SUMMER PIERRE IS A CARTOONIST, ILLUSTRATOR AND WRITER. SHE IS THE AUTHOR OF THE ARTIST IN THE OFFICE: HOW TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, GREAT GALS: INSPIRED IDEAS FOR LIVING A KICK-ASS LIFE, AND THE DIARY COMIC PAPER PENCIL LIFE. FIND MORE OF HER WORK AT WWW.SUMMERPIERRE.COM
Summer Pierre! Do you ever publish your work without compensation or for a nominal fee? If so, why, and how do you feel about doing it?
Yep. All the time. I feel very mixed about it, so I am choosy about which platforms I do this on. Very few places pay for creative work, so I publish where I know there is an audience that will see me. I stopped providing free content for places like The Huffington Post, because unless you have a million followers, you are buried in other voices and naked pictures.
Does your craft provide you with a livelihood? If so, kindly dispense one piece of advice, if you will, for those for whom this is currently just a dream.
For comics and writing — nope. I don't believe those things will ever provide me with a livelihood. They'll help at times, but never the whole thing. Honestly, that's not my priority. I've had ups in livelihood and financially right now I'm at a low. The good news about this, though, is that it has given me permission to not think in "market-friendly" ways. I do my dream work, and if it sells, I'm glad, but that's not my priority anymore.
If you’re making a living by holding a day job, does it leave you enough time to write? If you’re making a living purely by writing, does it provide enough economic security? It's a total balance. I teach and I do illustration for a living — two things that not only take time, but drink up a lot of my artistic juice. Not only that, but I am the primary caregiver to my son. That being said, I work small, I set myself deadlines, and I sometimes have to let it go.
How do you know for sure when something in your work truly needs revision?
That nagging, loose-end feeling after making a piece. Usually I am impatient and want something to be done — but there's that gaping hole inside saying, "you know you need to go back over this."
When revising something in your work, how do you know for sure when it’s truly time to stop?
When it's due, or when I just feel done.
Do you feel that being a writer was a choice or a calling for you?
Calling. I don't have a choice at all.
OPTIONAL BONUS ROUND FOR PURE PLEASURE: What book did you probably read too young and it therefore haunted you forever after?
R. Crumb's Head Comix. I was four or five and couldn't read yet, but the pictures said volumes. The funny part was that it didn't disturb me – It was all so familiar. I thought Crumb was making stories up about my parents' friends and their world. For a while I thought Mr. Natural was the same guy who lived in (and changed) the traffic lights, and also turned on the refrigerator light.