Thank you for your time, if you have it. ICYMI, I am currently running a Kickstarter for the second volume of HTDBP. During October, I plan to post updates here and on the Kickstarter landing page. These updates will also journal the process and how things are going, so you will find it here if you want.
Kickstarter Part Deux
First, let me introduce myself. My name is Malik Ali Ibn Rasheed Shabazz. I am a writer and an artist, and I have professionally made art and comic books for more than ten years. Most people know me from the first volume of How To Draw Black People, but I made comic books long before that. Given that it is ADHD acceptance month and I have both, I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify with people new to this series and me.
Shabazz Arts started as Night-M.A.I.R.S. press which was just me. I was still in college, and my daughter, Aurelia, was born. So I quit my jobs at the Staples center and CVS, working as a cashier to stay home with her. It was a win-win for me. I got to work from home and raise my child while her mother was away at work. That's when I got on Facebook and shortly after that transitioned to "The Art of Malik Shabazz." After nine years, I gained 25,000 followers and 5000+ friends and followers combined across two personal accounts. But then, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Miriam Carey, Walter Scott, and many other names are etched in my mind forever happened. Comics have always been political in America. Our world was wide open to the discourse that wrapped up the entire nation.
I'm sure I don't need to describe the type of factionalism many others have explained better than I can. There have been battle lines between comic book artists for quite some time now (no pun intended, but it is good). My battlefront was Blackness in comics.
How To Draw Black People seemed to like the perfect opportunity to do some good and make something that could serve as a financial bedrock for the kind of stories that I wanted to tell. I'm not proud or ashamed to admit that my first motivation was the amount of money I could make. Although I was honest in creating a tutorial book that focused on Black features, it still felt like exploiting my race.
My first intention was to create a book similar to a generic "how to draw" title. However, when it finally came time to write the book, I realized two things: 1. I had no blueprint 2. Drawing Black people is not a simple as it sounds.
I put myself under tremendous stress, and eventually, I burned myself out. However, I was stretched far beyond my means and unable to stop myself. I was sure I was okay and that a bit of rest was all I needed; that or another energy drink. Still, I could never catch up on sleep, and the caffeine was not helping. My anxiety reached OCD levels. I could only manage to work on How To Draw Black People here and there before I had to continue working as a Uber/Lyft driver.
After months of incremental work, I finished the first volume and rushed it out to print before it was truly ready.
There's a lot more context I am leaving out for my privacy and that of other people. TL;DR: During the making of The first volume of "How To Draw Black People," I was going through autistic burnout, but I didn't know what autism was.
That brings me back to ADHD, autism, and what acceptance looks like for me.
ADHD Acceptance Month
How To Draw Black People Volume 2 is an acceptance letter to myself from my ADHD and Autism. If you did not know, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a part of a family mental and behavioral condition that many people struggle with unknowingly. It was the birth of my daughter and her diagnosis that opened my eyes to my ADHD. I found many people who had gone through similar issues. Adults of all ages and from around the world shared their stories, and it helped me understand myself.
During the pandemic, I gave my Facebook page away to a young Black woman and aspiring influencer. I said goodbye to my online friends and deleted my personal Facebook accounts. I spent the better part of a year piecing my life back together with this new part of me in mind. I will spare you the montage, but my journey back to myself was primarily about accepting who I am.
Writing this book allowed me to forgive myself for all the things I didn't know. I learned that I had limitations and that I needed to honor them if I was going to take care of myself. As a result, I changed the way I live. I accommodate for my impulsivity, loss of time, and rapidly evolving focus. I got lucky and found a therapist I felt comfortable enough to open up to and medication that works. Mostly, I learned to appreciate both my strengths and weaknesses. My new mindset is what motivated me to come back and create a second volume. It was painful to read through the first book because I could see so many errors I failed to correct. The second book was a journey through each mistake, and along the way, I realized that everything was not as wrong as I thought. Readers loved the book. While some people had reservations and disappointment, they were few compared to those thrilled to have a new resource. I felt like I owed a better book to the readers that held me up while I was at my lowest and believed in me.
I realized I could do anything. I was free to pursue whatever I wanted creatively. How To Draw Black People was something I couldn't walk away from yet. That said, I could not have written this book without self-acceptance of my ADHD as more than a disability and less than a burden. I hope you enjoy it, learn from it, and, if nothing else, appreciate it.
Still, I won't hold you to it.
Goals and Lines of Support
Fast start slow finish is the best way to describe this week. We got off to a great start outpacing the Kickstarter for the first volume efficiently. Unfortunately, there was a social media blackout early in the week that impeded my ability to do promotion, as well. That said, we are still where I want us to be in terms of progress. I wanted to meet 25% of the goal in the first week, but I won't complain. We are behind, but there is still plenty of time to catch up. Keep in mind that How To Draw Black People Volume 2 is done. Kickstarter success will not determine the release of this book.
20% growth is the goal for week #2 (42% funded), and I need your help to make that happen.
Here are three things you can do to help us reach our Kickstarter Goal.
Back How to Draw Black People on Kickstarter
The easiest way to help us is to pledge to the campaign and share it with your friend circle on social media. Pledging costs you nothing up front, and whatever amount you put forward isn't deducted until the campaign ends. So the sooner you can pledge, the comfortable others will feel joining you.
2. Get 4 Friends To Back How To Draw Black People
Honestly, if you can get one friend to sign up with you, that would be tremendous. Convincing a single person to do anything seems like a monumental task. However, if you have people that are willing to support us, that would help tremendously.
3. Share The Campaign Online
I understand if you want to help but don't have the funds or people skills. You can help by sharing the link to our campaign every day until we reach our goal. You would be helping us get to places we typically wouldn't be able, and that goes a long way.
Head-Up Eyes Forward
Next week I will have the final draft of How To Draw Black People Volume 2 in my hands, and I will show you all how it came out. In addition, I will give details about how HTDBP (Vol.1) got canceled and how that will affect the series. Also, I will name 4 Backers of the week that I want to show love to for their contribution and support. Those awards I will post on the Kickstarter landing page as well as my social media accounts. You can follow Shabazz Arts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube for more updates if you don't already.
This campaign is not a typical Kickstarter. Promoting an educational art book about Black people is as complex as it sounds given the racial sensitivity in public spaces. I do as much as I can, given my responsibilities and disability. I rely on the people who believe in a book like this to spread the message because my efforts are not enough, no matter how passionate. How To Draw Black People Volume 2 is not changing the world, but we are challenging how people see it.
If you have the time, energy, and space, be a part of something special this week. Help bring an art book designed to help artists better represent Black people and culture to the creators, teachers, and students that need it.