I’ve put up a pre-order link for Carol Corps aluminum cuff bracelets! These are the same bracelets that I am giving away, but you’re guaranteed to get these. They are just $10, and if you order 2, I’ll ship them free! Just use the coupon code “CAROLCORPS20” when you check out.
[The lead time on these is ~7 business days. I believe they should arrive before ECC, but I’m not making any promises.]
Earlier in the school year, generous folks on Tumblr donated to help my students get a whole shelf of graphic novels to help raise their literacy levels, and the kids were literally leaping with excitement when the boxes of books arrived. Thanks to Kelly Sue DeConnick’s signal boost, it was funded fully and the kids even got to write thank you’s to a published author who got involved. Kids not even from my classes started coming to borrow books. Now I want to expand that library and to encourage more reading to get students to to push their own limits as readers, as well as answer their requests for more of the diversity of authors and characters they saw and loved in the graphic novels. This is a bunch of kids who wanted me to get copies of the new Ms. Marvel to read as it comes out! So, I just created a request for my classroom at DonorsChoose.org. The project is called Leaping Up: Challenges Through Chapter and Graphic Novels.
Give to my classroom by March 15 and your donation will be doubled thanks to DonorsChoose.org. Just enter the code INSPIRE on the payment page and you’ll be matched dollar for dollar (up to $100).
If you chip in to help my students, you’ll get awesome photos, thank you letters if you wish to get them, and our heartfelt thanks. Even a little bit adds up to help!
Thank so much, Laura
P.S. If you know anyone who may want to help my classroom, please pass this along!
“Consider, for instance, Trixie Perry and a woman who called herself ‘Texas Bill.’ Twenty-eight-year-old Trixie Perry was a realer in the Glanzstoff [rayon] plant. She had apparently become pregnant ten years before, had married briefly and then divorced… She never remarried but went on to have several more children by other men. Texas Bill’s background is more elusive. All we know is that she came from out of state, lived in a boardinghouse, and claimed to have been married twice before she arrived in town. These two friends were ringleaders on the picket line [at the American Glanzstoff plant protests]…
The main charge was that Perry and her friend had drawn a line across the road… and dared the soldiers to cross it. Above all they were accused of taunting the national guard. The defense attorney, a fiery local lawyer playing to a sympathetic crowd, did not deny the charges. Instead, he used the women to mock the government’s case… Had [Perry] blocked the road? ‘A little thing like me block a big road?…’
Texas Bill was an even bigger hit with the crowd. The defense attorney called her ‘The Wild Man from Borneo…’ A guard said she was ‘the wildest human being I’ve ever seen…’ Her nickname came from her habit of wearing cowboy clothes.
Trixie Perry and Texas Bill certainly donned the role of ‘disorderly women.’ Since, presumably, only extraordinary circumstances call forth feminine aggression, women’s assaults against persons and property constitute a powerful witness against injustice…
…In the heat of the trial, the question of whether or not women- as workers- had violated the injunction took second place to questions about their status as women… Had they cursed? Had they been on the road at odd hours of the day or night?…
There is nothing extraordinary about this association between sexual misbehavior and women’s labor militancy. Since strikers are often young single women who violate gender conventions by invading public spaces customarily reserved for men… and since female aggressiveness stirs up fears of women’s sexual power, opponents have often undercut union organizing drives by insinuations of prostitution or promiscuity…
Implicit to the conflict were two different sexual systems. One, subscribed to by… the local middle class, mandated chastity before marriage, men as breadwinners, and women as housewives in the home. The other, rooted in the rural past and adapted to working-class life… allowed legitimacy to be largely constructed. It circumscribed women’s roles without investing in abstract standards of femininity.”—"Disorderly Women: Gender and Labor Militancy in the Appalachian South" by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall (1986)
I know that to be a great artist takes a lot of discipline, and I am worried that I am way way way too lazy right now. How can I make myself more disciplined? How much time do you spend a day on making things?
It’s funny that you ask this, because I’ve recently been playing around with this idea of “how can I make myself more disciplined.” Here’s what’s working for me.
