How to make a career out of art with Tom Hart

How to make a career out of art, with Tom Hart

with your host Jessica Abel

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It’s no secret—building a career with your creative practice is difficult.

But for those of us who value autonomy, freedom, and making room for passion (and who doesn’t??) building a career out of art can feel like a necessity.

My guest for this episode of The Autonomous Creative, Tom Hart, is an award-winning cartoonist and the executive director of The Sequential Artists Workshop, a comics school and arts organization in Gainesville, Florida (and online). His works include the Hutch Owen series, Ali’s House, Daddy Lightning, and the NY Times #1 bestseller and Eisner-nominated graphic memoir Rosalie Lightning.

For a long time, Tom believed that, in order to be the “real thing,” he needed to make a living from his comics. And when he didn’t, and couldn’t, he felt a lot of shame around that.

How to make a career from your art with Tom Hart

For the longest time, I thought the goal was to make a living off of your art.
Again, your “vision.”
And if you’re not, you’re a loser. You’re a failure. You don’t belong. You’re just not one of us, and you’re not creative.

But at some point, he was able to shake off that shame, and realized that doing other things for his living was completely OK—as long as those other things aligned with the key success marker of his life: Freedom.

I just do have this punk rock, rebellious streak where I need to see things done with at least some amount of idealism still intact. Success is, can I make things that mean something to me? Can I help people make things that mean something to them, and that isn’t just feeding a commercial engine?

I just want to help people connect to that expressive, creative part of themselves. And I want to do it for myself too. That’s success. It’s being able to have the freedom, the resources, to do those two things.

How did he go from DIY comics to starting a school? It was an iterative process of finding the right path.

Art + effort ≠ financial stability

Tom Hart, like me, and basically all of my students over the last 25 years, started out believing certain received ideas about how a creative career “happens”:

  1. You get good at the thing
  2. You do lots of the thing
  3. People magically find and love the thing
  4. ????
  5. $$$$

That’s the conventional wisdom: If you’re good, you’ll get discovered, and then everything will be fine…somehow? It’s hard to be immune to this line of thinking.

When you start out, it can feel like, what else is there? Is it even possible to somehow create a career where you don’t need to just wait for things to happen to you?

“Creative career design” isn’t generally a subject covered in school, so it’s not surprising that I wasn’t immune to it, and neither was Tom:

Larger society, at least in my head, in my world, told me for a long time, I should be making a living from my art.

Making a career out of art - the trajectory of a cartoonist

I thought there was a certain projected timeline for the person making an independent comic, who then just increases in popularity.

You keep making better comics and then you’re a “famous pro” or whatever.

I don’t even know what the word would have been.

Making a career out of your art means you need a business model

(And if that sounds like gibberish to you, check out the article at the link.)

The first step to build any business model is getting honest about how you want to spend your days.

This step is the one that will help you decide whether you’re fine with having a perfectly OK day job to support the work you love doing, or whether it’s time to go full-time with your creative work (or somewhere in the middle).

It will also help you avoid doing work you hate just to hit a revenue goal.

Once you’ve defined what success means to you, and how you want to live your days, you can make a plan.

Your business model is not forever

When you design a creative business model, you’re doing so for this place and time. Who you are now has different needs and is in a different position from you 5, 10, 20 years from now. You’re not committing to a business model for life.

It’s an iterative process.

Here’s how Tom Hart’s career changed over the course of the last 20 years.

Art Career Business Model 1: Multiple revenue streams

I realized the only way I was going to make a living was multiple revenue streams. You know, just get whatever I can from wherever I can, because together it might add up to something feasible.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, Tom was making comics, teaching at the School of Visual Arts, and working freelance on-and-off for public relations and advertising agency, Burson-Marsteller. Plus, he was picking up “whatever other kind of gig” along the way. Multiple revenue streams!

But his goal at the time was to keep comics at the center of his identity, and to have comics become the financial engine of his career.

When I spoke with Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson, we covered how crucial a day job can be — and how it can even help your creativity blossom.

This worked for Tom, for a time, but the time commitment and stress wasn’t healthy, and the money wasn’t enough.

Hutch Owen by Tom Hart for July 13, 2021

That business model where you churn out as much work as is humanly possible and hope that something takes off, while caulking the gaps with teaching and freelancing gigs… I’ve done it before. It’s a grind. Making that business model work will depend on the nature of your creative work, where you live, your expenses, and what you’re getting paid from those other sources of income.

Now, Tom’s seen the value in a single revenue stream.

Art Career Business Model 2: Single revenue stream

By exploring those multiple revenue streams, Tom learned about his wants and needs, and it helped him reevaluate his creative career.

At some point realized, I like making books. Some people like my books. But they’re not going to pay the bills. Clearly, they’re not going to pay the bills. It can be a rude awakening, but to me it was an OK awakening. It was like, OK, there are other creative things I can do that can pay the bills.

That’s when he got truly clear on what success meant to him: Autonomy, financial stability, and work that’s in line with his ethics, and also plays to his skill set…

And at that point, I was like, well, I’ve taught so long. I love teaching. Other people have founded schools— meaning one person, my friend James [Sturm] in Vermont. And so I was like: I’m going to start a school.

It was just like, “Hey, let’s start a band.” I started a school.

It’s a process!

SAW started in 2012, and in that first year, he made $6,000 from the school… while working 60 hours a week. There were still other sources of income at that time, freelance animation, among other gigs. And his wife, Leela Corman, had a book project she was finishing up.

Slowly, I’ve been trying to make it so I’m less and less tied to other things and mostly just focused on SAW. And that’s finally happened this year. Nine years later or something. […] I only put myself on, salary, a measly salary, about a year and a half ago.

And I finally gave myself an OK raise [in March 2020].

So SAW is my main source of income. I don’t even like taking other gigs at this point. I don’t like spreading my attention that much.

It’s also meant having to learn business skills so that he can do things his own autonomous way.

And honestly, I’d rather be drawing, but I enjoy this second most, and part of me probably enjoys it just as much.

Unless you define what your priorities are, you can’t optimize for them.

How do you balance the different parts of your life— creative and financial— and not let one take over to the detriment of the other?

I mean, it all comes down to bargaining, right, and what you’re willing to bargain.

How much fear am I willing to live with? How much shame am I willing to live with in order to access this freedom or creativity, or whatever you want to call it?

Maybe it’s not even those things. It is for me. To be in touch with the creativity and to be in touch with the autonomous version of the creativity.

And also, of course, I didn’t even mention it because it wasn’t part of the calculus, is how much poverty do you want to deal with?

