It felt very strange to post those Solar Brothers drawings on this blog. For about a year and a half, this blog has really just been about the Moby-Dick illustration project and there didn’t seem to be any room for any other kind of art or writing. Even though the whale illustrations are complete, there is still much to cover since the book will be coming out in October or November, I will be selling almost all of the art starting some time this summer, and hopefully there will be a few gallery shows. So there are reasons to keep the blog going. But I’ve been wrestling with a few issues, and I’d like to write about them here so I can ask for your help. There are three.
I’ve been considering just making this blog the home for all of my future creative endeavors. Even though the URL contains the words “Every Page Of Moby-Dick” I’ve seen blogs with stranger names, so that doesn’t seem like a real barrier. I know I will continue to make art and illustrate stories, and it seems a bit schizophrenic to begin a new blog every time I begin a new project. So what do you think? Is there room on this blog for me to continue to share my art and my new projects, or do you think I should simply start another blog for that? I am very curious about your thoughts.
The issue of what to tackle next has been hanging rather heavily over me. I had hoped that it wouldn’t become a serious issue, but despite my best efforts it seems to be getting to that point. There are several reasons why. First, as some of you know, I commute 90 minutes one way to work, so I spend at least 3 hours in my car every day. It really is very hard, and the only thing that makes it bearable is that my wife and I are fortunate enough to work the same schedule in the same city, so we carpool and we keep one another sane on the long long drives through the boring southwestern Ohio countryside. Because of that commute, and the normal demands of daily living such as spending time with friends, reading, exercising, doing laundry, and so on, time is an absolutely precious commodity to me. While I have no regrets about the Moby-Dick project, it did completely take over and devour my entire life for over a year. It was hard, it was lonely, and it was incredibly bleak and depressing at times. A big part of that was the pace I set for myself, since from the very beginning I had committed to making one illustration per day. I don’t think I will work at that breakneck pace again for the foreseeable future. But because whatever I decide to do next will undoubtedly take up a sizeable portion of my extremely limited free time, I have to make that choice wisely.
And here is why making a wise choice seems so challenging right now. I had mentioned a few projects I was interested in, such as illustrating other books that were important to me like Lindsay’s A Voyage To Arcturus or Ohle’s Motorman or Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros or even Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness. I shared that list, and a few other ideas, with a few trusted people who have a good grasp of the book and art market right now and they kindly but firmly indicated that most of the books I was interested in were very obscure and it was highly unlikely that any publisher would be willing to put out a book of the art. Even Heart Of Darkness was labeled as a bit too familiar, and I can really see the sense in that. The publishing industry is a tough place right now. The emphasis is really on digital books, not print books, and there really is so much amazing art and creativity available for free on hundreds of blogs and web sites that it's hard for a publisher to justify shelling out thousands of dollars to print a book when interested viewers can find something free online.
And that’s where I have to make some difficult decisions. I had never set out to be an artist, or a published artist, or an illustrator. I did this all for personal reasons and for a love of making images. Knowing there will be a book of the Moby-Dick art has been a wonderful thing, and no matter what happens after this I will always have that. But I have to decide, do I continue to simply follow my heart and do what I want regardless of how commercial or marketable the results might be? Or do I look at it another way and see this Moby-Dick book as a pathway to greater opportunities which I am very fortunate to have? Either choice involves the sacrifice of time – time I could be spending with my wife or with friends or out in the world. And more than anything in this past year, I missed my wife tremendously. It is fiendishly hard to figure this out, you see. The one thing I do have going for me right now, strangely, is time. For once, I don't have to have a decision made by some kind of deadline but eventually I'll have to figure something out.
Finally, my editor at Tin House books has asked me what my plans might be regarding showing this art in galleries. I have no real experience with this, although I would love to show the art far and wide to whoever might be willing to hang it. Does anyone out there have any advice on this, or does anyone know any galleries that might be willing to host me? See, I don’t know if you’re just supposed to visit a gallery with a bundle of art in hand and ask for a show, or if I should be emailing gallery owners across the country or if there is an application process or what. I had always believed that a BFA or an MFA were more or less necessary for any gallery show, but that doesn’t seem to be as much a rule as I had begun.
More people than I ever dreamed now visit this blog and while not all of them comment or email me, many do. That has really been a good thing for me. Kind of transformative, really, in helping me feel a bit more connected with people than I was. So if you are reading this and you have any advice, I’d be grateful. You can leave it in the comments or email me at mattkish87 [at] gmail.
As always, you have my thanks.