|"Where in the world is Mike Bocianowski?"|
The first thing I realized about Mike Bocianowski was that he loved to draw. He simply couldn’t sit still and talk. From the moment he began his guest-of-honor presentation at this year’s Condor, he was fidgeting with his marker. Soon he had risen and moved to his easel. Then he was drawing creatures that looked like dragons (but he insisted they’re called Yets), and others characters from his stories. After a while, he was teaching us how to draw.
Mike Bocianowski doesn’t delineate between the arts. His motto is that one type of art can influence another. If you’re a writer, for example, and you get stuck in your story, he suggests that you shift to drawing or painting. Instead of awaiting inspiration at his easel, he’ll sometimes move to his notepad, where he’ll brainstorm on his characters’ history, mythology, and culture. Fleshing out his characters in this way gives him new ideas. But writing isn’t his only fallback position: painting and photography also help get him back on track. He’s even taken classes in particular styles of dancing when he feels his creative well running dry. Dance, he says, is art in motion, and moving the body in such practiced, yet artful ways, spurs his mind into looking at his subjects from a new perspective. That, in turn, gets him back to his easel.
While he’s received numerous job offers over the years, he’s declined to become an employee of the giant corporations that dominate the comic book industry. Going it alone may limit his success, and cost him in terms of income and lifestyle, but it’s more important to him to follow his muse, rather than pursue subjects and projects selected for him by others. Being his own man means he can draw and write his books according to his tastes. As he dislikes the current emphasis on antiheroes and violence, he’s able to craft lighter fare, and has found an audience who appreciates the types of stories he creates.
While the Disney animators and Jim Henson have inspired his drawing, he takes story cues from “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Lord of the Rings.” What he admires most about C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien is how their beliefs informed their stories without hammering specific messages into their readers. While his books may be vastly different from theirs, he aims to create similarly compelling stories.
|Portrait of a compulsive artist.|
It’s been several months now since I saw Mike at Condor. I’ve held off in writing this entry because I wanted to be able to report that I’ve taken up Mike’s challenge and started to draw regularly. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to draw a single sketch. Still, his assertion that anyone can draw, if he or she wants to, is something I hold onto, in the hopes that sometime soon I will take up a pencil and start drawing. But whether I start tomorrow, or a year from now, his assurance that anyone can pursue any type of art empowers my daily writing. Whatever you do, he says, whether you’re interested in writing, drawing, photography, or anything else, pursue it. If you have a dream, follow your heart. For in doing so, you’ll do it differently from anyone else. And if you do it regularly, and always seek to improve your efforts, you can achieve the success you desire.
I don’t know about you, but Mike Bocianowski’s passion for drawing inspires me to keep pursuing my own dreams.
Grateful for the encouragement,
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