FIVE YEARS: A FAILED EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY
ONCE UPON A TIME I changed the way I drew. It did not work out well. For most of my life, I’d wanted to be an artist, specifically, a graphic novelist or “comic book” illustrator. Failing to gain inroads with mainstream publishers, I elected to self-publish. If nothing else, self-publishing kept me drawing, which helped me to refine and improve my meager abilities. Toward the end of the 20th century, I had transitioned from pen and ink to mixed media (pastel, colored pencil, markers) and also incorporated, with greater or less success, a few Photoshop elements into my work.
By the early 2000s I found myself with fewer opportunities to sequester myself to a room and sit at a drawing desk for hours upon end. However, I still wanted to “make” art. and tell visual stories, even if I was the only one reading them. Because I draw fast layouts but take considerably longer to produce finished art, and because by this time I was quite enjoying my Photoshop proficiency, and because my day job necessitated a 2-hour bus commute each day, and because I wanted to complete several pages per week, I embarked upon a new approach of completing my pages in Photoshop (i.e., scanning roughs, usually drawn in pencil on graph paper, and working those roughs into something resembling finished art via computer). By this time I’d become fascinated with developing an end-of-the-world graphic novel that would consist of numerous short stories under the working title FIVE YEARS.
I worked on FIVE YEARS for not quite five years, though certainly it consumed several years of my creative life. For a time I quite enjoyed it. For a time it satisfied my creative needs, and I guess that was good enough. Looking back at it now, I remain satisfied with, though not especially proud of, many of the pages, and I’ll likely post them here if for no other reason than to have a published record of them.
But overall, I realized then as I still believe today, the click of a mouse is far less satisfying than the feeling of a Prismacolor pencil point across Bristol board.
Once or twice I’ve considered returning to FIVE YEARS, but doing so would require either continuing to develop it digitally, or to scrap the first 140+ completed pages and recreate them through traditional means. I find neither option appealing, so it’s likely a dead project. Which is okay. Not all projects flourish or survive.
If nothing else, working on FIVE YEARS during my daily office commute took away the boredom of the ride. Small comfort, but it’s something I guess.
Below is a typical example of the art for this project (the hand-drawn layout at top followed by the final digital render created in Photoshop). There are certain aspects I quite enjoy about the look and feel of the finished pages, others not so much.
Anyway, it is what it is, and there have been plenty of new creative pursuits and more to follow.