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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Goodbye 2017: A New Beginning.

Large Brown Bear and Little Rabbit (by me)
This was the year of Badin. Moreover, it was the year of my graphic novel, Badin and the Secret of the Saami. I sold out at Chicago's largest comic book convention. I presented the book and was an honored guest at the Museum of Ethnography in Sweden and University of Tromsø in Norway. The accomplishment of completing an historical fiction graphic novel was a glorious feat. Very few human beings can make such a claim! However, not all has been wonderful. In fact, it has been somewhat disastrous.

The perception of success and wealth for achieving this goal was the most frustrating aspect. So many people followed my progress as I posted updates and journal entries. They all assumed I was making profits and was well-off (second-hand suits and shirts can be deceiving). Quite the opposite was true. Finding work (in and outside of my industry) was especially difficult because of this false perception. Self-publishing my book—and reaping the consequences of the financial sacrifices required over the past 4 years—have been the final nail in a coffin of 18 years of self-employment.

Would I do it again? No. Would I do it if I had to start all over? Not the way I did it. I believed a little too much in my skill as a salesman, writer and artist. I put too much hope in the concept of getting a literary agent—and put very little effort into a plan of action should I be unsuccessful in obtaining said agent. Without mentioning details, a "perfect storm" of personal, financial and business misfortune brought my family and I into a pathetic financial state of affairs. The good thing about all of this is that I went out as a champion and changed a 200-year old racist narrative about a Black noble of 18th century Sweden. For the entire four years I focused on this book, I never gave up and did my best. Moreover, I do believe if I borrowed all the money needed to print the book in bulk and tour the country's comic book conventions, I could have sold out. However the debt required is a burden I am unwilling to carry. Regardless of intentions and effort, hard work does not always financial ensure success. Also, just because you do something good for humanity, that doesn't guarantee recognition while you live. This is the hard reality of following your passion.

So in January 2018, I retire from leading Photo Grafix and Black Rhino Illustration to start a new career and lift my family out of poverty! My full-time labor as an illustrator, retoucher and instructor will come to an end as I put my customer service skills into a new industry. For someone my age (I am over 40), it is not easy to change careers. I'm lucky that I have good health. I'm also lucky that my new job has a strong labor union, medical benefits and many paths toward more responsibility. I like to count my blessings.

My son and wife will continue serving current customers and manage the stock art portfolio and other on-demand courses and books that I developed over the past 18 years. That includes marketing. I'm passing this all to them and leaving them to decide the direction (and ask me what they want to know). Meanwhile, I will focus on training for my new career. This will also include ongoing continuing education and an attempt to re-enroll in college and obtain the credits required to [finally] earn my undergraduate degree.

My love for art and teaching remains strong, however. There is still the unfulfilled Badin and the Secret of the Saami Book Tour (the fundraiser is still live), a Swedish version of the book (completed, but not repaginated), a Special Edition AND a sequel. There is also my love for creating stock art (I have a portfolio of over 7,000 illustrations represented by agencies around the world). I also enjoy teaching occasional webinars and workshops about photo restoration. So after I finish training for my new position, pass through the probationary period and build up seniority to have a schedule, I will tend to these special projects on a very limited basis.

To those of you who believed in me and my efforts, I thank you! It has been a wonderful journey. I hope and pray that I brought some happiness and enlightenment into your lives.

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