AN HISTORIC YEAR, A TRANSITIONAL YEAR.
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.
BRANDSTUDIO PRESS "PUBLISHING"
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.
THE WAY I SEE THINGS
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.
SELF OR EGO
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.
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.
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 DON'T MAKE THINGS FOR MONEY AND IF YOU ARE AN ARTIST , NEITHER SHOULD YOU
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. Lulu.com, 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
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.
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.