AS AN ARTIST, IT SEEMS LIKE THE LANDSCAPE IS EVER-CHANGING FROM SIMPLY THE TOOLS TO THE AESTHETIC. I INTEND TO BE AN ARTIST THAT NEVER WANTS TO STOP LEARNING AND AS SUCH, I FIND MORE AND MORE INTERESTING ARTISTS EVERYDAY. EACH ARTIST HAS A UNIQUE INSIGHT AND POINT OF VIEW, NO MATTER THE EXPERIENCE LEVEL. NEW VIEWS HELP OPEN MY MIND AND TEACH ME THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO UTILIZE MY SKILLS AND I HOPE THAT SHARING OUR STORIES WILL HELP OTHERS IN THE SAME WAY. I BELIEVE THERE ARE MANY PATHS ON AN ARTISTIC JOURNEY, AND EACH INTERVIEW WILL HELP TO SHOW THE STORIES OF THE ARTISTS THAT TREAD THEM.
TODAY WE'LL be interviewing Galacia "Finn" Barton.
Kaminski: Firstly, introduce yourself. What kinds of work do you do? And where have you shown your work?
Barton: My name is Galacia Barton, and I illustrate graphic novels, design aliens, and paint monsters. My work has been featured in local coffee shops, in printed comics, and shared online via Facebook, Instagram and Patreon.
I’ve only recently discovered what I truly enjoy in the art world. I think it helps, to have something that you thoroughly like to do.
I decided to try illustration and digital painting after falling in love with Peter Mohrbacher’s work. I used to have a very typical inked/cel shaded style, and I wasn’t thrilled with that. Although, it’s still a skill I fall back on sometimes. I feel like there is always room for improvement in illustrating and painting. That goal of getting better will never be satiated, and that’s okay. Another element that keeps me going: I love learning!
Kaminski: Interesting! Have you had formal training or was it something that came natural for you?
Barton: I’ve always drawn, and was encouraged by teachers and my parents to hone that drive. At the end of high school, I didn’t really know what was feasible in regards to making a living via art. At that time, I was drawing a bunch of cartoon animals, and anime-esque people. I felt comfortable in the creative world, so I decided to pursue Graphic Design in college.
Almost immediately after arriving I was sucked into a Game Design class. I became enamored with it. It thrilled me to learn how games came together, and I thought I’d enjoy contributing my art to games. A fear of failure permeated my conscious, so I grabbed a Math degree to supplement my newly chosen Game Design degree.
Beyond the few art classes I was required to take, I spent a lot of time developing as an artist by surrounding myself with peers and professors that challenged me. I still felt a bit like a big fish in a small pond, but my online heroes kept me in check. I took Figure Drawing and Painting, knowing that those were subjects I was weak in. While those classes weren’t required, having the structure benefited me, and set me up with good habits.
Kaminski: As much as school can be a contributor, I believe that personal connections and experiences can add just as much to artistic experience. What do you feel like gave you that ultimate “AH-HA” that made you want to ultimately pursue art?
Barton: I definitely agree with that statement. The best thing to come out of school for me was the people I connected with, and the things were created together.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t feel like I’ve had an “AH-HA” moment. Recently, I took a year and a half to pursue freelance art and fell short. I decided that maybe it wasn’t the correct path for me and my art.
I’m currently seeking a third degree in Computer Science, in hopes that I’ll be able to support creating my own content and IP in my spare time. I know that doing art and creating will never die. The itch to draw and paint strikes me randomly, whether I’m exploring outdoors or taking notes in class. I’m still waiting on that “AH-HA” moment, but I’m not letting its tardiness deter me from trying.
Kaminski: It’s interesting that you consider your art a secondary attribute when thinking about career success. In that vein, have things like Patreon and Kickstarter been beneficial? What kinds of things do you typically do on these platforms?
Barton: It does seem strange, but personally I have a lot of anxiety surrounding the financial fruits of my labor. If I’m doing poorly at keeping my funds managed I get worked up to the point that I no longer enjoy creating. I’ve discovered that in order for me to be fulfilled by my art I need security. I’m assuming I’m not the only one out there like that.
In regards to Kickstarter and Patreon, those are places I have soared. The models on those platforms make it realistic for me to create content and know that people’s support will be the wind under my wings. Running a successful campaign gives me the peace of mind I need in order to produce my best work. I use these platforms specifically to create the content I enjoy, and to communicate and build a community around that content.
There are obvious hardships that come along with adopting the structure of Kickstarter and Patreon, but for me, these are challenges I feel I can overcome. Balancing interactions, deadlines, rewards, promotion, and the like seems more approachable than many other profit avenues in art.
Kaminski: Tell me a little about your Patreon: what are some goals you have with it?
Barton: I launched my Patreon with this in mind: I want a bunch of people involved with the world building of a Sci-fi graphic novel.
There are lots of creators out there that share their comics/art with others, but I hadn’t really discovered anyone who was utilizing the functionality of Patreon as a communication tool.
Many use Patreon solely as a means to divvy premium content to those who are willing to support them. This is a common tactic and because of this, the site isn’t often seen as a good audience building tool.
For me, I’m attempting to get my patrons involved with the creation of aliens, faraway worlds, and narratives that will be featured in the books I’m looking to illustrate.
