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"The Professionals: Interview with Sean Harrington (Spying With Lana)", 15th Apr 2018, 5:11 PM #1
Chippewa Ghost
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Many will play, few will win: comics have a notoriously small cadre of professional creators. Seeking to reveal what it takes to join those storied ranks, I went straight to the source. I hope you enjoy the results.

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Sean Harrington is the superb genius behind the spectacular super sultry secret agent series Spying With Lana. He was cool enough to answer a few questions about his process, his influences, and what it takes for him to get it done.

What do you want people to call you?

Most places online you can find me as Sean Harrington or ArtbroSean. (editor's note: the explanation of his second handle is expected to be given in a follow-on article...)

Big fan of your webcomic Spying With Lana. However, I’ve been told somewhere that your outstanding webcomic work isn’t your primary source of income, that you live off of commissions. Could you set me straight—is this the case?

Thank you! I do make money from commissions, but I'd have to raise my prices a LOT to live off them! I try to keep several revenue streams rolling to keep the ol' ship afloat; commissions, selling comics, Patreon, book covers, and so forth. It all (hopefully) adds up in the end.

How do you find your commissions—do you advertise, or are you fortunate enough to have a walk-in market?

I started out advertising on eBay for commissions about 10-12 years ago. It was actually pretty successful, although I got some strange requests (one involved contortionists and pancakes). Nowadays I don't advertise that much because I get people contacting me from seeing Spying with Lana or one of my art sites.

What advice would you give an artist who aspires to make their living via freelancing/commissioned work? Is there any unusual or unexpected skill set they must master?

My advice would be “Don't do it!” Seriously, though, I'd say to always be upfront with clients about how much you charge and how long it'll take you to get the job done, and don't be afraid to turn down jobs that just aren't right for you.

Briefly, what does your typical day look like—when do you wake up, when do you start grinding out art, etc.?

Usually I wake up about an hour later than I wanted to, then I figure out what projects to work on, then immediately put that stuff off to fiddle with a bunch of other stuff, then realize I should have eaten something a while ago and go cook something up, then go back and thrash my way through the stuff I planned to work on in the time that I have left, and finally unwind at the end of the day by playing a video game until about an hour after the time when I should have gone to bed. Rinse, repeat.

A truly annoying question which I’m sure you’ve heard before, but could you clear the air regarding your Lana and “Lana Kane” from Archer?

To be honest, I don't find it annoying at all; it's sorta funny, I suppose. Anyway, I came up for the idea for Spying with Lana sometime around 2006 and I first turned it into a comic and published it online in 2008. Then a year or two later the Archer series starts up with a character called Lana that's a spy and has a similar hair color and skin tone to my Lana. So now about once or twice a year somebody emails or messages to tell me, “Hey, did you know that there's already another character called Lana?....”
(My story is not unique, though! Lou Graziani who writes the comic Cy-Boar had the same thing happen with the toy line Cyboars.)

What’s on the top of your all-time “must read/must watch/must listen” list of media you’ve enjoyed?

I'm sure you'll be surprised to hear this, but it's mostly weird and offbeat stuff!
For reading: Pale Fire, The Sun Also Rises, and Herge's Tintin comics.
Watching: Mulholland Drive, Sexy Beast, Diabolique (the original, not the crappy remake), And Soon the Darkness (the original, not the crappy remake), The Big Lebowski (the original, not the-- wait!).
Listening: I like most kinds of music, from opera to doom metal, but I never get tired of listening to the Moody Blues, Savatage, or Puccini.

What are you reading (comics or otherwise) right now?

I've been rereading all the Tintin stories, even though I've read them many, many times. It may not be obvious, but Tintin is one of the biggest influences on my writing. Also I recently read Jiro Kuwata's Batman manga from the 60s, and some Corto Maltese, and liked them both a lot. Other than that, mostly art and photography books from the likes of Helmut Newton and Benicio.

Can you give an elevator pitch for what you’re currently working on and why someone should read it?

I started a new comic for my Patreon backers called Lana Shorts. It's like Spying with Lana, but fun size! It's done comic strip style and focuses on silly and sexy little stories that are a fun companion piece to the bigger Spying with Lana comics.

What’s your weapon of choice (computer software, tablets, traditional materials, etc.)?

Pencil on cardstock, then scan to Photoshop and color with the mouse. Sometimes I will bust out the cheapo tiny Bamboo tablet for painting in Corel Painter, but otherwise it's mouse all the way!

If you could ask any living artist a question, who would it be and what’s the question?

I would mostly be interested in asking other artists boring questions about the business side of things, but assuming that doesn't count, I'd pick Benicio or Paolo Serpieri. Of course, I don't speak Portuguese or Italian so I probably couldn't ask them anything anyway.... To quote Oliver Hardy, “This is going to require a bit of thought.”

What's one piece of advice you think any young artist (regardless of career choices) should follow?

Even if you plan to work for a big comic company or do freelance work, get your own project started, too. Work from companies and clients can dry up at any time, and you want to have something of your own that you can rely on. It can take a long time to build up, but that's all the more reason to start now!

Please supply links to your current and past work:

My comic: http://spyingwithlana.com/
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/ArtbroSean
Digital comics: http://www.drivethrucomics.com/browse/pub/5754/Amazing-Art-Bros
Print comics & graphic novels: http://www.indyplanet.us/brands/amazingartbros/
DeviantArt gallery: https://artbrosean.deviantart.com/

Editor's note: Check out previous interviews in this series with toherrys/Unknown Lands and AmeliaP/Kings Club!
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15th Apr 2018, 11:49 PM #2
Cooke
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Great stuff.

Keep these coming. They're interesting and informative.

Shout out to Sean Harrington for giving his time.
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15th Apr 2018, 11:50 PM #3
Chippewa Ghost
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I gotta follow up with some of my own questions... are eBay commissions even a thing?!
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16th Apr 2018, 10:16 AM #4
atomicgull
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I checked out Spying with Lana and I'm pretty amazed that mouse is the coloring tool of choice!
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18th Apr 2018, 11:01 PM #5
warriorneedsfood

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I've been following this guy for a while. His comic is great!
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18th Apr 2018, 11:46 PM #6
Chippewa Ghost
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A helpful little bird informed me of a video showing Mr. Harrington's mad skills with a mouse:



Wow that highlighting is impressive.
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19th Apr 2018, 11:47 AM #7
Travis

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Another great installment. I'm really liking the sound of that strip comic :)
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19th Apr 2018, 1:05 PM #8
DeadFish

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Chippewa Ghost:A helpful little bird informed me of a video showing Mr. Harrington's mad skills with a mouse:

Video

Wow that highlighting is impressive.


Come on! That can't be done with a mouse, can it?

Congrats to Sean Harrington for the really impressive comic and outstanding artwork!
19th Apr 2018, 9:01 PM #9
Maxis-Geryon

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Pretty good stuff. Its interesting to know how some people make a living online.
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Forum > Webcomic & Art discussion > The Professionals: Interview with Sean Harrington (Spying With Lana)
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