Is this thing a one-off?
No. We're committed to running The Workshop three times over six years. Artists who attend a residency will be invited to return for subsequent Workshops. Our hope is that the project will continue for many years beyond that.
Wait, weren't you supposed to be running this thing every year?
Oh man. Running the residency was really hard and really expensive. We kind of got frazzled by the prospect of doing it every year. Our children would miss us, our sweethearts would get cranky, and our employers would complain. So we've decided to run a two-week residency every second year and run a refresher weekend on the off years. We invite new people to apply for the two-week residency.
ARE ARTISTS FROM OVERSEAS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?
Absolutely. We’re open to participants from neighbouring countries or anywhere in the world, however a fluency in English will be important for making the most out of the residency.
IS THIS WORKSHOP ALSO FOR BEGINNERS?
Not really. Short courses aimed at those new to graphic storytelling already exist — in fact many of our staff and guests already run workshops like this. For this project, we are interested in working with artists who already have some experience working in comics because we believe there is little institutional support for emerging and established cartoonists.
WHAT ABOUT WRITERS FROM OTHER FIELDS?
You don’t have to be a drawing ninja to be a part of The Workshop. We are open to applications from talented storytellers from other fields such as theatre, prose, animation or screenwriting. Insight from other traditions will be valuable to our interdisciplinary workshop culture. For this workshop, your application should show that you want to work on an ambitious project in the comics medium, even if this hasn’t been your main medium so far.
What kind of comics project could I bring to the workshop?
The Workshop is designed to encourage artists to push the boundaries of their creative practice and produce more ambitious comic books. Our program will best suit artists with some experience making comics and a specific project already in mind. We welcome projects at different stages of development.
I draw manga. Can I come?
The Workshop does not have any requirements regarding the specific kinds of stories that our artists produce. Participants may choose to work in any tradition or genre of comics, for example: autobiography, superhero comics, journalism, literary fiction, manga or abstract comics. They may choose to work on a single narrative or to develop a series of short works into a collection. They may choose to be working on a print project such as a traditional graphic novel or they may be working toward publishing in a digital space. Our focus is less on genre or form and more on storytelling and craft.
Are you for real about this 'letter to liz' thing? Haven't you got a form I can fill out instead?
No. Sorry. You have to write us a letter. We came up with this application process because we’re sick of reading awkward cover letters and sifting through boring C.V.'s. What we're really interested in is your voice as a storyteller and that voice tends to be left out when people are filling out forms and filing papers. Think of it as a creative project in its own right. Have a bit of fun with it. Spend as much or as little time on it as you have to spend.
INDONESIA? TASMANIA? REALLY? CAN’T YOU RUN IT CLOSER TO MY HOUSE IN COBURG?
Unusual venues are part of our organisational design. We believe that artist residencies should be an intense and immersive experience detached from the demands of daily life. Ideally the Workshop will introduce participants to new ways of thinking about their creative practice, but we also hope that it will introduce them to parts of the world they might not normally visit. You can expect future residencies to be even further afield: weird islands, penal colonies, the sort of places you need a rope and a hang-glider to get to.
Hey, no fair! How come returning artists get preference?
We're working really hard to establish a tradition of rigorous literary workshopping among long-form cartoonists. Our greatest assets in this regard are participants who trust each other, have an understanding of what has gone on before and share a close familiarity with the unfinished projects. We don't want to start from scratch every time. We want to make the workshop richer and more productive and for this reason we think it's a good idea to build on the hard work done in previous meetings
WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM?
Artist retreats are an established tradition in many creative fields, particularly those that require intense concentration among groups of collaborators. Our idea was to establish a similar tradition to address particular problems of editing and workshopping in the field of graphic storytelling. The Comic Art Workshop has been modelled on three organisations based in the United States: The Atlantic Centre for the Arts in Florida, which runs a three week artist-in-residence program for all kinds of artists, The Centre for Cartoon Studies which is a school set up by James Sturm especially for the advanced training of cartoonists, and The Sequential Art Workshop in Florida which was founded and is staffed by Tom Hart and Leela Corman. Hart and Corman were our first international guests in 2015.