March 2022 Self-Reflection

With the close of winter comes a new studio self-reflection, part of my ongoing effort to be more open with my creative development. In this entry: winter progress accumulates like snow.

If you’re curious, peruse previous self-reflections.

My overarching goal this quarter was to continue practicing the slow, gentle kind of self-management I discovered last fall, so that it could begin to feel more natural than it did back then. The winter turned out to be an especially good test, because despite my best efforts the season always makes me slow and sleepy and distracted.

I have to admit, with the combination of winter days, a dearth of commission work, and a new dog, I lost conscious focus of my overarching self-management goal as the quarter went on. But looking back on what I achieved, I can see that on some level I held true to the commitment.

Intentional weekly structures helped a lot. A new IRL sketchbook practice expanded the self-affirming illustration work I began last quarter. For every sketchbook page, I resolved to finish each sketch I started, allow my drawings to come out however they happened to do so (no erasing!), and fill each page before moving onto the next. These guidelines seemed to short-circuit the persistent self-criticism that has bogged down my visual work in the past. Additionally, conversation-based check-ins with my partner kept reminding me to ground my studio work in a distinctly human context, rather than the capitalism-informed worker-bot approach I’ve historically (and at best semi-consciously) held.

An illustration of Tyson holding a sprouting seed while surrounded by cold swirling air

These structures supported me as I worked on a variety of projects. I completed the visual script of Book One in my multi-volume graphic novel project, STAR KIT. I carried out an extensive survey of existing webcomics for projects similar to my own, as a means of gauging an eventual online release. I further honed designs for the main characters of the story, working them closer to the unique kind of visual script I need them to be within the comic. And unexpectedly, I drafted a game design document for a 2D sequel to a classic series I’d love to see exist, which flexed my design and storytelling abilities in new and interesting ways.

What’s more, these projects more or less made up the entirety of my studio intentions for the quarter. I completed most of what I set out to do, without periods of burnout or existential dread. That is its own major win.

Spring is now emerging from these darkest, coldest months, and I feel a refreshed sense of hope about this slow gentle self-management style and where it will lead me in the months to come.

A variant illustration of cold swirling air

If there’s any area that feels notably lacking at the quarter’s close, it’s the gap between the enthusiasm I feel for my work and basically The Rest of the World. It’s no news that I’ve maintained a mostly private persona in online contexts over the years. But since moving to New Hampshire at the end of 2019 I’ve largely lacked any sort of IRL community, too. Covid dashed my early efforts to build in-person connection, but with vaccines now readily available and caseloads decreasing (at least for now), lately I think it’s my personal baggage that’s prolonging the barrier between myself and others. Maybe it’s a struggle to change after such an intense and bizarre two years.

An variant illustration of Tyson holding a sprouting seed while surrounded by cold swirling air

Whatever the source, and whether online or in real life, the situation doesn’t feel sustainable. It seems like a missed opportunity, too. Here I am doing more of the work I’ve wanted to do than ever before, and I’m mostly keeping the experience to myself. Life is too short to deny connection with others. And it only makes a person weaker over time.

I’m not yet sure how I want to handle this situation. We’ll see if the spring yields any fruitful new ideas.

These self-reflections have become a recurring part of my process. If you’re curious, peruse previous entries.

Published by Tyson

writer/illustrator • heartfelt fantasy adventure comics for middle readers & kids-at-heart • current project: STAR KIT

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