Whenever the red line underneath a word doesn’t appear I get anxious. Hiatuses looks like it’s a word from Dr. Seuss but it doesn’t have that red line under it so I’m assuming I’m in the clear.
Coming back from a long hiatus is weird. I feel like a stranger in a familiar land. It feels odd to pick up a pencil and pen and draw again but I have a head full of ideas which means taking a long (~yearish) break from anything creative is a good call sometimes. I forget that life isn’t art school all of the time and to avoid burn out, you have to take a few steps back every so often and decompress. I was burnt out for around three years, shortly before my Anomalous show. Burn out feels weird. It’s weird when something fun becomes something dreadful and torturous. How accolades can feel like knives and how the notion of drawing even one line is stalled before a pen touches paper. I’ve read so many books, blogs, and watched a lot of documentaries to try and garner some kind of inspiration to get out of a burn out funk. Museums didn’t help, galleries didn’t help, seeing works of peers and contemporaries didn’t help, talking about it didn’t help. Nothing helped at all. It reached the point where i was seriously debating whether or not the period of ‘Cody as Artist’ was over and ‘Cody as Blank’ was beginning. So I took the first of three hiatuses.
My first hiatus came when I stopped beating myself up over not drawing or sketching things and began focusing on other stuff (some of it creative some of it not). This did not include reading and mostly included naval gazing, eating a lot of pizza, and watching a lot of Netflix, CrunchyRoll, and Hulu. It also included a lot of multiplayer online gaming.
While this was fine for a time that gnarly beast of burn out began pecking at my ear saying things like “you should be drawing. You should be making something to sell. You’re wasting time because you won’t be able to draw when you’re dead, and then what will you do? What sort of legacy is pizza grease stained pajamas, an embarrassing amount of porn, and a high mastery score in Smite?” Alas, I felt even more defeated and depressed. When freelance gigs came in at the time I would feel my mental joy quickly being crushed by this monsters who was tired of being cooped up in a cage.
My second hiatus came when I walked away from freelancing withing the theater scene of the San Francisco Bay Area. I did some decent work for decent folk and if I wanted to ever evolve it, I may have been able to if I latched on to the game to work in the higher end theater houses. It’s not my thing, sure, and I do enjoy putting my own spin on selling theater to a younger demographic (dead people don’t see theater as far as I know?) I had a theater company I did some social media images for and I would always jump at the chance to work on something with my partner in crime and those I respect and admire. But in terms of seeking new harbors? Nah. Before I knew it, I was slowly moving into the background and after my last biggest theater gig for a company called Custom Made Theatre Co., I decided to take my second hiatus. There was something I was searching for and I didn’t know what it was, but I knew something drastic would have to happen. I thought it was walking away as a freelancer. Had I known a bigger sacrifice was coming up, I may have rethought my artistic career. Alas, whats done is done and you can only steer into the tidal wave.
My third and final hiatus came in January of 2017 when I was too depressed to truly function for a lot of reasons. Some related to the politics of our time, some related to personal events that probably related more to Hiatuses #1 and #2 than I care to admit. I took a break, it was only supposed to be for a month, of my comic strip Clyde the Cyclops. One month lead to two and then three and then four. It was something I needed after updating a cartoon every day for three years, always feeling like I’m play catch up with it, and never really sitting down to think about what to do with it.
Clyde began as therapy because of the toxic work place of my day job and the call out culture that exploded onto the internet at around 2011-2013. I wanted this kind of space where people stopped caring about what other people cared about, and just existed in wonder and wandered about with friends regardless of who they were. That evolved into Clyde and his menagerie of friends in a world that was always changing from truly fantasy, to our own world, to “are Greek gods in this thing?”
With Hiatus #1 and #2 in full swing, I wouldn’t approach my comic with the best intentions. I approached it as something I had to do so that I could move on to doing the things I want to do. Namely, watching TV and play video games and slowly transition from socialite to introvert.
In January of 2017 I realized it was too much for me to deal with so I took a break from Clyde for four months. In that span of time I went to Tuscon, Arizona for several days, to stay at a hotel in the desert. It was lovely and refreshing. I saw Sedona. I saw the Grand Canyon. I saw the border of the United States and Mexico. I saw history. I touched the past. I was able to feel completely separate from anything and everything for a complete eight days. Which sounds so small but in reality, was a great breath of fresh air.
With three hiatuses under my belt I found that I was able to unlock the cage and let the gross Burn Out monster run free across the plains of Northern Arizona. I feel refresh and ready to begin creating things again which is a much better feeling than feeling like I’m trapped with the only exit being to slap stuff down on a page to free myself.
With so many hiatuses that are mostly just one big hiatus I had to come to grips with, I spent a good deal of time looking through old sketchbooks, reading old comics, playing a lot of video games, and watching some pretty great Anime. I somehow avoided the internet.
I have a lot of stories to tell in Clyde’s world. Not with Clyde specifically but with that motif, and I’m comfortable with telling them finally after all of this time. Whether or not they’ll be good is anyone’s guess. I’ve been world building and brainstorming all kinds of creatures and locations with real intentions to bring them to fruition. It feels nice saying that and not secretly wondering if you’re saying it because you’re used to saying it.
Here’s hoping that I’m back on track and not just in a period where I’m lured into a false sense of confidence.