Saturday, June 9, 2012

Progress Report

The pace of my updates has become so slow and erratic lately, that some of you might wonder if I’m running out of steam on this project.

But I can assure that,

I AM NOT!

My enthusiasm is undiminished! In fact, the more I read and research the book, the more excited I get for the fresh challenge of the later chapters (Pure Typography! Watercolours!! Children’s Drawings!!! Yes! Yes!!).

In terms of my general life, on the other hand, I must admit I’ve been feeling pretty burnt out. Between a baby who still can’t sleep through the night, a mentally tiring day job, and frankly more design commissions than I can really handle at the moment, there have been whole weeks when I haven’t had the time or energy to draw for more than half an hour.

Last week I saw the video of the commencement speech given by Neil Gaiman, which was doing the rounds everywhere. I’m sure everyone who uses the Internet must have seen it by now, but if you haven’t, I recommend you take a look. It gave me a lot to think about. In it, he describes his own path to becoming a writer, imagining his goal as a distant mountain and each decision as turn either towards or away from the mountain. He recalls turning down editorial job offers because they would have got in the way of that path, and learning from doing jobs just for the money, never to take a job just for the money.

Mr. Gaiman claims that he never had a career plan, but I’ve certainly never had his level of focus. When I graduated, I thought to myself, “I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m sure if I wait around the answer will present itself.” As a career plan, I can’t recommend it, but I did eventually start doing this. I’m still not even sure what my ultimate goal is, but I know that this project must be an important part of it, simply because it’s the most personally rewarding work I’ve ever done. So I’m resolving now to avoid the distractions and to redouble my efforts on my personal work in general and to this project in particular. I still don’t know what that distant mountain is, but I think I’ll know it when I see it.

I’m going to try my best to get back to posting a page a week. My record pace of two pages a week might still be a bit optimistic at the moment, but I’ll work my way back up to it. In about 20 pages or so, I’ll have finished the fourth chapter and the second big milestone of the book.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s bought prints from my Society6 store (getting money for it really helps me to take this seriously!), and everyone who’s emailed me with praise and encouragement. Even though I probably haven’t responded to you yet (for reasons that I hope are now clear!) I truly appreciate it, and it makes me feel incredibly happy to know that people are getting some kind of value out of what I’m doing.

I’m in it for the long haul if you are.

5 comments:

Warren Isaac said...

id like to say that ive never heard of Joyce or Finnegans Wake, and although i plan to take your advice and one day give it a go, at this point i love what youve done more than enough

i would like to purchase 2 specific prints
(hes fair smashed on peaches number two & they all drank free)
but i do not see them in the society6 store. am i looking in the wrong place, and if not, will they be added at any point?

jps said...

For what it's worth, if you're ever running out of steam: your work isn't just really, really good; it's also inspirational.

I was part-way through both reading Finnegans Wake and writing my own reinterpretation of an entirely different seminal text (I won't link here: this isn't a thinly-veiled vanity comment); seeing the amazing work you post here inspired me to finish both the Wake and also, ultimately, my own considerably less impressive work.

However, I appreciate that compliments alone are not enough. So you've reminded me that I need to convince my wife that what we really need is a 17"-wide Dyoublong print on the stairs....

Stephen Crowe said...

Thanks, guys!

@Warren, as you astutely observed, updating my Society6 page is one of the many things that I've been extremely slack about lately. But I'll put those two pages up tomorrow, I promise!

@jps, I'm so glad I could help! What is your project about?

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, I found your website!
Refreshing as a long cold pint.
I'm in the twilight world of reading, feeling, seeing and loving Finnegans Wake which is as you know a pretty solitary place to be.
Your work is exquisite, an exciting interpretation of a multilayered panorama.
I'm lucky to be in Dublin, if you ever want photos of say of the magazine wall, the vale of Luggala, the Mulingar House.
Thank you for what you do, will be following your blog with interest
Take care
Alice

Oliver said...

This is really extraordinary illustration - bravo and thank you!

(PS - some more T-shirt options might 'lead us into temptation...'!)