Ep.7: From Dreamworks to successful Kickstarter campaigns with Jason Brubaker from Coffee Table Comics

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Sep 13, 2017 •  Interviews

Jason Brubaker is a visual development and story board artist living in Idaho with his wife and two kids, producing graphic novels full-time. He began his career as an artist in 1996 represented by Famous Frames, a storyboarding agency in Los Angeles, where he drew hundreds of commercial storyboards for film and television. Some of his credits include Blade, Pitch Black, and Van Helsing.

In 2002, Jason began working as a traditional animator for motion design studios in Los Angeles and New York and was soon art directing animated commercials. In 2009, he began working as a Visual Development Artist at Dreamworks Animation on the Kung Fu Panda trilogy as well as many other animated movies.

He also created a comic titled reMIND which won the Xeric Award in 2010 and was placed on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens list 2012 (GGNT). With the success of his comic publishing, he was able to quit his full-time job at Dreamworks Animation in December of 2014 to fully pursue publishing his own comics.

In 2015 he moved to Idaho with his wife and two kids and produces graphic novels full-time.

Get in touch with Jason

Key Takeaways

“Find the thing that you wake up wishing you could work on and finish it. If you finish work you are passionate about then doors will open up for you. If you finish work you are not passionate about you get jobs you don’t want to work at.”

Resources mentioned

💡 Please note: We are supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! For more info, please read our disclosure.

Special thanks to Jason for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Jason Brubaker, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello, everyone and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life where it’s all about how you can turn your creative passion into a profession. My name is Iva, and my guest today is visual development and storyboard artist from Idaho United States. He started his career as an artist in 1996 in LA, where he drew hundreds of commercial storyboards for film and television. In 2002, he began working as a traditional animator for motion design studios in LA and New York, and he was soon at directing animated commercials. In 2009, he started working as a visual development artist at DreamWorks on Kung Fu Panda trilogy, as well as many other animated movies. He created very successful and awarded comic book remind, and thanks to this project, he was able to quit his full time job to fully pursue publishing his own comic books. In 2015, he moved back to Idaho with his wife and two kids, where he produces graphic novels full time under his brand coffee table comics. He’s very experienced in crowdfunding his comics on Kickstarter, and the latest being cifra book for. So please welcome Jason Brubaker. And let’s get to the interview. So welcome, everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have Jason here. Hi,

Jason Brubaker  

hey, thanks for having me.

Iva Mikles  

I’m super excited that you will take time off and join us here. And maybe we can start with your background and which are kind of like your biggest decisions or turning points you had to do in order to like, from when you were a kid, and when you get where you are now, because you move the load around. And so what’s your story?

Jason Brubaker  

Well, I kind of grew up in the middle of nowhere in in United States really just moved around a lot when I was a kid, and did some, some overseas traveling to when I was really young. And then I was just always fascinated with art. And I never really, there never really was a kind of like a teacher or someone who really would show me the stuff that I wanted to learn how to do. So I was primarily just self taught, you know, I’d obsess over like Garfield or Calvin and Hobbes or spider man or, and I would just try to imitate it, you know. So that was a lot of my education in art. Because even in high school and grade schools, like the art classes, just either they were non existent, or they would teach something that I didn’t really care to learn, you know, in art, so I just worked and worked and worked at trying to create a eventually comic submissions to send to companies like Marvel and image when image started, before that, I was just drawing little comic strips. And I had, I have big collections of books that I made in grade school, just comic strips that, you know, were were, that was my goal, you know, to be a comic, newspaper type comic artists, but then switched to comic books. And I submitted to tons of companies, I started making my own comics, and just really learning by doing it, you know, and then eventually, I went to Comic Con in San Diego, the big San Diego one. And an agent’s there overlooked my portfolio when I was showing it to a DC editor, an agent in Hollywood and and he’s pulled me aside. Yeah, he pulled me aside and he said, Hey, if you move to LA, I can get you work everyday probably in storyboarding. And I just I didn’t even know what storyboarding was at the time. But I said, I said are alright, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll see what I can do, you know, but I had some other offers with other comic companies, and they were smaller offers. So I went home, put together a bunch of work, wrote and drew this comic, to present to another company. Did you know there’s several things I was working on? I also, like did some storyboards, you know, just kind of as a backup, and I took a road trip with my friend to try to meet the this, this. This is Rockstar. I don’t know if you’re familiar with poison, but the drummer of poison Ricky rocket had a comic company, and he’s a really nice guy and I and he wanted to hire me and I brought him my car. I’m at Cannes, and he wanted to do it, but he wanted to do in black and white. And I really want it to be color. And I don’t know, it was like, it was pretty good. It was a good offer. But we were like, oh, let’s just go to this agency and see what they have to say. So I went to the agency and showed him my storyboards. And they’re like, Well, if you can move here, we’ll get you know, Mom was full time work. And they were on the phone with Disney at the time and dream. You know, DreamWorks wasn’t around, I guess. But just huge companies. And I was like, my eyes were blown. It’s like, Whoa, my mind was blown my eyes open. So

Jason Brubaker  

I was like, you know, shocked that there was this company offered me this. And the pay was amazing compared to comics, you know, comics at the time. I think there were, you know, it was 100 bucks a page or something like that. And there were these guys were saying their day rate was like, 800 a day or something. And so I was just like, what, you know, I could pay everything in one day, you know, coming from a small town I came from, you know, so I went home, and I worked on a bunch of Word, storyboards and practicing it. And I just basically got myself ready to move to LA, I figured out whose couches I was going to sleep on. And people I didn’t know, you know, I just would make random calls from a friend of my brothers, uncles, cousins, friends, dogs nephew, you know, can I sleep on your couch? Yeah, sure. So eventually, I moved there. And sure enough, that company was legit, which is kind of surprising. You know, you hear all these stories of people just kind of getting tricked into doing things and in LA, and the entertainment industry. But these guys were legit, it was a company called famous frames. And they’re still around, they still do a lot of stuff. But um, they got me work for about six years, and I just worked with tons of directors. And that really just opened my eyes up to how to tell stories, how, how versatile storytelling is and how there’s no real one way to do it. And, and I learned all these different techniques and different ways of doing things. And I also learned that, you know, these directors, a lot of them don’t have a clue what they’re doing. They just have people around them that know what they’re doing. And they just asked them for help figuring out all the pieces, and they say, Yeah, his ideas good. And his idea to do those two things. And then he’s considered the genius, you know, so. So that was great. And then that turned into an animation career doing hand drawn animation. And then that turned into it was some illustrative type stuff, but also DreamWorks doing animation and motion design, non motion design, motion design I did with animation, but then DreamWorks was visual development, and worked there for seven years. And then the next big decision was leaving all that and saying, you know, what, I can’t, I can’t be content, just working at the studios on their projects that are that I’m not passionate about. And that was kind of the the reoccurring theme is like everything it’s like, is someone else’s vision, someone else’s dream, someone else’s agenda. And it’s, it was very hard for me to connect with anyone else on that level. And so I started making my own comics on the side, they started working, started getting money through Kickstarter, and, you know, a subscriber base, and I realized, you know, I just, I need to get out of LA. And just, maybe it’ll just be something where I just get a simple art job at a place that does really cheesy bad, like, sign design or something. And then part time, I’ll work on my comic, but at least I’m out of LA, you know,

