"Ah, so finally, the StH #257 arrived... About bloody time (since this was the third occasion it came late, I'm gonna unsubscribe if they missed my issue for the fourth time)!", instead I got this!
To know that I can make something this good in three weeks, I gotta say I'm proud. This is what graphic designers do or a production artist if you were to work at Archie comics, hell I even played the role of an editor for pete's sake. lol
I want to thank all the people who contributed to this special project once again, and they include:
Contributing artists: and
Special PIN-UP artwork: and
All of the participants who have contributed their FANART, QUESTIONS (to Tracy) and SHOUT-OUTS
All of the Archie staff who have passed on their messages on the 'Thank you Tracy' page.
Last, and by no means the least, for her awesome revision skills.
Many people will get discouraged by that, especially those who applied for other jobs over a hundred times (and it's a very real thing in America, I've heard of the terrible stories, bless them for trying so hard). In my case I'm lucky to keep a cool head and very fortunate that I still have options before I moved to the United States and do my studies at the Academy of Art university. Sure I was naturally disappointed at the time, but you know I think it turned out for the better in my opinion.
How so? Well for several reasons:
i) I made up my mind to go back to Australia, live with family, make new friends, start my own family, and be happy with my profession in the hospitality industry. 'Home is where the heart is' as they say and I don't want to lose all that I nurtured with the family back in Australia (Malaysia and Singapore) for over 20 years.
Also the Australian economy is still young and continuing to grow head strong. We have amazing weather, awesome infrastructure, chilled out lifestyle, multicultural background, great tourism, a competitive currency (akak the Aussie dollar) and interest rate, lovely people who are also embracing new things and cultures, awesome food and finally a strong unemployment rate. Australia's consider one of the happiest places to live and it is certainely one of the most expensive in the world. Check out this recent study from the EIU.
I'll go back to Perth, Western Australia after my second semester finishes, AND, after I spend one last ride with my special friends in California aka , & (it'll be around June/July 2014 period). I won't be seeing them for quite a while (gonna miss them =' () after I'm back home and working full-time (and perhaps I'll find me a girlfriend in the process! XD), in fact, I'm gonna promise to all me mates back in the UK, that you will be next up for a revisit!
ii) Pay in the arts/video games/entertainment industry is peanuts (majority of it, and not including show-business/TV/acting in Hollywood/commercial and corporate graphic design/web-based multimedia ~ designing aps and games for mobile devices).
Do your research next time and think seriously about your current position if you're already attending art school, and you're not doing too well in your classes, AND you're already accumulating a huge debt.
Sure there are positions out there that will offer a decent salary of 40K for entry level but that's only if you're working for the best out there (e.g. Dreamworks, Pixar, Blizzard, Massive Black, EA, ILM, Blue Skies Studios etc...) And if you want in with the best you better start developing a really kick-ass portfolio, accumulated a multitude of networks and have interpersonal skills that you're highly confident of. If you have all three you are probably looking at getting 5-7% of the good part of the pie, realistically.
After hearing that the average for entry level for the kind of job that I'm studying for is 20K, I was appalled. My previous job at the casino/entertainment complex was giving me 3 times that salary (and it wasn't even a management position). Not only that you will be digging your grave to long hours of tedious and uninspiring work (but for me it's more about the money because I need it to support myself and my family should I have one soon). So if you're prepared to work at almost minimum wage and destroy your enthusiasm for the arts, think again. Which leads to my next point...
iii) I lack the drive to work in this business. Sure Darkspeeds seems like he's up for the challenge, he's always posting cool stuff and writing journals that are full of positive things to read about, true, but now that I've taken the initiative to test the waters in art school, did some local research of my own at job sites, spoke to instructors and industry professionals, and did the math I found out that the risks are not worth it.
Also the climate for this business is shrinking too. Look what happened after Disney's acquisition last year? The reality is that at the end of the day you realistically have to treat your job like it's a job, it's a business, the bottom line, and if you don't make that deadline, who's going to save your ass then? And don't get me wrong, the job can be fun, but it only lasts for a little while and the next thing you have to worry about is paying those bills, unless you're a part of the 5-7% of the pie as I mentioned earlier.
Even after doing the graphic novel project for the three weeks, I can't imagine myself doing this over and over again for the rest of my life if I were to pursue a career there (unless I get paid a decent wage). And I have to repeat myself on this, sure it can be fun for a while but how long can I last? This is the reason why I don't want to risk the burnout and kill my love for the creativity that got my started drawing in the first place.
