You’ve got mail!

Physical mail (the stuff that gets delivered to your door by a postman, as opposed to digital mail in your inbox) is under fire in The Netherlands. There’s less of it, so there are huge cuts in delivering hours and postman wages, while stamp prices go up and up.

Nevertheless, nothing beats the thrill of getting a personal letter by snail mail. And it’s been a thrilling time for me in that respect – here’s some stuff that got delivered to me recently:

resist

My wonderful Californian proofreader Dan Schiff sent me two copies of Resist!, the revolutionary magazine that my Minnie-comic was featured in. It’s great to finally be able to browse it (96 pages!) AND it came with lovely personal stuff from Dan, who’s also a gifted artist and a big James Joyce fan – that’s his drawing on a James Joyce bag, and he even added a little doodle especially for us!

Thanks, Dan!

cephalopod

She used to do my accounts for me, now Olga Nagtegaal is dabbling in linoleum prints and I just had to get my hands on this beautiful cephalopod. She even threw in a “misprint” which is just as lovely! (I’m cheating a bit, because Olga actually delivered this to my door, but it was in an addressed envelope, so it still counts as mail).

Thanks, Olga!

lenticular-maatn

My brother Maarten de Heer recently launched a successful Kickstarter to fund his unique lenticular painting BIOSCOPE. Yesterday, the rewards arrived – pieces from the experimental prints he made in the process. Especially for us, he added a print of these animations Yiri made on the DS:

lenticular-yiri

(The real-life picture moves when you change the angle – it’s made from a 15-frame animation)

Thanks, Maarten!

argibald

Artist Willem Bentvelzen (a.k.a. Argibald) makes hilarious cartoons, but also these lovely artistic drawings. For a few years now, he has produced one a day, offering them for a reasonable price of which 20% goes to the food bank. It’s the second time I’ve received his art, and I especially love this stack of cats. It arrived with a personal card and a stack of his cartoons.

Thanks, Willem!

Apart from receiving mail, I have also sent out some. In order to win votes for becoming Stripmaker des Vaderlands, I’m offering original doodles and sending them out on postcards. Here’s a selection:

cards

I’m continuing this until the end of September, by the way, so if you want one too, drop me a line!

(Netherlands only, but if you live abroad and you ask nicely, I’ll consider it)

Advertisements

#MerMay

Most months have a drawing challenge associated with them — such as March of Robots in March or Inktober in October — and May was Mermaid Month! Here’s what I drew for #MerMay.

 

I had never drawn mermaids before, which I thought was surprising, so this was a lot of fun to do. Traditional mermaids are typically seen as skinny, naked, and with crazy long hair, so I tried doing something a little different.

If you’re interested, my Instagram is a pretty good place to keep up with all the silly doodles I do!

You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.

How Inktober Saved My Life

I’m a cartoonist, primarily. I write and tell stories. Or, at least, that’s what I aspire to. However, I’ve lately been distracted from my storytelling by trying to become what I call a “popular internet artist type person.” I even made business cards!

popular

But let’s back up to January 2016. I had just wrapped up my webcomic of eight years in an effort to get away from gag-a-day comics and focus entirely on more longform storytelling. I wanted my next graphic novel to be a short story compilation, so that’s where I put all of my energy.

Comics can take a while to produce, and in between short story releases, I always had little to say or show to my followers on social media. I’d post a few in-progress shots every now and then, sure, but they were few and far between. Once the comic was finally done and online, there’d be a sudden burst of “I made a thing! I made a thing! Everyone look! I made a thing!” and then it’s back to radio silence as I begin work on the next comic. But not just radio silence from me, silence from everyone. The comics I had been working on for weeks and weeks were getting little to no attention.

This was exceedingly frustrating for me.

I work for weeks, sometimes months, on a project, release it into the wild, receive some gratification here and there, and then nothing. I realize that that’s not exactly a new problem — the difficulty of being noticed as a classic struggle for artists throughout the ages — but something needed to change. I wasn’t seeing the growth I was hoping to see, especially considering how much work I was putting into these comics and what I left behind in order to pursue this new direction in my life.

