Listening to: Yammering inside of my head
Reading: I'm supposed to read?
Watching: cartoons, naturally
Playing: Computer chess (yes, again)
Eating: candy bars and diet soda
Drinking: soup. The chunks are annoying, though
I received an unsolicited, but courteous and friendly critique on DA the other day. I replied, and the reader thanked me for responding. It may not sound like much, but for some reason, the experience resonated with me. As I continued to reflect on it, and all that has come before, I started to re-evaluate some positions I had taken over the years. This post is a result of that brief dialog.
First and foremost, I want to thank all of you who visit my DA page, my Youtube channel and website. It feels great to know that my work strikes a chord with so many of you. A lot of you have written to me with questions. Therefore, you know that I pride myself on giving thoughtful - not cookie cutter - answers to each and every reader whenever possible. As an author, I believe I owe this to my readers. I don't understand authors who can't make time for the very people to whom they owe the biggest debt of gratitude. I also respond, and give advice because I believe you deserve encouragement and support. As I often say: if you don't have a professional contact in publishing, you can consider me that contact. Answering questions and queries about technique and careers in art is how that belief in you manifests itself.
It's the nature of the business that every author receives his or her share of unwanted, inappropriate, and sometimes hostile remarks. Such comments will not get a response, and may be hidden, along with a ban placed on the user.
But the vast majority of people write in with compliments, or polite comments, insights and suggestions. In the past, I was too quick to lump the courteous critiques in with the snarky ones, and as a result, I simply dismissed them. That wasn't right. And it's been changing. But now it's official. Many of you simply want to have your voices heard by a professional artist; and you deserve as much. Because I am genuinely interested in your ideas, it has been my loss. But that is now a thing of the past. More than anything, I want this to feel like a welcoming place to those who do not abuse this forum.
Please understand that although I may not agree with a suggestion or a comment, it doesn't mean that I don't consider it to be thoughtful. I might include the suggestions in a subsequent drawing. Thoughtful suggestions can also be helpful to others, providing new perspectives and different approaches. Therefore, when I thank you for sharing your thoughts, I mean sincerely that, whether or not I agree. But please understand that as an author with a busy schedule, I have a limited amount of time to devote to interacting with my readers. And responding to commentaries generally requires more thought and time from me than writing a simple "thank you" to a compliment. Therefore, I can't respond to everyone's comments.
You may not know just how valuable a tool I find critiques to be. The fact is that there is not one drawing in my published work that hasn't first been reviewed and discussed with editors, art directors and trusted colleagues for feedback. I revise my work all the time. To me, it's an integral part of the creative process, in the same way that writers do several drafts of their manuscripts.
I want to mention one last item: over a dozen years ago, I wrote a book about drawing comic book women. In it, there is a page where I recommended that artists draw female comic book heroes with athletic builds, but without the ultra-defined muscles of the male superheroes. This has since been interpreted by some as too judgmental. There are, of course, many ways to represent the aesthetics of the female figure. Yep, I really blew it that time. To those who assert that there are numerous ways to draw the female figure, you're 100% correct. I was attempting to accurately reflect the popular style of the time. Remember, we're talking about a book that is over a dozen years old and is out of print. My new work, however, incorporates a more varied and nuanced approach. Your voices have been heard.
All of this boils down to one thing: I remain an approachable author. Ours is a give and take of inspiration, creative passion and ideas. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Onward!
Your contact in publishing,