The reality is that most creative careers don’t look like what we imagine they will look like when we graduate from school and set out on this art career path.

What’s important is, well…what’s important, to YOU.

Freedom? Make sure that’s in the mix.

Getting your work finished and seen? Prioritize it.

Financial stability? Get creative about where that can come from while playing nice with your other goals.

There are infinite ways to solve for an amazing creative career once we resolve the core issue of attachment to a mythical narrative of how creative careers work, and the shame that produces.

Your first step to building a career out of your artistic practice is to know what you value, and what’s important.

Tom Hart is a cartoonist, and he’s the founder and executive director of a comics school, the Sequential Artists Workshop. His 2016 memoir, Rosalie Lightning, debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list.

Tom offers amazing, valuable insights about the path to creative career success—and that what “success” looks like must be self-defined, always. For Tom, that means freedom is number one. When he has creative autonomy, he’s happy.

Tom spoke about the invisible bargains we make to have a life lived in alignment with our ideals and creative goals. He asked: What are we willing to live with? How much fear? How much shame? How much financial precarity?

We talked about why “shame” comes into it, and how to get over it.

And we talked about why financial precarity isn’t a prerequisite for creative autonomy and freedom. To get that message out, we all need to be talking more openly and clearly about what’s happening behind closed doors, in creatives’ lives.

More from the episode…

  • “Success is…can I make things that mean something to me and can I help people make things that mean something to them and that isn’t just feeding a commercial engine?” – Why Tom believes success is more than just churning out work.
  • How has the desire to be seen impacted Tom’s creative process?
  • We discuss Tom’s memoir, Rosalie Lightning, and how his unique creative practice gave him the tools to process grief.
  • For years, Tom believed he needed multiple sources of income. Why has he decided to focus his revenue stream?
  • Tom reflects on an encounter that helped him let go of financial shame: “If a lawyer is saying the same thing I’m saying, then I just might as well stay an artist.”
  • “Nobody was happy and everybody worked all the time…and that’s the hole I’m always trying to plug.” – To what extend does scarcity fuel artistic ambition?
  • Tom describes the awakening that inspired him to found the Sequential Artists Workshop: “Some people like my books, but they’re not going to pay the bills. There are other creative things I can do that can pay the bills.”
  • Sometimes, pursing your creative vision is a matter of bargaining: “I didn’t realize that having a high-paying job in advertising doing work for Sony and McDonald’s was making a living from your art.”
  • Why is money a taboo conversation, even between friends, and what’s the benefit of speaking up?
  • Tom reminds us: “Nothing is scary about art.”

More from Tom Hart:

Tom Hart is a cartoonist and the Executive Director of The Sequential Artists Workshop, a school and arts organization in Gainesville, Florida.

He was a core instructor at New York City’s School of Visual Arts for 10 years, teaching cartooning to undergraduates, working adults and teens alike.

His 2016 memoir, Rosalie Lightning debuted at #1 on the NY Times Bestseller List and has been featured on many end of year Best-Of lists.

He is the creator of the Hutch Owen series of graphic novels and books, and has been nominated for all the major industry awards.

He was an early recipient of a Xeric Grant for self-publishing cartoonists, and has been on many best-of lists in the Comics Journal and other comix publications. He has been called “One of the great underrated cartoonists of our time” by Eddie Campbell and “One of my favorite cartoonists of the decade” by Scott McCloud. His daily Hutch Owen comic strip ran for 2 years in newspapers in New York and Boston, and his strip “Ali’s House”, co-created with Margo Dabaie was picked up by King Features Syndicate.

Connect with Tom Hart

Tom Hart on Twitter

Additional Links

The Sequential Artists Workshop on Twitter


Click here to read the transcript

Tom Hart: If I had listened to all the reasons not to start a school, I wouldn’t have started this school. If I listened to even two of them, I wouldn’t have started it.

And my life is so much better that I started this school. And so many other lives are better that I started it. And nobody’s in prison yet.

Jessica: Hahaha!

AC intro3: What does it take to become a successful writer or artist?

There are some destructive myths out there about what a creative career is supposed to look like.

And we’re kept in our lane by the undermining belief that, as artists, we’re somehow incapable of building autonomous, sustainable careers– if we choose the work that’s closest to our hearts.

So we’re going to tear down those myths and get the truth by going to the source:

Incredible professional creatives who’ve followed every path but the expected one to success on their own terms.

I’m cartoonist, author, and coach for creatives, Jessica Abel.

And this is the Autonomous Creative.

Jessica: If this is your first time listening, you are in for a treat, and there’s so much more to come. So be sure to hit subscribe, to get the episodes as they drop.

In this episode, I’m really happy to have my dear friend, cartoonist and teacher Tom Hart as our guest. And in some ways, interviewing Tom was kind of a gimme. We could easily talk for hours about the subject of this podcast, how real artists actually make their lives work. And, and we have many times over the years. So I knew he’d have amazing, valuable insights about the path to creative career success. First of all, that what “success” looks like must be self-defined always. And for Tom, that means freedom is number one. When he has creative autonomy, he’s happy.

Tom spoke about the invisible bargains we make to have a life lived in alignment with our ideals and creative goals. He asked, what are we willing to put up with? How much fear, how much shame, how much financial precarity.

And we talked about why shame comes into it and how to get over it.

We also discussed why financial precarity isn’t a prerequisite for creative autonomy and freedom. And how to get that message out, we all need to be talking more openly and clearly about what’s happening behind closed doors in creative people’s lives.

Tom Hart is a cartoonist and he’s the founder and executive director of a comic school, the Sequential Artists Workshop is 2016 memoir, Rosalie Lightning, debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list.

Tom has been nominated for all the major industry awards, his daily Hutch Owen comic strip ran for two years in newspapers, in New York and Boston, and his Ali’s House, co-created with Margot Dabaie, was picked up by King Features Syndicate. He’s been called, ” One of the great underrated cartoonist of our time,” by Eddie Campbell and, “One of my favorite cartoonists of the decade.” By Scott McCloud.

And I will tell you, he’s one of my favorite cartoonists– and humans– of all time, and we’ll dig right into it with Tom right after this quick message.

Let me guess.

You want to get more done.

You want to be sure you’re doing the right things.

You want to stop feeling so slammed and overwhelmed.

You want flexibility and autonomy.

You want to have time for the big ambitious projects you’ve dreamed up that, you know could change everything for you. If you only finished them.