Iva Mikles  

pressure and everything, get

Jason Brubaker  

rid of that huge overhead, you know, there’s just and I had a family to at the time, too. So I mean, I still. And so it was just a lot of decisions that culminated in this is a lot of things that culminated to this decision that will leave LA and did that about two years ago now. And we moved back to Idaho. It’s really small town in Idaho. And it’s just been great because this company called webtoons, came along and said, Hey, we want to pay you to do your comic. Put it on our site. And so that’s been able to pay the bills along with a lot of other little streams, which we’ll talk about that later. And it’s just been kind of surreal ever since making that decision. So it you know, there’s nothing there. And there’s nothing bad about LA like I went there and I felt like that was my art education. And then I step away from it finally, and now I’m in the real world feels even though it’s very surreal, you know, because I’m, I’m just creating my own projects, and I’m pitching them to straight to the audience, launching them and one thing after another and sometimes they work well Sometimes they don’t. But it’s, it’s been such a freeing and fun experience compared to just kind of what felt like the grind, you know, you know, I kind of equate la now to art school. For me, you know that already. So we’re just working in that industry just it’s, it’s, it’s teaching you deadlines is teaching you to get the level of your work up higher than than you thought possible, is teaching you all these different things. And then and now I’m, I’m taking all that, that I learned and applying it to something, and making all the decisions myself. And, you know, now the audience is me, or is this fail? Or does it succeed? You know,

Iva Mikles  

what do you say? Like, kind of is it good to start in studio, either small or big before you start your own career, like, you know, being in business of art, basically, because then you get the experience of like, the deadlines and everything what you mentioned,

Jason Brubaker  

I think so. And I’ve gone back and forth, I think, talking to people about this, but before I moved to LA, and started getting real jobs, I had a comic it was called Phobos and I was just pouring myself into it. But it never, it never would, I don’t think it could have ever gotten to the level that it would be. Now if I did it, you know, there’s, there was nothing, there’s no real, there’s nothing forcing it to be better, other than just me forcing it to be better. And I’m real hard on myself with my art. So I try to push myself and stuff with it. But, um, but go into studios and working with directors and mean directors and nice directors, and just every every spectrum. It’s just, it’s kind of a very unique, unparalleled kind of learning experience. You know, it’s that on the job training that everyone talks about. And, you know, you can’t really get that in school, you can’t get that by yourself. And it just pushes you like you’ve never thought possible. I mean, and for me, it was like a lot like my career, I kept changing it because I was like, you know, I would get bored of something. And whether it’s whether it’s like, I feel like I’ve learned everything about storyboarding, from all these different hundreds of commercials I’ve worked on and movies and animations and whatever, now I want to do animation, then I’d work on that. And then I’d feel like, I feel like I’ve gotten everything I want out of animation, you know? So I don’t know i But yes, it’s very, I think very important to, to get involved with studios or something, even if it’s not, if you don’t line up with it perfectly. I mean, you never will, unless you make it yourself, you know, and so. So I attribute the success of my current projects to all that struggle, because it is a struggle, you know, it’s, it’s good jobs, there’s great moments, but, you know, 80% of it is struggle, like you’re trying to figure out this thing, you’re trying to solve this problem, you’re, you’re you’re feel like you’re gonna be fired every second or whatever, you know, there’s little moments where it’s like, everyone loves what you just did. And you’re like, yeah, now do this. And you’re like, oh, how do I do that? Now, you know,

Iva Mikles  

when you mentioned also that learning? And would you approach it? Like, I want to strengthen my weaknesses? Or would you build on your strengths? Like how do you approach learning?

Jason Brubaker  

Yeah, I, I tend to focus more on let’s build my strengths, let’s figure out my strengths and focus on them. Because you’re always going to have weekly weaknesses, there’s, there’s always gonna be artists better than you in every, like little aspect of art. But if you can really get one thing out of your art to really shine and stand out, and no one else can figure out how you’re doing it, then, and it’s something that comes naturally to you and that people keep looking at your stuff and going How do you do that? You know, and you’re like, I don’t know, but it’s, you know, I’m kind of, I kind of obsess over a little too much. You know, those are those are things that really propel you, I think and get you noticed more than being this really great general artists that has no weaknesses, you know, I mean, yes, you could find yourself a house to live a place to live in a studio and have a career for the rest of your life. If you had no weaknesses as an artist, but you would be kind of the go to guy to do everything. And some people may like that, you know, but I don’t want to just be handed every random thing. I want to really focus on something that’s interesting to me, you know? Yeah, so So yeah, I’m I’m a big discourage or have get your, your weaknesses better. You know, like, like just ignore your weaknesses have someone else do them? You know? Yeah if you can’t spell it and have an editor, you know if you can’t ink something very good get an inker, if you can’t color then have a colors. And actually, that that was a good example in my storyboarding career, I felt like I was really good at black and white art and contrasts and stuff. And color. I just I’d never felt like I understood it. And so when I storyboarding, or a company would hire me, they’d say we needed it in color. And I’m like, Well, I don’t do color. So hire a colorist to color my work. And, and it actually worked sometimes, because they really liked my work. But they also wanted in color. And so there was this one older lady who had always kind of come with me on those jobs. And I would draw the pages and then she would color him and or draw the storyboards. I mean, and so it was like, it’s, it’s that insistence on focusing on my strengths. I think that really made me shine at what I was good at, you know, if I would have done those colors, sure, I could have done him. But I think it would have dumbed down my, the quality of the finished product, you know, and now I feel like color, but I didn’t I didn’t like that, then,

Iva Mikles  

you know? And do you work with the team now as well, when you are producing your own books and comics and everything? Or do you outsource maybe some parts of your job? Or how do you find the people as well maybe to work with? Yeah,

Jason Brubaker  

that’s always been a really difficult question is how to find the right fit. But I especially now that I’m doing it full time, I have been able to find people. And surprisingly, there’s a local artist here who’s been able to kind of imitate my coloring style. And he’s taken off a lot of my coloring on this last book. And it’s been really kind of like, nice. I just didn’t think you know, because I’ve tried finding people online for years to imitate a certain thing. And it was always hard. But surprisingly, there’s a local guy here, and he’s doing a great job. So I also have an assistant helping, she’s in the next room right now, I’m doing a lot of like, she’s preparing files for me, and she converts my comic stuff to the webtoons format. And she helps me with editing and YouTube stuff. My wife helps out with the bills and all the financial stuff and the passive streams of income, and shipping out orders. And I have a flatterer, who is overseas, who I send all my files to digitally. And then he just sends them all back in a weekend. And it’s done. And it’s perfect. And then I have a 3d modeler, so a guy who’s in Mexico, and he, I send him designs of models I want to make in 3d, and he’ll build them and they look beautiful, and then I, you know, pull those models in and trace over. So I’ve still designed them, I just don’t have to think about every angle anymore, you know, so, so the team’s kind of starting to grow. And it’s starting to feel more like a more like a studio environment than it than it did before. Before I was like, I love doing everything. So I might as well do everything as long as I can, oh, I also have an editor and a guy who helps me with the scripting. But for the most part, I write it all, and then send him kind of the finished product and and he rewrites things that my needed or, or if I get stuck on certain sequences, I say, Hey, can you make it make her be thinking these thoughts? And this happens, and so she’s worried in this way. So he’ll write out that dialogue, you know, and it usually works. So

Iva Mikles  

how do you communicate with them? Like, do you use like Slack? Or some of these other programs are how do you do project management? And you know, like, keeping everything in one place when you have also remote people?

