Passion vs. Craft

posted in: Art Making | 0

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m not sure I’m using the correct words or terms, but bear with me, and it’ll all tie back together. I hope. “Passion” is used in this sense as “the desire to create, even when you don’t know what the heck you’re doing.” There’s probably a word for that, but if so, I either don’t know it or it has escaped my memory for the time being.

John and I spend every weekend talking about comics and writing, and the craft and technique that goes into making things. He’s very technique and “craft” driven, whereas I am very much a fan of someone who creates with passion, even if it is perhaps not as technically well crafted or created.

I am a “Leap Before You Look” sort of person because I have a tendency to over-analyze situations and plans until I am paralyzed by… well… by just about everything. On a long enough timeline, I can find failure and disappointment waiting for me at the end of any thread. The best way I have found to cope with this not-so-great superpower is to throw myself bodily into anything I am doing, and hope for the best. Usually I “wake up” somewhere in the middle of whatever it is that I’m doing, and by that point I find that “I’ve come so far now that it’d be a shame to quit!”

For example: with All the Growing Things I was desperately throwing words and art at a comic book sized page, hoping things would stick and work themselves out. I don’t think I really realized that I had “started a comic book” until I was about 80 pages in. Of course, then the panic set in because I had to wrap it up somehow, right? Which meant I had to sit back and actually look at what I had been doing, and then figure out where to go with it from there.

I’m still not entirely sure that I did it the “right way” but I did it the best way I was able, and to me, that counts for a lot. But then we start to drift into the realm of process art, where the creation of the work is more important than the final artifact of the work, and who wants to buy a comic about that?*

Meanwhile, John is a planner. A meticulous outline creator and thinker of thoughts. Sometimes his stillness gets on my nerves -not in an angry way I should add, but rather, in that I’m a nervous person and I need things to happen RIGHT NOW or I’ll be convinced that nothing will ever happen. (I am very much a creature of inertia.)

John will take a perfectly good comic book story, and he will draft it several times, looking for themes and bits of symbolism. He will work a story until it is tight and, above all, finished. His stories have arcs and themes, plots and subplots, and for me, it is wonderful to talk to him about what goes on inside his brain while he is working on the various drafts of his various stories.

It is also wonderful, while illustrating his comics, to find how everything comes together in the final pages, how the stories follow their logical conclusions and fit, like a key in a lock, together. Especially his Vagus Street run is impressive to me, how the very last story turns back and reinforces all the other stories in the book. That sort of blew my mind when I first read it.

I don’t think either way is “the correct way,” but I do think people are drawn to certain types of creation processes. For people like John, drafting and outlines has its value. For me, it is far too panic inducing. I believe as long as a comic is finished, (or even started, honestly) then it is a success.



* This is a concept I was exposed to in art school. Before then, it had never occurred to me that some art is created to capture that “in the moment” feel and that the canvas or drawing that is created is actually a secondary, lesser, thing. The problem I have with this type of process art is that it only benefits the creator who is – in that moment – creating the work. The viewer must rely on the finished project, the artifact, or canvas, or whatever you want to call it, because unless they are a part of the process, it is meaningless to them – they only see the art days, if not months and years after it was created.

Leave a Reply