Drawing My Conclusions

Rachel Kirkland, Comic Artist

I decided I wanted to learn to draw in my final year of elementary school. I spent as much time as I was allowed on the internet as a child, and I enjoyed looking at the drawings and character designs others would post on forums. It started out as a simple enough sentiment—I was an overly creative child who was always coming up with characters in my head, and so the prospect of being able to bring them to life was more than a little appealing to me.

Animals were my start; I’ve always loved them. The shapes and curves and angles that make up your average dog or cat were more complex and interesting than I could have imagined. The more that I practiced and drew, the more I found that it was almost therapeutic for me. It was fun to create characters and worlds and bring them to life on paper, even if my skills were significantly limited at the time. Art was, and has since been, my primary outlet for expressing my emotions.

I certainly never intended art to be one of my primary focuses when it came to a career, but as my high school continued to stress the need to pick a major in college near the end of my senior year, I discovered that I didn’t have a whole lot of options. I despised math, my grasp of history would make the Founding Fathers weep and I didn’t trust myself to deal with any sort of hands- on science. I loved art.

As much as I enjoyed illustration as an outlet, there was a harsh reality that I needed to accept: art isn’t easy. It certainly wasn’t easy getting to the acceptable level of decent that I was my freshman year, and it wasn’t easy getting to the level that I am as I write this piece. But beyond that, a career in art is even more difficult to swing.

Besides needing the passion and the drive for illustration as a career, you need the sheer skill, the understanding of business and above all—the money. Say I chose art as my major and tried to pursue it but end up with nothing. Where could I go from there?

Art is a career that demands a good bit of sacrifice and gambling for a profit that one may, or may not, ever even receive. I just didn’t feel I had the resources to risk a career in art not taking off.

However, if art was not to be my future, then what was? I certainly didn’t want to abandon my illustration and creative eye. It would be a waste of a talent I loved and had come to hone. I decided to keep art as my minor, with a focus in digital graphic design, as digital art was, and is, my medium of choice.

Writing was another way my creativity was allowed to flourish, and I would often use writing in tandem with my art, drawing scenes from stories or mapping out character designs before I would draw them. Art and writing. It was a combination I had been using for a long time, but never realized I could make into a career. Writing has opened up a huge world of possibilities for me in terms of jobs I can pursue, while my drawing and understanding of design will help me to sell myself when the time comes to really make my mark.

Until then, I’ll keep creating my little cartoony corners of the world.