Thursday, January 01, 2009

Memento Mori

2008 is gone, I really don't know what to make of this past year, a black man was elected president of the most influential country in the only world we know; I certainly never dreamt this would happen in my lifetime, I am glad it did, if for nothing else than what it represents, a giant step forward in humanity or in what we think being 'human' means. It was something truly remarkable to witness. I see him more as a smart man who understood how the system worked and how the game was played. He played the game brilliantly and then turned the game upside down, using the same techniques designed by those in power to perpetuate themselves and their kind. Don't kid yourselves, this is and will continue to be a racist country and Obama is not the perfect president, this country is controlled to a considerable degree by corporations, so concessions will have to be made, that's just the way things have worked for centuries, otherwise the U.S. would have never become the global power that it is, remember, empires are not built on sentiment. Yet for all his faults and imperfections, Obama is not Bush and that is cause enough for celebration. On a more personal note, I watched Brandstudio Press grown into what I always wanted it to become, a hub for artists of all persuasion, regardless of style or notoriety. We cemented our role as a player (small player as we might be) in an industry which for the most part is not friendly to relative unknowns. I took great pleasure in boasting to the world: "We are not part of this industry of shit so we will not play by their rules" That was fun because it is true. Not bad for a sophomore year.

I've received tons of emails from artists from all corners of the world, kindly asking to be considered for publication. My answer is pretty much the same to one and all: "Brandstudio Press is not a typical publisher", just a bunch of self-publishers, united by a common goal: INDEPENDENCE. Even though I have said this before, it bares repeating, since I keep getting questions regarding this issue. Most of the artists featured in Brandstudio Press invest in their own books. Given the state of publishing these days and since we don't play by the same rules, Brandstudio Press does not have the means required to finance every single project that comes to our attention. All of my personal resources (including the profits from the Brandstudio Press online store) are dumped back into Brandstudio Press to produce or help produce more of these titles.

Typical publishing companies pay for your book's printing, they also pay for the promotion and advertising of said book and give you some money in advance towards future sales of your book. Since they pay for everything, they control everything, including the look of your book and the tiny percentage you'd receive from the sales of your book. See, we don't work that way, we cater to the type who wants to have some measure of control over their own destiny.

I'm a firm believer in independence. I've been a freelance person/artist (for lack of better adjectives) since I was a child. I don't trust my livelihood and that of my family to anyone. Although I love sports, I was never a team player, those who know me since childhood can vouch for my "selfish" nature. This is not something I'm proud of, or ashamed of, just the way I am. I'd love to think of Brandstudio Press as a team of independent players, each one doing their own thing.

When I used to play soccer I was hated by my own team mates because I did not like passing the ball, I did score lots of goals but I missed more than I scored. My love for playing the game blinded me from coming to terms with the fact that I didn't belong in a collective effort, eventually I did come to understand my reality, not without a healthy dose of frustration, wasted youth, sleep and resources. 

When I finally realized my true individualistic nature, everything changed for me. I say this because a lot of artists out there are similar in nature and it could take a lifetime for a person to "discover" and deal with his/her inadequacies, particularly because we are taught since childhood to become "Team Players" and to fit in, so we keep on banging our heads against the same wall without positive results.

I do enjoy sharing knowledge, my blogs are an example of just how much I love sharing, so for me it's not a question of selfishness, really. The issue is that in my twisted mind I always know (or think I know) I can do things better when I have full control over my work. I'm convinced that no one cares as much as I do for my own stuff, this is false, there are people who do care but it is hard for me to read people's true intentions and to give up control. 

I am not interested in controlling others or their work or their money, just my own. I have no hidden agendas, I make it very simple: it's all about me, all of the time. I have no desire of being the leader of any group or for that matter the spokesman for anybody or anything, I can barely take care of myself as it is. I don't care one bit about building empires or taking over the world, it takes too much from my drawing time, however, I must confess I do have a strong desire to do/build things of consequence, things that I hope will be here long after I'm gone. I want to leave something of artistic substance behind, other than the smell, what that would be? I don't know. It troubles me to think we come and go through this world like dogs, without at least attempting to change it for the better, in whatever little we can. I strongly believe in Art as a catalyst for change, real change, not bullshit political rhetoric.

In other words: don't fuck with me 'cause I sure as heck don't want to fuck with you, I'm too busy day-dreaming, not interested. 
I may not be selfish but I am indeed full of myself (as you can tell by the length of this rant) or rather, individualistic to the core. Somehow I feel it's important that you, the person reading this, know where I'm coming from, just in case we ever meet and do 'business' together. I don't want you to get the wrong idea.