I’ll also hazard a guess that you’d find it difficult to do all of that without working 70 hour weeks, missing out on time with family and friends damaging your health. And burning out.

And if you would, that puts you in very good company. Most of my clients, and in fact, most of the creative professionals I meet struggle with those same issues.

Modern life just isn’t designed to make it easy for creative people to do great work and make money while also taking care of their mental and physical health, their relationships in their communities.

It’s not even fair to ask.

And yet, that’s what we’re faced with.

The good news is this problem is crackable.

The bad news is there’s no magic formula.

That’s why I’m excited to invite you to the simplify to amplify round table, a free live monthly conversation, where we get together to tackle the big questions, celebrate our successes and plan out what to do next.

Running a creative business is no joke. It’s complex. Issues crop up out of nowhere.

And more often than not, we have no one to turn to to ask for help.

If you have a creative business at any stage of development from nascent to veteran. You’ll get a ton out of these sessions. Bring your questions and join me and an amazing group of creative peers who take their business as seriously as you do. At the free simplify to amplify round table. Check out Jessica to register for the next session of the simplified amplify round table.

That’s Jessica

Okay, let’s start the show.

Jessica: You founded your brick and mortar actual school, called the Sequential Artists Workshop, in Gainesville in 2012, I believe.

And it’s still running in real life, but of course it’s all online right now. And also there’s an online segment that is always online. Right.

But you just moved to Providence. So what is your work life like? Like what do you do all day?

Tom Hart: It’s such a tricky time to ask that question, right? Because of the pandemic and, and the, the main issue there is my school-aged daughter is always home. So I’m really wrestling with, with helping her get through what schoolwork would be, but also manage the feelings of not having seen her friends in so long and not being in school.

And so honestly, most of my days, these days, most of my time these days is spent, um, handling the mental health of a seven year old.

But let’s say prior to the school year, a lot of my time is spent, um, in the community and SAW like in the online community again, and this is the pandemic time, talking with people, keeping people going. And then carving out a few hours for myself a day if I can, to sort of run in parallel with them a lot of times. If they’re working on projects, I’m working on projects.

Um, and a lot of the frustrations they are having, I’m, I’m having. I’m not sure if that’s by design or just something that’s happened over the course of all my teaching, but I tend to be, um, just as frustrated as my students that I, I, I sort of try and share it with them.

Jessica: Which I know is such a, it’s such a valuable thing. And one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you today, is you’re always so generous with your, your own process and like the way things work for you and way things aren’t working for you and all those other kinds of things. And I think that’s, that’s exciting.

And I think it makes a huge difference to students to get some access to that.

Tom Hart: I don’t know if that’s a natural proclivity, right. But I do have this desire to share the process a lot.

And I’ve noticed it, and in fact, at least twice in my life, I’ve gone through an intense creative process, I would say with the comic strips and then with, with my memoir. And then after the fact I’ve written a book debriefing on the process.

And it just sort of happened naturally. I’m just like, what am I gonna do next? Well, of course, I’m going to explain everything I just did. Which um, I, I don’t know. It’s just this natural need to share the process.

And it might also be seen in my earliest mini comics, which like, the last few pages would always be a wreck of just like notes and other stuff.

So I think there’s always been this, this desire to be transparent about how the process works and what it is I’m experiencing when I’m trying to make this thing. That make sense?

Jessica: Yeah. And I think, I mean, I think you and I share a pedagogical gene, you know, like

Tom Hart: maybe.

Jessica: my very, very earliest stuff, I was talking about materials and


had a DIY section on my website. You and I shared a lot about how we’re going to manage this all like, even from very earliest days.

Tom Hart: For sure. Yeah.

Jessica: Before we move on from what your life looks like right now, can you tell us where you’re sitting, Tom?

Tom Hart: I’m sitting

Jessica: Describe it for our podcast listeners?

Tom Hart: The pandemic times are a little strange. So, um, the best space I could carve out for this call is underneath my daughter’s loft bed. And it is her art gallery too. You can see all these LOL Coloring Pages that she has made, dozens of them all lined up and uh magnetised on her bed.

And, um, anyway, yeah, this is sort of the best spot where there’s actually silence and I could.

Because my side of the house is really next to this like really busy road and also Molly Rose is always home. She’s always in the living room, which is nearby too. So this is like my silent corner during the pandemic is her loft bed.

Jessica: I love that. It’s so adorable.

Tom Hart: Can you see the picture of Spock over here, that? It’s a Christmas present. She’s really in love with Spock all of

the-autonomous-creative-with-tom-hart-ep-001_recording-1_2020-12-30–t06-51-29pm–tom: So

Jessica: I can see that.

So yeah, for our future, um listeners who are not seeing the video, I initially thought what we were looking at here was like a large loft at warehouse space or something. And that the bottom of the bed was like. So the perspective totally changed as soon as you told me where you were, it went like “zhoook!” and like shrank

Tom Hart: She’s got this great desk set up underneath the loft bed and it’s perfect actually. And she gets a lot of work done here. It’s kind of a quiet space, safe space for her, but I’m stealing it for the moment.

Jessica: Fair enough. Fair enough.

the-autonomous-creative-with-tom-hart-ep-001_recording-1_2020-12-30–t06-51-29pm–tom: Okay.

Jessica: So, back to how does your life work right now? Can you talk a little bit about how you make your living now? How do you support your family?

Cause SAW, which is short for a Sequential Artists Workshop, you pointed out that you were already in transition from being all, originally all in-person, to having a few online offerings, to just flooding into that area and just really committing to that. So can you talk about that a little bit?

Tom Hart: Sure. Well going back from, I would say mid-2000’s, like 2005 or something, maybe even earlier. I realized like the only way I was going to make a living was, was multiple revenue streams. You know, like just get whatever I can from wherever I can, because together it might add up to something feasible.

Back then that was, you know, teaching SVA was one thing. I was doing a lot of freelance work for an ad agency that I worked for very intensely for two or three years, and then off and on for five or six or something like that. And then whatever other kind of gig you can kick pick up.

But eventually even that got too difficult in New York. And so that’s why we moved to Gainesville, Florida.

And at that point, that’s when I was like, well, I’ve taught so long. I, I love teaching. Other people have founded schools– meaning one person, my friend James in Vermont. And so I was like, well, I’m going to start a school.

Also partially because I don’t, I don’t think I’m very hireable in other ways. So I wasn’t going to look for a job. I was just going to make a job. so yeah, In 2012 that school started. And I think in that first year I made $6,000 from the school and that was working 60 hours a week or something insane.