It was a huge bummer! I was still proud of my work — I felt that each story was better than the last — but I began to question if I had made the right decision. If this new path that I had set myself on was the right one.

And then Inktober 2016 happened. Inktober is a yearly event created by Jake Parker that encourages artists of all skill levels to simply make a pen and ink drawing every day for a month. If you’ve heard of national novel writing month, this is similar. I always missed it every year, but this time I had just bought some new pens that I was eager to try out and they just happened to come in the mail on the first day of Inktober.

So I gave it a shot! I was still working on my big comic projects, but every night I’d start with a quick Inktober drawing and post it online. All of a sudden, when before my social media posts were at times weeks or months apart, my Twitter and Facebook followers were being updated with new drawings every single day.

Collage

In addition to the new skills and discipline I learned from drawing every day in a format I was inexperienced in, the effect on my social media networks was astounding and practically immediate. The number of people that liked and followed my work grew and grew. It turns out that posting daily content is a great way to build an audience! Who knew?

I was finally seeing growth. My work was slowly but steadily getting more attention and I was building relationships with some pretty rad people that I never would have met otherwise. It felt like everything suddenly made sense. I’m not the most social person and I had never put the work into building my social media presence, so why was I so surprised when I tweeted about my comics and got little to no response? In my attempt at focusing entirely on my comics, I had neglected my chosen medium for publishing those comics.

I didn’t stop my daily doodles after Inktober ended, and I don’t plan to any time soon. Does doing them take a chunk away from my already incredibly limited time? Yes, to some extent my comic output might have suffered a bit, but in the long run I believe it will be worth it. Building and sustaining a following that truly cares about me and my work far outweighs any time I’ve lost drawing my next graphic novel. Now when I release a new comic, I actually get more of a response from the small yet formidable audience I’ve managed to build. I cannot emphasize enough how much better of a place I am in now, both personally and artistically.

And I’m having fun drawing again! My drawing time has traditionally always been dedicated to projects and work and, as strange as it may sound, drawing purely for fun is actually a fairly new experience for me. Over the past few months I’ve produced the best work I’ve ever done and I’ve been having a blast the entire time.

And it’s all because I started a challenge to draw every day.

DrawEverDay

Thanks again to Jake Parker’s #inktober for being awesome and turning my life around. You can check out his work here. Thank you for reading and I’ll see you all on Monday when we’ll be talking about time and the ever-present dread it holds over us all!

You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.

Star Enthusiast

I just thought I’d share a few of my recent pieces that I’m rather proud of. I don’t know what’s up with my sudden fascination with stars, but at least I’ve been getting a few nice pictures out of it.

I actually get really tripped up on colors, the infinite rainbow of possibilities is intimidating! So finding a palette that serves as a bit of a starting point has been really helpful. It’s also been a lot of fun to have a sort of established aesthetic, a theme for my drawings.

I just really like stars, you guys.
You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Animated Series

poster-hires_mky

When I’m not writing or drawing my next comic or doodling stars over and over, I’m making animations for the YouTube channel Chainsawsuit Original. Of special note is the hilarious Legend of Sleepy Hollow adaptation written by Mikey Neumann and animated by me. At nine episodes and fifty minutes long, it’s practically a short film! I spent over half a year working on it and it was an absolute blast the entire time.

I’ve embedded the first episode here. Check it out and let me know what you think!

You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.

Learning on the Job

Everything you do is a learning opportunity.

In late 2015, I was hired to animate a radioplay adaptation of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I took the opportunity to challenge myself by painting each background in a style I had little experience with. Here’s a comparison of two similar shots, the first from the beginning of the project and the second from the end of the project.

I like to think that I improved a bit!

If you asked me what is the greatest piece of advice I had to give to any aspiring artist — besides “draw every day” — I’d say this: treat everything you do as an opportunity to get better at what you do, whether it’s paid work or just for fun. Challenge yourself. Try new things. Learn on the job.

You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.