This is a true story and by no means over. The guy in question happens to be one regular lower middle class chap who grew up selling combs to confectionery to augment the family income. He spent his childhood in the company of comic books. He wasn’t alone. For kids growing up in early nineties comic books was an attractive and very economical option of entertainment because those were the days where there were no 24 hour cartoon channels and animation was limited to 2 hours of fun time every Sunday morning on DoorDarshan.
So when this guy grew up comics became his passion. He graduated from Indian super heroes to Marvel and DC. But comics remained his first love. And then he discovered the world of computers and Internet. At first he didn’t understand a thing. He couldn’t afford a computer so he would visit his friends and would visit web sites of his favourite comic publisher. He got intrigued by the world of comic art. He became interested in the process. He took a particular liking to the colouring process of the comics. He started asking people how the vivid colours of the comic pages were created and somebody mentioned Photoshop to him.
So the guy joined a course at a local institute and learnt Photoshop. He was helped by a couple of his friends who were in the designing field and he started honing his skills. He even managed to buy an old computer to practice. He would procure black and white drawings from the Internet and colour them and he would show them to his friends. That was all about it for a while. It would have ended there and he would have continued to sell biscuits for commission to local shops. But then something happened.
Somebody introduced him to Facebook.
And that changed his life. He didn’t understand it in the beginning. He did not know what that site was, or what its features were. One of his friends helped him create a profile and taught him how to upload images and how to make friends. The first thing he did was he befriended the publisher of the comic book which he had been reading since his childhood. Then he started uploading his colouring works on Facebook. And every time he would upload it, he would tag everyone in his friends list in the image. He didn’t know what he was doing. Someone just told him to tag people and he followed it religiously. It had a profound effect. Because the editor he tagged was friends with hundreds and thousands of other people and every time he tagged him, his image appeared in the timeline of that person. So all his contacts would see that work.
His free uploads on Facebook were now being seen by hundreds of people. And he started receiving feedback and friend requests from strangers. He accepted everybody’s request and the more people became his friend, he started reaching a larger audience. He would post a recent artwork he had coloured and he would get instant feedback and encouragement. That kept him going. And very soon his efforts were noticed by an upcoming publisher. And he offered him colouring assignment. With the encouragement and guidance of his mentor who had made a good name for himself in the field he accepted it and soon his name was printed as a colouring artist on hundreds of comic books.
He was elated. He had spent his life loving his comic books and now his name was there on a real comic book! Although he still wasn’t a professional artist cause it still wasn’t paying him much and he had to continue with his travelling salesman job, he had found a start. He continued posting refined samples of his artwork on Facebook and another publisher approached him and more work poured in. And then one day he landed the most prized assignment of his nascent career as a colouring artist. He got an offer to colour the comic version of the upcoming Bollywood Superhero movie. Although it was because of his mentor that he got the assignment, Facebook was responsible for taking him to that stage.
Facebook gave a new lease of life to this aspiring artist. Without Facebook he might not have got the wide platform to showcase his talent. For lack of feedback and encouragement he might have given up on his ambition. And Facebook’s photo tagging feature was instrumental in getting him the huge audience that eventually landed him a paying assignment for doing what he loved. Even his mentor who is a successful artist now wishes if he had Facebook when he had started out.
His story is by no means over, he has just started. He is working on 3 comic books right now and has even got a job offer from another comic publishing house at a salary that is double of what he is making as a travelling salesman.
He owes his career as much to Facebook as he owes it to his mentor.
Note: He is a friend of mine and the mentor I am talking about is not me. I am not into comic artwork, I am a programmer.