I thought I would end this book with a few words of wisdom that I've gathered over a lifetime of being an artist, and half a decade (so far) of being a comic creator.
No matter what you do, or what you create, there will always be people who don't like it.
You can be the best artist or storyteller in the world, and there will always be people out there who don't agree with what you do. They won't like the way you write dialog, or the way that you draw exactly five eyelashes on each character. They'll think you're an overrated hack who doesn't deserve anyone looking at their art.
Don't listen to these people. Even Einstein had people who thought he was stupid and crazy. If you persist, eventually you will reach your definition of success.
Never stop learning.
No matter how much you've improved, you can still learn more. Got faces down but still can't do hands? Look at tutorials and do tons of hand drawings. Pick one or two things at a time that you feel you could do better at and focus on those things until you're better. Study the work of those who inspire you. If the artists that you admire have YouTube channels or Deviant Art accounts, follow them. Ask them about their technique; ask if they're willing to help other artists or if they'll do tutorials on something that you like in their work. Most artists are more than willing to help out others and share their knowledge.
I love to watch creative work of others, because this helps me to learn something new. Whether it's a new way to ink or a way to use a layer combine mode to make an effect, you can always pick up at least one thing from watching someone else.
Just remember, if you're in person and you want to watch an artist draw, ask if it's okay first! A lot of artists get nervous when people watch them. (If you ever meet me at a convention though and want to watch me draw, that's okay. I don't mind it!)
Make what you would love to see and read.
If you have a comic idea that will be the next Penny Arcade, but you don't like playing video games, don't make a video game comic. If you like to draw cartoon animals but think that Manga style will get more attention, don't draw Manga style. Your passion will come through in your work, and if you don't love what you're doing then it will show!
I don't play a lot of video games, so doing a video game comic wouldn't be right for me. However, I love old cartoons—the cheesier the better—and I love giant robots and science fiction. So I decided to make a comic that combined these things. If I tried to do a comic about gamers, I'd be calling it in most of the time and it would show, trust me. Like Hanna-Barbera style cartoons? Analyze what you like about them and incorporate it into your work. Don't draw Manga just because it's "in."
Find a way to forget hurtful things and remember the good things.
In his interview on TGT Media, Michael "Mookie" Terracciano said something that I will never forget. He pointed out that, being a comic creator and going to, say, a convention, you could spend all weekend with people coming up to you and telling you how much they love your work. And then one person could come up and tell you that you are the worst artist on the planet and you will remember that one person for the rest of your life and forget all the compliments that you received.
This isn't just something that artists and writers do, either. It's something that all people do. And having it pointed out really made me think hard, and I came up with a system for me that allows me to remember the good things that have been said to me. I'm going to share it with you, in the hopes that you'll create something that works for you if you have trouble with remembering your compliments.
I started up a file where I store the nice things that are said about me, whether it's someone thanking me for help on Twitter or telling me that they enjoyed the way I drew a panel, I save them. And then when I'm feeling bad about myself or like everyone is against me, I open that file and realize that things aren't so bad as they seem. I have the proof right in front of me.
Be careful which critiques you listen to, and which you ignore.
Critique is an important part of being a craftsperson and improving at it. Artists of all types need critique to know where they need to improve and what they could be focusing on. If you don't know that you keep drawing hands on backwards, you'll do it over and over again and it will be hard to stop! Or if your coloring is flat and needs some life breathed into it with more contrast, having someone point that out can steer you in the right direction for making improvements. We need to know what we could improve on so that we can focus on the problem areas.
But not all critique is the same. Get to know your comfort level with critique. Personally, I'm a little delicate sometimes so I choose not to seek out some of the more "hard-core" critique sites and instead like to ask for help via my Facebook and DeviantArt pages. This is because I can get advice from people that I trust who aren't going to tear me down just to do it.
The Internet can be a hard place to post your creativity to. It's like sharing your soul and your heart with someone and having them rip it out when they say something bad about it. So, while you should listen to critiques, make sure that you listen to the critiques that are right for you.
Don't be afraid to experiment; even when you think you have a style or technique perfected, be willing to tweak it and test if there's a better way.
Experimentation is the spice of life, or something like that. Do something that you've never done before once in awhile. Make your line art dark blue or brown instead of black. Use a watercolor brush to paint a scene. Do some speed paintings of environments, or make characters by designing their silhouettes first. Browse a tutorial site and read any lessons that look interesting. Try different colorings of light on a character, draw a scene at night and paint it in nothing but purple and blue. Use a new brush to ink with. Create a new pencil tool. Try your hand at some calligraphy.
Whatever new things you can test out, do it! You'll discover what you're good at and what you're terrible at, and you'll start to learn new things that you can apply to what you love already.
If it doesn't work for you, don't do it.
Some people will tell you to create every day, even if you don't want to. Some people will tell you that not creating every day is fine, because you need to recharge your batteries sometimes. The thing is that, if a method doesn't work for you, you shouldn't attempt to use it.
You could learn the secret to the best coloring technique in the world, but if you hate the results or the process then you aren't going to love using it. You could download the best set of custom brushes on the entire Internet, but if you don't want an oil painting look to your work, you won't use them. So, simply, if it doesn't work for you then don't do it. Give new things a try all the time, but if you find that after you've tried them you don't like them, don't continue with them.