How To Gain Confidence in your Comic Book Career

Last night I sat utterly astounded as I watched our local city Children’s Choir perform. Their performance was in a old time theater complete with balcony, ambient lighting, curved architecture and golden wall motifs. The children sang in groups from 5 years old through high school. In between the different age groups. High school seniors sang solo selections from operas. Not only was the vocal range intensive, but the ferocity and intensity at which there tiny bodies belted out these harmonious, glorious notes was incredible.

I could not help but think. How in the world would someone be able to go from barely being able to talk (5 year old) to where they are filling the halls of a packed theater hitting every note at full vocal capacity (the seniors).

I sing not one note, but I reasoned it would be similar to how we create comics. Both music and drawing implore our creative minds and bodies–the difference is different tools, different body parts, and different end product, but the creative process is typically the same for everyone.

Obviously, we have to 1. learn what to do, 2. do it, and then 3. continue to do it while changing the imperfections to make perfection.

I feel like most people who have the interest, talent, and passion to pursue their dreams will follow this formula of work.

There is however, several areas of training that is overlooked by most people in the midst of their process of embarking on this journey to learn the skill of their dream.

1. The ability to stick things out when they get hard. (knowing when to quit and when not to quit.)
2. The ambition to begin such a difficult training of self sacrifice and self-growth (knowing when and why to start such a daunting and humbling journey.)
3. The confidence to perform a task to the best of your ability. (this is not your innate ability to perform it is only your ability to think that you may have the qualities TO perform)

On my first comic book coloring job, I worked with a team of colorists. It was a creative boutique focusing on comic book separations. I was not very confident in my work, I had only recently learned Photoshop. Even though I had been painting for years, the specific client requirements and new software tools left me feeling very uncomfortable when applying certain techniques. This would slow my page times down considerably. I would always be second guessing what I had done, reinventing things, and worrying about messing up.

I asked one of my friends who had been working at the company for more than a year how I could get over this problem I had. He offered me one piece of advice, that has literally been the milestone of every successful piece of work that I have had — including becoming the fastest creative color separator at the company, moving up to production manager at another company, and even earning a $50K salary while bringing millions of dollars of business into another organization from our clients.

Who would have thought one piece of advice would go so far? I will give this advice to you, so you will know how to gain confidence in your comic book career.

I asked my friend, “How do I know I’m doing this right?”

My friend told me to “Fake it with authority.”

Essentially what I took that to mean, was that it didn’t have to be right. It just had to be done. And no one would check up on me because I was the expert. They hired me to do the job. They expected my to do the job. They had confidence that I could do the job, so now all I needed was to have confidence in myself. And if by some chance I didn’t know everything I needed to know, I could just pretend I knew what I was doing. Do it. Then justify I had made the right decision later.

In looking back over the people I have hired for jobs, I may have had the choice of hiring one of only two people. The first person would do his version of what I asked him to do and it would be done. The second person would ask me a whole lot of questions. Does this look right? Is this what you want? What do you think about this? More often than not the 1st person — the confident person gets the job.

So, keep learning, keep doing, keep achieving perfection. But when you cant achieve perfection, fake it with authority. This will help you gain the confidence you will need to go further in you Comic Book Career.

How has your confidence, or lack thereof, helped or hurt you in your comic book career?