If you were following Professional Geek on any of our social media this weekend, you’re well aware that we were at C2E2, Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo. Thank you to everyone who made it out to The Professional Geek: Turn Your Passion Into A Career panel! I love what we’re accomplishing through the podcast, but getting to actually meet everyone was the real treat.
I hear a cliche a lot, “Don’t meet your heroes.” The thinking is that, whether it’s due to fame or it’s their natural attitude, your heroes are always going to let you down. Either they won’t live up to your expectations, or they’re just rude. I don’t think I could disagree more.
This weekend was my first C2E2, and while I didn’t get to meet CM Punk, who achieves hero status for me, I did meet a lot of people I really admire for their talent and accomplishments. If you read my daily C2E2 recaps, you saw that I was recording interviews on the con floor. A lot of my interviews were with professionals, and a theme emerged while I was recording.
I spoke with Wesley Sun of the Sun Brothers on Saturday to talk about business and art, and he pointed me towards three artists who collaborated on their successfully crowdsourced new book, Eisegesis: Kings + Queens: Geannina C. Gutierrez, Jonathan La Mantia, and Ali Cantarella. As Wesley put it, “Not only are they all here at C2E2, which is amazing, but we actually got the privilege of working with them...and we’re lucky to have them all in one book.”
What became apparent was proximity, and not simply mutual appreciation, brought everyone together. It turned out that all the people who the Sun Bros collaborated with for Eisegesis met at a con! Ali Cantarella spoke about the process, “Wesley Sun and I met at a show maybe 3 years ago. We were seated next to each other, and we just clicked as people and friends. Maybe after 3 or 4 years of friendship, [The Sun Bros] approached me with a story idea that worked well with my illustration style and we finally got to work together.” I heard this story from every artist I spoke with. Katie Willert from Cracked.com put it excellently in my interview with her, “The most important thing you can do if you’re starting out in your career is finding like minded people who want to do the same thing that you do, and be friends...Eventually, if you all have the same level of passion, you’re gonna make it work, and you’re gonna start getting work.”
Meeting your heroes, or at the very least people whose work you admire, can be an amazing thing. Every collaboration has to start somewhere, and conventions like C2E2 are a wild, overwhelming mixer of mutual appreciation. Working with your direct network can have professional benefits for sure, but going to industry and subculture specific conventions and conferences can jumpstart that process. So dive right in! Make friends and be friendly! Your heroes and your next collaborator are waiting for you to introduce yourself!