The second interview in the series is with the illustrious Garry Mac. We are very excited to be interviewing Garry today!
Garry Mac is an illustrator, comic book creator and workshop facilitator. Last year, he founded Unthank Comics, an independent comic label producing his own work, Gonzo Cosmic, as well as a variety of other, many of which involve queer characters. He is currently working on a short animation for this year’s LGBT History Month Cultural Commission, which is based on a series of recordings of interviews done with members of the LGBTQIA community across Scotland. You can find more about Garry at:
Hi Garry, can you tell me a bit more about your business?
I am a freelancer, illustrator and artist and writer.
How long have you been working for yourself?
I’ve been working in the industry since 2009 and went full time freelance about 2 years ago.
What made you start working for yourself?
I worked in call centres and recruitment industry for years and had fallen away from art. I didn’t enjoy working in this industry. When I got back into art in 2009, I realised that’s what I wanted to do.
What you do like most about your job and least?
I like the ability to work from home, the flexibility with hours and varied jobs. I like that I’m not repeating the same thing over and over again. The least is the lack of financial security.
Did you receive any help/start up?
No. I started off doing community art, and had some contact with a local organisation who help small businesses, but they weren’t very helpful. I mostly learned myself by searching online and asking questions. I mostly taught myself.
Who are your main clients?
Other people in creative industries, like writers, who would book me to do art for a comic strip and to do illustrations and general public, selling comics to them too. I have a mix of customers.
What methods do you use to promote yourself?
I use a lot of social media. I try and keep up to date, sharing progress, building network of creators. I keep my blog updated fairly regularly. I also attend comic cons and writers groups.
What do you like most about comic cons?
The ability to catch up with other creators; finding out how they’re doing and what’s going on.
Do you find them useful for promoting?
They are useful for promoting yourself to wider network of creators, not massively for a paying readership cause so there are so many things there. It can be difficult to stand out as people go for the names they know. I find other creators/editors etc. more useful.
What do you find most effective promote?
Social media. You have an instant and broad reach to an audience you would never be in touch with and can build networks through friends of friends. It is much easier and quicker than face to face.
What do you find to be the benefits of working for an employer versus working for yourself?
When you work for yourself, you don’t have to answer to anyone else; you obviously have clients you want to appeal to but ultimately it’s up to you. You can carve out your own destiny for yourself. The benefit of being with employer is a regular wage, holiday pay and sickness. You don’t get this with freelance unless you put it by.
What would you say are the most frustrating?
Probably a client who micro manages. Who wants everything to be exactly how they want but is offering your creative mind. It makes me more weary of the client I take on and I tend to find out more about them beforehand so I don’t end up in that situation.
What advice would you give someone starting in comic industry?
Don’t go freelance immediately, don’t take on any big jobs when working. Start with short scripts/strips and save money and keep it for going freelance.
How do you respond to critics?
I’ve never had that, most people are more interested by the fact that you work for comics. On the odd occasion, I have, I just ignore them.
How do you combat down times, when there’s no work on the horizon?
I often panic and then calm down and try to diversify. I supplement my income with article writing for blogs.
Where do you see your business going/what are your plans?
In 10 years I want to be a fully independent creator who has the ability to have my work published at a very high level by major publishers. I want to have a large readership and be financially secure, so I can afford to do this for a living for the rest of my life and get the ability to experience the rest of the world.
Thanks for your time Garry and if you want to find out more about Garry Mac’s work, be sure to click on the links!