So despite the fact that I have POTENTIAL and TECHNIQUE (hell I've averaged high B's last semester which is considered very good in the industry - if you're averaging with an A level in art school, you shouldn't even be there... lol) I lack the motivation to keep me going long term.
iv) VISA situation. I don't even want to go there. If reading and doing 50 pages worth of paperwork from Homeland Security isn't enough. Cold hard fact is - The United States deliberately makes it near impossible for aliens (aka their term for immigrants) to live and work long tern or even gain citizenship (tighter controls more-so ever since 9/11). My original idea was to go through the Academy for three years, graduate, get sponsored for another two years by a studios and then apply for citizenship that way (you'll need a total of 5 consecutive years of physically living in the State before you can apply). But the again there is no guarantee that I can survive those next 5 years financially. On top of that there is no guarantee that someone will sponsor me no matter how good my portfolio is or how hard I pull strings through networking. It is difficult to migrate to the United States, I've heard the stories, they are real, and I'm potentially in one of them myself. Hell if you don't believe me you may wonder why Ian Flynn moved over to Canada after trying to get his Canadian fiancee (aka Aleah Baker) to legally live with him in the US after marriage - the paperwork, poor admin and ultra long response times from Homeland Security were unacceptable. Why would you want to go through all that bullshit for nothing? Waste your time, waste your money, waste your patience. I'd do the same and move to Canada like Ian did (and fortunately in my case it would be a smooth transition since I'm Australian and under the British Commonwealth, and Canadians have the same privileges too).
iv) F**king expensive exercise - cost/benefit analysis
There's not doubt that I planned this for a long time, 10 years to save up 100K (AUD) to survive at the Academy of Arts for 2-3 years, and currently because of a stronger US dollar the power of my savings has been robbed 20K, making it worth 80K USD net after conversion.
So if I'm left with a +100K uni debt after graduation and I'm offered a 20K entry level job (let's be generous and say that I earn 40K after 2 years), where's the benefit? It'll take a lifetime to pay off that debt in those circumstances. On top of that if the company doesn't want me they can kick me out anytime and I'll be sent straight back home. Why don't I call it quits early and save myself 50K? That's the current plan.
Let me do the math on COST for you before I end this last point and get on to a lighter note:
- 3 years at the Academy of Art (Illustration major): based on current tuition fees, $785 x 66 units + [roughly $3,000 in admin/visa/course/materials/miscallaneous] = $54,810 (US)
- Rent in San Francisco (literally just 1 bed room and nothing else, besides shared toilet and bathroom) based on current market price, $880 x 12 x 3 = $31,680 (US)
- Food/Internet/Entertainment/Gifts/Holiday/Visits back home for special occasions ~ [$7,300 + $5,000] x $36,900 (US)
54,810 + 31,680 + 36,900 = $123,390 (US)!!
And that's not all, what about POTENTIAL COST?
Previous salary in Australia after tax, let's say about 55K (AUS). 55K x 3 x 0.892 (to exchange to US dollars) = $147,180
[ACTUAL COST] + [POTENTIAL COST] = $270,570 (US) (+ 3 years of my life)
Will I be happy with that? The fact that I could have used that money to buy me a brand new car, take lots of holidays, share the wealth with family and friends and mortgage a house with a rather generous deposit?
Let's not forget that the entry level job on average in the industry that I was planning to have a career in is 20K. How long will it take for me to pay off such a huge debt??
Think about this if you're in my situation, and you don't even need to be an international student. Which route would you rather be? The smart, sensible, and practical route or the high risk with no guarantee route? I think I'd choose the former which is why I'm going back home this year.
Anyways out of all the negative talk (but reality talk too - keep in mind!) the good news is that coming here to the United States, to live and study, was one of the best things I could have done for myself in my whole lifetime.
I desperately needed time out from my family to discover who I am and what I want to do in life. Also while at it I had plenty of opportunities to spend quality time with my friends in Califronia, who also helped me out alot throughout my journey here.
So yeah, I found my answers, I've learnt ALOT from art school, I know where I stand in terms of technical skill (seriously, you guys already know how competitive this industry is but man... It's super cool to see how far artists can push themselves with their craft, I've witnessed the A level stuff and I'm like, wow), and I want to use the skills I've learnt from school and apply it to the thing that enjoy doing most for a hobby - illustration (fan comics and original stuff), multimedia (making comic dramas, voice acting, singing to covers) and graphic design (book publication)! Oh I shall add a fourth to that repertoire - oil painting! I just can't wait to go back to Australia and start building an archive of still life and landscape paintings of my beautiful city!! In fact I'll still take classes when I'm back home, I want to further develop my love for oil painting thanks to Michelle Goodwin and Sheldon Greenfield (my Color and Design and Still Life Painting instructors!)
Phew! That was a mouth-load! Well that deserved attention since many of you guys and gals want to know the story behind what happened after I got an offer from Archie Publications for an internship while I was studying at the Academy of Art university.
Anyways now that is all clear I've one last thing to share with you, a video! Check out how the book looks inside! It feels AMAZING to have it in your hands... And I'm excited to know that the book is going to be Tracy Yardley's possession real soon! And I know you fans will be curious to know what he thinks after he's done a read through, I'm just as curious myself.
So yeah till next time, watch out for Darkspeeds, for he is making his way back to Sonic fan comics this awesome year that is 2014, starting with a brand new Sonic Boom fan comic titled - SONIC BOOM: Unwrapped! You can check thumbnails and script to Episode one: Closure!