Jason Brubaker  

Yeah, I I’ve been using Dropbox a lot, the last couple years. And when I was in studios, they would use a lot of those kinds of things like Slack and just messenger and there’d be a lot of communication that way. But I don’t really, I don’t feel like that kind of interferes too much with me now. Like I don’t like having random messages pop up when I’m in the zone. And so now it’s more through email, and then and then just having dropbox folders for people. So it’s like I’m sharing. Like right now I’m putting together a Kickstarter book. That’s kind of how I suggest doing Kickstarter. And I’ve been working with a ghostwriter and editor and it’s just in this file. And so they take a pass for a week and then I get it back and I take a pass and it’s all lives in that folder. And when do we just email each other when we’re done and we’re like Alright, your turn, you know. And same with the flats. I’ll just send a batch batch of flats to Do my flatter and say, Here you go. As soon as you can get these to me, and then a week later becomes a bunch of files through email. So, yeah, it’s it’s pretty old school, you know?

Iva Mikles  

And what about the Kickstarter, as you mentioned it like, because first time you did Kickstarter, it was such an enormous success. And now you continue working with it. So maybe, what did you learn over the years and kind of the biggest takeaways working with Kickstarter?

Jason Brubaker  

Yeah. What’s always surprising to me is how much more money you need to ask for than what you think. And it’s really become clear, after writing this recent book that I just wrote, just given people examples, you almost have to always double the amount of money you’re asking for in order to just cover everything, because there’s fees and there’s shipping, and there’s all this, there’s taxes, and they’re all all this stuff that you know, is involved with business. And what it is, is this, it’s a business, you’re running a business, and just having just knowing you need to print, you know, 1000 books that cost maybe $5,000, that doesn’t mean that’s your goal, you know, your goal is probably going to be like $12,000, to cover all of the stuff that you need to cover. And I started out looking at it as this will supplement what I am willing to invest, and so in I had the good jobs, and I had a lot of income coming in, in LA. And so I was willing to take on freelance jobs to pay what needed to be paid if if I couldn’t get that money. And so I was willing to make the books really cheap, and pay for shipping almost and all these things. But now as a business, if, if I were to promise something, and I need another 20,000 You know, if I say I raise 30,000, for something, and I promise all these bells and whistles, but it really cost me another 10,000 to make those promises a reality, then it would make me go under, I just, I wouldn’t be able to afford it. Now I wouldn’t, because I’m at a different place now to where it’s not like, it’s not just about getting a freelance job to keep paying these, these bills, so that I can get my hobby out there. Now it’s my hobby is now it needs to be a business that pays the bills, so I can keep getting my business out there. You know, and so, that’s kind of been the, the difficult thing for me to process because it just keeps me like I need to have these campaigns where the goals are like 20 grand, you know, like, that doesn’t mean that just seems stupid. Like why would I need that much money, you know, but it’s, you know, if you’re making really beautiful hardcover books and have a print run, and you’re trying to print a bunch for your distributor and sell them on Amazon and make passive income later. And, you know, really make this book thing work. And to cover all those bases, you know, without even paying someone to like Mark it or anything. You know, you’re still doing a ton of legwork, and still putting a lot of time into yourself even after that. So it’s I guess that’s that’s the most recent thing that I’m I’m still grappling with with Kickstarter, because it’s really one of my strat is really a huge part of my business model now. And like next year, I’m going to do a Kickstarter in February for the for the fourth book of Citra. I want to do another one for a children’s book The next month. And it’s funny, my son created a card game, He’s eight years old, and he created a card game. And I want to teach him how to make stuff and sell it to people and get people interested, I want him to do a Kickstarter for him, you know, it’d be like a $500 goal. And I think we could hit it for a little card game. It’s a decent game, you know, so I’m going to help them with the art. So I’ll probably do that the next month, you know. And then depending on what happens with webtoons after Citra is over, I might launch try to launch a Kickstarter to fund the production of a new book. But I’m hoping I don’t have to approach Kickstarter like that yet. So I’m hoping webtoons will pick up the next property that I I’m working on. So you know, that way it’s a little more diversified. It’s not just like all or nothing on Kickstarter, but you know, but Kickstarter, so good for just building that stock stuff, you know. And then

Iva Mikles  

yeah, because you have a lot of followers already you have a community and so why do you maybe still choose Kickstarter because of course, it gets they take a cut, you know, and it’s not easy. You have to build all of these three boards. So why or what is going through your head when you are deciding on like funding the project and publishing new stuff. Yeah.

Jason Brubaker  

Well, the thing about Kickstarter is it’s also your also mark marketing your project. It’s great marketing, you know, I mean, you’re, you’re putting it in front of millions of people who are actively looking for something to buy and invest in, not invest in but tabac. And, and so there’s that side of it. And then also you’re testing, especially for new properties, you’re testing an idea to see if the interest is there. And it’s so so markets and tests that at the same time, and I’ve had a couple of campaigns that I’ve put on there, and then I’ve like the last one I did was for cognitive drawing is this drawing technique, I think, is really great. And it’s how I taught myself how to draw. And I wanted to really make it a nice big book that people could go through the workbooks and really practice these, like learning anatomy. And there’s a lot of interest in it. And I launched it, and it could have hit its goal, but it didn’t quite go quite right. There was a lot of factors in it. And I explained it on a YouTube video, so I won’t explain it again. A lot of factors there. Yeah. I had to cancel it halfway through, even though I know what it hit its funding goal. And it’s just because I realized through that Kickstarter that my approach needs to be a little different. And so it lives now as a PDF. And it’s actually doing really well as a PDF. And I’m going to keep adding to it. And maybe one year, I’ll try to actually make a physical book. But I think, I think through that Kickstarter campaign, it really got the awareness there. But it also made me realize the flaws in it, you know, and so you know, the the other approach would be just saying, let me just save up money now from book sales, which would be a whole nother account that I would have to build, because, for instance, right now, I’m building, every book I sell, I put money away into an account for reprinting. But that’s that’s all that account is for. It’s just for reprinting. Otherwise, I’d have to go to Kickstarter to ask for money to reprint another book. And I’ve done that in the past. And so it’s just killed me. And it’s really difficult. So, so that accounts for reprinting, but I still don’t have, I don’t have a massive amount of money saved for new ideas, like I wouldn’t be able to just throw down 1011 grand for a printer to print a new book without testing it, you know. So, and putting stuff online is basically the test too. So like putting stuff on webtoons, I’m really testing it. But at the same sense. If I’ve been putting stuff online for years, it almost doesn’t matter anymore. If it tests good or not, it’s the properties done. So I just I really still need to print it. Right. So that’s the kind of dilemma, you know, like a regular publisher would would, you know, have has a kind of a different working model than I do. You know, me, it’s like, what I wrote, what do I really want to do? What do I really think is going to work and I focus all this time on it, put all this energy into Kickstarter, put it online, try to get people to see it. And it’s a two year process of working on this thing. If it’s a failure. And it’s still going to be a two year process. I’ll still make money on it. It’ll still work. But it just won’t blow up like it could, you know,

Iva Mikles  

yeah, and also some kind of testing in like, small range, not as a like full project on Kickstarter. But maybe when you have a new idea, and then like on social networks, or something like Oh, what do you guys think about this, like story or whatever?

