Artist Awkwardness

The Doctor visited us!
deviantART created a poll where they asked Have you attended a comic or art-related convention or gallery this year? (If yes, tell us about your experience!) and I saw this one comment.

I would go to these if people were a bit less, hot to put it, weird. I know some people are different than others, but if there’s anything I hate more than anything  else, it’s getting into an awkward conversation with a socially awkward individual about a topic I love. Why is it that artists generally are weird, or awkward?

It’s true that it can be awkward to talk to me at conventions sometimes. Being a part of the small population of introverts means that my social skills are lacking. Though social awkwardness due to being an introvert might only be a small part of the problem. There could be other factors, but it’s a big reason for an artist like myself.

A common response that I get when someone discovers that I’m an artist is “I wish I could draw as good as you do. How do you do it?”. I  jokingly give my introvert answer of “Lots of practice and being that awkward person drawing quietly in a corner during high school”. I spent most of my time quietly sitting while my friends gossiped about Spice Girls, Jonathan Taylor Thomas or dragged me to sleepover/parties. I got a lot of drawing practice, learned I was a nerd, and really didn’t socialize much. I had no one to really socialize with since no one else read comics, watched anime, or played Final Fantasy 7. It took years for me to finally get the courage to go to a comic convention and learn there were others that had similar interests as I did.

Before attending a comic convention, I have to prep myself mentally. Most of it is sitting at home quietly watching TV, playing single player video games (MMORPGs multiplayer games are socially taxing), and/or reading books. I call this recharging my social batteries and I especially need charging before attending some conventions (like San Diego Comic Con). It’s a lot of work, but the reward is that I usually make a few new connections each year and having little pockets of friends I feel comfortable with at conventions helps me recharge a little.

Though I have had the time where I get a burst of social energy randomly. Sometimes it’s because I just had a beer or because someone starts talking about a topic that I am well-versed in. Though it usually is a bit awkward. Best way I can describe it is it’s like renting a new car. Sure, you know how to drive a car but every time you push the break you look like someone who has never driven a car before. I’m comfortable driving my own car because I know how it runs and where everything is, but a brand new car has super sensitive breaks or you’re spending hours trying to find out how to turn on the headlights. Same goes for talking with new people. I don’t know what might offend you or if my contribution to the conversation might be considered weird to you, but is normally interesting to my close friends.

Book reading, TV watching and gaming might help me seem attentive as you talk to me, but really doesn’t really help me in being a master at social interactions. This is why I have added hanging out with close friends sometime before the convention to help me get myself ready for social interaction. Sometimes I run a game like TFOS or attend a BBQ party filled with close friends that I feel comfortable with. This helps my brain get ready to chat with people since I’m not really good with coming up with stuff to talk about on the fly.

Now this might not always be the case for every artist at comic conventions, but I know a few others that are like me in this regard. Extroverts have practiced how to have a conversation with a stranger at social gatherings and tend to not seem awkward in a conversation due to their practice. Much like how I’m talented at drawing due to me spending a lot of time drawing.

If these things don’t describe what this person in the quote experience, then maybe comic conventions aren’t for him/her. These conventions are a haven for nerds like me and one of the few places where the popular kids aren’t around to tease us. The popular kids watch a movie and love it for the special effects while I might have loved it because they used ancient Latin properly. It’s a dead language and I spent 4 years studying it, there are no ancient Latin captions or anything in stuff these days.

Being social is a lot of hard work for an introvert. Sure we might stumble a little, but we’re doing our best to socialize with our fans and I personally always love those that do stop by my booth to say hello. Even if I’m a little awkward.

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