CHIP (Comics Help Inform People) collective is a comic collective organised by ourselves, Ashling Larkin and Cat Laird. It started out as a concept for making informational comic anthologies that could be distributed to those in need. After Ashlings Mums diagnosis of stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer, we wanted to help others who were going through the emotions of a cancer diagnosis, either for themselves or a loved one, or to help people process the loss of a loved one. We put together our first anthology Living With Cancer: Our Stories and funded it through kickstarter towards those goals. Following the kickstarter we also used it as an opportunity to fundraise for Cancer Research UK and help directly that way.

Throughout all our projects it’s been important to us to find stories from real people going through the topic in question. Real life doesn’t always have story arcs and nice neat endings, but the way people interpret what has happened to them in their own words is incredibly powerful and valuable for others to read. One advantage of the medium of comics for our projects is that it’s a different form of accessibility for people to get this information. People who struggle with long text or for whom video is too triggering may have an easier time with the combination of visuals and short text that comics use, depicting real people but not photo-realistically.

Our latest project – ‘Working In: The Arts’

Our new project Working In: The Arts aims to highlight that no personal journey to becoming a professional creative is the same. There isn’t a right or wrong way to becoming an artist or a graphic designer, photographer, animator, game developer… Every creative we’ve interviewed or who is illustrating one of the stories has had their unique experience, whether they’re just starting out or have been working for a while. We’re done with the “starving artist” trope that doesn’t benefit anyone and even scares people off! It’s important to know just how working in the field is currently and how to get there through modern avenues. With the rise of social media, improvements in accessibility for creative tools, and different trends coming and going almost week-to-week – the ways to enter creative fields professionally have changed drastically even in the last 10-20 years. How Boomers made their careers in their 20s is going to be drastically different to how modern 20-somethings make their careers today! We want to show people the current options they have.

Why is the Creative Industry so important?

We don’t believe you can really put a price on the joy that art brings people. We think after a lot of people have only had themselves for company for over a year now the importance of characters, story, laughter, relatability, human connection, has been brought to the forefront of peoples minds. The thing people (especially able-bodied people) need to remember is that for a lot of others isolation and accessibility was a problem long before the pandemic began, and art is how people can express themselves and how others can connect to them too. Creative collaboration and connection is vital, it keeps people alive.

How has the COVID pandemic impacted artists?

Being an artist right now isn’t easy, it’s a commitment, just like any other job. It’s important to keep learning, to see what people need, to utilise your skills in a way that can make a living but to also create art sensitively and make sure what you’re putting out into the world isn’t harmful. From the start of the pandemic lots of creatives have had at least parts of their revenue cut off due to closures (e.g. teaching workshops and attending conventions) and many of us freelancers aren’t covered by contracts to furlough us or simply aren’t yet eligible for grants to keep us going. One thing that has popped up more, now that connecting with people physically hasn’t been allowed for the most part, is online collaborative opportunities, spaces, and collectives, like CHIP, to bring people together under a project or theme and support one another in our times of need. Working with others and bringing people joy though art is an indescribable feeling.

How can we improve the working environment for creative industry workers?

As the organisers of CHIP we do our best to foster a healthy working environment and avoid worker burnout. One of the most important things is communication. Be clear with your payment, your information and vision, your deadlines, make them reasonable, allow your artists to communicate with you when they have physical difficulties such as wrist strain, sickness, or when an issue comes up that you weren’t aware of from your own perspective. Listening and talking to your coworkers is one of the best things you can do for them. Make sure you tell them how much you appreciate their hard work too!

How can I support The CHIP Collective’s ‘Working in: The Arts’?

You can support CHIP in many different ways! The best way right now is to support our kickstarter for Working In: The Arts in order to print it and get it out there. We need to make our goal in order for this to happen! We will be launching the fundraiser on 8th June 2021, from then until 6th July 2021 anyone can pitch in some money in return for rewards. Think of it as a preorder system! If you don’t have the funds to support us then please share the project around on your social media feeds or anyone who might be interested, parents of creative kids, older people who are looking to make a start, anyone!

You can also buy physical copies of our first anthology Living with Cancer: Our Stories and posters of artwork from inside the book at https://chipcollective.bigcartel.com/ . All proceeds from sales of the book and posters go directly to Cancer Research UK.

Find out more about the talented folks helping us to put this together in the next page ⇒