Jason Brubaker  

Well, I’m just to go back to the cognitive drawing, I had that idea. I did it with a class here locally, just like 10 students. And that really made me realize, Wow, this works for other people, not just me. And so then I developed like a 40, page, PDF, and I, I started a mailing list, and I announced it on YouTube. And about 1000 people join that mailing list, just from that announcement saying, This is my idea. And then I had 100 about 100 people beta test the idea. So they actually spent like 40 days doing a page a day and gave me results, gave me all their results, and answered questions and told me what how to improve it. And then I went back into worked on it again. And then that’s when I launched the Kickstarter, but it still wasn’t finished, you know, it was still like, I still needed money to to produce the rest of the book, you know. And so so there’s still a lot of testing but even with all that testing, it might just be because I’m not maybe I don’t you know, maybe I don’t know what I’m doing marketing but you Even with all that testing it like, still didn’t go quite right. But you know, the way I look at it is, everything is kind of a learning game. It’s a learning curve for, for me for everything I’m doing, you know, even this new Kickstarter book on foot, now I’m gonna put it out without Kickstarter. Without anything, I’m just going to release it, and then I’m going to just try to market it. And that’s a different approach than I’ve done in the past, I usually release stuff online, and trickle it out and and, or kickstart it or something, but this is going to be the first time I just go, here’s this thing I did buy. people be like, what, you did that too. So, hopefully, anyway, hopefully people buy it.

Iva Mikles  

Are you also pre selling the product? You know, when you’re beta testing, you know, like, Okay, this is my new product, can you you know, like sponsor it before, it’s actually out there before I started working on it. Outside of Kickstarter, as you said,

Jason Brubaker  

well, with the cognitive drawing one, the thing that’s for sale right now, and it’s on Gumroad. It’s on my Gumroad page, it’s, it’s for $10. And it’s basically a beta is beta 2.0, which is, it’s, I think it’s a really good version of it, it’s just since then, I’ve hired a new model that was about a bodybuilding champion here and locally and have really great references. And so I’m going to redo some stuff still. And I’m going to keep adding to it hopefully every, every month or so. And then once I get the whole thing done, then I’ll determine like, Are people really that excited about this? So they’ve been paying money to just be a part of it, they’re still getting something out of it, because it’s, like, 60 pages to print at this point. And, and it’s but it’s still a test, you know, if it doesn’t work, I mean, if it if it doesn’t really work? I mean, not not isn’t, it doesn’t work the technique, because I know that works. But if people just don’t get it and don’t want to share it, and don’t. You know, if it doesn’t keep making money, sadly, then I’ll be like, well, there’s other things I’m working on that make money, you know, not like it’s all about the money. But, you know, I gotta I gotta keep paying the bills so that I can make the things to make money.

Iva Mikles  

So feel that table with legs of income, right? So yeah. How do you distribute your income streams? You mentioned like affiliate marketing, right? You have books. So how do you spread your different types of income?

Jason Brubaker  

Well, right now my primary income is is webtoons, they’ll pay me a monthly salary when I am updating on their site regularly. So I’d have to take like three months off in between things. And so other things pay those bills like Kickstarter, and different things like that. But for the most part, webtoons is the primary income stream for when for Cythera, or because of Sr. and then I do the Kickstarters. And use like, and usually that just goes straight to book production, like printing the books. And then I always try to put a little bit more out for a couple of months buffer of living expenses. And, and then the books go to my distributor. And will after I send out the Kickstarter orders, the books go to this distributor. And so they’re selling them through Amazon bookstores, and whatever. And so every now and then the distributors. Sales will be a big chunk of money, because like a new book will come out, you know, and they’ll get a bunch of orders through diamond distributors and retailers and whatever, and Amazon. But then it’s just a regular, it’s a decent paycheck every month. And some, only a couple of months, I haven’t had anything because it’s like, as I put new books in the catalog, I have to pay him to make the pages in the catalogue and all that stuff is a full service distributor. So they do a lot of stuff and, and they’ll take my book to shows and stuff. So sometimes I’ll say take these books, and I have to pay him a certain amount to take those books, you know. So there’s just a few cases where no money has come for a month or so from that distributor. But that’s been pretty good ever since remind to. So I’ve had paychecks from them, which has been great. And then there’s a lot of Amazon type stuff like I’ve written this book by natural talent, which is it’s a little older now but it still has a lot of value in it. And this one is just a print on demand book. And so Amazon is just always selling that in the background. They’re selling it on Kindle. I also recorded an audiobook version that’s sold on Audible. So all those just, you know continue paying a little stream you know, it might be it might be 100 bucks for the print on demand version. It might be 30 bucks for the Kindle. It might be you 60 or 100, for the audible, and then I also sell it on Gumroad. And so I, you know, it’s a higher quality version of the audio and so on, there’s, there’s money that comes in from Gumroad. And then there’s, well, there’s a lot of the stuff like cognitive drawing on Gumroad have paint textures I sell and fonts that I’ve created in my, from my own books, and those are always selling on Gumroad, too. But all that stuff is kind of just like, it’s nice, because it’s just there, and it trickles in all the time, it keeps the studio running nicely, it keeps me keeps, you know, just in case, personal finances are tight, I can pull out a little extra money when a car breaks down or something. But for the most part, it keeps everything working really smoothly. There’s also let’s see, oh, there’s also patron, I don’t feel like I’ve, I’m necessarily putting as much energy into Patreon as I should to make it really work the way it could, but I’m happy with the results. And so it’s kind of just staying the same, it’s been the same for over a year now. And, you know, some new people come, some people go. But it’s a nice, you know, additional little chunk of money, so, and so all that, you know, keeps the personal life going, keeps the studio going. And the goal is to just keep putting new pieces out there in as many different channels as I can. So that, you know, one thing doesn’t have to make 100,000. But if I have 20 channels that are making 100 bucks each, you know, that’s that, that pays my bills, you know, pretty much

Iva Mikles  

so if one disappears, then nothing happens critical.

