Showing posts with label BEC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BEC. Show all posts

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rebecca Clements Interview part four of four

Rebecca Clements interviewed by Chris Beach

Read part one over here.

Read part two over here.

Read part three over here.

Is a community of artists important to you? Are a lot of your relationships with other artists exclusively online?

Most are! I tend to think of Twitter as my studio/office. We kind of passively talk to and with each other all day and even if I don't say anything myself, it's sometimes nice to just be able to hear what's going on with other people.

For the first time though, I'm connected somewhat to the local cartoonists and I try to catch up with my friends here when I can. Sometimes we hang out and draw together, which is fun (though admittedly, I think I get very little work done and just seem to watch a lot of Tim and Eric).

As for importance—crucial. Not only are they important connections for me, but I learn so much from the artists I associate with and follow, as well as often having MUCH needed support. Plus, they're fun.

Has doing guest strips for other webcomics been an important part of building your audience? How do you select artists who do guest strips on your site?

Very important. It's one of the most effective ways to reach new audiences. Luckily, I happen to ADORE doing guest strips for comics I love. I often feel like the best comics I produce are my guest comics, which is sometimes a shame! It's not like I can publish them in a book at some point, or even really have them understood by people who don't also know the comic they're for. That said, because most of the comics I've done them for have had much, much larger audiences than mine, it kind of cancels that complaint out.

I've only had two rounds of guest strips on KinokoFry so far, one featuring mostly my favourite international webcartoonists and the other featuring Australian cartoonists. Both were incredible. I will continue to try to get the cream of my personal crop, because not only do I want to show them to more people, but it is completely thrilling to see a cartoonist you admire's take on your own comics.

It's not something I'll do often though because I have so many comics I want to do myself.

What kind of commissioned work do you typically do?

There's been a lot of variation. I've worked on games and books and animation storyboards and cards and website images, but typically I do personal paintings for people. Sometimes it's an image they want to see realised. More often than not it's as a gift or for a special occasion, often painting a couple or a family in a particular kind of scene.

What kind of response do you get from your readers? Is it more than you would expect to get from making print comics?

I get typically REALLY good responses from my readers. I suppose that's natural because your readers surely are the people who like your comics. That said, it's often not the case and I'm lucky to have a very enthusiasic, positive, supportive and generally lovely readership. I have no idea what I might get from print comics, but I know that having a webcomic gives people a huge number of ways to communicate with me, and often instantaneously.

The prints and posters available in your shop are printed with vegetable-based inks on 100% recycled paper and mailed in 100% recycled packaging. Ethical concerns also make up much of the subject matter of your comics. Why is this such an important dimension of your work?

I suppose because more and more in my life, I've come to realise that solitary happiness isn't really any kind of thing. The more I learned about the world, about the current state of things, about life in general, about society and about people, the more I didn't want any happiness or success I have to have come at the expense of worsening others' lives, or the earth. Not only that, but the more I read and discover, the more I know that really amazing and positive changes are very, very possible and happen all the time when people make changes to their lives. I want to keep doing what I can to find my own success and continue to live more sustainably, in ways that don't cause misery for others, or chip away at the planet's limited resources.

We have all the ideas, technology and human power we need to move towards a genuinely sustainable life, in terms of both maintaining the natural environment and making massive leaps towards a more equitable world. I'm nowhere near leading a totally sustainable lifestyle right now. It's impossible without the society we live in also changing. However, I'm constantly finding new ways to improve and I want my art and my business to reflect this! It's been nothing at all really to do my best to use things like recycled paper. It's not only been fun and surprisingly easy, but it means the quality of all my paper has really improved. I've started using this really lovely recycled card for all my prints and it looks STUNNING. I can hardly believe that I might otherwise have been putting my artwork on boring old white-bread paper with no character and no life.

Still a long way to go but as each new change becomes a very easy habit, I'm able to make new ones and recommend things to others. And that's pretty much how real, tangible change happens! I'm always changing my focus, but never stop moving forward.

