BEING AN ARTIST,
writer, or person working in communities isn’t always easy.
I mean, it’s the only life I can imagine for myself, and I’m lucky and privileged to be able to do the exciting work I’ve always wanted to do. But it is also a perpetual challenge for people like you and me to figure out how to get by in the face of the heaving, gnarly, back-breaking capitalist machine that is destroying workers and the environment. i swear I’m more cheerful in person.
Like many people I know, artists and otherwise, I patch together a bunch of gigs to pay my bills. I’m always on the lookout for my next project or collaboration, and I also try to nourish my long-term commitments, relationships, and skills. Balancing all that with my values, my desire to learn from community, my hopes for myself and the people I care about — it can be hard to figure out how to do meaningful work while affording to live in an expensive city like Toronto.
In many ways, this issue of Broken Pencil also has to do with making it work. We need to have these conversations about practical, resourceful, and ethical systems of production and consumption.
That’s why I’m so excited to share with you this issue’s full rundown of how to make it as a webcomic artist, written by Broken Pencil’s Assistant Editor, Anisa Rawhani. Anisa and I have had many conversations about labour, workplaces, and fair pay. She’s been able to carry her insights and politics around the issue into her research and writing to make sense of the increasingly murky, corporatizing world of webcomic platforms. For creators trying to put together a living, this is invaluable information — please use and share it.
Likewise, brave and thoughtful artists, zinesters, and teachers are acting as stewards for a renewed interest in using the plants around us. Our seasonal feature on the foraging movement includes guidance from folks like Dionne Paul, who share their knowledge with younger members of their First Nation community, and groups like Not Far From the Tree, who want us to reduce waste and feed communities by reclaiming our connections to fruit trees in urban centres across Canada. It’s a gentle reminder that when we’re stressing about how to put food on our plate and take care of our bodies, the answer might be closer at hand than we think.
So here’s to you, struggling artist, overworked activist, unfree freelancer. We see how hard you’re working to make what you love a viable life path, against the odds. I’d like to take the opportunity of this editor’s rant to also remind you, just this once, to take a break and have fun! You might have noticed that this issue of Broken Pencil comes with a pair of old-school 3D glasses — put them on and check out the cover and illustrations throughout the mag, all by Tim Bauer. Tim is a talented illustrator based out of Vancouver (and, speaking of artists on the grind, he’s a hell of a hard worker). When I saw the innovative stuff he was doing using x-ray and 3D effects to unpack gender performance and classic queer aesthetics, I was blown away. I’m so excited he got to take over our summer reading issue of the magazine and invite you to play around a bit.
Happy summer, readers.