Jason Brubaker  

No big deal. Yeah. And, and I’m really trying to focus on like this new Kickstarter book that I’m going to put out, it’s so a lot more simple than this. This was just like a big beast, and it covered everything. And it’s so specific. It’s such a small niche, you know, self publishing your own comics, you know, like, most people, when they get good at comics, they just want to go to a publisher. So I’m cutting out all those people even. I’m trying to, like, now focus more on like properties that are a little bit broader, broader appeal, you know, and instead of, let’s just focus in on people who like inking 70 style werewolf comics, you know, like, you’re gonna have one person that likes it. So, um, and I’m trying to do that across the board too, even with my comics, like, for the most part, I’ve drawn comics that are for artists that artists would appreciate. And I’m trying to switch it now, after, say, three to comics that the masses will appreciate. And I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m selling out. But sometimes it feels like No, I’m just trying to, I’m trying to get it to a place though, to where, you know, I’m not laboring intensely over this thing that no one understands why I labored over it, you know, and I realized that I’m realizing it now more and more like, there, there are pieces of work, I can create that that don’t have to be like, crazy, time intensive, you know, stress inducing labor. And, and so I’m going to try that next time and just see what happens, you know, again, it’s all an experiment, you know, and I still want to make sure it’s, it’s the thing that I still have to make it in a way that I love it, you know, and so that’s always going to be the factor, I can never change it to a style that that’s simple that I don’t care about, because I just, I will never fall in love with it. And I’ll never put in the time, it will never mean anything to me. So it’s always I always got to find that thing that makes it special to me, that makes it meaningful. You know, it’s got to have a purpose and a message. And the art needs to really captivate me. So whether it’s simple or not, I still got to it’s got it still got to have those factors, you

Iva Mikles  

know, yeah, definitely. Because also, as you mentioned, the niche and a lot of business podcasts, you know, like Smart Passive Income or other podcasts, they are recommending actually this they start with a niche. And then when you want to grow your studio or your business, then you can expand then like, so basically more population can enjoy your work.

Jason Brubaker  

Yeah, but yeah, and I, you know, I, I agree with that, and starting with a niche, and I think I think there’s, there’s definitely wisdom in that I still tell people to do that. It’s just, if you get your niche too small, you know, then then it starts playing against you, you know, unless you’re just happy being the blogger who just talks about, you know, 1973 typewriters, you know, I’m saying that and that may be fulfilling and you don’t make any money from it, but it’s you master that niche, you know?

Iva Mikles  

Oh, yeah, maybe.

Jason Brubaker  

So. So I’m, I’m considering like, and I don’t know for sure. But I’m considering this, like this book being almost too small of a niche, and people still like it. And they I still see it sells all the time. And then people still approach me and say, that book really has helped in a lot of ways. But I think going forward is just maybe breaking these, like the, the chunks of this book into separate books. So it’s, so it’s not like five different topics on a niche, but it’s one topic on it a niche, and that will broaden that niche. Does that make sense? Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And what about maybe the branding or your art style? How did it develop, then maybe why a cat, you know, how these all came together?

Jason Brubaker  

I don’t, I don’t know, the cat came up. I don’t know why the cat came about, it was just there was a lot of random pieces that made the cat just kind of stick, I think. And then once I figured out the design that I fell in love with for that cat. Especially in remind, I just I, I felt like this is kind of the brand almost. And people are identifying with this cat. And it’s it’s just connecting with people and and and I love it too. So how can I keep this brand alive without just making reminder 34567. And my next story that I had already written for which was Cythera had had a, an animal and I didn’t know if it would be a cat or a dog. And so I was like, Well, that would be interesting. If I just use the same cat and have a different name, treat him like an actor playing a different role. And, and so I at the end of remind on my website, there’s the last comic, it’s it’s the cat sitting on the beach, and he’s just hanging out. And all sudden he gets a phone call. He’s like, hey, and it’s his agent. And he’s like, you want to take on a smaller role next time. He’s like, Yeah, sure. And so you know, just kind of playing with this idea that this cat is going to be in everything. And since then I’ve kind of, I think I want to just do that with most of my characters as well. So just because I get comfortable drawing character a certain way. Might as well just give them a different name and have them be a different role in different book, you know, it’s, it keeps it fun for me, as long as I like drawing him, you know? So, so yeah, the cats kind of just accidentally become the branding logo for the thing. And and people love it, you know, so, and I love it. It makes me happy.

Iva Mikles  

But it’s really good. And how do you approach the overall branding? You know, like the visual branding of all of your products or works? How do you keep it consistent?

Jason Brubaker  

Well, I hired a designer, this guy named Christopher cosec, who I think he’s a really great designer. And he’s one who helped me with the logo helped me with the remind books, and helped me with the sitter books. And we kind of between the two of us, we kind of developed an unofficial this was kind of what coffee table comics feels like. And I’ve we’ve never even really discussed it, but I think working with him, it’s kind of it’s kind of made me realize what it is. And it’s really just the idea that we’re trying to make collector’s item, collector’s items that are meant to be shared. You know, so coffee table comics, and I don’t I don’t want to make anything that’s throw away, you know, throw away art. And so, I don’t know. So beyond that. It’s it’s, it’s, it’s still developing, it’s still changing, you know, and like, there’s things like these books, which I don’t have the coffee table comics on it logo, the Kickstarter book won’t have it, you know, because it’s just, it’s a different entity. And I’m, I’m still not sure how much I’ll dive into the how to type advice. Because, you know, once you go down that path, you kind of lock yourself into being the, the How to guy and so I’m, I’m, I’m lightly treading on that territory, you know, and I’m, I’m trying not to make it overwhelm coffee of comics, the actual thing I want to do, you know, the how to stuff comes because people asked me so many questions and I just, I want to answer them and not just ignore him. So I tried to get something you know, same with the YouTube videos, you know, like speaking of niche, you know that the YouTube channel is just super niche, and it will stay that way probably till the end of the year, but I think I’m going to as it grows, I’m going to have to change the strategy a little bit on the YouTube so it’s less snitchy less about artists who want to learn how to scan and pencils Just write and turn it into a comic company.

Iva Mikles  

And do you have like a favorite tools you work with, like, I don’t know, favorite pen brand or something like that.

Jason Brubaker  

Why I’ve been using the pencil brush pens for cetera. I love them. They’re kind of, sometimes they go on real sloppy, but it’s what makes them so fun to work with. I think I’ll probably retire it though, after Citra is done, because it’ll be about 1000 pages in this, these pins. So now it’s like, I mean, I love the Cintiq. The way comes in that I use I love I have a Mac, an iMac, which is just, it makes every everything kind of just plug and play. Let’s see. I actually wrote some dance and stuff down here. The the new software that I absolutely love is Clip Studio, it’s used to be called Manga Studio. And I used to work with Photoshop, almost exclusively, you know, for years forever. But ever since they switched to the kind of the, the rent rental type agreement, it’s really kind of turned me off on them. And I’ve been trying to find alternative. And clip studios just like it does everything Photoshop does, but it’s made for comics. And so it’s just an it’s just such a fun thing to work in once you get it. And it’s just blown my mind is nothing is blowing my mind. And so now I’m just like, I don’t even draw on Photoshop anymore on it only drawn a clip studio. I haven’t made the transition with color yet. But eventually I’d like to be able to just cancel my Adobe licenses and just focus on software that I can actually own. I don’t know, just drives me nuts.

Iva Mikles  

They use maybe also, like a procreate on a tablet or something like that. Or, like, I have the clips.

