Search
  • Suzi

Healthy Creative Living - Interview with Lindsey Moore

Updated: Mar 7

I've decided to conduct a series of interviews with some creative friends in order to shed more light on the topic of what it means to live a healthy creative life. My hope is that it will become a form of worker solidarity that helps creatives set firm boundaries around their time, safety, and long-term health.


Lindsey Moore

"I realized that I love drawing. I need to be able to draw in order to express myself and tell the stories that I want to tell."


This week I spoke with my friend and fellow sword enthusiast Lindsey Moore! We originally met in 2017 in the Fremont Abbey Next Stage program and unbeknownst to each other, signed up for the Seattle Knights academy at the same time as well. We've been carpool buddies ever since! Lindsey's work is gorgeous and their love for dragons is unparalleled. Read on!


Suzi

Hi Lindsey! Please tell the readers a little about yourself and what you make.


Lindsey

My name is Lindsay Moore, they/them. I’m a comic artist, I'm a butch lesbian, transmasculine, and I originally did both traditional and digital art, but after I got a repetitive stress injury finishing my bachelor's of fine arts, I switched to only traditional art cause it doesn't aggravate it as much. I work in ink and watercolor and I'm working on a graphic novel, and I'm also working on a couple of shorter projects too.


Suzi

Would you consider yourself a full-time artist part-time hobby or do you define it another way?


Lindsey

It's a little complicated. Because I work on my art full-time, but I'm not getting paid for it. I still work a full-time day job, but I work on my comic at my day job. So technically I work on my comic full-time, but I don't know. It's honestly more of a hobby at this point.



Suzi

So tell me about what a typical day looks like for you. Do you have a routine or do you generally take things day by day?


Lindsey

Yeah. I have a really strict routine that if I don't stick to it, I don't get a whole lot done. So It depends cause I have two different schedules that I work. My work is a little funky. I work two 12-hour shifts and two 8-hour shifts. So on my 12-hour shifts, I have to get up pretty early in order to make my lunch and go do the work, get dressed, get showered, everything. And I'm at work by quarter to seven. And once I'm at my post, I usually spend around 45 minutes to an hour just waking up, drinking some coffee, and getting in the zone to be able to actually focus and draw. Then I'll usually pencil one page before noon. And then after my first lunch, I try and start working on the second page. So usually, I don't try and push myself super, super hard because I get more done if I don't push myself really hard. So I usually try and aim for two pages a day on my 12-hour shifts. And then on my 8-hour shifts, I get to sleep in and I can do chores or errands in the morning or fun stuff. And then I go to work at a different location and I spend 45 minutes to an hour just kind of getting in the zone and getting warmed up. And then I just draw for the rest of my shift. On my 8-hour shifts, I do inking. And then on the 12-hour shifts, since I don't have a table, I do penciling.


Suzi

When you say warmup, are you doing drawing exercises? Are you just doodling for fun or, what does that look like for you?


Lindsey

I do some stretches. I just kinda -it's more about waking up my brain than my drawing skills. I don't usually do a whole lot of actual drawing warmups.


Lindsey was kind enough to send me a video of the exercises they regularly do. In the last exercise, they are trying to bend their right hand forward and resisting it with their left hand, then trying to bend it backward and resisting it.


Suzi

Okay, gotcha! Do you know how many hours a week is typical for you to be able to safely draw?


Lindsey

On paper 40 hours a week, because that's what I work, but, actually it's probably a lot less than that cause I have a hard time focusing sometimes. So I want to say 30-ish hours.


Suzi

Are there physical health risks associated with your practice? And if so, what precautions do you take to minimize them?


Lindsey

Yes, there is a hundred percent. Repetitive strain, repetitive stress injuries. I got one in college. I had carpal tunnel and I have tendonitis that's -I almost want to say in remission right now because it doesn't hurt all the time anymore. But it used to be really bad. I used to barely be able to hold a pencil. But I went to acupuncture for that and physical therapy and that's helped a lot. And right now I have to make sure that I stretch and exercise my wrists and my hands. There are a couple of specific stretches that I've done that have really, really helped.


So there's that. And then also -working on knights stuff has really helped too, because it uses so much wrist strength and arm strength. So I highly recommend sword fighting for treating repetitive stress injuries.


Suzi

All artists should be knights! Do you have advice on how to set up a workspace that prevents injury?


Lindsey

I have advice. I don't generally follow it. Mostly because on my 12-hour shift posts -the only chair I get is a stool, like one of those metal, Ikea stools. Which is, you know, breaking just about every piece of advice I've heard for comfortable drawing positions and stuff. What my physical therapist told me is to have your feet on the floor, and have the desk be at roughly elbow level. Because the whole idea is that you should be in as neutral a position as possible. For me, I prefer drawing on a flat surface rather than a raised desk because the raised desk hurts my wrist for the angle that I have to hold my wrist at to draw.


