On March 30th, I was fortunate enough to be a panelist at McNally Robinson for Women & Fandom, a tie-in to the launch of The Secret Loves of Geek Girls by Bedside Press. Hope Nicholson brought together a varied group of women in Winnipeg’s fan community, and I had a great time hearing about their experiences and responding to questions from the audience.

I wanted to get in a few more notes and plugs but we all ran out of time (and I had talked way too much already), so I wrote them up.

1. It’s okay to have a day job if you want to be a creative, and that day job can even help you.
I was lucky enough to work in media, which gave me a lot of opportunities for networking and promotions. I’ve also had the chance to meet some amazing experts at the University of Manitoba. Even if you work retail or food service, you can still benefit through things like requesting to use the location as a venue for a promotional event or displaying some of your products. Admittedly this is easier in locally owned businesses, but they’re right next door to chains, so it never hurts to get to know your neighbours.

Building a full-time art career takes many, many years, and the cliche of the “starving artist” needs to die. Sometimes your day job’s skills can really help you, too, and it never hurts to be able to eat and go to the dentist.

2. Some amazing women creators you might not have heard of:

  • Tess Fowler, current artist for comic series Rat Queens.
  • Rebecca Sugar, creator of Cartoon Network series Steven Universe
  • Kaoru Mori, creator of amazingly detailed manga series A Bride’s Story
  • Raina Telgemeier, children’s comic artist and NYT bestseller creator of Smile
  • Noelle Stevenson, breakout awesome illustrator of Nimona and Lumberjanes
  • Minna Sundberg, webcomic creator of Stand Still. Stay Silent
  • Karla Zimonja, Story editor on indie game hit Gone Home

…I could have gone on all day about this, but this is a good start, at least.

As a somewhat-related mention: local artist Sara Wilde just posted a fantastic article on supporting local creatives without spending money. It’s got some great points. Check it out at http://sarawildeart.com/giving-support-without-giving-money/

3. Social media and understanding the web is super important… but don’t be a buttface.

As a creative in the internet age (which is starting to make me feel old), you’re more responsible for your own career than ever. Even if it does take away time from making the things you really want to make, it’s the best way to make sure people remember you. Develop a social media marketing plan, learn how to manage online sales (I state without having one of my own, so take that as you will), and learn how to communicate on different channels in different ways. Don’t knock yourself down: people are following you because they want to.

…But as much as it is critical to have confidence in what you’re doing, make sure you don’t cross the line from confident to buttface. Participate in communities; don’t just yell your own content at them. Don’t post every page you make of your story in community groups.

Most importantly: don’t knock down other creators*. We all do this because we love it. Petty infighting is energy that could be spent on making something new.

* Unless they are aforementioned buttfaces. If someone is being a bad community member, it’s important to make sure they know their behaviour is unacceptable in a professional way.

I really hope I can be on another panel with those fine ladies in the future. Thanks to everyone who made it out!

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