Since 2011 I have drawn thousands of comics. But over the last 11 years there were a few times when I almost quit. What saved the cartoons? Scratch that, who saved them? Read on to find out.
You’ll find my comics scattered across the web, on office bulletin boards, in university lecture slides, at conference presentations, and even within a handful of prominent textbooks. While I make most of my income as a graphic, web, and data designer these days, most evaluators know me first and foremost as “the evaluation cartoonist.”
But even with all the positive feedback there were quite a few times when I almost quit cartooning entirely.
Times when I almost quit cartooning.
1. When I started teaching data visualization design.
Back in the middle part of the 2010s I was a full time employee, a father to a preschooler, a blogger, and a cartoonist. Then I decided to start teaching an online data visualization design workshop. Something was going to have to give.
2. When I started my indie business.
It was 2016 when I started this business the first time. Were the cartoons essential to starting my consulting practice?
3. During my family’s hell year.
At the beginning of 2017 we lost my healthy father-in-law out of the blue to a rare condition called CJD. At the end of 2017 we lost my not-nearly-as-healthy father to a sudden heart attack. Both events took a heavy toll on myself and my family. Honestly, I’m still recovering.
4. When my business collapsed.
In early 2018 I “closed” my blog. I came back months later. And then in late 2018, I took a new full time job.
5. When I lost my job.
I was laid off in the middle of 2019. I saw it coming but it still felt like a punch in the gut. This was the moment that I lost all faith in the idea that a traditional full time position offered the stability I didn’t have when I was indie.
6. All those times in between, when I was just too overwhelmed.
I am an introvert with ADHD who faces regular bouts of depression and anxiety. Consistency is my struggle as my brain often pulls me in different directions or simply decides to shut down.
So why do I still cartoon?
I love that people read this blog. I enjoy when people like or comment on my social media posts. I like hearing from fans of my work or seeing the cartoons in prominent places.
But that wouldn’t be enough to keep me going.
In fact, I am almost certain that if not for this one thing the comics would have stopped years ago.
My Patrons Saved My Evaluation Comics
If you like my comics and have used any over the years in your presentations, lectures, or social media posts you have my patrons to thank.
The Patreon part of my business is not a huge money maker. It’s really just a small part of my income. But there is something behind the idea that people have been contributing real money towards my comics that makes it feel so much larger.
Their support over the years has taken me through every one of those times when everything seemed to be falling apart. All in all, 133 people have supported my comics at one point or another since I joined Patreon in 2014. My current count is 53.
Knowing they are there, supporting my work, brings me back even when times are hard. This post isn’t just a plug for you to join us on Patreon. It’s a time tested truth.
Re-inspired to Create
Back in the early summer I was really trying to post comics continuously, my goal was every single day. But then I burnt out and needed a break.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been cartooning again, although I haven’t shared much. This time I’m setting a personal goal to post 3 new cartoons a week for at least the next 6 months (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays).
Spinning off my comics to their own site.
Comics will still very much be a part of how I illustrate my blog here at freshspectrum. But I also wanted to create a comics-only place for when you just want to scroll through the cartoons. So that’s where evaluationcomics.com comes in.
All new cartoons I post will end up on the new site.
- The current year’s cartoons will be freely available for everyone to read.
- The complete archives will only be available to Patrons.
- It only takes the minimum Patreon level ($2 a month) to unlock the archives.
So, Join Us!
The freshspectrum patreon community is filled with the kind of people who enjoy evaluation comics. Are you one of us?
If yes, becoming a freshspectrum Patron is the best way for you to support evaluation comics and keep me creating on a regular basis.
Chris Smith says
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your journey. I’m sure there are many other people out there going through similar situations (myself included.) It is helpful to hear about the journey from someone else. Very inspiring. Thank you.
Chris Lysy says
Thank you Chris 🙂