Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Talent Trap

I hate talent. I hate it. With a passion. I hate the very concept and idea. It’s insulting, it’s demeaning, and it’s discouraging. And so many people fall into the “talent trap”.

So why the rage? Let’s talk about “Talent”.


Why am I so enraged and angry about this talent thing? Because it’s non-existent. There’s drive, there’s passion, there’s skill, and there’s practice. But there is no such thing as “talent”. People refer to it as though it’s some sort of ancient mystical force that magically gives it’s wielder the ability to draw like a champ, or design graphics like there’s no tomorrow.

The bottom line is, these artists that you say are so talented and that you’re not as talented as have nothing magical over you. They have drive, passion, skill, and practice. Now, I could spend this entire blog post complaining about talent and why I hate it, but let’s break this down into something more useful.


No height is unobtainable for your artistic endeavors. You want to paint as well as Michaelangelo? Get those paints out! You want to draw like Greg Capullo (I know I do), then get those pencils out. Find where you’re lacking.

Is it the drive you’re lacking? Focus on your time management so you can fuel your passion, make time to learn and delve into magazines like ImagineFX or comic books, or art books. Make yourself draw, make yourself practice, sketch, paint. Find things that inspire you, find things that make you WANT to pick up your tool of choice and draw or paint or whatever else and make time to do it. Be driven to make it a part of your every day life.

Skill holding you back? Skill and practice go hand in hand. You must practice to gain skill, so if you practice, you’ll gain skill and as you gain skill you’ll be practicing. Two birds with one stone! Art constantly! sketch people in the train station, paint a photo realistic canvas of your cable box at home (complete with dust bunnies), do whatever you can to practice your craft and improve. Read books, go through tutorials. In this world of information overload, there’s no reason to grow stagnant.

Passion… ah, that’s the tricky one. See… passion is something you’ve either got, or you don’t. Passion is something that stirs up deep in your gut and makes you want to art ad nauseum. You can stir up a passion, you can become passionate about something at any point in your life, and your passions may shift as time goes on, but if you don’t have a burning passion for art, you’ll fall short. Passion alone doesn’t give you any type of magical skills either, though. It’s just what inspires you to do better and learn your craft. Look at art that moves you, watch movies, play video games, do anything that can make you passionate to go draw and learn. If you see art that makes you go “I want to DO that!” then find more of it, fill your mind with it, and with that goal in mind, set forth to gather the skill, the drive, and the practice you need to make it so!

Don’t fall into the talent trap, if your passion is here you can do it. You just have to make it happen! You make your own talent, it doesn’t make you.

Until next time guys!



Phew! I’ve finally got all my portfolio content up, and my commissions page is done. That’s a big chunk out of what I wanted to do. Next step is to finish up some prints so I can get my store page finished! Gotta get more headway on Sancte before I can sit down on that. But it’s coming! Thanks for being patient with me, guys! I’m trying to get everything good and shiny for ya!

Talk to you soon!

What the heck, Aarpie!

I know, I know! Where’s the content! It’s coming guys, I promise. I’m trying to make sure that what I’m putting up here reflects where I’m actually at as an illustrator, rather than where I was at artistically, and that’s taking a bit to get out. Stay tuned, though! There’s should bee some good stuff rolling up shortly! Stay tuned!


Books: Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art

One of the things that I want to do with this blog is to spread the word about books, websites, tools, and other resources that have helped me to improve as an artist. I’ve had to stumble across these items over the years, but I want to put them in one place so that the next kid who starts the long hard crawl up the ladder has an easier time of it.

To that end, I start with one of my favorite books: Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art.


Many beginning illustrators approach sequential art with the mindset that it’s just drawing cool pictures in boxes, never understanding the importance of layout and the flow of the page. This book by Will Eisner is probably one of the best resources talking about how to make your Sequential Art flow.  While Will Eisner’s style of art might be a little outdated by today’s standards, his grasp of sequential storytelling is beyond compare. I don’t know of anyone active today who has the same level of understand. This book will take you through page layout, timing, and every other element of sequential design you could ask for.

This is not a how to draw book. You won’t find pages and pages about anatomy or foreshortening. This is a technique book, it’s a professional’s book. It’s also a really enjoyable read as it’s littered with stories by Eisner himself. This is a book that I still pull out and read on a regular basis, just to keep the ideas and concepts fresh in my mind, even if it’s just a second here or a second there.

Don’t just read this book: Study it. Study it like it’s final exam time all over again. Learn it, know it. You’ll find yourself using the techniques without even thinking about them because once they’re in your head they just make sense. I have read other books and write-ups by artists who are amazingly talented and they helped, but nothing brought the art of sequential story telling into clearer focus than this.

Check it out! You won’t regret it!


Personality Complex

One of my favorite things about going to conventions is getting to talk to fellow artists and people in the industry. I love going to an artist’s table and have them perk up and talk to me, tell me about their projects and techniques, and what they’re excited about. That’s pretty much the best thing ever, and it’s something that makes me a lot more inclined to buy art from them, and come back to see them at subsequent conventions. The thing is, I’m not the only one.

I can’t stress enough how important is to engage the people who show an interest in your art. So often I go and see amazing hart at someone’s booth and they’re so buried in their art that they can barely interact with me. Now, believe me, sometimes I know it’s hard to get con commission done fast and still talk to your customers, and also that some of us are artistic types because we’re not the super gregarious, outgoing types. It’s something that we’ve got to manage in some way or another.

One of the things that I’ve had to adjust is what I offer at cons. I used to offer full color one characters done at cons. Can’t do that anymore! It takes several hours to pencil, ink, and color a drawing that I could squeeze four or maybe five pencils sketches. It’s also a lot easier to step away from a pencil drawing and talk to people and get back to it after I’ve talked to whoever is looking. If someone wants full color or extensive commissions get your money, get their contact info and get it to them the week after the con. That way, you can stay free to engage, and still take the larger projects.

It’s a lot more difficult to overcome shyness, though. I’m shy as hell, but I’ve worked for a really long time to get past that and I’m often confused for someone who isn’t an anti-social crank. HAH! Jokes on them! Trying to engage with someone who you’ve never met before is daunting, especially if they’re complimenting you on your art (damn them!). The tendency to get crazy embarrassed and give a shy smile and a “Thank you” and go back to the picture you’re trying desperately to hide in is overwhelming sometimes. I know, I still do it sometimes too. That’s where I rely on my friends and booth buddies to hop in with the save, “He’s gotta get that commission out in the next thirty minutes. If you like his stuff, grab a print…” etc. There’s a very good reason why you’ve got two passes and two chairs at your table. Everyone needs help.

Remember, you passion is contagious. If you engage your customers and really engage them, they’ll want to take your stuff home, they’ll take a card, and they’ll remember you. Sometimes, you don’t have to be the one they buy from at the con, you have to be the one they remember later. Try and be memorable!

I know you guys are gonna do awesome! Can’t wait to see you on the con circuit next year.