Sean Murphy: You need a 5 Year Plan

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saucer country Sean Murphy: You need a 5 Year Plan
UPDATE: The piece of art previously accompanying this was actaully by Rafael Albuquerque Here’s a legit piece of Murphy art: a variant cover for the upcoming Vertigo monthly Saucer Country. You may enjoy his commentary in the link.

Artist Sean G. Murphy (Joe the Barbarian) has posted a piece on his DA page called
5 Year Plan — it’s about planning for the future — something very few young cartoonists seems to have the courage to do. I recently told a talented young cartoonist “Keep doing what you love until someone pays you for it” — which is pretty basic “follow your bliss” advice. Murphy’s is a little more practical:

If I had to sum up the 5 Year Plan of newer freelancers, it would sound like this: “I’m always working on my craft and trying to get to shows. Maybe I’ll put a sketchbook together. I tweet with a lot of other artists during the day, and I kind of have this story of my own that I’d kind of like to work on someday. Then again, I also have back-end offers from writers who seem like they know what they’re doing. I don’t know yet–mostly I’m just going to hang in there and hope that Marvel or DC will take notice and offer me something good. Then I’ll have a fan base. I don’t know, but I’d like to be the next Jim Lee.”

This kind of ho-hum approach drives me crazy. The sit-around-and-wait-for-opportunity-of-comics has retarded freelancers into submission. But there are other reasons why I think this happens.


There’s much more solid practical advice in the link. Go read it — much of it applies to any vocation. Just in case you are too lazy to click on the link — in which case we’re not certain we should be helping — here are the topics, PowerPoint style:

TALENT
3 THINGS AT ONCE
WRITE
BRANDING
ATTITUDE
CONNECT THE DOTS

There’s a follow up interview with Murphy in the Daily Trojan


“Because of the nature of my work, my vocal reputation and the fact that I’m getting paid to write for myself, I think my position in comics is unusual,” Murphy said. “I owe it to people to describe what I’m seeing from where I stand. My thoughts are worth nothing unless I write them down — even if it upsets a lot of other professionals, which my blogs often do. It’s worth it for me to piss off one professional if it helps 10 students.”

Comments

  1. Talent: 80% ? Talent is actually bullshit.

  2. No, it’s not bullshit. But I don’t think it’s 80 percent, either. More like 40 percent.

  3. But then, bullshit can be part of the equation, too.

  4. Brendan T (@TheUnholyDragon) says:

    Don’t mean to nitpick, but Ryan Kelly’s the artist on Saucer Country. I think Murphy’s just doing this one variant cover.

  5. Martin Isaacson, formally a professor of film at UCLA once told me this simple fact (when asked by a student how you can get work without experience when people only wanted to hire those with experience) which I though was rather true. “If you’re good, and you put yourself out there, people WILL come to you.” Now, he didn’t mean going to portfolio reviews. Me meant doing your own projects and putting them out into the public. Redundant to what’s been said here already, I know, but I liked the summery.

  6. Tom Williams says:

    It’s one thing to have talent. It’s another thing to have hustle. In the freelance world, hustle trumps talent in some cases. I’ve seen many talented artists that go no where because they have no hustle. If you come across a crappy illustration, just know that illustrator jammed their foot in the door until it was a bloody nub.

  7. Charles Knight says:

    Plus like anything else, know the business side of whatever ‘business’ you want to work in – don’t rely on good-will and friendly people in organisations ‘to do the right thing’.

  8. Everything else you can do trumps talent. Everything. Drive is by far the most important quality. You can’t lose if you never give up.

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