I don’t remember where the other money came from, but it was definitely other revenue streams. You know, I was picking up jobs at the University of Washington. We might have also had a couple of freelance jobs come in at that point.

Jessica: And your wife Leela had a book at that point that she was working on.

Tom Hart: Yeah, I don’t know where in the sort of revenue that was at the time. I think that was sort of towards the end of her book project, which means she would’ve gotten another lump sum towards the end of that. That’s how that usually works.

I think I picked up even a couple of animation gigs from New York contacts still. Those sort of eventually dried up. But initially people were like, hey, are you still around? You want to do an animation thing? I’m like, I’m a thousand miles away, but I can probably do it. And so there was a bunch of that.

But slowly I’ve been trying to get it, so I’m less and less tied to other things and mostly just focused on SAW. And that’s finally happened this year. Nine years later or something.

And so my main revenue stream at the moment, I was a contractor for the school, I should say. Even, even running it as executive director. It was just like picking up scraps and paychecks from the school when I could, paying myself when I could. I I only put myself on, salary, a measly salary, about a year and a half ago.

And I finally gave myself an okay raise, uh, June, actually, maybe more like March, but. So yeah, so SAW is my main source of income. I don’t even like taking other gigs at this point. I don’t like spreading my attention that much.

Jessica: You just said that in the past, you thought I need to multiple streams of income in order to make things work. And it sounds like, and from our conversations, it seems like that’s not how you’re seeing it Now you see it as actually needs to be focused, needs to be the one stream of income.

True that I think a lot of people have, and know we’re going to talk about this a little bit more later, so we don’t need to get into detail now, but what does that mean about your creative work? Because the earlier Tom, the reason you’re trying to get all these different income streams going is because you’re trying to still make comics, the center financially as well as identity wise, is that right?

Tom Hart: Yes and no. At a certain point, I realized that comics wasn’t going to support me financially, like my own vision.

You know, it, it’s sort of a hard realization at some point. Maybe other people are smarter than I am, but I think there’s a hard realization when you realize, there’s a minimal number of slots for the people whose personal vision will be supported financially. right?

And I, I just, at some point realized like, oh, I like making books. Some people like my books. But they’re not going to pay the bills. Clearly, they’re not going to pay the bills.

And, um it can be a rude awakening, but to me it was an okay awakening. It was like, oh, okay, there are other creative things I can do that can pay the bills.

And so when I did a bunch of advertising and PR work, it was a really creative job. It was a lot of, a lot of fun creative stress and paid really well. It was actually eventually too much creative stress and I got out of that.

So those multiple revenue streams were the way I was making a living. And my own vision, my own comics was a paltry, paltry part of that, but it supported it.

And I still did a quite, I was quite active and prolific during those times when I wasn’t making much money even on that. But now, you saw correctly that I’m trying to condense it to one revenue stream, and that’s one, I would almost say it’s one sort of middle point because the revenue streams from the Sequential Artist Workshop in general are multi, very multi, all over the place. And, um, but I’m trying to make it that that’s the only place paying me.

Just cause I want some stability and in our finances. I want to know next month I can pay, we’re going to have the same, roughly the same number of bills and the same amount of money coming in. That kind of thing.

Jessica: I love your quote when you, you shared a bunch of history with me and you said I started the school like most people start a band.

Tom Hart: It’s true. I was like, well, we need a space.

Well, you know, I mean, there’s so many things, there’s so many reasons why people could tell me, “you can’t do that. That’s not the right way to do it. You didn’t get the right equipment. You don’t have the right permits. You don’t, you know, you don’t know how to play guitar or whatever.”

The one thing I can do is I can teach pretty well. And I think I’m a trustworthy and reliable teacher.

From there, I just said, all right, let’s build something around that. And, you know, I chose an affordable place that had spaces. I found the best teachers I could, and we created a small community and it grew and it grew and it grew. Yeah. But, But yeah, it was just like, “hey, let’s start a band.” I started a school. Yeah.

Jessica: Yeah, I absolutely with that impulse. That’s been something I’ve done over and over again. Like we’re just, I’m just doing the most logical thing to do with my time.

You’re a guy who’s then even working in like web design and PR and you’re like “I’m unemployable.” what? No.

Tom Hart: Yeah, I know. That’s probably not true. I, yeah, there is probably a Earth 2 version of me or a parallel universe version of me that’s creative director in some PR firm or something. But for whatever reason, I did not want that path at all. Yeah. right.

I hope people will find this related. There was a certain point, I can’t remember mid two thousands, maybe, when I was um, with my wife’s relatives, one of whom is one generation older and is a lawyer. And it was like maybe Passover dinner or something, he was saying, “Yeah, I have no idea where my next client’s coming from or what next month is going to look like.”

And I was like, “Wow, if a lawyer is saying the same thing I’m saying, then I just might as well stay an artist.” You know, it’s not, if they’re having to sort of figure it out on the go constantly, then there’s not much shame in what I’m doing. And that, I think actually the, the shame that I was not rich and famous and having an easy time of it really weighed heavily, but I, that helped let it go a little bit.

Jessica: sure. I think it’s when you realize that other people like lawyers, for example, not everybody, but other people do have essentially small businesses and have to figure out the same kinds of things. it changes your perspective on what you’re doing.

But I think too, that your perspective on Sequential Artist Workshop and what your role is there, not just “I’m the director, I’m the teacher,” but you are the CEO. You are the person who has to make the decisions. That’s really shifted over the last few years.

Tom Hart: Yeah. I’ve had to learn a lot of business skills, half of them I learned from you.

I don’t like learning them. Haha but I gotta. You know, otherwise I would be taking that Earth 2 path. I would be saying, can I have a job? Show me to my desk.

But I definitely don’t want that. So I’m like give me some tools to help me figure it out myself and I’ll, and I’ll do so.

And honestly, I’d rather be drawing, but I enjoy this second most, and part of me probably enjoys it just as much.

Jessica: Yeah. I mean, I find, I find the process really creative personally. Okay. So what does success look like to you?

Tom Hart: Freedom to some degree, you know? A little bit of autonomy. And I’m really grateful that there’s, that we’re in a time where autonomy is a little easier to come by. The web has made so much, so many things different. Do we still calling it the web, the internet? I don’t know what we call it these days, but anyway, the information age, all that stuff.

Jessica: Super highway.

Tom Hart: You know, the way in which we’ve all become connected in the last 20 years has made becoming autonomous way easier. Someone with my skillset, which is medium, would have had no choice, but to get a job in a PR firm or an advertising firm 30 years ago. Certainly 40, 50. Yeah.

