Quantity Producing, or producing monthly, weekly, or even daily for long stretches of time, is a goal more and more creatives are setting for themselves to fine-tune their skills while instituting a rigid deadline. Tommy Siegel, cartoonist and member of the band Jukebox the Ghost, is no stranger to this practice, as evidenced especially by his page Tommy Siegel is doing a cartoon every day for a year against all good sense.
Siegel’s band tours about half of the year and has been around for about a decade, so in 2011 he started taking drawing requests from fans of the band on social media.
“It was just sort of an internet gag and a way for us to connect with fans, but I found it also made for really good practice and I kept sucking less and less at drawing,” Siegel said. “Last year, a friend of a friend named Branson Reese did the daily cartoon challenge and I really loved watching it unfold. Eventually, I became curious if I could do the same. Since I had only been doing cartoons by request, it was a big adjustment to try drawing whatever I wanted to draw. It still feels like I’m finding my voice and style! But the daily challenge really keeps it on track — Without that kind of rigid requirement, I don’t know that I would’ve done anything CLOSE to this in terms of output in my lifetime.”
For some, taking on two creative pursuits can seem like a real mental burden, but touring specifically has helped Siegel make sense of the hours.
“Most people don’t think about it, but when you’re a touring musician, most of the day is spent in a van,” Siegel said. “It’s like being a trucker in skinny jeans, I guess. Shows are generally 3-7 hours away, and with plenty of people to take turns behind the wheel it leaves a LOT of free time. I find it’s almost easier to stay on schedule while on tour, since there’s not a lot else to DO in a van aside from messing around on your phone.”
Siegel connects with his fans and sustains his work through a patreon. Like many patreons, it’s an experimental space that is open to expansion as the artistic practice does.
“Right now, the main incentive for people to subscribe is to get access to some exclusive music,” Siegel said. “But as my online existence as a cartoonist keeps growing, I figure there’s probably going to be people who love the cartoons but couldn’t care less about the music. So, I’ve started doing some exclusive cartoons for the Patreon and trying to think of ways to marry two totally different worlds in a way that makes sense.”
Daniel Johanson (he/him) is a journalist and digital media specialist living in Chicago, Illinois. He serves as Editor-in-Chief at Scapi and in that capacity manages all things content, including writing and editing articles and producing digital content. His most recent work includes the docuseries Heart of a Nation: Tracking Socialism in the Midwest and co-hosting the podcast Scapi Radio. He spends his free time with cats.