The fear of cartooning

Each of my usual cartoons takes me approximately a day to do. This includes thinking, talking to people, honing the idea, pacing up and down, thinking of a layout that works, wrestling with the exact wording, researching how things look (I know, you wouldn’t have thought it), having a crisis and deciding I am giving…

seagulls

Each of my usual cartoons takes me approximately a day to do. This includes thinking, talking to people, honing the idea, pacing up and down, thinking of a layout that works, wrestling with the exact wording, researching how things look (I know, you wouldn’t have thought it), having a crisis and deciding I am giving up cartooning for ever, pencilling, inking in, scanning, and finally editing on the computer. Any other professional cartoonists reading this will be amazed that I make a living. Yes, I know.

The image above, on the other hand, took perhaps 30 seconds. I suppose it might have taken up to a minute, depending upon the frequency of seagulls. It is from a notebook of cartoons I was looking at this evening which I did a number of years ago. There are another 75 pages of drawings in the notebook, none of which have been scanned or seen by anyone other than my wife. Most of them will probably never will be seen by anyone else. There are a number of reasons for this. Many of them made sense in the context they were drawn but would make rather less sense to the general public now. But another reason is my fear of having less than perfect work seen by the world. I’m terrified that you might not like it. But in fact these days I have a fear of even doing less than perfect work – it is a long time since I did a notebook of spontaneous drawings like the one above.

This is something I need to get over. At the very least I need to start to draw more and have fun doing it. I have found, and I suspect I am not alone, that it becomes harder to have fun doing something once the stakes are higher and you are being paid for it. Some people manage it, but I find it very difficult. I’ve known this for years, but my hope is that by telling you about it I might be able to beat it.

This rather self-absorbed blog post really isn’t intended to be me digging for compliments or doing myself down, by the way. I know I can be good at what i do. I’d rather hear how you deal with anything similar, if you you do. How do you remain creative under pressure? How do you cope with the fear of [insert name of occupation here]. How does one draw a seagull*? That sort of thing.

* I will get into trouble from my ornithologist friends for using the word ‘seagull’, I know. Sorry.