One thing I have actually followed was, having a really thick pen grip. Like wrapping silly putty, Fimo clay, or string around your pencil. My physical therapist even recommended using a tennis ball with paintbrushes. You can cut a hole in a tennis ball and stick a paintbrush through, and then use a rubber band to stick it on. Because it's just so much harder on your wrist to have your fingers really close together. There are a couple of different pen grips that I've seen recommended. The one that I use is to have your fingers in an arch so you don't have to grip hard -instead of the last knuckle being bent backward. So if your fingers are in an arch it spreads the force of your grip across the pen. That's supposed to be easier on your wrist and easier on your hand in general.


I think that's about it other than, sit up straight and don't hunch. I tend to hunch a lot because I draw on my lap at work a lot. It's easier on my 8-hour shifts because I get a desk. And then it's a pretty high desk, so I just raise my chair as much as I can.




Suzi

Are there any health aids you regularly use like braces, ice packs, stuff like that?


Lindsey

Yeah. I use a wrist brace when I draw. It's not the kind with the metal part on the bottom of your wrists, cause that's meant more for carpal tunnel and that actually aggravates my tendonitis. I think it was fine when I had carpal tunnel, but now that that's solved for the moment I use one that comes up over the back of my hand and has a stretchy Velcro elastic strap that goes right around my wrist that keeps pressure on my wrist and all the tendons on the back of my hand. I found that works pretty well for me. I should honestly get a new one because mine's kind of worn out.


Suzi

Where did you buy that one?


Lindsey

Rite aid.


Suzi

Oh, nice. That's very accessible.


Lindsey

I want to say like seven bucks. It was really cheap.


Suzi

How do you maintain your creative energy in the short and long term?


Lindsey

I have a bunch of different projects kind of going at once. And they're not just art projects I have got -I have a huge laundry list of comics in progress right now. But my main project is the graphic novel and that one I have scheduled breaks from so that I don't drive myself insane only drawing dragons. So every 50 pages I take a two-week break from that and then I can work on other projects. And then outside of that when I got really burnt out one time, the way that I got back into doing creative stuff was -I just kind of let myself do whatever I felt like doing. So, if I felt like drawing that day then I draw. If I felt like writing that day then I'd write. If I felt like doodling on the margins of my notebook, then I do that. If I didn't feel like doing anything and I felt like just pacing around all day, then I do that. So part of it I feel like is just not being so strict with myself. Like, stick to this schedule and we have to make X amount of pages by such and such date. That's the sort of thing that really stresses me out and makes me not want to draw anymore.


Suzi

Right. Yeah, that's really impressive because your project is so entirely self-guided. You don't have a boss giving you a deadline. So that's really good advice, I like that. What are some things you've had to let go of in order to live a healthier creative life?


Lindsey

I don't know, I'm still trying to juggle friendships, relationships and artwork, and other hobbies and stuff. I’m trying to find a balance, cause I don't want to stop drawing, but also I can't just spend all my time drawing and neglect my friends and my partner. That'd be a shitty thing to do as a friend and a partner.

I’ve wanted to take up a martial art for years, but I just don't have the time right now. Maybe someday. When I become a successful comic artist I’ll have enough time to take up Akido or something.

I just got so many side hobbies that a lot of them kind of have to be on the back burner most of the time.

A page from one of Lindsey's side projects

Suzi

Because your graphic novel is your main priority.


Lindsey

Yeah, exactly. But I still wanna have DnD night, and I still want to go to Knights practice and I still want to spend time with my partner. And so on.


Suzi

So let's talk about the mental health side of creative work. Please share as much or as little as you like about your struggles or successes while maintaining your mental health in regard to your creative practice.




Lindsey

Oh man. I think a lot of it is that I put a lot of pressure on myself. I feel like drawing sort of helps me maintain my mental health rather than the other way around. I want it to be sort of a relaxing thing for me. That's why I never want to do any kind of freelance work -to have to rely on something that I really enjoy in order to pay rent. Cause the thing that makes me not want to draw is putting that kind of pressure on myself.


Suzi

So do you feel like the mental health struggle more comes from other places rather than the art itself?


Lindsey

Yeah. Yeah. I was super depressed in college, especially in the year when I was in film school when I pretty much wasn't drawing at all. I just didn't have the time. And then I screwed up my final project for the year. Because I realized that I didn't have a mic on, and we were supposed to make a short film. And I shot and directed it all myself and then I realized when I went to go edit it, that none of the shots had any sound.

What I ended up doing was I turned it into a short comic and I stayed up all night to make this comic the day it was due. And my mom saw this and was like, “Why are you in film?” So I realized that I love drawing. I need to be able to draw in order to express myself and tell the stories that I want to tell. I wasn't very good in film school. It's just not where I wanted to be. I don't regret taking a year of film. I learned how to do audio equipment because they always had me do the audio for whatever reason. And so if I ever want to do a podcast or something, I know all the equipment that I need and I know how to edit audio. And, I feel like I needed to do that year in film in order to realize that I don't want to do film.


Suzi

Yeah. It's funny, that's been kind of a theme with these interviews. When I asked that question, people are like, well, not really in regards to my art. And I think that's wonderful to have a safe space in your creative work.

So how do you discern whether you should push through a feeling of creative fatigue or take a break?