I randomly stumbled across a time-management system (?) called the Pomodoro technique awhile ago, and decided to try it out. Normally, I’d roll my eyes at any “technique” that has a trademark after it, but this one was simple enough that it didn’t seem too affected. The basic idea is as follows:
- Give yourself 25 minutes of uninterrupted work time.
- After 25 mins, take a short break to stretch, do other tasks, assess.
- Every 4x 25min blocs, take a longer 15-30 minute break.
- Track all metrics, including: start times, tasks completed, times interrupted, break times, stop times.
Here’s an example of my absolutely incomprehensible metric tracking:
Every 25 min bloc, I make a line, eventually creating a box. So every Box on my chart is 4x 25min blocs (or 4 Pomodoros, I guess).
So what does this chart say: first off, I start off really late. 10:30 AM! I tend to wake up really slow, and do other things like run, eat too much breakfast, and dick around on the net.
Second, my peak productive hours are between 10:30AM-5PM, as I was actually increasing my rate of productivity (I started off taking 4x Pomodoros per piece, or two hours, but then as I worked, I cut it down to 3x, and even 2x right before dinner.)
Thirdly, right after my peak productive hours, I get distracted. Hence the one interruption, then failing to complete a Box and going straight to dinner. My productivity drops as well (I’m back to 4x Pomodoros per piece).
And this is just one day’s worth of data! I can compare this to other days to see if my assumptions really are patterns, AND most importantly, if I’m making progress.
The biggest thing for me though is the 25 minutes of uninterrupted work time. I got that timer above to solidify that as opposed to using a digital timer— I found that the tactile sensation of setting it and hearing it tick makes my brain go into “OK it’s work time” mode much easier. Make this time sacred: hide your phone, close your browser, pick music/podcasts ahead of time, gather all your supplies around you. Physically minimize your distractions when possible.
As far as time per day goes, I consider myself a full-time illustrator, so I put in at least a full days worth of work: 8 hours minimum. But as noted above, it’s not uncommon to put in 12. I think it is important to have designated START and STOP time though, just to help put boundaries on your life. Too much work is unhealthy. Health, family, and friends always come before work in my book.
Hope this helps! I think everyone probably has their own ways of doing things, but this is really working for me lately.
Have you ever found it frustrating having to do something you don't want to (as in, doesn't tickle your fancy) but it helps pay the bills?
So, let me tell you a quick story:
My grandpa on my dad’s side came over from China when he was pretty young— grew up in Chicago. He was in high school when World War 2 broke out; he joined up, and was put in the 407th Air Service Squadron. It was part of the famed Flying Tigers fighter group, and one of the first all Chinese-American units in the military. He fixed planes. He also shot at them when they strafed the airfield. With a pistol.
He was there when the Japanese officially signed the surrender, and was honorably discharged soon after. The very first thing that he bought with his stashed up pay was a sterling silver bracelet with his serial number on it.
I keep it within sight of my desk at all times.
After the war, he went back to Chicago, but his father was already housing too many Chinese immigrant workers (up to this point, most Chinese immigrants were single men because of strict immigration laws and quotas), so he had to move to Detroit to live with an uncle and finish high school.
One of his high school teachers noted his artistic abilities, and recommended that he use his GI Bill to go to art school. Of course, his dad wouldn’t have it. So, he worked in laundromats, owned his own grocery, and later worked as an insurance salesman instead.
70 years later, I’m the graduate of an art school, and I’m taking a break from drawing to write this out.
I guess my point is this: the time that you use to pursue art has to come from somewhere. At some point, a sacrifice was made by you, or others, to allow you to have that time. Illustrators try to make a living in that intersection of art and commerce in an effort to lessen that sacrifice. There are some that are doing quite well at that. There are many, many more that are not.
Even those artists who we view as extremely successful have to sacrifice time. It just comes from other places: relationships, health, or family, etc. The real struggle then, is to find that balance on how you are spending your time.
If you know that a life spent making art is your ultimate goal, then doing things you don’t like aren’t really frustrations. They are necessities that must be done to give yourself time.
I think this is why I cringe every time I hear someone say that self-righteous creed of the “creative class”: “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” That statement discounts all the hard work and sacrifices that you or others have made to be in that situation—what on Earth would entitle us to only work jobs that we love?
I don’t do this because I love it. I do it because I must.