The Art of Skinner


        I talked with this one artist, Skinner, at Comic Con, not realizing just how influential the guy was. He had a style where he did what he wanted.

        “How do you make a living off of this?” I asked.

        “What?” he said, surprised that anyone would ever a question as insulting as that.

        “Hold up - I meant that as a compliment. In that you’re doing clearly what you love, unlike so many other people here who are just doing it in a style that the company would want them to work - you’re doing your own thing, and I respect that.”

        “Uh huh”

        “But making a living doing it in your own style - that’s so hard.”

        “Well, I get hired, like on skateboards and buildings and shit like that.”

        “I think I saw a piece of yours in Juxtapoz,” I said.

        “Yeah - I was in there.”


        He never quite said how he got to a point where people were hiring him for it, but I got the impression he’d been doing it forever, doing it for free, and from there people started paying him. At first, he was living in poverty, but over time he started making enough money to move out on his own and make a name for himself.

        This is me projecting, as he told me nothing, and I don’t care to look it up.


        It’s the same for just about any artist or writer I respect. For a long time they did what they loved for close to no pay. They always took little pay over doing something they hated, as they believed in what they were doing.


        It’s the single minded focus, and a drive causing them to produce a ridiculous amount of work that got all of them to where they needed to be. Slowly, I’m starting to believe in my own ability to make this happen. I’m reaching a point where I’m amazed at just how much writing I’m doing. I’m surprised at the single minded drive I’ve been able to go at it with. My level of output recently has been crazy. But more than that, the amount of time I’m spending on it is even crazier. I can’t imagine anyone else spending/wasting this much time on something that has such a small chance of ever paying off.


        When I tell people I’m writing 1,000 words a day as a bare minimum, the common reaction is, “Wow - that’s crazy.” If they knew how little of it was usable, how much of it a collection of self doubts and depression they might say something else. The follow up, if there is a follow up is, “So what are you writing?”

        As it stands, the answer is, “A Modern Family script, a pilot, some sketches, a few short stories, and a longer novel - in an attempt for something to hit and to build a portfolio.” That’s a lie, however. The truth is I’m writing warm up entries and an endless series of blog posts for the sake of getting into the habit. The truth is I rarely get into a groove where I lose all track of time and go for hours on end. The truth is I worry about what’s next. And then I think back to that conversation with Skinner - just keep going. Do what I love, and see where it takes me.


All art in this post is by Skinner

Artists, WritingJeremy Shuback