My Patreon Link

This was written before I launched my Patreon last week.

I’m going to be starting a Patreon. That’s a website where normal people, for a small monthly fee, can become patrons of their favorite artists. That’s the plan for the end of the summer. It was about five years ago that I first checked out Patreon and thought about using it but I didn’t. The main flaw is that I don’t have many fans. I also wasn’t sure what I had to offer hypothetical fans of mine on Patreon.

Since then I have see lots of people have Patreons. It seems everybody and his mother on YouTube have one set up. People who, I think, have a lot less to offer than me. Yet they do it. So why shouldn’t I give it a try? A feeling of futility is why but I’m going to have to overcome that. A friend told me that the average Patreon gets $150 a month. That’s not much but it’s beats zero dollars a month if I’m making art anyway.

The second thing to stop me from making a Patreon was figuring out what I was going to do. What could I post there to get people to visit and sign up? I already have a free webcomic and blog that’s been running for 11 and 16 years respectively and hardly anyone checks those out. Why would anyone sign up to give me five bucks a month?

That’s when I came up with the idea for a monthly digital art magazine of my work. That is where I will start. Maybe I can offer other things in the future but I’ll start with a PDF magazine. That I know I can do. One of my main sources of income over my career has been doing the prepress on comic books and other publications. I can design and set up a magazine in my sleep. Or at least so I thought.

The thing that I forgot is that it’s harder to design a publication around your own art. Or at least it is to me. I imagine it is for other people too. Part of making art is thinking about what you’re making as you’re making it. As I’m making a painting, drawing, comic strip, or whatever, I always thinking about how I see it and what it means. Is it better if I put the hand here or here? Lots of little choices and decisions go into a piece of art that all add up to the finished piece.

All my finished pieces have a point. Often the point is to be interesting, beautiful, meaningful, and to hopefully make the viewer (and me) feel something. Pieces might have individual points but that’s the general thrust of them. When I finish a piece it’s done. I’ve said what I have to say with it and move on to the next thing I have to say. The problem I ran into was “What do I have to say by showing a piece in a digital magazine?”

Presentation is everything. I just painted a 24×36 inch acrylic on canvas painting and the best way to present it is to stand in front of the original painting. That’s how I made it and mean it to be seen. So how do I present that painting, alone with other of my works, in a digital magazine? I’m going to have to take a digital photo of it since it’s too big for me to scan in but how am I going to present that photo and get it in any way close to the experience of looking at it in person?

This is why I said it was easier to do design using other people’s work rather than my own. When designing around someone else’s stuff I have no idea what their thought process was when creating the art. I can just go by what it makes me think and feel and make something out of that.

I opened up an Adobe program called InDesign which is used to make all sorts of books and publications and started to come up with some designs. I worked on and off for a couple of days and came up with nothing that I liked. I was mixing scans of my art with color and type and came up with mediocrity. That’s a problem.

My first breakthrough was to crack the writing. I knew that I would have to have some words to go with the pictures but I had no idea what words. I ended up by defining my terms. I work in a wide variety of categories with a wide variety of materials. Just for an example I’ve got working drawings, thumbnail drawings, ink drawings, finished drawings, and spontaneous drawings. That’s five different types of drawings and probably not a lot of people know what all those types actually are. So I’d tell them.

I developed a design for a vocabulary page. I already wanted to present my art in related groups. Gouache paintings with gouache paintings, digital prints with digital prints, and so on. So before each section in the magazine I’ll put a vocabulary page with a key word and explanation. That’ll tie the whole thing together.

The second breakthrough I had in the design phase was to use textures. At first I was designing with blocks of color. The problem was that a lot of my work has block of color in it or at least is very geometric. So blocks of color in the design can really change the nature of the art. I was not liking anything that I was making with my initial ideas. So I turned to my textures.

I’ve collected textures photographically for years. As I’ve been out taking street photos I’ve also taken photos of textures in general. I have a big collection of them. I’ve also scanned in paper and canvas to collect their textures. I only have about 20 of them but they’re what I decided to use. I even made three new color textures by painting light washes of color ink on three sheets of 8.5×11 inch sample watercolor paper that I bought recently.

I put these various textures behind my art in my designs and it worked well for me. I like the mixing of the scans and photos of my art with the scans of actual paper textures of all sorts. I think it grounds the design.

I’m still a long way from finished with the first magazine but at least now I think I am going to finish. Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way in the beginning when I can’t find my way. I’ll keep you posted on the digital magazine and I’ll keep you posted on my Patreon.