Episode 25: Stop Planning Your Career and Start Doing the Work with Thomas Clemmons

June 22, 2016

Today on the program we have Thomas Clemmons, artist and writer of the Robot Friday webcomic and full time graphic designer.

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Here is the profile from www.robotfriday.com:

Thomas has been a graphic designer for 20 years and owes much of his cartooning style and work flow to the profession. In 2009, while working fulltime as a freelancer, Thomas created Robot Friday which currently boasts over 550 archived and ongoing strips. You can see more of Thomas’s work at his portfolio website,www.ideasintoart.net.

I had Thomas on the program because he talks a big game about helping artists build careers and I wanted to see if he could deliver. Boy did he deliver.

Our conversation was wide ranging, beginning with his origin story as a graphic designer twenty years ago. He’s really passionate about making sure other artists don’t make the same mistakes he made growing up.

I love that idea, because it’s sort of the same thing that I try to do, which is either be a shining example or horrible warning. Obviously the breadth of Thomas’s career makes it clear he’s a shining example. His big talking point is to do stuff. He’s not a fan of that much planning. He really wants people to just start doing things.

I feel the same way of course. People are often too concerned with planning things and not concerned enough with doing things. It all comes down to mindset for me, and for Thomas. People are scared to get started because they don’t believe they can do it.

We talked about that a lot during this episode. Both of us have tried to give point by point instructions to people with less than stellar success. It wasn’t until we started delivering messages of “You can do it” and other motivations to get people to see this was possible that we had success.

I really loved talking to Thomas about creativity too. Thomas has been running is comic since 2009, and I loved talking about how he designed his strips. Both of us use this outside in philosophy when we are stuck. Which is to start with the beginning and the end and work in from there. It’s not really possible with a novel or a movie script, but it works great in comics.

Again, we mostly talked about just doing it. A large chunk of our conversation was about other webcomics like Penny Arcade, and how people judge themselves on where Penny Arcade is NOW, and not where they started. The first 100+ Penny Arcade strips were dreadful. I mean there was a little spark of genius, but it to develop the style of the piece and what they wanted to say.

Here’s the thing, that sort of stuff takes time. It’s easy to come up with an idea. It’s really hard to make that idea pop. It’s really, really hard to make the format something people want to read while still making it be something that you want to make.

And if you end up not wanting to make something over a long period, it’s okay to quit. Or to pivot to something you like better. This is a career and you aren’t stuck doing anything.

We ended by talking about his voice. Thomas has a very unique voice online and stumbled onto something I teach before we met. He developed his ideal client profile, and he really decided to hone in on them. A byproduct of talking to his ideal client is that his voice because his voice became very strong. So strong that other people started to latch onto it. That’s so key. Every voice is going to be different, but if you make it unique people will respond to what you have to say.

You can find Thomas online through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat @ robotfriday. His websites are robotfriday.com, robotfridaysketchcast.com, designasuper.com, ideasintoart.net

If you liked this episode, please click here to rate, subscribe, and review it. It’s the best way for us to find new fans and help more people. 

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