We’re reaching out to some popular creators to get their best tips and tricks for success and better understand the ups and downs of life as a trailblazer on the internet.
This week, we caught up with John Paul Brammer, aka JP Brammer, over email. Brammer is the illustrator and writer behind the popular LGBTQ and Latino advice column ¡Hola Papi!, currently self-published as a newsletter on Substack. Brammer also recently authored a memoir, ¡Hola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons.
Brammer’s clever sense of humor has particularly shone through on Twitter, where he has attracted over 168,400 followers.
The interview below has been condensed and edited.
What’s the first thing you do to start your day online?
I have a bad habit of reaching for my phone and doing a quick scroll through my various apps like Twitter and Scruff etc. Not great! Not hygienic.
What do you wish you knew when you were first starting out as a creator?
It’s all kind of made up. That should be a liberating thing. The people in the upper echelons of your coveted industries might not be there on their merits. Indeed, it’s rare that anyone gets anywhere in these industries strictly on their merits. You should worry about your craft and making things that matter to you.
When did you realize you’d broken through and become a successful creator?
I think success is an emotional state. I’ve had a lot going for me and felt like I was at rock bottom, and I’ve worked on things, like a painting or written piece, that brought me fulfillment and joy and ended up not really taking off with any significant number of people. It’s mostly a feeling, and it comes and goes. I feel successful today and I might not tomorrow. That’s fine.
If you hadn’t become a creator, what would you be doing right now?
I am a terrible employee and If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing right now on my own terms I just have no idea what I’d be up to. Probably working a desk job and scheming on how to quit for a slightly better desk job. I’ve rarely held a position for longer than a year.
What’s one thing you do to manage your relationship with your fans?
I don’t do a whole lot honestly. I love being approached for a picture or to sign something because I am at the end of the day not a famous person so it makes me feel like I get to cosplay as one for a little bit. Sometimes people overstep their boundaries but that will happen.
I love my followers. I think they’re so funny. Sometimes something I did will take off and people will say “omg look at the replies” and it makes me feel proud of my clever children.
What do you think of the idea of cancel culture?
I think we live in a cruelty culture and always have. I don’t think much has changed. People are cruel. The history of ostracizing people and making them “the other” is long and documented. I think social media just makes it hypervisible and makes it move even faster. I don’t buy into the reactionary narrative that rich and powerful people are being silenced by the hypersensitive masses, but I also don’t glibly dismiss realities like online harassment campaigns or internet pile-ons. I think people can be cruel. That’s always been the case.
How much of your true self do you show online?
I don’t think of it that way very often. I do what feels right and say what I feel like saying and I’m like that in person too. Obviously the internet is rife with artifice, but so is the offline world. I think most people don’t even know who their true self is. That’s a scary thing to have to contemplate, so we make memes or jokes or latch onto some titanic media property that can supply us with a serviceable personality. It’s popular to say people are being fake online, but I don’t think anyone really sees themselves that way. I think people just do what works, whatever quiets the anxious voice in their heads.
What’s one of the best interactions you’ve ever had with someone who follows you?
Hmmm, I can’t really think of one specifically. I’ve had so many lovely interactions with people who follow me. Sometimes they send me tweets that remind them of me and I think that’s so sweet.
What is your most treasured tool?
My Apple pencil. I love that thing. Sometimes I think I’ve lost it and it gives me a heart attack but then I find it again and relief washes over me. I would die for my Apple pencil.
What holds you accountable?
I hold myself accountable, no one else! If anyone claims they can hold me accountable they are lying. In the future I might pretend that someone is holding me accountable but just know I don’t believe it.
Thank you, JP, for speaking with us!
We’ll be featuring a new Q&A with a creator every week, so shoot an email to [email protected] for a chance to be included.