Lindsey

How close I am to the 50-page mark. I had a really steep learning curve with that honestly. When I got my current job in December 2019, I was like, oh, this is the perfect opportunity to reboot my comic. Cause I made the first 25 pages for school. And then I graduated and then I made an additional, however many that is, and ended up with 56. I realized that there were a bunch of little things that I wanted to go back and change and it would just be easier to just reboot the whole comic and redo those 56 pages better.

The trap that every comic artist falls into. Like, wow. These old pages are shitty. Let me restate the whole comic! And then after a while, you look back at those pages you redid and think “Oh I could do better.”


Suzi

It's like an ouroboros.


Lindsey

Yeah exactly. So at that point, I thought it was going to be 300 pages and then I hammered the rest of them out and it's going to be 408 pages and I’m probably going to add a few more. I want to see if I can end it on exactly 420 pages. That'd be hilarious. For a long time, it was precisely 400 pages, but then I added a scene and that threw it off.

And so I was like, oh god, I'm never going to finish this. I want to be able to finish this so I don't have to stay in this job forever. At that point, I was doing six pages a week. And I was pushing myself really, really, really hard and ended up burning myself out in about nine months. And then didn’t touch the comic again for 10 months. So after that, I had to figure out a more sustainable path for finishing my comic, even though it meant working on it a little more slowly. Better to get it done slowly than not get it done at all. When it stopped feeling fun -when it felt like every day I’d get to work and pull up my comic and it'd just be a huge chore. And I just hated every line and it looked bad and I wasn't feeling it and I'd like to finish a page and I'd be like, great, now I have to do another one.


I've caught myself, thinking about a fanfic that I wanted to write, but I was like, oh, I can't write it until I'm done with my comic. Then I'd spend all day just pacing around the elevator, vestibule, daydreaming about this fanfic and not working on that or working on my comic. I needed to do something other than my comic and allow myself to do other stuff just to function.


Suzi

So for you, the signal is that it's just not fun anymore. Yeah, that makes sense. What has been your progress in creating a work-life balance?


Lindsey

I don't know. I feel like I've never really been the kind of person to spend all my time working because I'm honestly pretty lazy. I like to watch cartoons and eat ice cream and play video games and stuff.


When I was still in college I had a really bad problem with procrastinating on homework. I feel like at that point it was unbalanced but more tilted towards goofing off and not getting anything done.


So I think a lot of trying to establish a work-life balance for me has been about figuring out how to make myself do stuff that I don't want to do. Because when I don't want to do something, my brain just shuts down and I can't read a single word of whatever I'm supposed to read. I saw some advice where they said oh, set a 10-minute timer and do 10 minutes of work and then 10 minutes of something else. So I tried that and it was still not quite enough. So I ended up alternating between a paragraph of reading that I was supposed to do for homework with five minutes of scrolling through Tumblr. Just bribing my brain to do the work. But art's never really been that sort of thing for me because it's always been a fun thing. But also, I'd always get sort of hyper-focused on drawing or painting when I was procrastinating doing homework. One time I drew for like 14 hours straight and I made two paintings in one day.


Yeah, it was insane. So I didn't get any homework done. Oh, god, I was so close to failing so many classes. But that's why I'm not in college anymore. I think a lot of my stress was procrastination and homework-related. And now that that's not in my life anymore, it's just not really a problem.

I think I’ve figured out a pretty good work-life balance right now.


Suzi

Nice. I think that really goes to show that when people struggle in school. It doesn't mean that they are not hardworking or not passionate about what they're doing. And you are really consistent with it and you're getting it done, but that's because it's your own project, not something someone else wants you to do.


Lindsey

Yeah. But when I was in college, I based so much of my self-worth on my grades. And I was terrified to check my grades ever because I would rather imagine that there was the possibility of it being good than having the confirmation that I failed the class. So I just never checked my grades. And it drove my parents nuts.


Suzi

Schrodinger's grades.

So the last question is, what is your favorite thing about living a creative life?


Lindsey

Oh man. I love every step of making a graphic novel, even though sometimes it drives me a little bit insane because it's such a slow process. I like thumbnailing because that's the part where it tells it feels the most like telling a story. It's faster than drawing it page by page so it feels a lot more like you're making a storyboard or making a comic right there, even though it's not anything you'd want anybody else to see. I love writing. I've been writing stuff since I was little. I like penciling because it feels like that's the part that feels the most like drawing and that's what I love to do even though it’s the most frustrating part. I think inking is my favorite. It's so calming. I don't really have to think about it too much. It feels kind of like a puzzle. I love puzzles. And then the painting part. Just watching it sorta come to life. I really, really struggled with color for a long time. And I'm finally getting the hang of it. It’s really rewarding to see something looking good. I've seen a lot of these pages in color, in my head for years, and getting to paint them finally is really, really rewarding.

I have a whole stack of my filled-up notebooks for my comic. I just started inking the fifth sketchbook for it this week. There are going to be eight of them in total. So I'm more than halfway done. I think I'm going to finish inking it within the next year or so.


Suzi

Oh, my gosh. That's so exciting. Well, I'm going to be looking forward to that for sure!





Thank you again, Lindsey! Be sure to follow their work on Instagram and check out their graphic novel as well!


7 views0 comments