We had the good fortune of connecting with Tucker Wooley and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Tucker, why did you pursue a creative career?
I feel like it’s the thing I can do most competently in life, and maybe as a result of that definitely the thing I feel most personally driven to do. I wanna tell stories and make the kinds of things I would wanna see as an observer of art; I definitely come into it with that “If it doesn’t currently exist, and I want it to exist, then I will make it exist” sort of mentality. I also feel a certain responsibility to say stuff thematically about the world – capitalism, queerness, neurodivergence, relationships… Not all art has to say stuff, of course; I’m a big advocate for art not having to inherently “mean” anything and just deserving to exist on its own terms, I certainly do stuff that falls under this category too. But I find it cool that you can make a little thesis statement about whatever you want using fictional characters and figurative language and images as, essentially, your argument. Is that, like, a financially viable and sustainable business? Rarely, if ever – especially without corporate production behind you! But, like I said, I honestly feel like I can do very few other things competently enough to monetize them. Maybe that’s just the anxiety disorder talking, but still.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve done and continue to do a lot of different things – I’ve done comics, animation, zines, poetry, a text adventure game, regular prose, YouTube video essays, potentially tabletop RPGs in the future. This is definitely indicative of how my brain works – scattershot, ambitious, often to if not my detriment then definitely my exhaustion – but it’s also intentional on my part because the spontaneity and playfulness of that jumping-around drives me to finish things, where it might not if I just forced myself to only make comics or animation for the rest of my life. I need to follow my instincts and follow the fun – otherwise I find I can’t do much of anything.

I went to an art school, and I have a lot of mixed feelings about that experience that I won’t bore you with the bulk of. But one thing is that, among instructors and their curriculum, there was this constant tension between people who thought you should generalize your skillset and people who thought you should specialize, and really hone in on one specific job or medium. Both approaches were based on what that particular instructor thought would land you a job in the creative industries, based on their own experiences; palpable throughout my whole art school experience was the sense that anything anyone said was to goad you into a path of financial stability. And I’m definitely not blaming them for that or anything – it’s not a bad thing that they wanted us to make money and have careers. But that conventional wisdom almost always grated against what I thought was fun or compelling or, at times, ethical. I couldn’t shake that contrarianism. I still can’t.

All of that to say, I’ve gotta follow the fun. There is a ton of privilege that comes with being able to afford doing that, i.e. not necessarily doing the moneymaking thing, and I do think it’s a fundamental human right for you to be able to pursue whatever silly creative project your heart is set on. I’m trying to have this be a world where that’s viable. Wild that we need money to live, huh? Not a fan of it, personally!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It would definitely have to be more than a day; if I know anything about living around LA, it’s that things are if not separated by distance then definitely by traffic, or both. I’m also gonna assume for the sake of this scenario that money is no object, otherwise we’d likely bankrupt ourselves. I grew up in the West Valley, so if that counts, I’d probably have us start there – maybe grab us some Ginger Thai or Rayu Ramen. If any of this happened to fall on the last Sunday of the month, in the morning I’d take us to the Vintage Market at Pierce College, that’s always a nice time! Non-Valley-wise, I enjoy getting lost in places like Pasadena, Venice, and West Hollywood, so that seems like a day or two. I LOVE taking people to the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, and also the LA County Arboretum in Altadena; you can make a full day out of either of those, and they’re quite a workout too. Somewhere in there I’d love a sit-down at Bar Flores and a movie at Brain Dead Studios. I’m a Disney Parks nerd, so Disneyland might be in there too if it wasn’t too crowded, although someone’s “best time ever” probably doesn’t include being inundated with my trivia.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents, definitely – in the most basic material sense, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything I’ve done without their help and their continued housing of me deep into my 20’s. I’m extremely thankful to them for supporting whatever ridiculous, probably cost-ineffective endeavor I choose to pursue next; it’s wild that I can just be like “Hey, guess what, my cartoon about crab circumcisions got into a film fest” or “Hey, I worked on this illegal transgender Joker movie that’s getting some press buzz at the moment” and they’ll just be like “That’s great, honey!” This is obviously indicative of a ton of privilege; I won’t let my white liberal suburban Californian upbringing go unacknowledged in this conversation, even if financially we’ve all been doing it by the skin of our teeth. Also, my partners! Love you guys! And my close group of internet friends, we’ve known each other since we were like 11 and so they’ve seen literally my entire digital artistic journey. Wild. Thanks, guys!

Website: tuckerwooley.com

Instagram: instagram.com/tucker13x

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tucker-wooley/

Twitter: twitter.com/tucker13x

Youtube: youtube.com/@TuckerWooley

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