My goals include: getting three graphic novels out and published. But in the short term, I’m just looking to involve people in the creation process who might not otherwise find the chance. I think many of us imagine worlds and concepts that we don’t ever see coming to fruition. In a way, I’d like to hear those stories out, and interpret those ideas into an illustrated book! That way the project isn’t just mine … but something of yours too.
Kaminski: That’s really interesting, and frankly, a refreshing way to look at Patreon. Are you familiar with books like WondLa (Tony DiTerlizzi)? In that case, have you considered bringing a writer on board to help out with projects or even using one of your Patreon patrons that might be an aspiring writer to co-op the project alongside you?
Barton: I haven’t heard of that book, I’ll add it to my list! But yes, my husband is a hobby writer and he and I frequently discuss narrative stuff. He’s not entirely committed to assisting the Patreon though, so I offer the opportunity to be the most involved with the story as my highest reward tier. Theoretically, it would be cool to have them making money back – maybe partial sales could be given to them once the actual book makes it out and is earning profits!
Kaminski: When tackling all of your combined projects, it seems that sci-fi themes are always a presence. Is this your favorite theme to work with, even in your personal work? If so, is there deeper meaning behind your work: such as an emotional theme you try to evoke?
Barton: When it boils down, I’ve always been on the edge of loving sci-fi. Growing up, I was really into Zoids, Invader Zim, and Animorphs. It fell off somewhere in adulthood, and I’ve recently rediscovered my passion for it. I like to try and understand new science concepts and experiments – the science fiction genre allows me a space to let my mind run away with those concepts.
Besides being interested in the potential of sci-fi universes and space, I also love the duality of great adventures and loneliness that the environment is capable of. Anything is possible, but does any of it matter? Space is a beautiful, promising, scary space. To explore what it might be like to live and interact in that vastness is really exciting.
Kaminski: If you’re not under any sort of non-disclosure agreement (NDA), do you have any projects that you’re currently working on that you can share or even some work-in-progress shots for your Patreon pieces? Additionally, do you have any insight on working independently like this?
Barton: I’m currently wrapping up a 100-page comic book for a client, which is part of a series revolving around this universal language (it’s a little sci-fi, who would have thought!). Once that’s completed, I’ll be diving further into the production of my own sci-fi graphic novel. There was a very short, four page preview comic I illustrated, and put into limited print run to test the metal of my base concept.
The local comic shop is the only place these were sold, but I plan to put out better pages. I feel a bit more prepared now. These new paged will likely start on Patreon, make their way to a site like Webtoons, and hopefully evolve into actual printed books via Kickstarter!
When it comes to working independently (and even freelance), your greatest asset is to learn quickly from mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, but the lessons learned set those successful people apart. Decent/Secondary income, outrageous skills and a good community of friends and peers can fill in some analytical shortcomings – but these are “icing.” To make a business out of anything you love, you have to be able to adopt some viewpoint that grants a path forward, the ability to grow and make progress (in creating, marketing, etc.)
Kaminski: Sheesh, you’ve been busy! Makes me wonder if the next question is relevant, but I feel it should be asked anyway. What goals have you set for the future?
Barton: Hey, that’s a fine question, especially since I wouldn’t consider my path “traditional.” In the short term, I think my creative efforts would benefit from two things: more Patreon activity and audience building for the graphic novel project. In order to really accomplish anything on those fronts, there’s a lot of writing to be done. I’ve been doing a lot of concept art and narrative exploration.
If I want people to be fully vested in the world we’re creating over there, I’ve got to share the story in its ultimate format. Getting the first draft of the script for the first installment (there are four tentative books lined up) would get me that much closer to producing pages, my chosen method of storytelling for this universe.
In the end, I want to be part of something that will last – something that people create spin offs of, draw fan art for, and gets involved in. Art is great and fulfilling. Art that gets people involved is the ultimate goal. For 5 or 5,000 individuals, I love the back and forth: the communication. To weave tales together – that’s my dream.
Kaminski: It seems you have lofty, yet attainable goals! I think this will help you in the long run to get to your end results very quickly.
My final question: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, or the best piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring artist?
Barton: I’ve watched so many episodes of One Fantastic Week and I feel like there’s loads of inspirational quotes and the like in my repertoire of advice. To pick the “best” would practically be impossible! But maybe, if I could pick one that’s the most relevant to me:
Every artist is unique. No two artists share the same style, approach, learning curve, hardships, paths, etc. If you feel unsuccessful as an artist in comparison to peers, don’t let that discourage you from finding success a different way. If you can’t replicate a technique, or find clients in a specific genre, that shouldn’t stop you from moving forward. Forging your own path is what being an artist is really about in my opinion. And just because you’re the only one that can do it, doesn’t mean you have to travel alone. Surrounding yourself with creative individuals does give insight into how to find personal success. Plus, most artists make great companions! Keep going, even if it’s just an inch at a time. Your friends will have you back.
Kaminski: I want to thank you very much, Galacia. You’re my second interview and it went very well! You’ve been a breeze to work with on this!
THANK YOU FOR READING, I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS INTERVIEW WITH Galacia Barton.
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VIEW ALL OF MY INTERVIEWS WITH FELLOW ARTISTS HERE.
YOU CAN FIND MORE ABOUT Galacia "Finn" Barton at her main facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/galacia.barton
FOR MORE information on her sci-fi project that is being created via collective, visit her Patreon page at: https://www.patreon.com/GalaciaBarton