Interview: Building a career as an independent comics artist
There are plenty of talented artists making independent comics across the globe. I’ve had the pleasure of working with one of them, Coty Taboada, who’s worked with me on the short comic This Groundhog Walks Into a Bar and the much longer Slash in Love.
I recently interviewed — by e-mail — Coty about her comics career, what brought her to the field and the challenges she faces while trying to build a comics career. Here’s some of what she had to say:
How long have you been drawing comics? Can you remember the first comic work you completed, whether something for fun or for pay?
I’ve been seriously working in comics for the past five years, give or take. The first comic work I made for fun was when I was taking drawing lessons. I was 15 years old around that time. My teacher saw this contest and wanted me to participate. We created the script together and then I made the drawings. I didn’t win, but it started my path in drawing comics.
Have you had any comics published?
Yes. Luckily, some of the first short stories Ive worked on are now printed on paper, most of them from independent publishers. I still have not published something made entirely on my own though.
What would you consider the biggest challenges to drawing comics?
For me, one of the biggest challenges in drawing comics would be doing a good visual narrative. It is what makes a comic book come together. It is how the drawings and the writing work together. Another challenge for a comic artist is to know how to draw things from every angle, in every way possible. That way, you can pick the one angle that most benefits the storytelling. Some of those angles are pretty difficult!
Do you have any advice for writers who want to collaborate with artists? What steps can writers take to make sure this working relationship is as successful as possible?
Good communication. I think the best way to keep a good relation with artists is to communicate as often and as completely as possible. It doesn’t matter if you want to share just a quick thought about something, a suggestion or something else, but that communication is key. It´s important to talk first about how you are going to work with each other. Have clear rules in place and try to follow them as well as you can. I think that when you are about to collaborate with an artist you must know what that artist can do, what the artist’s strengths are and benefit from them. And last, as in any other work relationship, respect and professionalism are very important.
Is drawing your comics a full-time job? If not, what else do you do to earn a living?
I’m a full-time independent artist. I divide my work time between comics, illustrations and murals. I love doing each discipline for different reasons, and also that keeps me from getting bored. One day, I can be sitting down and drawing and the other I get to be outside and climbing stairs to make a mural. It is a little difficult being independent, but I´m really grateful to be able to work on something I really love doing.
Is there a comics project that you worked on of which you are especially proud? Is there one that you like the best?
There is a project that I am working on with a writer and a scientist. It´s called Luz, Cámara, Ciencia. Together with UNC (Córdoba´s university) we make comics about science facts and investigation topics from around our home city of Córdoba. I´m really happy that we get to explore and communicate some interesting topics and things that compete us in various ways as people from this place. We´re about to start chapter seven, and I can´t wait!