Sunday, July 29, 2012


By now my artwork has debuted on stage and been through a couple of showings at the Ballafornian production of hairspray. Easily the biggest art project I've done, it feels immensily larger than just another notch on my way upwards and simultaneously ethereal, transparant, flimsy.

It dominated my waking thoughts for so long, and it was perpetually the answer to the common exchange of pleasantry's 'what's up?' hairspray was up, all the time. And as much as I dragged my way through the immense workload, and looked constantly out whatever window was handy and dreamed of what I could be drawing, I wouldn't even say 'never again'.

Normally there's this most anxious period of the publishing gap, between when you finish a work and put it in the public domain, and when you finally get some feedback. That's where all your confidence abandons you, you feel the terror and anxiety and then whether the reaction comes back good or bad, you finally have something to deal with and you can move onwards and upwards.

For me though, since my artwork was just one part of a whole, all that feedback came already long before it hit the stage. For me the job was really done when I sent the files off to the director. The anxiety stopped when the director came back happy. That was job well done.

And I learned some stuff, to boot.

1. I work best under short deadlines. 'The work expands to fill the time available' really is true of me. I probably did the lion's share of work in the last 2 weeks. But that isn't fair to put it down to procrastination, it depends what you mean by 'work' the drawings are exhausting, the tracing, scanning, painting etc is time consuming but a borderline mindless activity to me. I don't enjoy colouring, which is why I never got good at it, and with 145 pieces to colour in, I was never, EVER going to do colour tests and go through swatches to paint them. So while in terms of time spent doing things, the last two weeks saw me step it up, that is discounting how taxing it is to just think of things to draw.

2. Procrastination is it's own animal. If I did such a project again, I like to think I'd be smarter about it, like read the script, sit down at catered meetings with the hair, makeup and costume crew and get unified early, then have all the drawings done well ahead of time so I could dust my hands and get back to my own projects. But really, professionally I may well reach a stage one day where an agent hands me 9 scripts to choose from, but I doubt that is any time soon. I am going to be restricted by subject matter, even when writing my own comics. Because there will be pain in the arse scenes that have to take place and you have to draw even when calling the shots. And it's taxing, it can be the equivalent of drawing as if you are in an open field to drawing submerged in custard with ants crawling up your nostrils.
Procrastination is the wanton action of seeking relief from the genuine emotional pain of drawing boring tedious shit. Like figuring out the 12th way to show kids in 60's attire having fun, after you've given all you've got to draw 11.

What's funny is not so much that you procrastinate, it's how I procrastinate. You get in your head that you should be working on hairspray, so if you do your own drawings, or go for a run or something, you aren't trying to work on hairspray you are moving away from it. Does that make any sense? so you procrastinate in ways that ensure you aren't helping any cause. You walk to a fast food outlet and read the papers their while eating.

You play a computer game.

You watch episodes of Qi on the internet.

But you don't do anything that would make tomorrow a little bit easier, a little bit less depressing, the only thing you do to move forward are those short bursts of work between procrastination.

I don't think I'll stop procrastinating ever, I just need to be honest enough with myself to do so productively.

3. Cartoon style looks cool but is boring. The style I like to draw in is fun to draw in. I can do i no end, I get immense satisfaction out of doing it. The moment I saw the set design for hairspray I knew this style was completely inappropriate and that cartoon was in. And in a way it was a godsend, because with 140 or so images to get done, cartoon (designed for animation) is one of the few ways to get it all done, but man is it boring. I think I won't be in a hurry to work on animation.

4. I can create things for others to love. That's the big achievement of hairspray. I mean I can actually be a professional, I can do something that I would never have chosen to do myself. (this opportunity fell in my lap) my hands, my drawing ability can literally be for hire. I didn't know that before, I only suspected. And so, there I have it. The artist I am now is infinitely more capable of doing this job than the one that said 'yes' to this job 8 months ago now in a cafe on Degraves st.
I really hope most of the art I do is at that intersection between art I love, and art other people love, but I feel much much more confident knowing that I can create art for something I'm really not into at all (eg. musical theatre) and it to be loved by those who are.

All that remains is seeing it on stage myself.

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