Taking the Leap

This summer has been pretty overwhelming to say the least. In early May I went to California to take care of my dad, who was pretty sick. About three weeks into it, he took a pretty bad turn for the worse and passed away shortly afterwards. It was pretty much the most sucky thing that has ever happened to me, and I’m still trying to navigate my life without him. I got back to Portland in mid-June and have been slowly getting myself back into the swing of things. It’s a bit cliche, but it has made me take inventory of my life and ask myself if I am where I want to be and questioning my priorities and where I am putting my energy.

In a lot of ways I am happy where I am at – like I mentioned, my friends are pretty much the best a guy could ask for, my family is tops, and I live in a rad city… but career-wise, particularly in my art, I’m not.

The last six years, I’ve been working at Powell’s and doing freelancing work on the side. I’ve accomplished a lot in that time – my illustration career got it’s start, and I finished Americus. There was peace in mind knowing that I had certain things like being able to go to the dentist, a steady source of income, etc. It was a good and important period in my life where I was given the time to get a foothold and build up a portfolio, but I’ve really felt like I’ve plateaued the last year or so. I think the comfort that it provided me also made me a total softie. My approach to getting new work was pretty much just waiting for it to fall on my lap. I would work really hard anytime work popped up, but because a job was taking up a lot of my time I had a hard time making time to do art or looking for work because I was just beat or it was easy to justify blowing it off.

With everything that has happened to me the last couple of months, I really feel like it’s time to turn to the next chapter of my life. It’s time to make the plunge and step up my life-game and make a go at being a cartoonist/illustrator/whatever people will pay me to draw full time. I feel like I owe it to myself, and I owe it to my dad, who pretty much gave me every opportunity to persue those dreams, but I’ve been a little bit of a wuss. I’ve been sitting in the shallow end of the pool so far, and now it’s time to just dive into the deep end and either learn how to swim or drown trying. If I don’t give it a shot now, then when?

I gave my notice at Powell’s and will be done at the end of the month. After that, I’ll be going through step-by-step and documenting the entire self-promotion process. If you’re in the same boat or just starting out your artistic career, hopefully you can pick up tips and learn something from the process. If you’re a professional, maybe you can drop by and leave some hints or share your experience. Maybe you’re an old nemesis, and you want to see me fail miserably. Either way, I would love to have you along for the ride.

Expect big changes, reorganization, and some new work to pop up. It’s going to start out slow at first while I lay the ground work, but I’m hoping in a couple of weeks I’ll be in a position to take off running.

Wish me luck!

P.S. Much thanks to my lovely girlfriend, Jen for all the support and encouragement, and to the incredibly talented Meg Hunt for giving me some much needed guidance to help me get started and to the always awesome Jason Rainey for the tech support and behind the scenes help.

7 thoughts on “Taking the Leap

  1. I wish you nothing but the best and I hope to learn a lot from your experience as I have been pondering this very idea. Also if I can help in anyway don’t be afraid to drop me a line, artist gotta stick together.

    • Hey, Ambrose! Well, hopefully I’ll stumble across some things in the process that people can use. I’m doing it pretty methodically, I think, and plan on documenting every step of the way, so please feel free to stay tuned and chime in with any advice, suggestions, or constructive criticism. You’re right – we do gotta stick together!

  2. Jonathan, I know your dad is so very proud of you! And even though I don’t know you that well, I am proud of you to! It isn’t easy to leave your comfort zone and start fresh, but I know you can do it. I love reading your stories and I will be looking forward to reading more about you and your stories.

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