How to get started as a graphic storyteller

We asked artists Rachel Ang, Fury, Eloise Grills and Mandy Ord for their best words of advice for emerging artists and graphic storytellers. Read their words of wisdom below and hear more at Work in Progress: Graphic Memoir at 6pm on 27 June at The Wheeler Centre.


Rachel Ang

It is such a joy to emerge and to be born again and again and again as a
creative soul. I hope that we are always emerging and growing and
changing. I hope we never arrive.



Often what excites me about a project is the possibility of it. The difficulty of the thing is actually making it. I Don’t Understand How Emotions Work was a baptism by fire in this respect. I had a year to produce a graphic novel start-to-finish. I just had to make decisions and commit to them and, as someone with ADHD, that was fucking agony.

In retrospect it was a really important thing. ADHD makes you really indecisive so if I didn’t have a deadline screaming at me I never would have powered through the mountain of work and learning that I did. So my advice to creators is just do the thing. It doesn’t need to be good, it just needs to exist. Just do it and figure it out as you go.
That, and lean into collaborations. I was mentored by Alisha Jade up in Brisbane for this project and she was a godsend. Cat Scobie did my graphic design and it was just – I can’t even tell you how good it was to have someone who was getting a kick out of the work. Especially for things where you’re holed up in your room for 6+ months, sweating and working and doubting yourself – it’s important to have people around you to help you craft and point you in the right direction. Don’t be that guy. Ask for help.


Eloise Grills

Let your idea dictate the terms of your work, how it develops and what it turns onto, no matter how weird and wild it gets. Try not to think too rigidly about form or content. If you find that you make stuff that is unusable in one context, you can always repurpose it somewhere else. Basically my whole career is like that episode of the Simpsons where Marge keeps on altering the same Chanel suit for different occasions. I’ve had pieces I’ve been trying to sneak into other things for years.

Also, the ways in which our minds work are fascinating in their individuality and strangeness, and most people I know are extremely nosy and want to know what is going on in other people’s strange minds; why not embrace that and tell us all your dirty secrets?

And if all else fails, draw some nudes. Everyone loves nudes.


Mandy Ord

My advice for emerging cartoonists would be to find a way to maintain a consistent practice that is realistic for your lifestyle. Draw and write every day and use the time to explore and experiment as well as creating finished pieces. Lean into new experiences and talk to different people. Find like-minded creatives and share your work. Self-publish and organise your own launches and exhibitions. Approach publishers whose ethics and body of published work you respect and admire. Meet deadlines, be clear of your role in creative projects that involve anyone else and be professional. Take creative risks and enjoy the process. Remember that your voice is your power. Work.

Learn more at Work in Progress: Graphic Memoir at 6pm on 27 June at The Wheeler Centre.

Image: Eloise Grills