Cartoonist Groups - Pros and Cons
Hope's "Don't Go It Alone" post got me thinking about cartoonist groups, and the benefits (and detriments) of working within a group. I am a member of Artists With Problems, a Brooklyn based cartoonist group that meets weekly for cartooning parties / drawing sessions. When I lived in New York, my AWP meetings became an important part of my week, and I think the group really helped me grow as a cartoonist.
First, some tips when starting a cartoonist group.
1. Decide what kind of group you want create, before you start. A casual jam comic group, a goal driven collective, a team distro, etc? AWP is a small, members only, goal driven group of peers and friends who benefit socially and artistically from working together. We are focused on our individual projects and do not do jams. For us, this works.
2. Give your group a name. Give your group the right name! Names are so important.
3. Pick a time to meet and be diligent at keeping these meetings. This biggest challenge AWP had in the early days was getting people to attend regularly. But after being diligent for a few months, our Tuesday meeting became a permanent fixture on our week.
4. Pick an appropriate place to meet. In the begining AWP met at cafes. It was always a challenge to find a space with adequate table and light, and that was open during the hours we wanted to meet. Now we rotate between members' apartments. It's challenging to fit 10 cartoonist in your standard Brooklyn apartment. My suggestion: bring a drawing board!
4. Make sure the members of your group are people you like and respect. The whole point of a cartooning group is destroyed if the scene is made awkward our disruptive by incompatible people.
5. Bring snacks, wine, music, anything to make the experience fun without being distractive. Keeping a balance between being social and being productive is one of the greatest challenges of drawing groups.
The pros and cons of working in a group:
Pro: By making drawing events social events, they become more fun and less of a chore.
Con: Drawing in a group, outside your ordinary working space, can be a challenge. In all honestly, 3 hours of drawing with a group of friends is a lot less productive than 3 hours of drawing at home. But cartoonist groups have a benefit far beyond page count. Cartooning is a lonely art form, and working in a group can provide support and encouragement.
Pro: Drawing with a group of peers whose work you respect will challenge you.
Con: Drawing within a group might also make you feel inferior and discouraged. This is why your members should be friends as well as peers. You should feel comfortable with them, not intimidated.
Pro: Working within a group has many practical benefits. You can share tables and hotel rooms at cons, you can share websites, you the cost of art supplies, etc.
Pro: Cartoonist groups offer a great opportunity to share knowledge and experience. Cartoonists have a lot to teach each other.
Give cartoonist groups a try! And, to once again borrow from the wisdom of AA: "Keep Coming Back! It Works When You Work It!"