Jaime Cortez illustrated the graphic novel Sexile/Sexilio a few years back about the life of Adela Vazquez. In the intro to the book, Jaime talks about documenting and logging all the hours of work. He writes: "This project cost 800 hours of work. The process of drawing, inking, digitizing and lettering is slow, and time and again, I butted up against the limits of my abilities as an illustrator, writer, researcher and theorist. I never did learn to draw hands well."
The totality of this statement has stuck with me since I first saw the book in 2004. 800 hours. That's 33.33333... days of work, including nights, mornings, afternoons....if we were to break it down into a 7 day work week, that would look like 20 weeks of work, full time.
As artists, we give a lot of time to our creative process. And yet, it is rare that we quantify this time into actual hours. How do you quantify waking up at 6am to jot down random thoughts, for example. Or running to the frame shop, the art supply store, the stationery? Or, all the conversations that led up to the moment of making something concretely real?
I'd like to take a page from Jaime's insights. And to remember why we can spend hours on this work, to the point where many of us lose track of time:
"When the fear and uncertainty came a’knocking, I turned back to the transcripts
of my interviews with Adela to remind myself why I need this story to be in the world. Not
just because I’m a queer, a child of immigrants, or a lover of both comics and sexual
narratives, but because this story is so fucked up, fabulous, raggedy and human that it opens
a vast space where we can all ponder our own sense of risk, exile and home."