Even though I can't bear working with others —my past experiences doing that for the most part, were not at all pleasant— I don't mind working for others, provided I get to do what I want or at the very least have my creative input respected, as in the case of Brandstudio Press, something, which may I say, is nearly impossible to do when others are paying you to do what they want, so I don't take money in exchange for art anymore, I still owe a good friend, an Elvis commission and one day I'll surprise him for sure.  I despise most art directors, and/or editors; I wholeheartedly believe the world's dependency on Middle Eastern oil would be drastically reduced  if we could somehow gather all the art directors in this world and burn them for fuel. 

Perhaps because I attended a catholic elementary and a military high school I developed a healthy  dislike for authority figures, I hate being told what to do by lesser human beings than myself and to obey without questioning makes absolutely no sense to me, my hatred for cops and priests has been well-documented (by me, of course). And while I did suffer a great deal in those institutions, I also learned to seek and value my independence. By the same token, I hate telling others what to do, I don't mind giving advice but I don't want people under me, except my wife :P

Maybe all the aforementioned stuff is why I chose to work alone. Believe me, I've tried being part of teams and working in house for companies, but in the end I always wound up quitting or getting fired and going back to doing things my way, please don't get me wrong, it wasn't always my employer or collaborators who were at fault, most of the time it was my own fault, my heart was not in it, I often stopped giving a shit minutes after starting. 

I have no fear of failure and no regards for money, everything I do is doomed to fail someday because I lack the desire to repeat myself and the key to success is consistency and repetition, that pretty much guarantees I will never become a rich man. This is particularly (and painfully) true in art, where in order to "make it" you have to do the same shit over and over and over again, once the public accepts you and your "style" they want you to continue repeating yourself until you die, the minute you decide to take an artistic risk to grow and explore, they drop you like a bad habit.  

Failure, art and sex are the main driving forces in my life and you already know what I think of money; any asshole with half a brain can make money. It is so incredibly easy to put a few lines or colors together, no matter how crude or unrefined and come up with a "profound and mystical" meaning behind the crap you want to sell and have people throw money at you like it's going out of style, trust me, I've done that to fuck with people and I can tell you without a hint of hypocrisy, it's so easy, it's almost criminal. 

People in general are gullible and they love being told how to feel, what to wear, what songs to listen to, etc.... they love to think that there has to be some  deep and mind-altering meaning behind what you do, most people are incapable of understanding that artists sometime do things just for the fuck of it, they have to be spoon-fed a reason to like something, specially if the person brain-washing them is (or claims to be) a celebrity of some sort. I find no pleasure in doing that. 

At one point I thought seriously about writing a book entitled "How to Make Money and be Financially Independent" but I figured it would be a waste of my time, nobody would buy it because the book wouldn't feature any celebrity success stories and all of my solutions would involve working hard, cultivating self esteem and living in the present, 3 things the people who buy these sort of books hate to do. 

Donald Trump is the dumbest retard on two feet, every single time he opens his sewer of a mouth, shit flies all over the place and yet, he is one of the wealthiest men out there, or at least he claims to be (the fact that his daddy gave him a fortune so big, he couldn't lose it if he tried, didn't hurt none) enough said. 

To make money for the sake of making money is not a challenge to me in the least, it's boring. I am wired like that; to make money doing things my way and to do it while going against everything they tell you in art and business schools, that is what I love.

I understand not everyone wants to be an independent artist, Brandstudio Press is not for everyone, most people are not art kamikazes, nor are they egocentric mad scientists conducting social experiments with axes to grind,  not all artists are misfits like me. Most artists love collaborating with others, they love being part of something bigger than they are, that is a selfless and beautiful thing for sure, something I hold in the highest of regards, although sadly, not a trait I harbor. There are some who can balance working for the man and satisfying their need to do their own thing, I have lots of respect for these people and I welcome them with open arms, because they understand what we do.

Brandstudio Press is not the right fit for those who love having others do everything for them. If you don't want to get involved in publishing your own book and prefer to let others do it (even if that may mean exposing yourself to being taken advantage of) I understand. Doing it yourself does require some leg work and a decent amount of research and it's boring stuff, but don't despair, you are very lucky because there are thousands of publishers out there that can help you, you don't need me, Image Comics may be the perfect thing for you, they pay for and do everything, you do nothing., Blur and other "Print on Demand" companies can also print and sell your efforts with minimum effort on your part and at a fraction of the cost
Barring a couple of exceptions, which merit my personal involvement, Brandstudio Press was created solely and exclusively to help people who want to help themselves. I don't charge a penny for my services but you MUST be involved somehow. You invest in yourself and you reap the rewards, yourself.

Think about it! there is nothing, I do mean NOTHING publishing companies (including Brandstudio Press) can do for your book that you, yourself can not do. Being an artist, you can put together your own book, there are many writings on the subject and free articles on line regarding the layout and design of books, they make it so ridiculously simple, just Google the words "self publishing" it's a crime to not do it yourself. 