Jason Brubaker  

Yeah, I have an iPad Pro and I bought the, with the pen because I figured it well. You know, I should use this thing. I’m an artist, but I’ve I’ve never felt comfortable enough yet. And it’s probably because there’s not been a necessity to use it, you know, I haven’t been in a place where I need to somehow get something out. And all I have is iPad Pro, let’s let’s try to figure it out. You know, instead, I’ll, I’ll go to my notebook or, or wait till I get into the studio and just work on a big workstation that is easy, you know. So until, and I know, eventually, there’s gonna, there’s gonna be a time when things shift, you know, and I just fully embrace something like that, like, iPad, that I can just take anywhere. And that will be my studio, but it just hasn’t happened yet. So I’m not gonna force it, you know, I, I’m a big believer, like, work with the tools that you have that you love that you’re comfortable with. And you know, it’s not about learning a new software thing. It’s about, you know, again, it’s refining that thing that you are already good at. Not becoming better at everything else.

Iva Mikles  

Definitely.

Jason Brubaker  

So until I make that it’ll probably be a slow, weird transition. And then I’ll it’ll just click, and I’ll be like, Oh, this is amazing, you know, five years ago? Yeah, how can I live without it? Like this, I’m so stupid. So you know, and just my next comic is going to be all digital too. So just sit there is a big combination of back and forth between traditional and digital. And it’s a long process because of that. And so in order to speed up for webtoons demands, I, you know, I decided, Okay, I’m gonna go, probably black and white with it, it’ll still be a lot of lighting and grads and stuff, and moody stuff, but it’ll be black and white. And it’ll be all digital. And I’m going to create it in the webtoons format, so I don’t have to convert things over. And it’ll just that will be the first phase of it. It’ll just be 100% for that platform, and then I’ll worry about turning it into a book later, which is totally weird for me. I never thought I would come to that decision. I don’t know I’ll probably be kicking myself when I’m trying to convert it to booklet, like, Why did I do this? But, you know,

Iva Mikles  

you will see your kiddos are now and if you don’t try I mean you don’t learn maybe right so

Jason Brubaker  

it’s, I think where you just I have to just change things up like especially when stories done I have to do it a different way next time. And it’s it’s continuing that Learning Mode mentality and just trying to master something new. You know, it’s like, once I’ve worked on a book with the same characters for four years, I’m, I feel like I’ve figured it out. And I feel like it’s boring, and you know, sit there was getting to that place where it’s kind of like, Okay, I’m ready to move on to the next thing now, you know, and I really want my projects to be like two years max now, I think because still completely fascinated with the concept. And then after about two or three years I start going. I’ve worked on this enough, you know?

Iva Mikles  

And where do you get your main inspiration for the stories? Is it like real life or other stories? Or like old school movies? Or how do you combine your inspiration? Maybe?

Jason Brubaker  

I don’t really, I can’t really pinpoint it ever to one source. I do feel like it comes from everywhere, I guess. And so whether it’s movies, like I just watched Minority Report last night, I went, I’m on this weird thing where I’m watch watching these old movies that I really liked. And I watched the matrix like the couple weeks before that. And I’m just like, Why did I like these? You know, what was amazing about these? And it kind of makes me go, Oh, wow. Yeah, I can see why I like that, oh, I kind of did that and cetera.

Iva Mikles  

So what do you focus on? Like, if you can explain to our audience, you know, like you said, like, layout? Or is it light? Or is it a story moment? Or what is it?

Jason Brubaker  

It’s more like, the way the story is, the way something is conveyed? I think is more than anything. And it’s not a it’s not, maybe there’s some compositional moments where I’m just like, Ooh, yeah, that’s neat, you know, a lot of sky, you know, or whatever. But that comes with, with everything else, like the visuals, I think, and characters, I pick up from life, I think, you know, like, everyone I come in contact with the, there’s some sort of, like, piece of them that ends up working its way into conversations, almost. Because otherwise, it because if the conversations don’t feel real, to me, and from, you know, conversations I’ve had with people or arguments I’ve heard or, or just watching a couple of fight or couple in love, you know, it’s like, it’s like, or going to the Caribbean and seeing a whole different culture, you know, like, like we just did on our family reunion. That doesn’t make any sense to your audience. But so

Iva Mikles  

on location research,

Jason Brubaker  

yeah, it was, it was a, I filmed almost the whole time, not, not the whole time. But I didn’t hardly take any pictures on that trip. I was mainly just filming because I wanted to just capture, like how things work here and the sounds and the feel of it. Like how fast you drive right next to a cliff. And it’s falling apart. As you’re driving, you know, you go I don’t know how you’re gonna get the big, you’d have the road condemned if it was like that. Okay, so

Iva Mikles  

everything needs to be like, perfect, you know, like, every spot.

Jason Brubaker  

I can deal with that. So I’m, so it’s like, these places, and moments even coming back here to the small town, Idaho, it’s, there’s a real specific vibe and feeling you get, and just capturing like, what’s the difference between New York, LA Switzerland, the Caribbean? Like, how does the how do these places feel? Like, can we, through a series of panels and dialogue, make people feel like they’re there. And that’s kind of where a lot of the inspiration comes from. And then, you know, maybe composition, you can find that from movies and, but just like revealing a character or something that can come you can get that from movies, or, or books or something, but there’s things that are in like books, like pros, books that you can’t, you can’t do the same thing, visually. And so that’s why I’ve started like mixing pros, with comics, because there’s things I want to just be able to do that are kind of like books, you know, and so it’s just a big combination of, you know, whatever kind of is exciting that I’m seeing, and when I’m writing as a script, it’s just, you know, trying to, like, get into the characters heads, why are they that way, you know, you know, and I hate using the example like, oh, their parents were mean to them. So they’re the bad guy, you know, like, No, you know, everyone’s parents are mean to him at some time. You know, and some people’s parents are great, and they turn out bad. So, um, so, but it’s just, it’s more like just understanding how people operate and think in act and talk, you know, and so anyway, it’s just perfect, a long, long answer to a simple question.

Iva Mikles  

Ya know, it’s always really hard to learn how to observe maybe not like develop an art style. or how to actually draw, but you learn to see everything around you in a certain way. Maybe,

Jason Brubaker  

yeah, I, maybe a lot of your audience is the kind that just spaces off. And like, I want to encourage those people keep spacing off. I mean, your dream and your thinking the things you’re watching someone, you’re seeing detail that someone else isn’t seeing, because they’re not spacing off watching them, you know, like people watching, it’s just amazing, you know? So,

Iva Mikles  

and everyone has a different perception. So like, when you’re creating something, it will be always special and different. Exactly, exactly. And what about maybe like, the worst or most difficult moment of your art career? Or what do you learn from me, then maybe the takeaway?

