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  • STEVEN YU

My Downs and Ups



I'm in an existential crisis. I have no bloody idea what I should be doing next. This doesn't mean I'm not productive. Just the opposite. I recently got a design gig, a comic book offer, still tutoring, writing a horror/crime/romance story, AND still working on Joan: Vol 2. What I'm anxious about is where this all leads me. It's weird because you think after every time you finish some artistic project there is this huge celebration of your accomplishment, but that's not how it works. In reality, when an artist finishes something, it's time to do more art. Maybe one day you get to do the whole Star Wars Victory March where Princess Leia puts a medallion around your neck to acknowledge what you've done, but in reality it's more like, you finish something, it ships, and while you're waiting for people to get to know what you're doing, you go ahead and jump aboard the next project. It's just one giant waiting game. It's not your job to make the audience like what you do; it's your job to make something and the audience's job is to figure out whether or not they like it.



A friend one time tried to sympathize with me and explain that the reason why I create is so that one day something catches and it will bring me fame and financial success. To his credit, he was really trying to relate to me, but it was very far from the truth. Yes, there is some expectation of fame and financial rewards, but more important to me is the respect of what I do. Eisner Award? Oscar? Hugo? Pulitzer? No. More simple than that. I picture a bunch of young adults hanging out, nerding out about art, entertainment, and games. One of them says, "hey, do you guys remember that graphic novel, Joan?" And from there the young otaku rambles passionately about the book. Maybe I influence someone to become a graphic novelist, maybe it inspires a group of young creatives - but the point is, someone really enjoyed my work and it made some kind of impact on them. Does that sound self-serving? It shouldn't. Isn't that why we artist do what we do? To make some kind of worldly impact?


I haven't posted very much on social media or done very much in the way of newsletters because I'm finding the need to post for the sake of posting detrimental to my own creative practice. Why that is, I won't explain as I've ranted about that plenty, but I will say that the likes has distorted my sense of artistic purpose. Without the metric falsely placing value on my work and anxiously pushing me to create content for the sake of likes, it does beg me to ask: "What am I making art for?" I'm making art for the sake of expressing to a potential audience. I am only in control of what I can do within that. Hitting up comic book stores to do book signings, asking within my network to help me crowdfund my book, doing conventions, and continuing my practice is all within my capabilities. Fame, financial success, stardom, prestigious awards - all are within the realm of the Gods.


-S







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