Hey Brandon, I love your art so much. I was wondering if you could offer some advice, since you write about sex positive topics AND you're an illustrator. I can't decide whether I should peruse art or sexual health education. I love drawing and wanted to be an animator or comic artist for as long as I can remember, but when I got to college, I hated my cinema major and lost all confidence in my writing and drawing skills. I'm good at talking about sexual health, but am I making a mistake? Thanks
Hi Lauren (I found your name through your comic—you’ve got some funny stuff on there), thanks for thinking highly enough of me to ask me for career advice, that’s really flattering.
I don’t know your situation or what happened during your cinema major that shook your confidence, so I can’t really comment on that. But if you have as great a passion for sexual health education as you do for comics, you might be able to exercise greater control over your career path with the former.
Here’s what I can tell you from my own experience about a career in art: Regardless of skills or qualifications, landing regular jobs with steady income is tough. Even with a stack of reliable contacts to call upon, there are lean, lean times. When times are tough, it helps greatly to have a partner who has a steady job.
At the risk of sounding like my parents, you can always pursue a more practical line of work, and nobody in the world can stop you from still making your comics.
And if, like me, you decide to throw caution to the wind and decide that pursuing a career in art is what you HAVE to do for your own satisfaction and sanity, then it isn’t really anybody’s place to say whether or not you’re making a mistake. You’re only 20, and you still have lots of time to figure out what feels right for you.
I know this is all platitude-sounding stuff, but it’s true. Just do you, you know what I’m saying?
Nickelodeon is great! They’re great to work for! But for reasons having nothing to do with the work environment, I recently resigned from my full-time position there. Everybody else on the Bad Seeds crew is still there as far as I know, and I’m sure they’d be willing to answer any questions you have about the production.
whoa haha. my parents used to live in vermillion. We've all moved closer to the city though.
I love Vermilion. Living in big cities is bad for my anxiety, so we bought a little house here near the water. We’re still close enough to the city that we can drive there any time we want though. Best of both worlds!
hi just an update. i am going to need to hear back about that surface pro soon. i know you are a tv business man so i dont think it should be a problem. my address is 1209 Branson Hills Pkwy Branson, MO. thanks
ok me and bill are driving to your house right now with a surface pro in the backseat see you soon
I’m fully aware the Surface Pro has been reviewed a million times by every gadget blog ever. I was disappointed to find that, despite Wacom tech powering the Pro’s stylus, none of these blogs sought an artist’s opinion on the device. So I’m not going to rehash the specs or make any arguments about Windows vs OS X, as those all have been repeated ad nauseam.
I’ve had my eye on the Surface Pro for a while, for the same reason I’m sure many other digital artists have—it’s a tablet that runs a full version of Windows with a Wacom digitizer, all for a fraction of the price of a Cintiq Companion. Holy moly, right?
With the release of the Surface Pro 2, I was able to pick up a first-generation model at a really great discount, and I’ve been using it enough for professional work that I feel pretty confident articulating what I like and don’t like about the device.
There are some important things any artist interested in one of these things should be aware of:
In theory, if your stylus is close enough to the screen, no other input (like your big hammy hand) will register. When it works, its great. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
I use a smudge guard glove to fix it, although you could also turn off touch input in the device manager (but please don’t do that).
I won’t even pretend to have the color sense or perception necessary to have an informed opinion on the display colors, but it looks really nice and the pixel density is pretty amazing. The high resolution, however, comes at a cost.
Because that resolution is so high for a relatively small screen, all the UI elements in non-metro apps are so tiny they’re almost unreadable. It’s easily my biggest gripe, but now I just carry a small Bluetooth keyboard and use keyboard shortcuts for everything.
My first few days with it were kind of a pain. It just won’t work the way you want it to right out of the box. It takes finessing and finagling; there’s a command line code for more exact pen calibration, and you have to install Wacom’s newer driver to get pressure sensitivity to work in your most important programs.
Despite all this, I’m willing to put up with the hassles because I never intended for this to be my main work computer. If you’re an artist looking for an affordable first Cintiq, don’t get this.
Because my job requires me to travel, I wanted something super portable that could supplement the work I do on the full-size Cintiq in my office. For that, it’s perfect. For anything else, not so much.
If you have any questions about the Surface Pro or anything at all, my ask box is open.
What program do you use for drawing? And do you have any tips for people getting used to drawing digitally?
I use Photoshop most of the time and Manga Studio 5 when I’m feeling especially adventurous. Each of those programs has their advantages and disadvantages that I won’t really get into because it really all comes down to preference.
It’s easy to think that there’s going to be a program or a tablet or a pen or some kind of art supply that will change everything, but the reality is that all of that stuff just acts as an extension of what you’re already capable of.