Jason Brubaker  

Well, I can’t ever, when people ask that I can’t really ever find the worst. For me, it’s more like a, all through my career, I come to this place to where I almost don’t enjoy it anymore. You know, no matter how amazing the job is. And it always becomes this like, internal fight. And it’s, it’s usually always because I’m not in agreement with what it is I’m making, like the message that I’m making, or I don’t I don’t see eye to eye with, you know, something and, and at least that’s what it seems like to me, you know, like, looking back trying to figure out why am I miserable? Storyboarding Taco Bell commercials, or McDonald’s commercials? Well, it’s because I hate Taco Bell. Yeah. I hate McDonald’s, you know, and they’re trying to rip me off, they’re trying to pay me less than a smaller company, like, these guys are jerks, you know? So, no, that’s a bad example. But there’s always something you know. And so it, I would always switch, switch careers in art, because I’m thinking, Well, maybe if I’m in this field, I’ll be able to connect with these people and get on a team that we’re all thinking the same way. And, but it just, it doesn’t really happen. You know, you can learn from it all. You can, you can pull bits and pieces from it all, but but it’s really rare. And there’s been a couple of moments where I’ve been on something that we all connected, and it was just like, yes, let’s do this, you know, but it’s, it’s rare, you know. And so, so I think that would, that was always the where the frustration came from. And, and that’s what kind of led me to just be like, I’m just gonna do my thing. And it’s not going to play the Hollywood Game. You know, like, when I started, remind, I was like, I’m going to make a comic that no one’s going to ever buy the rights to, like Hollywood never buy this, because they would never want to make this it wouldn’t make any sense in their model. And I think I’ve achieved that, because it’s very strange. And I’ve even had agents, you know, request it and have phone calls with them. And they’re like, they’re like, man, your your book, it’s, it does really well in the indie world. And I’m just trying to figure out how to pitch it. And I don’t know how to pitch it. I’m like, Yeah, well, that’s kind of what I, how I made it. I mean, if you can figure out how to pitch it then fine. But

Iva Mikles  

a good agent.

Jason Brubaker  

You’re a really good agent. So maybe maybe with the world of like Netflix and Amazon, where they’re just making their own content, maybe maybe now it’s the time for things like that to be able to see the light in, in the film world. But I’m not expecting it. You know, I think Seth was a little bit more catered a little bit more something Hollywood could do. And, and, but I’m not, I don’t try to make things specifically for, you know, that model. I feel like if something were to ever get optioned or bought, it would just be icing on the cake. If I can, if I can build my career, so that my intellectual property keeps paying the bills in retirement. And if nothing ever sells beyond me just making it, then it’s a success, because it’s allowing me to keep doing this thing and putting this out, you know, maybe some will be picked up after I die. I don’t know, like most, most big pieces of work.

Iva Mikles  

So what would be like your dream scenario to five to 10 years, like, Okay, this is like a dream. I mean,

Jason Brubaker  

as far as, as far as projects, I mean, I would love to get to a point to where I didn’t, where I had money in an account to where I didn’t have to go to a webtoons or Kickstarter to ask permission to or for a paycheck to do this thing. It would be nice to be able to just make something start to finish and then figure out the way to really said, I think that will come in time, you know. But for right now, I still need to convince someone or a big group of people, that this is a good idea, before I can invest too much time in it, otherwise, I would have to juggle too much like freelance work, which, at this stage, I just say no to everything, because I don’t have time, you know, to do it. But also, I have so many ideas on my own, like, if I, if I do have time, I’m going to make this other other thing or make this children’s book or make this or that or this or that, you know, and so, I don’t want to, I don’t want to get myself into a place where I have to do freelance to supplement because that would mean is wasting too much time, if that makes sense. So, and I know that, I think that’s what where one has to has to go, you know, start. And that’s where the education comes in. That’s where the experience and you know, 1020 years of freelance or studio work, I really think it’s important for artists, so that they can have a grasp on how the world works, and how art works and how business art works. You know,

Iva Mikles  

so, maybe the best advice you ever received, or, yeah, or the worst as well, if you can, like COVID, or something, you would kind of advise young self.

Jason Brubaker  

Generally, the worst advice I get, comes in this train of thought. This is the popular thing that they’re teaching in school right now. So you need to learn it so that you can be in that field and make money with those people that are that is blood, it’s blown up, like we got to get on that bandwagon. worst advice ever, because you’re just chasing it, you know? You’re you’re chasing these ideas that someone else reaped the rewards of, you know, so, for example, when I was working in storyboarding, and I switched careers to animation, I want to do hand drawn animation, because that was what I was passionate about learning. And I was like, obsessed with I want to make my own movie on it. Bla bla bla, I’m gonna learn this thing. Well, at that time, Disney just announced, we’re ending it 2d animation, we’re laying off everybody, the whole studios, all the more closing down their animation studios, and everyone was telling me, you need to learn 3d So that you can get a job in animation, if you want to animation. I was like, No, I want to do traditional animation. Well, that’s a dead field, like you’re crazy. But that’s what I wanted to do. And so I did it. And sure enough, there’s all these studios that want to do animation. They have commercial animations that they’re trying to do, but no one will do it because everyone thinks it’s dead. And so I started our directing, animating, directing all these animation commercials. And I started hiring ex Disney animators who were didn’t have a job to help me. And so I was learning from Disney animators that were under me that I was that were helping me animate my stuff, you know. And so that just came about because I didn’t just do what everyone was being trained to do right now is I had a, I had something I was passionate about, that was totally off subject, and totally the wrong timing in court, according to everyone else. But I focused on it so much, and worked at making something good with that animation that other people couldn’t do, which was actually I can kind of pinpoint it, it was like it was being able to do all the pieces in this assembly line. So like I took after effects. I could animate in between color, composite, scan it, you know, everything, I could do effects. So it was like, start to finish. And now a lot of kids do that now. But what at that moment in time, it was really hard to find a studio that could do that. And so studios kept passing my name around, and I would come in and say, Okay, we need to set up this kind of stuff. We need to give these people this kind of scanner, you know, so anyway, so that’s worst advice is to have that kind of train of thought. I think the best advice I got was this producer, he’s a was a animation producer. And I would, he helped me, he kind of mentored me with pitching. So I had a lot of projects, I would pitch to him and then we’d go pitch it at Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon or whatever. And he I was working on remined as an animation at that time, and I’m trying to figure out exactly the timeframe. But one of the things he told me is like, you have to make your stuff and not apologize where it is Need to be unapologetic. I’ve said this on other things. And I, because he saw that I was, I was putting stuff out there. But I was still in the freelance mindset, like, Is this good enough boss? What should I change? Can I approve this? So I can give it to the next person? But no, it’s like, you make some you say this is it? Like, get it? You know, I’m saying, yeah. And that really changed my perception on them. It just changed the way I went about things. And that’s when I started making decisions, like, okay, with reminding I do it as a graphic novel. These are the things that the industry needs to change, you know, they need to do hardcover, it’s why aren’t we doing it in spreads? Guys, this is ridiculous, you know, and I was just like, boom, boom, boom, this is how we need to do a comic. And

Jason Brubaker  

I didn’t say that, like a jerk, but I hope not. But, um, with that kind of mentality, it really, I think, made it stand out. And, and I’m still trying to do that to this day with, with how I approach cetera. And I’m going to try to do it with my next one. Even though it’s digital, I’m gonna try to make it there’s things I’m going to try to do that really, I’m hoping push that model so that it doesn’t just look like credit does digital comic, you know, which a lot of comics look that way. So, anyway, but also with story, you know? What’s the story you’re trying to tell? Well, if it really means that much to you, that you would spend 10 years of your life drawing it into a comic. You know, you can’t apologize for it. You if it really means that much to you. If you’re trying to get this message across your don’t give it to people and say hi, guess it kind of like maybe it might apply to you? I don’t know, you know, sorry. If it happens, you know, it’s like, no, like a

Iva Mikles  

special story. Yeah, like when they did Star Wars are deeply studio universe or all of these special places and stories, right? So there’s like, Okay, this is how it is. And

