it. It’s disheartening. It’s depressing. It’s EXTREMELY aggravating.

Artists want validation and don’t create art for a void never to be seen. They create it to express ideas and have people react to it, for good or bad. When you only hear crickets chirping for as many years as I have, which is WORSE than any negative review, you start to think it’s not worthwhile. Recently, however, I started thinking those crickets have been intentionally placed…

Back in December 2017 I posted about how my plan and God’s plan are not lining up, so I circled the wagons and fell back on what I knew, which was what He dropped in my lap (teaching art and creating comics.) When I made the decision to stop creating digital mixed media artwork, I noticed something changed with my classes from that point on.

I was getting a lot more kids in the door with very little effort, and I was getting approached by several people and organizations across St. Louis to teach classes where they are. I think that was God saying “Let me show that you’re taking the right step.”
 
The problem is, only my class side was blessed and flourishing, not the art side.

No matter how much work I put in to getting the art side off the ground, doors seemed to close, or nothing happened at all. The louder I screamed, the louder the crickets chirped back at me.

WHY CAN’T I GET PEOPLE TO GIVE A DAMN ABOUT WHAT I DO? Although it didn’t start out this way, I am incredibly jealous of other artists who effortlessly gain followers, get likes, get sales, have people champion for them and get them noticed. I can’t count on two hands how many artist friends I have where this has happened to, and here I am hoping for crumbs from the table.

God, WHY can’t that be me?

Also, even though He dropped comic creation in my lap a mere nine years ago, He also built in a surefire “dead end” clause. On the east and west coast, you can turn around in any direction and there’s a comic convention taking place. In St. Louis, there’s maybe one a year. This town sucks for comic conventions. You have to drive 2+ hours away to find the next one. Driving out of town means what little profit I make is eaten up into hotel rooms and transportation costs, so it makes it financially impossible to do.

Because of that, I can’t rely on physical sales, so that’s why I focused hard getting an online presence this past year, even going so far as to getting a store running on my site and creating ebooks of almost all of my comics.

Right now my body is in a tug of war. I could easily walk away from it all and say screw it, it’s causing me too much grief, I’ll stop making my own art and just teach art to kids and sit at home playing video games the rest of my life. Whatever. The problem is by doing that, it makes me a quitter, and I never quit anything. It would also make me a failure, which I think is even worse than being a quitter.

I have notebooks and sketch pads right in front of me with a million things for my comics. I have the next NORMLINGS issue thumbnailed and one script written past that point. To finish that comic I would need to end around issue #9 to play out the story. I have a brand new D&D based comic that I’ve been developing for almost a year with a ton of concept art and easily 5-6 scripts already written and only thing keeping me from starting it is a comic title and character names, which have been extremely difficult to nail down.

Makes me wonder if that’s also a sign from God that I need to abandon it because I’ve never ever had issues with titles and names before.

By walking away is to admit defeat, and I’m Irish/German, so I’m stubborn enough to fight this all the way through even if I’m a bloody pulp in the end. The only problem is, I’m fighting God, and we all know who will win that fight. (hint: it’s not me……….probably.)

Recently I made the mistake of going into the analytics of my Facebook Art Page, and based on what I saw, I can make educated guesses that a huge chunk of followers are there just for my class updates and not for my art. This kind of sent me into a spiral, and with the undercurrent anxiety that caused, I wasn’t able to get to sleep till 3am.

In my insomnia I read several articles to try to get my head around this. One article talked about “When God closes a door, sometimes he doesn’t open any windows because he wants you to be content in the room you’re in.”, and another about “Did God close that door or does he want you to persevere and push through it?” Both great reads, but don’t really help me at the moment.

The first article I mentioned talks about how King David at the end of his life had a huge desire to build a temple for God, a passion for it, but God said no, it would be David’s son, Solomon, who would do that. King David wouldn’t be alive to even see it started.

I mention this because here’s my final thought on where my head is. My 12 year old son is also an artist and a damn good one, much better than I was when I was his age. He’s taken every class I’ve taught and I know I’ve helped him out artistically since practically his birth. My biggest fear (even before reading that article), is that the whole point of me being an artist since I was eight years old was to teach my son so HE would be the successful one, not me.

It’s selfish and childish, I know. I now have a future jealousy for my son that he’ll be more successful as an artist than I ever will be. It hurts me to type it but that’s what is on my mind right now. I told you this article would get messy. Yes, I absolutely want the best for him and yes I get it that if he’s a success that means I had a hand in bringing that to fruition, but all of that doesn’t match MY desire I’ve set for MYSELF since I was a kid to be a successful artist and make a living from it.

Too many uncomfortable parallels reading that King David story and what I’m going through right now.

So, long story short, my head isn’t in a good place right now. (Reaaaaallly?)

Please pray for me as I continue to cope with all of this and get my head around it. The past year has not been kind to me, so if I can’t get people to like my art, maybe they’ll at least pray to help me get through this. Thanks for reading.

Todd

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