So that autonomy is so refreshing and partially because I just do have this punk rock, rebellious streak where I need to see things done with at least some, some amount of idealism still, still intact.

So success is, like, can I make things that mean something to me and can I help people make things that mean something to them and that isn’t just feeding a commercial engine, which I realized I was trying to do in New York and in various ways. But I just want to help people connect to that sort of expressive, creative part of themselves.

And I want to do it for myself too. And so that’s the balance is like, here, let me help you, but I’m not doing it enough myself.

Um, but that’s, that’s, that’s success. Is just being able to, to have the freedom, the resources, to do those two things, help people be more, more themselves creatively.

Jessica: Yeah, I think that’s, I mean, that’s the dream, right? It’s it’s I think it just out to look different than we thought it was going to look somehow.

Tom Hart: Yeah. You know, I mean, it, it’s hard to you know ask a much younger person the dream and it’s I remember, I was friends with great number of cartoonists in my early twenties and in Seattle, Washington. And I think we had similar conversations, like, what does it, you know, what does it mean to you?

And I remember Megan Kelso, she said she just, she just wants a line of books with her name on the spine. I was like, yeah, that’s cool.

But for me it was more like it going back to what we were saying earlier about the process, it was more about just always staying true inside of the process. That was what was really important to me.

I did want to make a bunch of books, but more importantly, I wanted to always be sort of alive inside the process of it. Because you and I both know people who have made tons of books. But for other people, or maybe they were done for hire, and they’re not proud of them.

I’m not proud of all my books either so maybe that’s a bad angle to go down. But I don’t think merely, making book work would have been satisfying and is, is a measure of success for me as much as staying true inside the work I’m making.

Jessica: I think that both you and I have gone in a direction of, in terms of making our lives work financially, of not trying to make the books pay the bills.

But we know other people who seem to be pretty happy making the books pay the bills. But then that’s their day job essentially. And then they have the books that are their vision projects.

Tom Hart: I don’t have that kind of energy or talent to do both of those.

Jessica: Yeah, I mean, for some people that’s the way, but I don’t think that that has to be the way, you

Tom Hart: right.

Jessica: for a lot of creative people, it seems like it’s gotta be that. Or,

Jessica: if you’re not making all of your living from the primary thing you’re trying to be doing, then what are you doing?

Tom Hart: Mhmm.

Jessica: I did want to ask you, like, what does success look like for you when you started and you basically just answered that, but you said something also in some notes that you sent me a voracious determination to be seen.

This seems like a key piece of this, right? Because you can make things that are true to yourself all you want, but if nobody’s looking at them, then.

Tom Hart: Yeah. I don’t know what that’s about to be honest, but it’s true. You know, you and I started out before the internet. So like being seen meant one of two things. It meant, well, it meant getting things into the mail, into somebody’s hands, or showing up at the right parties. Or a party, any party.

Conventions might suit.

I don’t, I don’t know why, but when I, when the switch flipped on for me to start making comics and it wasn’t until I was like 20, probably, even 21 maybe. And in most people it’s like 9 or 12, you know, but for me it was like 20. I didn’t really start making comics.

So once I started, I didn’t stop and it was because I just realized that it was a way to be recognized. Or, or a way to just be seen. Um, and so I would make a mini comic, I would hand it out and I would make another one.

I made one just because Julie Doucet was moving to town, and I knew there was going to be a party, and I wanted to give Julie something. So I made this mini comic that was like this is for Julie. Um, because I love her and I want her to see me, you know.

And other events would be, would be reasons to make a mini comic too. Like, oh, there’s a convention coming up let’s make a new one. And people still do that now. And, but I just, I don’t know why. I don’t know if I quote, “felt unseen.”

That also goes hand in hand with believing that, and I think every creative person does this, they believe that their version of what they’re doing is is like unrecognized and no one’s been doing it this way yet.

You know? No one’s told this story yet, or no one’s made a comic this way yet. And I, and I really want to, I got to. You guys, people have to see this.

So there’s that part too. It’s not just about seeing the person as much as like the thing you can do with the medium. The sort of “trick” even, sometimes.

Um, so yeah, but I’ve always had that. I have that less now because I’m comfortable with the community that’s, that I’m a part of and created largely.

But for the early parts of my career, I was just, I was, I just kept cranking out work. All of which I’m proud of. I’m proudest of my rattiest, sloppiest, early, like “just get it out there and be seen work.” I’m prouder of that than the, “I’m a sophisticated creator who knows what he’s doing,” which I wasn’t. I’m less proud of that work.

Jessica: But you kept coming back to of first principles throughout these periods where you would go at something in a certain way, with a certain sort of set of, of artistic just approach, right? So mini comics just to make stories about whatever.

And then, then you would sort of examine things from a more experimental point of view and you’d do things like, creating prompts on cards that would, you could pull up and react to. And that there’s like an improv level to the works that you were creating.

So there’s, I, I feel like you did constantly look for ways to make your practice new for yourself and exciting. In parallel with this thing of needing to be seen and needing to build community around your work, needing to find to build connections around your work, And that the mini comic scene– and I’m gonna stop and let you answer this in a second– but like comic scene, for anybody who’s not really aware of this, in the 90’s mini comics are not necessarily small, although in some cases they are, but they are self published, usually photocopied, hand-bound, usually with staples, very inexpensive little booklets that you can exchange, or sell, or whatever. And at this pre, just pre-internet phase, there was a really


scene of mini comics that I was involved in, and Tom was, and that’s how we know each other and

it involved stuff through the mail often, and making these connections through, you know, people would send me $2 in an envelope and I would send them back comics. I actually don’t know how we met, Tom. I can’t remember, but it has to be something like that, or being at SPX or


SPX is Small Press Expo, which is still running. It’s an annual small press comics there are all these different ways that you have these sort of touch points around.

at that point there was no way to be… The highest I could imagine in comics in like ’95, ’96 was to be published by Fantagraphics. That was like, as far as it went, and then I was published by Fantagraphics in 1996. And I was like, okay, now what? these parallel things. And so to get back to this thing of renewing it for yourself, when you’re doing your mini comics, you just putting stories down and just doing the thing. And then at some point, what happens? You sort of gather yourself up and go like, no, I need something new? How did that play out for you?

Tom Hart: Oh, a- as far as creatively. Yeah. I don’t know.

