012: We need to talk...
Wherein I talk about the power of conversation
Being an artist can be a very solitary experience, no matter if it’s your full-time job or just your passion. One thing I want to accomplish with this project is to increase conversations between us all…
You are most definitely NOT alone.
An artist can start to feel pretty lonely, not just at the drawing board, but because the “regular” people in your life just don’t understand how you think or how you see the world. You do indeed see the world differently as a visual artist. We are “sensitive” to this.
If you’re lucky, you might have a group of local friends with the same interests, an art club, or maybe a drink and draw group. But I know that many of you do not have this.
The majority of creators I know or speak to are naturally introverts, whom if they are forced to go do public things, put on a brave face (or mask) to deal with the world around them.
One of the greatest things for me in this Draw of Die journey has been simply having conversations with other artists. Complete strangers. People naturally have their guard up, but when they hear me being 100% authentic about a problem artists might face, I can see their guard lower.
You can actually SEE it when it happens. The first thing I notice is their shoulders seem to relax. Instead of standing sideways or crossing their arms (defensive / unsure postures) they will now make direct eye contact and face forward. By golly, they’ve found someone who friggin understands how they are feeling. And I’m not afraid to talk it out. Any subject. Even the hard ones.
I can feel that sense of relief or a positive energy when they’re getting something off their chest. And it makes me feel good too, as it reaffirms to me that this effort and time I put in is worth it, it’s helping in some way.
Start your own?
I would like to encourage you to find or to start your own little small support group local to you. Get together and talk about these topics. Share ideas. Talk about your wins, your fails, and share with each other. Do this regularly.
I don’t think this is an optional thing for artists to do, I feel like it’s critical for you to take this action.
I’m debating the idea of letting list members just go ahead and use the Draw or Die name and logo locally as a sort of “chapter”, kind of like a motorcycle gang, but only we have pencils and paper and no cool jean jackets. Well, some of us have cool jackets I’m sure. What do you think of that idea? Is there anyone out there who would like to form a Draw or Die chapter in your neck of the woods? Let me know.
I’m rethinking “Drink” and Draws
You know, I love the idea of a “Drink & Draw” but it may have been a little short sighted of me to think this must take place at a bar. And given that many artists struggle with substance abuse problems, maybe including alchohol at all is just a not a great idea. It also can limit the age of who may attend.
Moving forward when I organize something locally in the Pittsburgh area, I’ll find a neutral location that still has a “Draw or Die” vibe to it.
And don’t think you must live in a big city. If you’re stuck in a small town like I am, there are most likely other artists hiding out who are feeling the same way: “Nothing cool ever happens here.” You can change that.
Quick example? Back in 2012 my ex-wife would drive 1.5 hours to be a big city roller derby league. It was a little too much travel. I suggested we start one local to us in our small towns, and everyone thought we were crazy, but I said the same thing… surely there were other women who felt the same way as my wife did. So we put up fliers and suddenly it went from 5 women to over 100 in the league in a matter of months. There were even multiple women who would now drive one hour to come to our league. If you build it, advertise it, and stay regular, they will come.
Suggested physical locations for your draw or die meetups:
Coffee Shops (ideal)
Small restaurants (not chains)
Comic shop or Bookstore that might have a group space.
A local college or theater for the arts may have a meeting space.
Someone’s house with enough room for guests. A haunted house could make things even more interesting. I’m sure ghosts would love to take part too. 👻
Topics you can discuss / activities:
Hopes and dreams, both failed ones and realized.
Creator mental health. How is everyone feeling?
Time management for artists.
Tool talk, knowledge shares.
A meeting drawing prompt.
Publish a zine together with a collection of your group’s drawings.
Gas is too damn high!!!
Yeah, gas prices are insane right now. Also, we’re still dealing with Covid-19, and now Monkeypox??? COME ON, GIVE US A BREAK!
It’s totally understandable if you’d rather meetup virtually, but even then I would suggest the artists be regional or local to you on the call, so that one day you could meet up in person more easiley. Use Zoom or GoogleMeet or something free to make it happen.
What if nobody shows up?
Sometimes we worry about things that are not REAL…
I had this fear last Saturday at the comicon. I setup that impromptu Drink & Draw, but instead of worrying if people would show up, I just thought, the worst that could happen was I get a drawing session in. We only had 3 people, but I honestly enjoyed the conversations even more. Maybe even more than had there been 10 people.
If you do this, document it and let me know.
Since this week’s topic is conversation, let’s make the drawing prompt this week be something a little more detailed, and maybe with the potential to be badass piece. “A SKELETON TALKING INTO A PHONE OR MICROPHONE” -
As always, hashtag it #drawordiechallenge so myself or others can find and follow you.
See you soon…