BUSZKA: One of the most important lessons came from Vance Farrow in my Drawing V class. I had a habit he said a lot of artists fall into, which is the idea that every little thing you make has to be great or it's a waste of time. That's a trap. You end up becoming paralyzed by perfectionism, that making anything at all becomes exhausting. Then, you're only making things occasionally, and doing the thing is how you learn anything and get better at all. Kathleen O'Connell also taught me a lot about the industry of art and illustration.

These lessons were the most useful and helped me think about art as a career. A few years after graduation, when I was working on freelance work I didn't even like, Kathleen pushed me to invest in Amherst College's Illustration Master Class, which was an experience that will stick with me forever.

HERRON: What advice would you offer Herron students who are interested in following a similar creative path?

BUSZKA: First, I'll say: Explore what you love doing and why. What inspires you to create in the first place? The better you understand yourself and can listen to your own instincts, the better you'll know which lessons are useful. If you actually like what you are making, the more self-motivated you can be. This shouldn't be confused with just doing it when you feel like it. Often times you'll have to force yourself to get working, and the hardest part is getting started. Once you get into it, though, you can remember what's fun about it, and that will feed your motivation.

Another important piece of advice is James' paraphrasing of some tweets from someone else that he found helpful, along the lines of sustaining an art career long term. "Try to find a 9-to-5 job that you don't hate, something that will cover your insurance and give a relatively steady income, but also that isn't so soul-crushing that you have no creative juice when you get home. Having that stability in that aspect of your life can free you up in terms of the creative side of things." He commented further on this, "I think it's interesting and honestly kind of rare to hear that, but it really struck me."

Both James and I work 9-to-5 jobs that have some connection to our skill sets. I work at a small printing company, where two of my co-workers are Herron graduates. It's not illustration, but it gives me skills and knowledge that can come in handy. It's also taught me a lot about self-motivation and work ethic which is helping me with my work on "Lupina."

HERRON: What do you do to recharge?

BUSZKA: I try to leave at least an hour of leisure time at the end of the day before my bedtime to unwind. I've started reading some manga for inspiration. Currently, I'm reading "Delicious in Dungeon" by Ryoko Kui and "Girl from the Other Side: Siúil a Rún" by Nagabe.

I've also gotten back into playing Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs). I like games with a good story and relaxing music. It lets me simply enjoy something while feeding my storytelling inspiration.

HERRON: Looking ahead, what are some of your goals for the future?

BUSZKA: I'm open to whatever comes beyond "Lupina." That said, I've always wanted to become a tattoo artist. I've also rekindled an interest in games, so maybe I'll get into the art side of that if an opportunity arises. I've also wanted to focus on my own writing abilities. I've had a few ideas that could be fun to develop into comics.

See more of Leon Buszka's illustrations and sketches on their Instagram.