Jason Brubaker  

yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s Studio Ghibli is a great example of it’s like, I don’t understand that culture and the way they look at spirits and religion, but I will still watch it and embrace it and love it. Because they, they’re not apologizing for it. You know what I’m saying? They’re just saying, Welcome to this world. Step into it, you’re here, bam, bam, bam, bam. And this is our, this is the point and then see, you know, it’s like, and it’s, and that’s what’s so beautiful about storytelling is you can if you do it, right, you can convey ideas that no one would have ever listened to, you know, but if you’re saying, here’s this idea of sorry, if it hurt your feelings, you know, no one would want to listen to it.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So it’s almost like fake it till you make it like, This is who I am. This is the perception and Yeah, well, however,

Jason Brubaker  

I like that fake it till you make it for certain things, I think but I think that’s where like, the freelance and the studio work comes into place. It’s like, it really helps you to just learn on their dime. And then, you know, once you’ve had experience and life experiences, and you figure out what this message is, you’re trying to tell people, you can jump in, and really, and you’re not faking it at that point, you know, you’ve kind of faked it through all the studio stuff and freelance work, you know, at least that’s kind of how I, I mean, my agent straight up, told me on my first job, you need to walk into there and tell them that you’re just not tell them but act like you’re just so tired of doing storyboards, because you’ve done it so long. And I’m like, I was 20 years old. And I was like, I don’t know if I can pretend that you know what, I’m all nervous, you know. And since in that the guy who was the first one to hire me, we’ve been great friends ever since. And he, he’s like, when I when he tells me that story. He’s like, Man, when I first saw you, I was like, Oh, this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. I gotta have IRM I’m gonna have to I just got it after lunch. I just need to tell them that it’s, I gotta let him go. Because I know he doesn’t know what he’s doing. But then he saw my stuff. He’s like, Oh, okay. Yeah, that’s good. Keep going, you know. But anyway, so that was sorry, rabbit trail right there.

Iva Mikles  

But he’s more than learning and how you present yourself. So you should be confident about your work. And then you want to learn and basically what you’ve done or imaging like the best scenario when you’re walking into the room and everything will go smoothly. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a plan.

Jason Brubaker  

If you can, I guess.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely.

Jason Brubaker  

I have a track record of just failing every interview I’ve ever been in and for like the first 10 years of, of my art life, so I never wanted to do interviews. I was always just like showing my work, and let me get the job. And then I’ll come in and start working to try to impress you with an interview because it just won’t work.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, good, good. But then, so what was your best learning from your interviews when you said, like, you failed? Or?

Jason Brubaker  

It was, it was? Well, that when things started shifting is when that producer, you know, kind of hammer that into me, like, don’t apologize, you’re walking in, like a little kid trying to get permission, you know, you don’t, you just don’t do that your walk, you need to walk in with this thing that, you know, is a success that you’re going to do, whether they like it or not. And, and, and the story is this, your your message is this. And if they don’t get it, they don’t get it, then someone else is gonna get it, you know? And, and so it’s almost like, yeah, that’s, that’s more for storytelling and pitching. But it’s kind of the same with interviews, you know, like, once you especially once you’ve gotten the experience and worked in the environments. You can you really kind of have those years of experience, the they’re not just hiring you for a day rate, you’re they’re hiring up for your experience. And if they don’t get you, then they’re going to have a hard time. You know, doing that without that experience. You know, there was a couple of situations where someone was like, Hey, can you do storyboards for this thing? And I’m like, Well, I don’t really do storyboards anymore, but I’ll do it. But this will be my rate, like this rate, you know, this big, right? And the old but you know that I know what I’m doing? And they’re like, oh, we can’t afford that. Can you do it? Like for like a 10th of that price? Or whatever it is? That bad example, for you? Can you do it really cheap? And I’m like, No, I’m sorry. Well, okay, well, I guess we’ll just get some people out of college to do it, then they’re willing to do it for that, right. I’m like, alright, we’ll come back to me when you need me to, when when you need me to do it, right. But know that I’m not going to work crazy hours to fix the mistakes. And sure enough, like a week later, you got to help us we got the storyboards are due. And I’m like, I’m sorry, I told you, I’m not going to work overtime to fix your mistakes, like you should have hired me, because and paid me the rate, you know, it’s so it’s like, there’s that kind of confidence now. And that sounded like, again, like I’m a total jerk. But I didn’t say it that way. But you know, you get to this point to where you just kind of know your value and your worth, and you have the experience and you can back it up. You know, I’m always hesitant to tell people to just be like, super confident, you know, if you don’t have experience, because then you come across as a manipulator. And, you know, I think people

Iva Mikles  

as you mentioned, it’s not only about the the rate you ask per hour, but it’s like the value you can bring for that company. So it totally makes sense.

Jason Brubaker  

And there’s other factors, you know, like your personality, if you’re easy to work with, and happy and you bring the morale up. Like that’s as good as getting a deadline? Really, it is, you know, and if you can just hit deadlines, even if you’re not doing the best job, at least you hit a deadline, you know. And if you’re just amazing, but you can’t hit deadlines, someone who said, Oh, I think it was like Neil Gaiman said, this

Iva Mikles  

was the three things like either the deadline or the personality or your work or combination of

Jason Brubaker  

Yeah, it’s so true. It’s just, I mean, most of my career was because of, I was just, I would just walk in happy and excited to be there. And I would work my tail off. And it may not be right, but I would get it done. And I was happy. You know. And so people would remember that there’s a lot of disgruntled people in our that kind of come in and like, Oh, you want me to draw that? If you would have done it this way, it would have worked better. But, you know, it’s like, do you really want to work with those people know? I mean, they might have amazing work. And so maybe you’ll deal with it. If they can hit their deadline, I guess.

Iva Mikles  

So, yeah, so yeah, and I don’t want to hold you too long. So my last question would be like, What would you like to be remembered for in like, 100 years?

Jason Brubaker  

Oh, man. I don’t know. I don’t know I that I have you know, I there’s moments where I’m like, I just want a library of work and people can see it for hundreds of years. But I don’t know, I think I almost want to have an impact that is that goes beyond the work. Like if the if, if the messages that I’m conveying can last beyond the work, then I feel like it’s done what it’s supposed to do. You know, I’m saying, but yeah, I never thought of that before but that that makes sense. Now that I said that what I’m trying to convey should Outlast work. That’s what I want.

Iva Mikles  

Perfect, great advice as a as a last kind of guidance. And like before we say goodbye, maybe you can share like a key takeaway for our audience.

Jason Brubaker  

key takeaway find that thing that you wake up wishing you could work on and finish it. If you finish things that you are passionate about, then doors will open up for you. If you finish things that you aren’t passionate about, you’ll just have jobs that you never enjoy. So, finish that personal project. I think that’s one of the biggest things.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, very nice. And thank you so much for being here. Yeah, you’re

Jason Brubaker  

welcome. Thanks for having me.

Iva Mikles  

It was super nice. And thanks, everyone for joining and see you in the next episode.

Jason Brubaker  

Right so you guys

Iva Mikles  

hope you guys enjoy this interview. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a little freebie waiting for you. So go check it out. If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, hopefully five stars so I can read and inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Art Side of Life podcast, because I post new interview every single workday. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to inspire each other. And I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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