I was always looking for a new expression. It was never about the story to tell for me, and that’s different from a lot of creators who I know are like bursting with a particular story they want to tell. But for me it was like, what can this process and this product in the end, in the end result, what can it show me about myself? And I always was very gratified by surprises that would turn up in the work and surprises that would turn up in the process. And so I was always, after a little while, making prompts and designing like weird, strategies to get myself not to do the usual thing.

And so when I wouldn’t do the usual thing, it would usually be a failure because I’m not so talented that my failures are awesome, like Prince or something. So, so that’s, I’ve now learned to keep most of the failures to myself and I’ve gobs and gobs of sketchbooks and things. And I enjoy the kind of playtime in there.

But it was something about– everybody sort of finds their own creative process and, and what, what really engages them about their creative process. And like, I made a book, my first commercial book in 1994 or something, I think I made it ’93.

Um, Hutch Owens Working Hard. I made it the right way, the quote, “right way.” like I thought up the story, and then I broke it down mostly into a script. And then I made a rough draft of it, and then I sort of refined that rough draft, and then I made the final pencils, and then I inked it. And at the end I was like, I didn’t enjoy that.

And I was mostly going on intuition at that point. So I just knew, I had knew I had to do something different.

The next project was, was… I just changed up. I said, “What if you just like, don’t have a story? What if you just say, what if you just go like loud. What if you just do loud stuff and then you do soft stuff and then what if you tell stuff with narration and then not narration?” And those were the prompts. And that, that gave me the clues that I could change the process. And that would, the surprises it would reveal would be really helpful and really make me happy and stuff like that. make sense?

Jessica: It absolutely makes sense and actually makes me think of another question that I had about Rosalie Lightning, the book, and how you’ve said that, that this was in some ways, it’s really hard for you to even think about what the book is. Obviously you’re talking about the black hole of losing Rosalie and how awful it is, but then using the art in some way a way to process trauma.

Tom Hart: Absolutely.

Jessica: In some ways I see that same kind of looking for an answer through experimentation and improv in your life at that time you know, the events in the story.

Tom Hart: I think all the, all of that, what you’ve just said, oh, all and all of the work I’d done prior to that in trying to, I guess, stay nimble inside the medium and to sort of know what my options were inside the medium. I think that did help me make that book, which was largely a process of, of figuring out how to grieve and how to, how to move on.

I don’t know if I, I don’t know if I hadn’t been such a restless creator prior to that, if I would have had the tools I needed.

But again, I’m a particular person and those are the particular tools I needed. And so I had been gathering them coincidentally or accidentally prior to that. A different person might need to make a different book, right, to get through a process like that. And maybe they, hopefully they would have the tools they need.

Is that answering your question? Because a lot of what what I did in the 20 years prior, to however many years, like a lot of the creative habits I had, I’d developed and a lot of the sort of odd strategies I’d come up with did help in that process.

Jessica: Yeah. I mean, I, it in the context of your answer, I was thinking about like, how would I deal with something awful like that at a terrible event. And I don’t think I would have the same resources, the same set of strategies to go through and, and, and use for myself. I think it’s really, it’s really interesting how, how


artistic practice fed you and you.

Tom Hart: Yeah. It, it really, um, it, it definitely showed me that, that the connection that I have with this art form is a real one, and a beneficial one. Because I knew what I, where I had to go. Right. As a person, I knew what I had to say. I knew what I had to believe. I knew how I had to feel, but comics was the only way I could get to those places. And so that it was so essential that I make that book.

I’ve been asked a lot of times, like how much of that book was for yourself and how much of it were you thinking about the reader? And the answer is, I was thinking about the reader a little bit, but mostly I was making a book that, it was just like tunneling, tunneling through, with the tools I had. And the tools I have again, I’ll say are remedial. That’s why it’s pretty sloppy in some places.

Jessica: I will have to disagree with that. we’ll I think your tools are incredible when it comes to making comics. And that’s, I think the proof of that is exactly what we’re talking about, that you had what you needed you needed it.

Jessica: One thing that struck me about the book, as I was rereading it is that you talked about the incredible stress and pain of being just super broke, in parallel with the worst time in your life. That that’s just sort of fed into it.

I realized, again, I had no idea. I did not know that was going on in that way when we were still in New York. We were both in New York at the same time. We both left near the same time. You left a little bit before I did. We worked together. We co-taught classes. We hung out. We both had children near the same age, but I had no

idea what was going on with you. And I wonder what that is about for you cause I think that happens with a lot of people In the arts and in general, where you and Leela kept it close to the chest in some

Tom Hart: Hmm.

Jessica: Not like you’re going to go around and say like, “Hey guys, it’s rent party time,” but nobody was giving you emotional support either through this. Apparently, at least from what I could read.

Tom Hart: I mean, it’s a big, it’s a big silent thing, right? How how broke creative professionals tend to be. And it’s only now filtering into the public discourse about adjunct teachers of say all kinds. So it’s not uncommon for there to be an adjunct science teachers living in their car or something.

You hear stories like that all the time. So I like finally, just the way our system is set up, you’re starting to realize that a lot of people aren’t taken care of, even who are putting an extreme efforts. If you’re not in the right revenue stream you might fall through the cracks.

We weren’t quite there yet, but that’s why we left.

Jessica: Right. And I mean, I guess what I’m saying is, we had our own financial strains, not as severe, but plenty. we didn’t talk to you about it either. Why weren’t we talking to each other? Why weren’t we saying like, “Hey, this is what’s going on.”

Tom Hart: Yeah. Money is so taboo. Right? It’s so weird. have

a money talk. If you want to have a podcast about money, well…

Jessica: This is a podcast about money!

Tom Hart: Oh, is it? Well, we’ll go deeper then. What else? What else do you want to hear? Or what else you want talk about?

Jessica: I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know. I’m just wondering about, cause this is, this is a podcast about how you make your work you, you know keep it going and also like, how do you keep body and soul together?

I was just thinking about how, the part of the purpose of being here and having this conversation is to, to open up these conversations around where does your revenue come from and like, how do you manage it? How do you balance the different of your financial life and creative life and not let one take over to the detriment, to the other.

Tom Hart: I mean, it all comes down to bargaining, right, and what you’re willing to bargain.

How much fear am I willing to live with? How much shame am I willing to live with in order to access this freedom or creativity, or whatever you want to call it! Maybe it’s not even those things. It is for me. To be in touch with the, the creativity and to be in touch with the autonomous version of the creativity.

And also, of course, I didn’t even mention it because it’s not, it wasn’t part of the calculus, in which how much poverty do you want to deal with?

And so for me, the poverty was always like, I can deal with a lot of poverty, and I can deal with some fear. I mean, I guess I just wound up poorer. But like I could deal with a lot of poverty, but only so much.

Like I think it’s constantly, there’s so much calculus involved and so much bargaining. Are we really willing to go through this to keep our, to keep our vision alive. Or to not do a certain kind of work that would, that goes against some value system we have. And everybody’s value system is different. And mine is probably completely blind in some ways, but why don’t I get a normal job, or even a normal teaching job? I don’t know.

Why do I settle? Why did I settle in 2012 for $6,000 in order to form my own school? I mean, I’m, I don’t know.

Jessica: Well, there’s two things that I want to ask about, first of all, as you mentioned, shame. Why shame? is that part of the calculus this?

Tom Hart: Well, shame’s going to come from two different places, right? At least two. It’s going to come from the larger society, and it’s going to come from your family unit. And larger society, at least in my head, in my world, told me for a long time, I should be, I should be making a living from my, from my art.

It was a young person’s shame, I think. I didn’t realize that having a high paying job in advertising doing work for Sony and McDonald’s was making a living from your art. You know, just not your, your quote, your vision or something, and so I felt a lot of shame about that.

Other people have a lot of shame coming from their parents. I didn’t have as much about that. And then the family we currently live with, we may feel it in that direction.

And you may feel it from other creative professionals too.

And so for the longest time, I thought the goal was to make a living off of your art. Again, I say your vision. And if you’re not, you’re a loser. You’re a failure. You don’t belong. You’re, you’re just not, you’re not one of us and you’re not, you’re not creative.

And so, it was a long time of slowly pushing, rolling that ball.

So eventually I got fine with like, I don’t hear that shame anymore.

And the poverty, you know, I have my limits and I sorta know what they are and I can live with them.

And fear, I don’t, well, it depends on what you’re afraid of. If you’re afraid of living in your car, that’s different than the fear of the vulnerability that happens in certain creative projects or something, or the fear of failure that can happen in certain projects.

But it’s just all, it’s all, it’s all bargaining. Happy to keep talking about that. I think I hit on a bunch of things there.

Jessica: Yeah, and a bunch of really, really interesting things. And I think that that internalized shame of feeling like you should be making a living from this, and if you’re not, it’s not the real thing, you’re not really “it”,

Tom Hart: Yeah,

Jessica: one of the biggest things I see happening around.

And one of the important things to, to shed is that idea that somehow all of your income has to be coming from sort of heart-centered creative work in order for it to be the work that’s most important to you. Like it can be most important to you and still not have the financial power of your life. You know?

Tom Hart: it

Jessica: can fuel you no matter what.

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

I have one more question for you related to this that I want to make sure I ask, which is so you talk about, poverty and feeling comfortable to a certain level with, that you know what your limits are.

One of the things about poverty though, and I mean, I see this playing out in Rosalie Lightning in the book a little bit, is making decisions on financial scarcity that can lead to weird decision-making.

Sometimes it turns out fine, but sometimes it really doesn’t. And like that idea of just kind of, again, in your career retrospective list that you sent me. kind of like constantly more things, like another thing, another thing, another thing. Trying all this stuff.

That can come partly out of ambition and out of joy and out of, “I want to do all these things” and it can come partly out of, “Oh my God, I’ve got to plug this hole.” And all you can see is like an inch ahead of you, you know, you got tunnel vision around it. Do you recognize that at all?

Tom Hart: Yeah, it’s hard to pick apart ambition from that plugging the hole that you mentioned.

I think there’s a bunch of threads there. Like ambition, a lot of times, is plugging a hole.

A lot of people you get down to it, they’re still trying to impress one person from when they were seven, you know. Everything they do, they’re just trying to impress their father, their mother, some girl they saw on a playground as a boy, whatever. Or maybe there’s something else. Maybe there’s something a little more, there’s a little darker there. You see this in some religious backgrounds too.

Related to that, I’ll get to that actually. Since that brought that up.

The scarcity for me was I grew up in a pretty lower middle class background.

Around me to my eyes as a young person, everybody was unhappy. Nobody was happy. And everybody worked all the time. I didn’t want that to be me. And that’s the hole I’m always trying to plug or that’s the thing keeping me always running. You know, it’s like, I that’s, what’s, that’s what’s over there. I’m going over there.

And so is that ambition? Is that plugging the holes? Is that scarcity? I don’t know.

You know, there’s a lot of talk about scarcity mindsets and things like that. I think it’s really valuable. And I tried, I think I’ve done an okay job of shedding my scarcity mindset about money in the past three or four years.

Time is another one. And I’m a little worried about whether I’ll ever be able to shed that scarcity mindset. Because that is finite. But I don’t know. Am I answering your question? I feel like we could go longer.

the-autonomous-creative-with-tom-hart-ep-001_recording-1_2020-12-30–t06-51-29pm–tom: but a little nervous.

Jessica: definitely go longer on all of these things. So last question for you is what would you, of today, tell Tom of, say, 1995, And what would that Tom tell you? What do you wish you’d known then? And what does your younger self wish you still remembered?

Tom Hart: Oh, what I wish I still remembered? I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna be able to answer that one. I don’t think.

Jessica: know what I

Tom Hart: I wish I’d understood the industry better. I thought there was a certain projected timeline for the person making an independent comic, who then just increases in popularity, if you keep making better comics and then you’re, then you’re, a famous pro or whatever. I don’t even know what the word would have been.

The sort of metaphor of the long tail helps us see that a little better now. Right? There’s like this many Stephen Kings, and things like that or whatever, and then there’s everybody else. And had I had that metaphor then, that might’ve helped me understand.

It would help me forge a path in the creative arts, taking as many different opportunities as I could and learning things.

Rather than believing that my natural path was to be published author, famous published author. Everything’s good once you start selling this many copies and everyone loves you and publishers are having bidding wars over your next projects or whatever.

And what was the last question?

Jessica: What would younger you think of where you’ve landed.

Tom Hart: Well, to be honest, I think of that all the time. I think he’d be okay with me. I had to suffer the poverty, you know, and I had to work through the shame and things like that, but I, I’m pretty proud of what we’ve done. I don’t have this, I don’t know if I’ll ever have the skills to be a mass communicator. Or the tools to be as seamlessly integrated into the community, the larger community, the society… like SAW is ramshackle-y.

My comics are ramshackle-y. But I believe in them, I believe in the school, I believe in all the students that come through the school, I believe in my own work. But it doesn’t look like the other stuff. And, I’m okay with that. And it’s hard for me to be okay with that, but definitely younger self would be like, dude, relax. That’s fine. It’s fine. Don’t belong. You know.

Jessica: Yeah.

I love that. I’m going to dive into some Q and a

So Mandy asks, Tom, I know you don’t do Instagram or Facebook intensively. How do you find your students? How do they find you? I was going to ask about this, but Mandy got to do it.

Tom Hart: Well, SAW Instagram is pretty regularly updated by Emma, Emma Jensen, our co-conspirator. I think she’s doing the Facebook, too. I don’t use it that often. Every once in a while, I think now’s the time I’m going to get started on it again.

You know, that’s something interesting and not to get too into it, but when I was starting the school in 2012, I thought also, like I was saying with my own artistic career, that all it would take is like, you build up, and you grow and you get better and you grow, and you grow and, you know, and then things become easy. And it didn’t work out that way.

We had like a good year where we had six students, that was our first year. The next year we had six students they were all paying full price. Then the next year I think we had nine. And then the next year we had 11 and I was like, Oh, this is how it’s supposed to work. And eventually we’ll get to 25 or 30 or something. But we never did. It sort of stopped at some point.

And I realized like, “Oh, you have to put a different kind of effort in to keep this going.” And it took me a long time to figure out what that effort was. And still don’t know. But it involved going to conventions, it involved getting out, personally, more. I’ve made class visits that have brought in students. I mean, Two, two students came from Seattle cause I visited their class.

Like sometimes it’s like really low return on effort. It’s like, oh, I have to do is travel across the country to get new students.

We do a little Facebook advertising. Social media is a tricky one that I haven’t really, I don’t know. It’s a longer conversation to have.

Jessica: Yeah, well, maybe one day do that conversation.

Jessica: asks, how do you balance your creative life, your primary income source, and family life with taking care of you? How do you keep healthy?

Tom Hart: Oh, well the pandemic has made everyone unhealthy. I’m miserable. Um, no, I’m not kidding. Like, I’m not stretching enough. I’m not moving enough. I’m angry at my family all the time. They’re angry, they’re angrier at me than I am at them, let me say, but that’s specific to the pandemic. In other times, I’ve gotten good all my life or all– at least all my adult life, I’ve scraped away at the margins of the time I have to either do my creative work or to like exercise and things like that. And that’s just how I do it. I just find it in the, in the margins. If I can, if I have 20 minutes here, I’ll go for a run.

We installed a hammock at SAW at one point, and that was my way to be like, going into hammock for 15 minutes. And that, definitely that was like C-3PO turning himself off. That was definitely like, taking care of Tom for 15 minutes. Those kinds of things, not everybody’s the same way, but I could get by on those little scraps of time just for myself.

But also again, working on my own stuff, it feeds me so much. And maybe that just keeps me going too. So even if I work 20 minutes in a day on the personal thing that you called heart-centered, if I worked for that little on that, it’ll really feed me.

Jessica: something that we say around the Creative Focus Workshop that, practice is self-care.

So that brings us to another question, actually. Chris is asking about finding the physical space for SAW. How did you go about thinking about building an actual physical school?

Tom Hart: just I just wandered around neighborhoods and asked who owned this building and what’s this space, then I, then seriously, you know. You get on Facebook and you say, who knows somebody who — again, just like starting a band. You just keep your ear to the ground and you just talk to people, you just try, just try to find the resources you need.

And the resources we need wasn’t big. Our first school was really tiny. We’ve moved four times. We’re about to move actually next week so that’ll be the fourth. But it was really tiny, served the purposes we had of, of having the small school. We got a lot of great work done. We taught a lot of great people there.

But really I just, in another culture I might be in prison. I’d never take no for an answer when it comes to like, you can’t do this, you can’t do that.

Luckily, I’m not in food service. I’m just, I just teach art, but I would be like, “Can we use that? Can we use that building? It’s a little run down. What’s it uh, zoned for? Oh, whatever. It doesn’t matter. We’ll just try it.”

know know

Jessica: You’re just so punk rock and DIY. I love

Tom Hart: If I had listened to all the reasons not to start a school, I wouldn’t have started this school. If I listened to even two of them, I wouldn’t have started it.

And my life is so much better that I started this school. And so many other lives are better that I started it. And nobody’s in prison yet.

Jessica: Hahaha!

Tom Hart: That is one of the fears though, right? If you try something you’re like, “Ooh, this is scary.”

It’s like, what’s scary about art? Nothing is scary about art, except you’re just going to feel weird and bad, but nobody’s gonna get hurt. Nobody’s gonna wind up in prison. Making a mess, telling a lousy story.

None of those things hurt, hurt you that much.

Jessica: Yeah. Yeah, no, just taking action and seeing what happens as a result of it and not dying, and it again. that’s the

key. That’s,

that’s how you defeat all your fears.

Tom Hart: Yeah, yeah. Not dying.

So, Tom, I just want to thank you so much for hanging out with me today.

Tom Hart: Thanks Jess it was really great.

Jessica: I feel so warm and fuzzy about this.

Tom Hart: Awesome.

Jessica: How can people find you?

Tom Hart: is the best way. is the online comics portal. is the sort of brick and mortar. We had tons of stuff there. Like I said, we have a bazillion classes. It’s disorganized. I’m trying to organize it, but always on the run.

Jessica: Such good classes. I mean, Tom, you’re just, you’re a transformational teacher. There’s a lot of former students I see here today in the chat it’s just a testament to

who you are as a teacher, that people are following you and with you for so long afterwards.

Can we find your books there or is there someplace else we should be looking for those?

Tom Hart: Uh, I don’t know, I’ve gotten bad at personal promotion. I’ve gotten good at school promotion. So as far as personal promotion, if it’s got a spine, you can buy it at the usual online locations. If it’s my, my mini comics then, um, I don’t know, send me an email. Or find me at a convention.

Seriously. These days when we’re finishing up our graphic novel group, we’re like, ” try to imagine the perfect person who wants your book.” And I was like, “you’re just somebody who wanders to my table with at MoCCA. Was all I wanted was just one person to show up and look and say, “Hey, where’s your new book?”

I’m like, “here it is.”

I don’t have big dreams anymore. I’m happy with the connections that are there. So I’m not a great salesperson of my own work.

Jessica: We’ll try to do it for you.

Thank you so much for joining us today for the Autonomous Creative.

Our show is produced by Matt Madden. Our production coordinator is Lousine Boyakhandjyan, and our production assistant is Rhiannon Sunday. Music is by Matt Madden. And I’m your host, Jessica Abel.

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