I've come up with a LOT of original characters over the years. Detective Mummy, Nate and Wendy: Monster Rehabilitators, Bahiti the daughter of the Sphinx, the Incredible Edible Planet of the Clams, Templeton the clockwork salamander knight, and on and on. Most of them never got finished stories, but I like to "check in" on them from time to time, drawing some sketches to see how they've changed and what they've been up to since I last thought about them.
This character, Bucky, is one I've been drawing at least since fourth grade. Being a character I've drawn for so long, he's gone through many changes. Sometimes he's been more Looney Tunesian, sometimes lankier and more influenced by newspaper comics like Pogo or Calvin and Hobbes, sometimes he's been grungier and based more on the underground comics I used to trick my parents into letting me buy as a kid. There was that ill-advised period where I wanted to draw him "anime" in high school and then shortly after was when I learned what a furry was and I made him a human for awhile. My first attempt at doing a webcomic starred Bucky. Then in college I realized that I shouldn't try to shoehorn any characters into every story just because I'd been drawing them for a long time. Bucky slipped into the retirement, occasionally popping up as a doodle when I wanted to test out a new pen, but without any real plans or stories of his own.
I figure in all that time he's been keeping busy, reaching some of the same conclusions about his role in art as I did, and now he's finally comfortable with himself as a hip beatnik. He's someone who cares about art and about himself and is extremely confident as long as he doesn't stop talking or working to think about it. Once he does stop to think or reflect, that's when all the options and possibilities and doubts of the world creep into his mind. To his friends he may come across as narcissistic and flighty, but single-mindedly diving into an idea is just part of how he gets through life. I remember as a kid watching a PBS cartoon about a girl who had to recruit an army of weasels to help defeat an evil army of basilisks, but they were too timid and flighty unless they had gotten hepped up on a magic weed. This idea sort of inspired my idea of Bucky's personality. When I start uploading comics to this blog, some of them will definitely star Bucky and his friends in Carl Barks/Osamu Tezuka-style comedy/adventure stories.
Deciding what to draw in his self portrait was hard at first. I don't do much abstract art but I didn't want to end up overthinking it (which I'm sure anyone reading this will agree is something I do very often). Then I realized that Bucky isn't really a great artist, he just thinks he is and loves the process more than the result. He's not someone who would be able to plan a composition effectively. At his best he would be able to start one, but then invariably get distracted and muddle things. The question became "ok, so what kind of mistakes would he make in a painting?" and was a lot easier to come up with ideas. Then I decided I was overthinking it after all and finished up.