The Breakthrough

Throughout my posts, I’ve shown you examples of people making a living off of comics through syndicated comic strips in newspapers, doing artwork for comic magazines, and people creating books and publishing themselves or through other printing companies. Comic books and graphic novels have been distributed to comic book stores, traditional book stores, and online shops. But, the only way that these artists have been able to get this point and get a paycheck for their product, is through a tantamount of skill and having the right connections. If you meet these two conditions, we’ve seen that you can surpass any challenge that you might face in your career of making art.

Screenshot from Stripped illustrating elements that goes into professional comics

In the book Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon, she offers a mindset contrary to the  starving artist myth. She offers an idea for a thriving artist mindset and that “creating a flourishing art practice comes from passion, talent, and hard work.” If you want to create art for your profession, you need to treat creating art like a job. You need to show up everyday and put hours into it. If you’re just starting out, you’ll need a lot of work to get up to a professional skill level. But, if you have been creating your entire life, you might just need to fine tune your skills until you’re at a sufficient enough level. When we look at Dark Horse Comics submission guidelines, their first and most important step is your portfolio. When you show it to an editor, their “job is to find artists whose work is polished enough that they could start on a professional assignment today.”

Once you have gained a skill level that is of professional quality, you need to be thinking about a product. Is this product a graphic novel or a comic book series? You need to look at what you’ve done in your practice and through that, it will tell you what you are most suited for. Once you have a product in mind you need to take your audience into consideration. Which demographic are you targeting with your material? Children? Teens? Young Adults? This is the part where you’ll be marketing your work, getting the people who will like your work, aware of your work. Today we have many social media outlets that can help you with this; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and other online forums.

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Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit logos, to illustrate modern places where you can market and expose your work

Then the final step is to work out the legalities of your product. You will need to think about how you’re going to get paid. Will you sell single copies through an online shop? Or will a publishing company sell them to retailers that they do business with and you get royalties from the distributions? Another thing to consider is the copyrights and licensing. Copyrighting “is a form of protection for creators of ‘original works of authorship,’ including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.” and licensing “is the term used to describe the agreement that takes place when you sell the right to a company to use your art on their products.” Artists are notorious for just being artists and not business people, but in our world today, you need to have a vast skill set from the artwork itself, to the production, financial and legal strategies in order to protect yourself and you’re hard work.

I can only give you a glimpse and segment of every facet that goes into this large and complex business. But, I hope this blog has given some readers a start for success in your pursuits in becoming a professional artist. Through the ups and downs of the comics industry, I hope it has highlighted what’s worked and what hasn’t for the overall industry; and that you take these examples and integrate them into your own journey as you grow into a professional artist.



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