Participate in your Community
The comics world is a fairly small and enthusiastic environment. I didn’t actually know much about the scene until I started hearing about local and major conventions around the Bay Area. I realized, “Oh wow, anime/manga-loving kids actually get together every year!” Here are a couple of ways you can engage in the community and start developing a platform for your own work in the future.
1. Utilize social media.
Here’s a tip I found has worked for me on Twitter, my favorite social media site. Be a real person. That means don’t just broadcast all your updates to your feed. Talk to people and especially your fellow artists. Follow your creative heroes and have conversations with them. You’ll find a lot of people chatting about industry news, sharing tips and tools, and just hanging out. If you place nice, offer thoughtful comments or questions that spark a good discussion, you’re off to a great start.
2. Attend and/or table at conventions.
You don’t live in a vacuum. And you shouldn’t have to! I’ve attended a few conventions since college and I’ve always had a fun time. I’ve had the opportunity to meet my favorite webcomic artists at SDCC and have tabled next to other aspiring comic artists at Anime Expo. Let me tell you other artists trust you more online when they’ve met you face to face and are assured of that fact that you’re not a psycho. I’ve also met people who have followed my work for quite some time and it’s always nice to keep in touch.
3. Look out for contests and join them.
Final Track was a submission entry for Yen Press’ first Talent Search back in 2011 and The Dark Horse Fan was the winning entry to a short contest held by Dark Horse. Both stories were a challenge on my time, organizational skills and comicking efforts but they pay off because you get your name out there. People start seeing your work and understand you’re someone to watch out for.
Even if you don’t win (as in the case of Final Track where there were no winners), I made friends with my fellow entrants, follow each other on social media and we support each other through the good and bad.
4. Support your favorite artists by buying art, commissions or comics.
I’ve made it a point to support my heroes financially when I can afford to. Since I am not rich and don’t have much space, I’m quite limited in this endeavor but when I can’t throw cash at people, I offer them my time and effort when I retweet, reblog or share their work. People remember good deeds and you build goodwill in the community by doing so.
5. Be nice!
I’ve heard this over and over again from creative people everywhere. The community is small and artists warn each other about people to watch out for. It pays to not be so negative all the time either. We all have bad days but when you’re known as the “artist that____,” you have to consider the association that does for your work.
You are certainly free to be yourself but if you want to be taken seriously as part of the industry, conduct yourself as a professional as much as you can. (I make exceptions for fangirling/fanboying over other artists’ work because there’s just never enough of that to go around! ^_~)
The items listed above are not meant to be a strict laundry list of things you need to do to succeed in the business but they have been especially helpful for me. If you’re shy for example, it can be quite hard to approach other artists at cons for the first time. But believe me, it helps to move out of your comfort zone once in a while and reach out to others. It’s definitely made me feel less alone in my artistic endeavors and it’s provided me a stronger sense of belonging in my own tribe.
This post is part 2 of my blog post series, How to Run a Successful Kickstarter for your Manga.