You can find a printer or I can recommend one for you, you can promote and advertise your book, you can submit your book to a distributor such as Diamond (whether or not they consider your book worthy of distribution is another thing), you can open your own PayPal account and sell it right off your blog or site, or put the book up on all by yourself. You can also purchase a booth or a table at any of the many conventions, nothing can stop you from doing that and from displaying your work and selling your books at these events. You don't need to be a so called "professional artist" to get a table at any of these shows, nobody knew who the fuck I was when I paid for my own space at the San Diego Comic Con, they took my money with a smile, just download the form and send the check, trust me, they WILL take your money, that's the one thing you can always count on: someone out there will ALWAYS take your money. 

You can do anything you want but whatever you choose to do, don't have money as your main reason for self publishing because chances are you will be painfully disappointed, unless you happen to be a distributor, there is very little money in publishing no matter what the public's perception may be.

My goal with Brandstudio Press as it is now and going forward in whatever future re-incarnation, remains the same, publishing and co-publishing the most fun, helpful and inspirational books (and other goodies) by artists, for artists. like I said in previous posts, I don't give a shit about the so called "fans", they can fend for themselves.

In this new year I wish all of you all the love, health, prosperity and artistic independence you can possibly handle. May 2009 be the year in which you publish your own book. Have faith and believe in yourself, work hard at becoming better than you were in 2008, that should be your primary resolution, draw until your fingers bleed. There are no secrets out there, only solutions. Life is short, live it to the fullest.



Bobby Chiu said...

Happy New Year Alberto! Are you going to Wondercon this year?

esoder said...

Hola Alberto. Que tengas un prospero ano nuevo!

Someday I'll figure out how to do a proper n with a tilde.

I read over on Glenn's blog that his friends would all be doing a Betti Paige tribute and I got all excited to see what you would come up with. Nice work - I mean you can tell it's her and that you drew it.

And congrats on the "Publishing." That's something I've wanted to do with talented friends since college and just can't seem to make it happen. But then maybe this year "Keep Left Press" will happen.

Take care.

Process Junkie said...

Gracias Esoder. Lo mismo para ti!

Bobby : No Wonder Con for me, I'm staying home, we have New York Con here, which is way better than Wondercon (at least for me) :) .

Kung Fu Pimp said...

Great post, man. Much thanx for the reminder of the power of personal initiative.

Fabian said...

Muy Feliz Año Nuevo Alberto! Mis mejores deses para ti y Brandstudio para este año! Un año lleno de exito!

Process Junkie said...

Fabian: Feliz Año Nuevo, que la pases bonito. Muy buenos dibujos en tu blog por cierto.

Kung Fu Pimp: Keep on Pimping, Happy 2009!

Nelson Dániel said...

Feliz Año Alberto, estoy seguro que todo lo que venga sera increiblemente mejor que antes, no me cabe duda. Un Abrazo.

Gnarfdeath said...

Happy New Year, sir! Super awesome Betty!

darkside design said...

Great words of wisdom Alberto! You hit the nail right on the head with this post. Hopefully by years end I will send you a copy of my self published book with a thank you note inside.

Próspero Año Nuevo

joverine said...

I was JUST going to send off an email to find out about these very details since your comment over at my blog(thanks!)
have an amazing 2009
trying to outdo myself has always been my goal(slacking from time to time) so I love your advice for the new year !

take it easy and the best to you and your family Alberto!!
will be in contact with you again sometime soon about the book!


gdeo said...

wishing you and your loved ones all the best this year, alberto!

Process Junkie said...

Nelson Dániel: Feliz Año Nelson!
From your mouth to God's ears. :)

Gnarfdeath: Happy and prosperous for you as well, is your new book ready to be printed, I'm anxious!

gdeo,darkside design, : Cheers, my friends!
Go for it, Darkside!

Joe: Whenever you're ready. Many blessings!

Pop-Monkey said...

Happy new year to you, Alberto! Always enjoy reading your diatribes, and I look forward to bumping into you again this year at a con or two.

Great Bettie tribute, by the way!

RobSchwager said...

Happy new year brother!

Process Junkie said...

Pop Monkey: Thanks for stopping by, Merry New Year to you too! I'll be seeing you soon.

RobSchwager: Likewise, my good friend, have a blast!

Dramiro said...

Feliz 2009¡¡¡¡ Alberto te deseo lo mejor pal proximo año a ti y a to los tuyos. Ya sabes que soy adicto a tus libros y espero que el proximo año hagamos buenos negocios.
Aqui tienes un cliente contento y un amigo para lo que necesites. Un abrazo.

