Tag Archives: Mess Bucket Comics


The Business of Being an Artist – Working on a long form project (or how to keep running in the race after you’ve just fallen flat on your face).

Part of being a commercial artist is running a business. While there are aspects of this that I’m horrible at and procrastinate on (accounting, marketing) and parts that I very much enjoy (comic book conventions, book fairs, meeting fans and showcasing my latest books, and art), I still have to do all of them. This series of my process blog will talk about different aspects of the business.

I just wrapped up the art on the final book in The Arcane Awakening trilogy for Mess Bucket Comics. Created and written by Dom Riggio, The Arcane Awakening is a sprawling epic battle for control of the earth fought by the forces of good lead by the angelic Ministry against the forces of evil lead by the dastardly Blight. It’s a real fun read, with lots of action, as well as some thought provoking dialogue and moral dilemmas for the main protagonists. It’s also been a great learning experience! I’ve had the pleasure of being the artist since book 2, and just finished book 3. Each one brought different challenges, but the main unifying factor for me is that they were both marathon races of a project that I had to pace out over several months of a year. I’d like to chat a bit about the mindset I had for each one and how I dealt with working on something that would require focus and discipline for such long periods of time.

As a commercial artist, if you want to make money, you need to figure out a process that allows for the amount of money you are receiving to equal your standard of living. In other words you can’t work on a piece of art for too long before it starts to become a money suck. That’s a luxury you might have if you are independently wealthy (which most of us aren’t) or if it’s a personal project that you can space out over years of your life. Projects where you get paid require you to have a set schedule, so that you can make sure that you are able to pay your bills on time, and not become the clichéd, starving artist.

For The Arcane Awakening Book 2, Dom Riggio and I set out to have a schedule where we had a pretty good idea when the book would be finished. That way plans could be made to premiere the book at comic book conventions, as well as let all of the fans know when they could receive their copy. We took into consideration the amount of pages I could pencil and ink in a week, and allotted time for my con schedule as well as post-production of the book. The book consists of 52 pages, as well as additional work for a cover, back and interior of the cover plus lettering and design. The series was also created from a screenplay, so it wasn’t in comic book script form on the outset. So we had to go through the pacing of the book before hand to make sure we knew what was going to happen on each page. We figured it would take about 5 months or so to get it finished at a reasonable rate that I could handle.

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This weekend I’ll be at the Florida SuperCon with my mom, Amy Grachow. This will be our second year in a row, but we will be  premiering our second book, What Does Slog Do? at this show. People were very receptive to On A Planet Named Up-In-The-Sky last year so I expect they’ll want to take a peak at the second book. I’ll also be bringing both parts of Concrete Martians as well as the first two books in the Arcane Awakening series as well as my art book, prints and of course I’ll be doing commissions. If you’re going to the show, you can find us in Artist Alley at table E-11 from Thursday to Sunday. Come by and say hi!