Working on Vacation

October 20th, 2006 | Posted in General

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was bringing some work with me on this trip to Orlando. I’ve gotten some of it done but as usual less than I was hoping I would. I might still get some more done on our last two days.

It may seem counterproductive to bring work along on a vacation, but I learned long ago that sometimes doing so makes the vacation more relaxing than to leave the work to pile up at home. Yes, it can suck to have work along, but by bringing SOME of it along I avoid two things that can really ruin a vacation:

1. Pulling several all nighters to get it all done before I leave, which leaves me exhausted before the trip and not well prepared for it (been there).
2. Leaving it all for when I get back, and spending my whole trip thinking about it and then getting back and pulling all nighters to get it done, destroying whatever rest I had gotten on the trip.

Better to bring a little of it with me. Not too much, if I can help it, but some. That way I get back having made some headway into the jobs(s), feeling like I somehow got ahead and I have a easier time of getting the work finished back home. I did not try to rush anything done before I left and departed for the trip with a low stress level.

When do I work on it? Often in the early mornings. I don’t sleep as much as Anna and the kids do. I am usually awake well before them on these trips, and can get some work (or blogging) in before they start stirring. On this trip we took Tuesday off from the theme parks so Elizabeth could decompress in the room for a day… she can only tolerate crowds and the over-stimulation of a theme park for so long before she has a sensory meltdown. I stayed with here in the room and got quite a bit of inking done on those Nader panels while Anna and the kids went shopping and gave more of our money to the Mouse.

Another reason I have made peace with the fact that I may have to take work along on a trip is acceptance of the nature of being a freelancer. Jobs come along when they come along, and there is no way to predict when, where and how they will happen. Often the phone will ring and 3 to 4 days later an illustration I had no inkling was coming is on it’s way to the client. Vacations, on the other hand, are planned months in advance. They cannot be changed to accommodate a sudden job or unforeseen deadline. Therefore, the jobs must accommodate the vacations. That’s not to say Anna and I don’t consider work when we book a trip. Usually we stick to the early part of the month for any time we spend away from home, as MAD deadlines are around the 25th of each month. Knowing this, if we travel in the first or second week of a month, I have at least a week to make a deadline for MAD once we get back. Other jobs just fall where they may. Sometimes I have no choice but to turn down a job that comes up where the timing is impossible. Bringing a little work along is one thing, spending the entire trip locked in the room working is another. I won’t do that, I’d rather turn down a job or two.

I also try to avoid having to do the final color on a job when away. Doing color work on a laptop is outside my comfort zone, and I hate spending more time on something to get the same results than I would if I was at home. I am so used to the Cintiq for digital coloring that using a regular Wacom is awkward for me. I can do it, but it takes more time and patience as I am not used to the dynamics anymore. Recently I colored the final two pages of the “Superman Returns” parody while in Chicago at the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Weekend, and that was a bit of a pain. Of course that gave me the opportunity to lay the guilt trip on MAD art director Sam Viviano, who was also in attendance at the Reubens… except he didn’t seem to feel very guilty about it. In fact, every time he saw me all weekend he demanded to know why I wasn’t upstairs working on the job… even after I was done with it. He was joking of course… I think.

To be honest, I like having a little something along to work on… relaxation seems to much better when you have that satisfied feeling that you accomplished something, however small, first. Playing after is that much easier and more fulfilling.


  1. zwallenfang says:

    Did you get to see Mickey’s Philhar Magic yet?

  2. SteveH says:

    Trust your having an awesome vacation!

  3. Tom says:

    We had fun as always, yes. Thanks. We did not see the PhilharMagic show this year, but have in the past and it is worth seeing. The interactive 3D shows are always good, and this one is very good.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

Workshops Ad

Dracula ad

Doctor Who Ad

Superman Ad

%d bloggers like this: