Peptober Day 1: Reintroduction

My name is Anthony Woodward. I'm an Australian-born cartoonist who has been living in Canada since 2014. I have been drawing comics since around 1998, however, I didn't feel like I discovered my current comic sensibilities until I started art school around 2003. During my first year in art school, I started a free zine called 7 Pages. I started it after discovering a free photocopier and also inspiration from a fellow student who had started a weekly photocopied poster zine. I f=go by the name of awcomix online, which stands for my initials AW.

Seasons of my art practice

1998-2002: Pre art school I had been self-publishing comics. They’re are so different than what I'm doing now, it's almost like a different artist. I had a very limited idea of the comics world and had some contact with a few artists through picking up their books in zines stores.

2003-2006: Art school was enjoyable, but also tricky being a comic artist. I spent a lot of time trying to make that part of me fit into the Demands of art school. 2003-2005 felt like a fertile time for comics and zines. I started this blog and thanks to accessing university computers and the internet, I was able to discover new artists and ideas. Alternative comics were getting bigger than ever and a new trip to the comic store would yield some new books and artists that I wasn't familiar with before. 

After graduating, I started teaching drawing and digital art at the same university. However, wanting a more permanent and dependable career I studied further in Libraries. 

2007-2010: In 2008 My wife who is Canadian and our newly born son moved to Canada for just under a year. I had delays in getting my visa which delayed getting work. It was around this time that I started a daily comic diary process. This felt like an amazing new phase for me for personal artistic growth. Like when I did my '7 pages' zine, I felt I had found my voice and an audience to follow along. and we ultimately decided to move back to Australia.  I then decided to pursue a career in libraries and we also decided to expand our family. Our daughter was born in 2010.

2011-2013: The next few years were a high point in my personal life but a low point in my art life. I started working full-time in libraries and had two small children to keep me busy. I tried to keep up my art practice but drawing that used to takes a few days would end up taking months to complete. I started feeling more disconnected from the comics community as it was harder to get away to Melbourne for events and group projects. Despite this, I was able to attend three comics camps which would have to be some of my fondest comic artist memories. Then in 2014, we decided to give Canada another try.

2014-2017: This was a huge undertaking and for the first couple of years, we struggled to get by as newcomers in a completely new town and country! I thought that maybe I'd be able to connect with some local artists but each possibility withered up and disappeared. I sorely missed the comics community I was part of in Australia. I could fool myself that technically I was still part of it, but practically I was not. I couldn't go to the book launches, meetups, and workshops, etc. It was a bittersweet experience to watch from afar while new artists emerged and made successful strides in advancing comics in Australia. Slowly but surely as the kids were a little older and life settled a bit, my art practice started coming back to me. One big challenge I had to get past was my past work was sketchy and immediate, whereas now I had been trying a more polished approach. I think this was mostly born out of a false notion that if I could refine my art enough then perhaps I could get illustration works or be 'good enough' to get published. I later I realised this was killing the spirit of the art and I needed to find a balance between the two.

2018-2021: The next period was marked by two major events, moving again to a new town and discovering digital drawing. I dabbled a little in 2018, however it wasn't until I picked up an iPad Pro and Apple pencil and dove right into the app Procreate that things changed for me. I feel like in the past couple of years I have come back into my own with my art practice. I'm more confident about the art I make and what I want it to be, and I feel confident about the tools that I use. I have started a couple of new comic projects, some autobiographical and some fictional. I recently launched a new publishing initiative called Spare Parts Press and I'm excited about working with other artists from around the world.

I don't know what the next few years will bring. But I do know that I will be regularly publishing new work that feels like I'm creating the work of dreamt of for many years. looking back it appears that the period has mostly been around 3 years each. Which would suggest that I'm about to enter a new period if the trend holds up.

Note on my latest profile pic above: Over the years I've liked to change up my profile pic to represent my current work. The last time I made this change was after taking the advice from Andy.J.Pizza Creative Pep talk podcast to use a real image of yourself. At first, I was reluctant to do this as I much preferred using a drawing to immediately communicate that I was an artist. I then decided to combine the two together.

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