So I guess my advice would be this: Just get comfortable drawing before getting too concerned with whether or not it’s digital. The rest will come naturally.
Between me & Lindsey buying a house and having to scramble to finish a lot of freelance work before my start at Nickelodeon, Grownup Comic was put on the back burner. Once I get used to the workflow for Bad Seeds, I would really like to pick it up again.
Hi I just made this blog to post all of my art on and I was wondering if you could give me any advice on how to get my name out there? I've been a fan of your work for a really long time and you're one of my idols.
I looked at your blog and it looks like you’re already on the right track. Just draw every day and share your work regularly, as long as you think it’s funny or worth posting for any reason at all.
Hey! I am a young artist in training. I am looking at colleges in California, and I really want pursue a career in animation, comics, or concept art. I would really like some advice on getting my workout there and landing a job in my desired field. I am so terrified of wasting money on college just to end up with nothing but debt. Any friendly words of wisdom? Where did you go to school? How long have you been drawing? It would mean a great deal to hear from a professional. Please&Thankyou :)
Hi there! Thanks for thinking highly enough of me to ask me for advice about your future. That said, I’m kind of an anomaly in that I’ve been very very very very very lucky so you should take everything I say with a grain of salt.
*WALL OF TEXT ALERT*
First of all, getting your stuff “out there” is the easiest thing I can tell you about. Just make things—preferably things people like.
For people who make any kind of creative content, I think Tumblr is great. If you consistently make things people like, people will start to follow you and share your stuff and your audience will grow. It may take a while to gain some traction; it’s kind of a bummer at first when hardly anybody cares about this thing you’re REALLY excited about, but your audience will eventually find you if you just keep. making. stuff.
Here’s a roughly paraphrased piece of advice I received a while ago from a comics industry friend who I won’t name:
Pander, pander, pander. Draw stuff from video games, draw stuff from anime, draw whatever bullshit fandoms are into. It’s cynical, though not entirely inaccurate.
I didn’t go to art school. Hell, I didn’t even graduate from the university I attended a million years ago. It’s not for everybody.
Chris Houghton (one of the people I’m currently working with on Bad Seeds) has a very thoughtful post on the subject of art school, which you should read. You can find it here.
My wife went to art school and so did most of our friends. Only one of them has a job in their desired field. As Chris said in his post, it’s a tough field and a degree in art is no guarantee of future employment.
Art school has a lot of advantages, but I couldn’t tell you half of them. I’m a dummy who only has half-remembered anecdotal accounts from people who graduated almost ten years ago. BUT there is one pretty amazing thing about art school that I wish I’d had access to at some point: in your classes, everything you make will be critiqued—brutally so. Being able to take criticism and address problematic areas of your work is an invaluable skill, especially if you want to make a career with your art.
I got my current job by sharing stories on the internet. You don’t need to go to school to learn how to tell a story or draw a picture. I’ve been obsessed with movies and TV and cartoons and comic books for my entire life, and I learned everything I know about visual storytelling that way.
I’ve been drawing for as long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil, and this seems to be the case for most professional artists I know. But even if you just decided yesterday that you want to learn how to draw, I’m of the opinion that it’s never too late to start. Anybody can figure it out, just look at George W. Bush. That guy’s stuff is awesome.
If you’re super determined to go to an art school in California, CalArts seems to be the place to go. I work with SO MANY people at Nickelodeon who attended that school.
I hope some of this inane rambling can be of use to you and others in your position.
I might get in trouble for this, so please don’t tell Nickelodeon I’m sharing these insider animation secrets with all of you.
During the course of production, there are tweaks made to characters before the first episode is ever even animated; a character’s personality can change, or there may even be some minor design changes. For one of the protagonists of Bad Seeds, the latter occurred. The original Harvey design (fig. A) lacks appeal and is difficult to animate.
To combat these problems, the design team spent weeks working on Harvey’s design to make him “TV Perfect”. The current Harvey (fig. B) is the one that will be appearing on television.
Hey Brandon! Just wanted to say I found yer stuff here and am super excited to meet you! Great comics, really funny stuff. Welcome to LA! (my brother Shane and I are also from the midwest) Talk to you soon! Oh wait, this isn't a question yet. Do you... like... uh... food?
Hey Brandon, a random question from someone you don't know- did you go to school for art? And how did you go about getting your awesome storyboarding job?
I didn’t go to school for art; I was originally a chemistry major if you can believe it. After the show got greenlit, Carl contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in doing a storyboard test. I did one, and thankfully what I made was appropriate for the show.
And how did he find me in the first place? I have no idea!