Thursday, December 15, 2011

She Told Me To - Another Interview with Donna Barr

Sarah Coultier sent me some nice interview questions, and I'm posting it here as she suggested.

Hi, Sarah -- I'm typing this with the 'flu, so you might want to proof it.

My answers are marked with "D" (Hers are marked "S").

Donna Barr

S: Hey - I'm a student at Pacific Northwest College of Art and I'm supposed to interview three artists in the field that I want to go into. I actually have some things that I really want to know about how all five of you work, so - I know you're quite busy, but if any of you have time for a few questions, could you please answer mine? Even one would be awesome. If you want to post the answers to your blogs, I follow most of you in one form or another. And several of you have already covered some of these, so don't feel obliged to answer what you've already talked about.

D: Thanks for contacting me. I'll do my best.

S: Work ethic: from things you've mentioned on the internet, I know that all of you have continued to draw and update through depression, migraines, other jobs, and dealing with family. How do you manage it?Does the story have such a strong hold on you? Do you have an unusually strong sense of duty? A particular routine, or a system for getting things done that I'm not seeing?

D: The short answer: we're women.


The other short answer: YES, to all of the above. I know I'm imprisoned by my Muses, and I'm German (the "duty" thang). The rule is: when not doing anything else, draw and write! Or even better, try to get the other stuff done when not drawing or writing.

My other trick: DRAW AHEAD. Do masses of stuff, and post a month's worth. So you CAN be sick or wrapped up in emergencies if you need to. Bless the internet for chugging along while we're doing other stuff. It's the way I've set up everything: WWWID (Will work when I'm dead).

S: Publicizing: what works for you guys? Who do you talk to? Where? Online or physical? Ads? Twitter? As far as I can tell, success is a combination of luck and just really being interested in your material - but some people do seem to make a success of advertising... and of course an audience needs to know you exist. How much is too much, for you? What's your experience with getting someone else to advertise for you? When did you decide there was enough demand to try to get your stories printed - or, for those who started before the grand era of webcomics and gauging an audience by online fan response, at what point did you decide to print, and where did you try to distribute it? Where do you wish you'd tried to distribute it, now?

D: EVERYTHING. Facebook, Lulu, Twitter, Createspace, Project Wonderful, CCNow and Blogger. You got those, you just do your hour of marketing and contacts every day. It's the online comiccon! You, too, can look at PayPal once in a while (and then regularly) and go, "Oh! Where did that extra hundred dollars come from?"

You print when you have enough pages: (or other comics site) for comics page numbers. Lulu and Amazon for collections. Lulu and Ka-Blam for wholesale to your customers (fan and store). Amazon for cheapest discount to you for shows. Lulu for automatic ebooks.

The paper days? It was Diamond and nothing else. You can still do that, or flog it at book publishers. That world is still in the 18th century, when it started, all the rules still hold. What worked for Dickens will work for you -- but these days it will be pixels, not paper.

And we don't write cuz we're trying to get an audience. We write because demons have us by the back of the neck and are pushing our faces into the paper/screen.

S: Publicizing 2: Did trying to put yourself and your work out there make you feel like a flimsy facade with something ill and rotten behind it at first? If so, how on earth did you get over it, and do you think it has anything to do with how women are socialized to b self-effacing, or more to do with being an introvert, or an artist, or scolded for boasting as a kid...

D: Eh? Does not compute.

My stuff is good, damnit. I write what I can't find out there. Then again, I had a great blessing: I was daddy's little princess, but mom told me I was "enough to gag a maggot on a gut wagon." This taught me that NOBODY'S JUDGEMENT MATTERED BUT MY OWN. Get over yourself. And throw your relatives out of your studio. And your in-laws.

Oh, and I hit myself in the head with an ax when I was seven and immediately became obsessive, fixated and self-absorbed. Artist material! :P

(Fun with creaties; ask them when THEY had their head-trauma!)

S: Collaborators: Who's your favorite editor/collaborator/friend to take somewhere and babble at? What do they do that's special?

D: These days it's my fans on my websites. We have lots of fun giggling like girls over the antics of my characters (I'm not in control of any of this; I'm just management).

S: Collaborators 2: Do you have lots of artist and comic friends? Do you find you work best with engineers and scientists, or writers, or editors, or some other group of interests and traits instead? Do you emember how you collected most of them?"

D: My Facebook page is loaded with artists and writers and other creaties from all over the world. Editors and agents, too. I remember NOTHING about anything; the ax scrambled my memory, too; I have a hard time telling reality from dreams from imagination from tv commercials.

I love engineers; one of them is my BESTEST patron. They are so funny, tongue-in-cheek and self-aware (and they know art is worth money). The Desert Peach is an engineer. It's why my favorite Error Status is "418 I'm a Teapot."

Scientists think my 1st rule of writing is hilarious: "If it's funny, it's right."

The other 2 are: "If it's physically possible for its time and place, it happened." And "If it didn't happen, it should have."

Or the short form: "Some idiot has already tried this."

(My rules of writing also apply to historical research).

S: Thank you very much if you have time to answer any of these. Any time would be fine, and you can pick any one question to answer if you want. I think I was supposed to ask how you got where you are in your careers, but this is the stuff I'm actually interested in. I apologize for how awkward this is. If and when you're ever in Portland, I'd love to meet you and say hi, and I'm just as awkward in person.

D: Awkward? NO! So nice and polite and well-thought-out! You should extend your teacher(s) my compliments.

Donna Barr

(and include this: )

Sarah Cloutier


Don Simpson said...

So that concrete block that fell on my head when I was a kid (I leaned on a pile of them and the top one was not secure; the scar is on the upper left somewhere) was...


Donna Barr said...

Yup. Head trauma doesn't make us creative -- it just destroys the inhibition and self-doubt.