P.D: Juer he dicho más de 10 palabras seguidas sin decir jilipolleces... este 2009 me está cambiando jurjurjurjur

Process Junkie said...

Je, jé,

Un abrazo, los mejores deseos para vos. Dios mediante estaré por esos lares en un futuro no muy lejano.

KRStyle said...

Hey Alberto,
I REALLY needed to read this!!!

Happy New Year. Hope to can make it to Charlotte or BMore this year.


Process Junkie said...

Charlotte is more likely. See you there!

Craig Zablo said...

Great to see an update, Alberto. Love your Bettie tribute! Here's to 2009 being the start of many years of goodness!

OneSickIndividual said...

happy new year, bro! its been an awesome pleasure to see brandstudio press come out of it's own. may this be another leap forward in your artistic endeavors.

Process Junkie said...

Thanks, Craig! Same to you, my friend, live long and prosper.

Erwin: Thanks a million for being part of the craziness. All the best!

Joe Bluhm said...

Fuck yeah, Alberto. Great words. See you at NY Comic Con.

Process Junkie said...

Be there or be somewhere else.

See you, neighbor!

Mike Mac said...

Happy New Year!

Your line work is unmatched.

Chris said...

Great post..very level headed with a serious touch of "not willing to play the game..." Seems like we all get caught up in that mess at the cost of our creative soul, but hey you are the one with the successful resume, so I guess it's a bit easier. Thanks for the very informative bit on Brandstudio Press. Nice to get a more concise summary for all us wannabe' well and may this year grant you much happiness.

VN said...

Hi, Alberto!
I came across your work in a NY comic store last year and purchased one with an original sketch in it. I wanted to ask you if you'll be attending NYCC this year and if you can post your schedule or table. WIll you be sketching for fans or taking commissions? Thanks!

Process Junkie said...

VN: Yes I will be attending the New York Comicon, I'll be at Booth 2342 Brandstudio Press, all day long, all 3 days. I don't do commissions and I only sketch on the books people buy from me. Hope to see you there.

Mike Mac: Thanks, Mike. I appreciate the comment although not entirely accurate :)

Chris: Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I also wish you the best life has to offer.

Success to me is doing what you want, on your terms. By that definition, yes, I am successful. It's amazing, though, how hard one has to struggle, to come close to doing what comes naturally. It can turn you into a hard, cold individual. No, life is not easy for someone who was born an artist.

Successful resume I have none, I've been a failure at pretty much everything other than drawing for pleasure (failure by society's definition, anyway).

Monkeyfeather said...

Great post man. Thanks for the inspiration.
Happy New Year!

Process Junkie said...

Happy 2009 to you too, John!

Ertito Montana said...

Hola Alberto,

He encontrado tu página por casualidad y me impresiona que haya gente que le gusten tanto los libros de ilustración independientes.

Me parece fantástica tu forma de pensar, siempre se dice que un dibujante tiene que hacer comics pero hay mucho dibujantes buenisimo como tu que no tiene historias que contar solo dibujos que expresar y es muy dificil dar salida a este tipo de pensamiento ya que la industria te exige historias.

He estado viendo todos los libros con los que cuentas, yo soy español y me cuesta un poco más entender el inglés y tengo un par de dudas:

¿Los libros que muestras los publicas bajo tu sello Brand Studio? ¿o solo haces de mediador o tienda entre los autores que se autopublican?

Yo soy dibujante de cómics y cuento como mucho material de ilustración y siempre pienso en hacer un libro de ilustraciones como los que muestras en tu página pero siempre me surgen dudas como la distribución para que pueda llegar a publico de todo el mundo no solo en España.

Si me pudiera ponerme en contacto contigo y me pudieras ayudar a solucionar mis dudas te lo agradeceria mucho.

Mi pagina web yb mi correo son:

muchas gracias y buen trabajo!

Rocío Cintrón said...

Happy New year!!! Aww thank you for the comment!!! Hopefully I'll be there & steal a couple classmates to come with me!
~ Rocio

Ray Jones said...

Happy New Year! --10 days (11?) in. Thanks for that really inspirational post... I want to be able to make a living off of my work while not having to work for anyone else myself. It's good to know that there are people out there making it work, and showing that its possible. Thanks again.

Chrissie A said...

Alberto — just wanted to wish you and your family a happy, prosperous and creative New Year!

Process Junkie said...

Ertito Montana: Gracias por la visita, Los artistas autopblican yo solo ayudo con la producción. Los libros no son distribuidos mundialmente, yo pongo los que puedo en la tienda web de esa forma personas de otros paises pueden comprarlos.

Chrissie A: Sorry for the late reply, Chrissie, much happiness and health in the new year to you too!