By day, I'm disguised as a mild-mannered worker bee. By night, my imagination conjures soaring mythic worlds of heroism, ancient wonders and cosmic horror. I'm a lifelong gamer and fantasy nerd. I've also been a lifelong creator wannabe, forever torn between the distinct and separate disciplines of writing and artwork. It took many years and a dose of brutal self-honesty to acknowledge another saddening truth: I'm a hack.
As a twentysomething slacker I piddled around with my desire to be a comic book creator/writer/artist/multimedia nerdgod guy. Trusting in the providence of divine intervention and "destiny," I simply assumed that doors would open, ideas would just appear like magic, and I would miraculously defy the odds and rocket to fame and riches as soon the moment became "just right."
By the late 1990s I had a mediocre pencils-and-inks "portfolio" going that showed signs of potential but, charitably speaking, "more work to do." I was underway with faltering pre-production on a dark fantasy setting and a core circle of main characters; it would perhaps be stretching it to call them "original," but they were nonetheless mine and the process of creating them was a pleasure to me. At the time I couldn't afford a computer of my own; I just knew that if I could get my hands on one - and this magical program called "Photoshop" - all lights would turn green and the true magic could begin!
Finally, I got my hands on both... computer color at last! And what do you think happened next?
Yep. I started drawing porn.
Now I don't consider this to be an "evil" thing in itself; I'm not here to be Mr. Holy and I personally recognize a time and a place for quality erotic art. The sin of my "change in direction" was against the principles of art: proportion, perspective, and - oh yes - anatomy, for starters. My sin was the sin of hackery, complacency, and creative stasis.
Then I installed Poser 5 on my computer, and it was all over.
Now I'm paying the price. Being a Poser hack has caused even the fair drawing talent I used to have to rust away. I'm past 30, working a non-creative job, with a few thousand dollars' worth of graphics software and addons on my computer... but no credits, no worthwhile creative accomplishments, nothing to show my friends or family to indicate any right to call myself an artist. This is the Hell I've created for myself. In assessing all the ways I've messed up and squandered my potential, in my head I hear Danny Glover berating Martin Short in Pure Luck: "It's humanly impossible to get EVERYTHING wrong!" Well, apparently not.
But now I'm here, and see a potential resource to salvage things and atone for the past. I have sinned against myself. I'm here to repent.
I'm on my laptop, and the desktop with the graphics programs on it is shut down. I'm at my real, physical art table with real, physical pencils, erasers, drafting tools and paper nearby. It's time to re-learn the basic basics I may never have properly learned in the first place. I'm starting with line work. Once I have that back I'll practice value again. No color until I can at least get those back. From there... well, we'll see.
As an adult, I think I've finally learned my lesson: "talent" is a feeble substitute for practice, skill, and mastery derived from WORK. So be it. I will do what needs doing. I will become what I should have become long ago.