What is The Donation Project and how does it work?

I think is very important to talk about and promote the kind of life we wish to lead. So I started a comic called The Donation Project, inspired nominally by The Uniform Project (look it up!), where I do a comic about some project, artist, charity—whatever—that I think is doing important work and means something to me personally. Then I donate a small amount to that cause. The idea is not just to talk about these great things, but also to show that lots of small amounts of support really are important.

Can you describe how readers' ideas shape your BEC comics and what you're aiming to achieve? Why do you think sharing ideas is so important?

The way that BEC works is that the ideas come from my readers, and I turn them into comics. This was largely inspired by TED, which is one of the most amazing and inspiring projects I've ever come across. TED brings together great people from all fields and walks of life to share their ideas and experiences and work toward making a better world for us all. I loved that, and since lots of people who will never be asked to speak at TED have great ideas as well, I wanted to give some of them a forum. By putting their ideas into comic form, it's kind of like editing them and making them pretty, so that more people will not only read them but hopefully become interested in their potential.

There's a great variety and that's the way it will always be. For the most part, I want to base the comics on ideas and experiences people have had and on changes they've made in their lives, because that can be a powerful statement—saying, "I used to do or think this way, now I do or think THIS way instead, and it's awesome and here's why". People will always respond to that because 'doing' an idea is better than just talking about it. But the important and often neglected step is remembering to share that. No one can think of everything! Very few people can make changing their lives their full-time job. Why not package those ideas in a fun, cute and entertaining way that lots of people will read? Your idea isn't going to be right for everyone, but it might be right for someone, and it might make others consider things they hadn't thought of before.

That's how it ALWAYS happens with me. An idea is introduced in some way. Often I react defensively at first, but it sits in me like a seed. Over time I turn it in my mind, and when I'm ready, I might do something about it. It can happen in no time at all, or happen over years. But that those seeds are there is the important thing.

All I hope to achieve is to inspire people and play my own small part in helping to change the world, and in helping others to do the same! That's already happening, even though BEC is young. I hope to put more time into it soon and see how much we can make it grow.

Would you say that the underlying message behind BEC (and much of your other comics work) is that everyone has the power to influence the world in a positive way through small, incremental changes?

Absolutely. That's the only way change ever happens. There's never been a huge, noticable change that didn't first come about because of hundreds of tiny factors. History has taught us this lesson well, and you can see this happening on every kind of level all over the world. Sometimes people just don't realise that this is the way it works. There are a lot of companies and governments and people telling us we can't change things and it's an absolute lie, and it's always in their interest for you to believe them.

I'll tell you, even just reading on a daily basis websites like Inhabitat or magazines like Peppermint will reveal that determined people are working everywhere and succeeding at making positive changes all over the world. It's so heartening!

Would you like to share any changes you've made to your life in recent months that you feel have brought about positive change, helped to make you a happier or better person, or set a good example for others to follow?

I finally bit the bullet, made the call and started volunteering once a week at the CERES organic farm (though I'm often so busy I can only make it once fortnightly). It has been THE BEST. Every day I come away from that farm feeling absolutely amazing for having spent a beautiful day in a giant garden with fascinating people, and feeling thoroughly satisfied with how I've spent my day, physically and mentally. I learn a lot about how to grow plants, which I could NEVER do—I'd never even kept a potted plant alive before, and now I suddenly have the confidence to grow some ferocious thyme plants in the ground at my own house!—and have a really refreshing time talking with interesting people who share a lot of my goals. I also come home with armfuls of fresh, organic veges and eat like a freaking king.

A lot of articles and studies sing the praises of what a little volunteering will do for a person's happiness, and that doesn't even take into account what a great thing you're doing in an area that needs support. Not everyone can do it, but it's something to aim for—if not the volunteering, the learning to grow some of your own food. It just seems crazy to me to be a human being who can't grow my own food. It's really liberating, and exciting!

 All images copyright 2012 Rebecca Clements. Interview copyright 2012 Chris Beach