We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Goux and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicole, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
This is something I am still figuring out. For the last few years, trying to build up my career and create content, it’s really been basically all work all the time. Often I work 14 hour days including weekends, and before I was able to draw full time, I was working a part time job and then coming home to draw at night. I saw very little friends, didn’t exercise enough, and it was a treat when I actually cooked myself some dinner (this is still true!). But during this years’ quarantine I reached a breaking point, possibly because I haven’t even had the outlet of seeing friends at comic conventions, which is my usual time to get out but really still counts as work. I’ve realized I really need to invest in hobbies and activities that are not just making work. People always say that art is not really work if you love to do it, but this is completely untrue. Making work, especially when you’re working on the same project for a year or more, can be just as exhausting and draining as any 9 to 5. Yes I get to make my own schedule, yes I love what I do, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t taxing. I’ve really started to incorporate yoga, baking, playing guitar into my day and am learning to see them as necessary to my mental health and not just time wasted that I could be working, producing, getting ahead. It’s hard! In a world where you’re graded on how much content you put out, getting paid based on that, and valued on social and in your community based on it, it’s very hard to remember that these things are necessary to a happy and full life. Only coming to a complete burned out stand still with work has really convinced me that these things are truly important. I’m hoping I’m able to continue to appreciate my time away from work.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve always known I wanted to be an artist from a very young age. I took extracurricular classes all through high school, went to art college and got a BFA in illustration, checked all the boxes. When I got out I still had no real idea of how to get work or what kind of work I wanted to be doing. There’s so many options in the arts and very few of them have a real direct path to success or “breaking in”. It wasn’t till after college, experimenting with comics with a friend and going to my first zine fest that I discovered a path that not only I found incredibly interesting, but that I felt like I could see the steps I needed to take to build a career. We started small, making mini comics and zines and doing as many shows as physically possible, and used every small success to roll into the next opportunity. I dedicated an account specifically to my “business” and anything we earned went straight back into printing the next book or purchasing a table at the next show. This way we were able to really stay present in the ecosystem of the industry. For me comics is as much about community as it is about creation, and being able to be at shows, build friendships and business relationships face to face has been completely invaluable. I know how lucky I have been to be able to physically be out there promoting my work, not everyone has this option, and it absolutely can be done through social media or other digital platforms (and these have been very important for me as well). However I don’t know that I would have been able to build to where I am without shows. I also recommend getting a partner for support, and just to catch anything that you’re forgetting, build on your good ideas or tell you when you’re being ridiculous. Some of us are lone wolves, but I truly think the rest (most) of us can only benefit from having help. If you can’t find a partner, you can still rely on friends and peers for advice and support. Again this is why the community is important. Be patient with yourself, patient with the industry, patient with rejections. Rome wasn’t built in a day and there will always be a next opportunity. Comics come with a lot of rejection built in and my outlook on it has always been that if no one wants to publish my book, I’ll just do it myself! Believe in your work enough to not give up when someone tells you they don’t like it or it isn’t the right time. I make comics about all kinds of subjects. But I really love telling stories about what it’s like to live in the world as a teen, how hard it is to navigate all the new aspects and expectations and rejections you are or will be encountering. Toss in a little magic, or a little horror, or anything else I feel it needs and you’ve got a nice juicy story….even if it is mostly just people sitting in rooms complaining about relationships. All my books from Fuck Off Squad (skater kids being sad about relationships and figuring out who they are) to Shadow of the Batgirl (superheroes being sad about relationships and figuring out who they are) have a common theme, being a person is hard and we all need help!.
I have two new books that I have been working on and will be coming out very soon. The first is called Everyone is Tulip, which will be released from Dark Horse comics in June of 2021 and is currently available for pre-order. It’s about a struggling actress who breaks into the world of Youtube performance art and has to grapple with what lines she is willing to cross to become famous. The second is called Forest Hills Bootleg Society and will be coming out from Simon & Schuster: Atheneum in 2022. This one will be about a group of high school girls who start a bootleg anime distribution business that strains their relationships and sense of selves.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
It may seem cliche but I would probably take them on the metro down to Venice. Seeing the city from the above ground train and then a walk on the beach at sunset is such a lovely experience and kind of gives you a perspective on a few different parts of the city. I’m also always down for a good wander around downtown or a hike up in Griffith. I’m also a museum person and we have so many good ones in LA it’s honestly hard to choose! There’s so much good food, fun things to do. I live in Ktown and there’s an amazing restaurant on every block! Oo-kook is one of my favorites, and Iki Ramen, and Mario’s in Hollywood.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Dave Baker has been a constant inspiration, partner, and support in developing my career and love of comics. It helps that he never gets bored of me yelling about Star Trek too.