Comic Art Workshop

    Visual Arts
04 May 2018

In 2017, Comic Art Workshop received a $10,000 Arts Projects – Organisations grant via the Literature assessment panel.

Established by Elizabeth MacFarlane and Pat Grant in 2015, Comic Art Workshop is an artist retreat for graphic storytellers. Fourteen authors from Australia and a few from overseas are taken somewhere remote, like an island off the coast of Tasmania or a South East Asian city. It's a traditional literary workshop but for visual storytellers.

Comic Art Workshop most recently received funding for their 2017 trip to Jakarta. Pat says the workshop is a significant opportunity for Australian comic artists. ‘We feed them well and give them time and space to think about their projects,’ he says. ‘Each author brings a draft of a project they are working on and each day we get together to discuss it. We think it might be the only residency like it in the world.’

Comic Art Workshop

Pat describes a pre-application conversation with Australia Council staff as an essential part of his application process, ‘They always listen to you carefully and give you advice on how your goals might align with those of the funding program. You get the best results when you’ve looked at the guidelines and application form, made sure you’re eligible, and have a clear idea of what you'd like to do before you call. I always have a list of questions written down, and end up with a bunch of great answers to questions that I didn't know to ask’

He has good advice for aspiring applicants, saying,Usually, I find that if I can't describe the idea succinctly in a short paragraph then it's probably undercooked. Start by painting a vivid picture of what your project looks like. Lead with the concrete details (who? where? what?) in plain, punchy language. You can save the lofty ideas and rationales behind your project for later in the application.’

Pat chose the Literature panel to assess his application; ‘Our organisation approaches the graphic novel as a literary artefact that requires literary workshopping, hence, we felt it appropriate to apply to the Literature panel.’ 

Because the residency facilitates the creation of new work for the artists, Pat chose the ‘creation’ criterion, addressing each of the points under that heading in the guidelines that applied to the proposal.

Comic Art Workshop

Pat suggests that his proposal was successful because it demonstrated far-reaching outcomes, a strong track record, and a clearly articulated need for the activity. ‘The residency supports a lot of artists all working in a field that has very little institutional support,’ he explains. ‘Also, over two years we have helped incubate more than 20 new works of graphic fiction, several of which have been published internationally.’   

Several pencils later, this project has been completed and acquitted, but the Comic Art Workshop goes on. The next residency will take place in an obscure and interesting location in 2019.

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