It’s when you find yourself cold selling your own paintings to fund a run of your own comics that you know it’s never going to get any easier. Did I ever expect to be trying to sell paintings on the street in downtown Minneapolis. Of course not. And for what? So I can go to Canada for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival in May. But I didn’t get into it for the money. I do it because it what I was meant to do and I knew it when I was a little kid, and I know it even more now as a somewhat jaded adult. My friends and I would sit around in art class, painting next to each other, and we ask ourselves the deeper questions of life. A favorite was “If you could choose, would you rather be a flash in the pan artist, getting lots of money and fame, but be forgotten for all time, or would you rather be a struggling artist, never quite making it, but you would be hailed as a master and remembered for all time?”
At different times in my life, I would have gladly sold out. I would have picked the material over the spiritual. But I feel differently now. In fact, if I had to quit making art right now, I wouldn’t exactly mourn the loss, because I never made it the sole focus of my life. Making friends and getting experiences, those are the things that I focused on early. Always watching, always paying attention. I flipped burgers, I worked the over night bar rush on the line at Country Kitchen. I sold perfume and cologne door to door, business to business, and campus to campus. I worked in an adult bookstore, and I cleaned the Skyway system after hours in downtown St.Paul. I did rubber roofing, which was shoveling gravel in the hot sun for 14 hours a day. I was a camera man for a local cable station, and I hosted radio shows in a major market. I worked at a gourmet breakfast place in Bozeman, Montana. I got married 20 years ago, and I managed to raise two kids and countless animals. I have a shitload of actual friends, and I even manged to start a poker club with a group of guys that I would go through Hell for. That’s not to say that I haven’t worked extremely hard at being an artist.
I have written 26 books (with 3 more on the way) and have even written an actual novel. I don’t know how many paintings I have done. Its got to be in the hundreds by now. I have sketches and all kinds of creative projects going on all the time. Hell, I even sculpt. But that’s not the meat of life. That’s the salt. Gives it some flavor. But lots of things can do that. You can’t take it with you. any of it. But you can leave your mark upon the world. Are you using pencil, or permanent marker?