Jake, you seem to have done it all...animation, teaching, comics, picture books. I know everyone's story is different and there's no one right way to make it as an artist. Can you give us a brief rundown of your personal path to success?
It all started when I decided to try out for a position at Fox animation studios in Phoenix during my freshman year in college. They needed assistants to help with animation and something in my humble portfolio told them to take a chance on me. So I left school and have been working ever since. That job opened doors to other jobs which opened more doors to others.
You currently have 5 kids, work full time as an artist for a educational software company, illustrate picture books and more. How do you juggle it all?
I work a lot of nights and weekends and I probably say yes to too much. My wife is amazing and does a great job holding down the fort. I don't watch TV or play video games or have any hobbies. I just put everything into art and family. I do take Sundays off and that's pretty good for charging my batteries for the week.
As I mentioned, you do it all...do you have a favorite genre to work in? Comics, Picture books, Animation?
I like each for different reasons. They all work different creative sides for me. But I always come back to comics.
Your newest venture is a Kickstarter project called THE ANTLER BOY AND OTHER STORIES, which is a collection of 9 stories from graphic novels and comics you've created that are mostly out of print, right? (For those who don't know, Kickstarter is the worlds largest funding platform for creative projects...check it out...it's pretty amazing). Tell us about what prompted you to take this route, what the challenges have been, and what advice you have for anyone looking to start a Kickstarter project.
After talking with my agent about this book idea to collect all my previously published stories we decided with how the publishing landscape looked right now the niche for a book like this was too small for a publisher to be interested in it. So I came up with a plan to self publish and fund it through Kickstarter.
The challenge with running a successful Kickstarter campaign is it ends up taking a lot more time than you plan. I've been getting a lot less sleep these past few weeks. Also, I'm new to this, so there's been a learning curve. But I've found that if your honest, professional, have a quality product, and present well it makes up for what you don't know. My advice to those out there planning their campaigns is to look at like it's an actual presidential campaign. You have to present yourself and your platform well, you have to have inciting incentives and promises, and you have to sell yourself as someone who delivers. The key to that is somehow making a connection with each person. It might be through your art or music, it might be how you run your campaign, it might be through your killer video. You don't vote for someone you haven't connected with and you don't back a Kickstarter that doesn't connect to you somehow.
I'm amazed at the volume of wonderful art you produce. I'm sure your training in animation (along with your raw talent) taught you to draw often, profusely, and well. Thanks so much for taking the time to share a little about yourself today with us.