Admitting Failure

Written by Matthew Warlick

October 14, 2010

Sometimes admitting that we’ve failed, or fallen short of a planned goal, is hard. And it’s necessary. As artists we’ve all had countless pieces get scrapped in-progress, never to see the light of day. This is how we learn and grow, and eventually get better at our craft; by learning from our mistakes.

Having said that I’m none-too-happy to announce the failure of my Old Ones Kickstarter initiative. It ended about 2 weeks ago (well short of the mark with only 10% funding) and I’ve just been putting off the inevitable process of realization and growth, because it can be a painful process.

I have to admit though, it’s 100% my fault. I think the most obvious blunder I made was trying to raise too much money, for a project that was just too big. 108 pages is a lot, and 8k is a huge chunk of change to ask people to throw down on a young, relatively unknown artist. I also didn’t offer updates as often as I should have, and should have planned those out in advance. I also should have put together a video, but my stage fright and odd social behavior kept me from doing so. This time. (for an awesome Kickstarter primer check out this article by Jason Brubaker.)

So after a little brainstorming with my studio mate Jake Ekiss The Old Ones has taken on a slightly different form. It’s now a more humble 52 pages story, focusing on the horror and sci-fi aspects that originally inspired me to write it. It also won’t be printed, at least not at first. I’ll be offering it up on the web at some point, and in the meantime will be looking into digital distribution methods as well. Once I have a solid plan I may even open up another Kickstarter fundraiser.

Surprisingly the other side of my artistic life, my freelance design and illustration work, is going extremely well. I’m lining up web and print work left and right, and while it may not be glamorous or for big-name brands, it pays the bills and lets me do what I love for a living; create.

So what have the past few months taught me? Well first off comics is a cut-throat business. Not because of the people involved, just because of the sheer number of artists trying to break in, and the already established artists fighting to keep their pages coming. I’m also lucky that I have the design and interactive expertise to fall back on; otherwise I might be in real trouble.

For better or worse marketing and advertising pays and it pays wells. You sell your soul sometimes, but you get paid up front, not on the back end.

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  1. Ron

    Sorry to hear it didn’t make it’s goal. I was one of the people who pledged this project. I was really looking forward to seeing your take on the Cthulhu Mythos.

    • Matthew

      Thanks Ron. And have no fear, The Old Ones is still a go, if not in it’s original format. I’ll be starting work soon on the revised concept and posting more info and eventually pages in the coming months.

  2. Vinh-Luan

    Arg. Sorry to hear that, bro. It sucks when things don’t pan out; but from that we do have to learn our lessons or we’ll just make the same mistake twice. Time to buckle down, regroup, and try to take over the world!

  3. Tyler James

    Dan Stanford has a great quote that says: “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” It’s so true. There is no growth without failure. Sorry your Kickstarter didn’t pan out, but as you’ve said in your post, you’ve learned some valuable lessons. Keep at it man!

  4. Cody Glenn

    You know, we could sit down and compare failures all day long, if it’d make you feel better, man. I promise you that my list is longer than yours in that regard– but I’ll give you my thoughts anyway:

    1. Stage fright is something you, of all people, shouldn’t have to endure. As far as odd social mannerisms, look up Antoine Dodson sometime. We live in an age where odd social mannerisms can make people rich and famous.

    2. 108 pages is indeed a lot– and $8,000 is staggering in today’s market. But I don’t think you need to compromise– there’s always other options, other mediums, and other ways to make things happen. Never limit yourself, or your art.

    3. I’m happy to hear that things are going well on the freelance front. Something I’ve learned is that it isn’t necessarily about being picked up by big brand names– it’s about making enough money to get by, live comfortably, and do what you want to do. If you can do that, and be unrestrained, then you’ve accomplished more most big name CEO’s.

  5. Ted

    about to browse through your artwork… a big fan of most of the what i see on your header there 😀 my dream as a kid was comics, though i was never good enough. just lost a huge collection D: and things had lead me to kind of abandoning my passion of songwriting and lyrics myself.

    i was actually lead here trying to research some medical problems i’m having, and i currently have a snapped titanium plate on my right collar bone, with the bone malformed. it’s been in there for years, since 2006, and always been painful and nagging, but in the last few weeks i’ve been getting this worrying and jolting electrical current through my upper body. the first thing i found was lhermitt’e sign, which seemed close, but when i stumbled on your blog entries about TOS i thought i’d struck gold. i’ll be out of commission for awhile if i get this thing out, and have to make sure it’s done properly and as you said, i don’t come out worse, or end up worse without recovery time. going to read the shoulder blog anyway, but how did things go, how are things now?

    i hope you’re able to delete this comment, as i wasn’t able to find a contact tab on the site. hope you persevere in your dreams, or find the better route to the same destination.

    • Matthew

      No worries Ted, I welcome any and all discussion.

      Personally I’m doing good but still live with the after effects and nerve damage on a daily basis. Most days are good, some are bad, and every once in a while my hand goes completely numb. Those jolts you feel are probably either nerve damage or your thoracic outlet running out of room, impinging on the nerves, veins and arteries. I’d suggest having a specialist look at it, take out the plate, and possible re-pin it (with a more modern procedure) to see if they can get you back to normal.

      I hope the shoulder blog can help you out, if you have any questions feel free to ask!

  6. Zagra

    Hey, Mat, sorry to hear about this… I was really hoping to see the graphic novel come true since I’m a Lovecraft fan myself and really love your artwork… but well… with luck it will still come to life in the future.