We had the good fortune of connecting with Devin Kraft and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Devin, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I’ve always wanted to be creative professionally, and after leaving my first post-degree job, I wound up bringing several of my self published comics to a local comic convention. It went fairly well, and it was gratifying to go from total obscurity to being able to see responses to my art. I’d saved enough from my previous job to focus on writing and illustrating my first graphic novel Dragon Slayer, and after a successful Kickstarter campaign, it looked like if I saved hard I could make a living drawing (I’m also incredibly grateful to my Aunt and Uncle for letting me stay with them while learning how to make art profitable). Making a living with art sort of hinged on a mix of comic conventions for monthly expenses, and they subsidized longer stories (my real passion) which would have been impossible to make a living on, but were more artistically gratifying than single illustrations. Over the course of several years I started to take to heart the feedback my audience was giving me and started making my art more colorful and iconic.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Artistically speaking, I’m sort of unique in that in the comics field, I’m a singer/songwriter (artist/writer). Thanks to technological advances, I’m also a publisher, promoter, colorist, letterer, and designer as well. Early on I kind of decided that I need to make creation something I do for myself, but if I also find that when other people enjoy my comics, that gives me a lot of motivation as well, so I try to design stories and images that I think others will enjoy. That being the case, I exist in a weird place in that my professional success is that I’ve been able to make both poster design and comics a sustainable job without a lot of corporate work. Every aspect of creation is difficult, but some aspects are easier and some are harder. At this point penciling, inking, and coloring are relatively easy – not to say I won’t benefit from practicing anatomy or design, but I can make something I’m generally happy with without too much trouble. Writing is still something I wish I could rapid practice at-people only get better the more mistakes they get to make, and when creating a graphic novel, probably 1/15th of the time is writing the actual dialogue as opposed to the colossal amount of time to actually create the images. But all said and done, I’d rather create a book than have to promote it-that’s an entirely different, equally complex discipline. The same goes for networking – I make friends easily, but I’m usually so busy I’m terrible at proactively hunting down new ones. As far as my brand and my story, I’m an illustrator with a film degree who had the fortune of studying in Japan for a year, during which I learned as much about manga as I could. I’ve taken all of that inspiration and converted it into morality tales set in fantastic settings, and I treat them all as if they were films. It takes me about 2-3 years to create a story doing all of the different jobs (writing, art, design, promotion, printing, etc.). In addition I design alternative movie posters, pins, patches, and run an Etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/cheshirecatart).
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m incredibly nerdy, so my favorite spots towards that, locally. Carrolton’s Korea town has an incredible mix of Korean restaurants and Kinokuniya, one of my favorite Japanese bookstores (ironically, in Japan I loved them because they had the best selection of English books). Half Price Books’ Flagship store is a place that’s equally fun to take out of towners to because it caters to fans of comics, music, film, manga, books-just everything. Depending on where the area, there’s an incredible amount of awesome comic shops in the area, including More Fun, Keith’s, Titan, Madness, Boomerang, Zeus – Dallas has this amazing comic scene and each shop has their own flavor. I live in the Design District, so for food I’m a diehard Rodeo Goat fan. I’m friends with a lot of the staff thanks to some mutual friends, and their burgers are top notch every time. Big Guy’s Chicken and Rice in Deep Ellum is a must, Velvet Taco is a must – Dallas has some incredible food. For just walking around, Bishop Arts and Deep Ellum are a lot of fun. The Denton Square is incredible too – Recycled Books is a positively breathtaking place for me.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutouts! My parents for fostering my creativity, my Uncle, Aunt and cousins for further helping me hone and push what I can do, a list of local and regional artists too long to list for keeping me inspired, and an even longer list of artistic heroes whose art I use as fuel to get to the top of whatever mountain my skill ends up taking me to.
Linkedin: Devin Kraft
Other: https://www.etsy.com/shop/cheshirecatart https://www.patreon.com/cheshirecatart