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Stuff that helped me make art  *wonder wonder wonder*

Been taking a little trip back and forth in time lately. Went back to 2008 and found that introspection and emotional openness helped me a lot. Rather, being aware of and curious about life, my emotions, and things in general just poured out of my in the form of art and other things ^^  It wasn't some abstract goal of "i have to make art". I really think of it like that. Instead, it was "this is a beautiful idea, I gotta see it come to life". It was largely about play and experimentation.

Then there was that other time when I took on a lot of comishes to pay rent. I got enough money in a short time, and it ended up taking me a lot longer to do it all than what I originally thought. Now, of course the ol' western work ethic is "just do it goddamn it! You got paid for it!". Under this is the assumption that money is a primary motivator. Also punishment is another motivator. Punishment could be harassing the artist, or demanding a refund, or whatever. The problem though, is that none of these things actually help or provide any right motivation to make art. "Sticks and carrots" (or punishment and reward) is great at getting the grass cut or fixing a roof. These are straight forward noncreative tasks. But try that with a creative task and it will very quick suck all the life and motivation out of you.

I could list a bunch of experiments that prove this, but I won't. So back to the story. I was stuck with all sorts of junk from having such a heavy work load. Sure, I was my fault, but will guilt help me make art? Nope. Sure, a lot of time passed before I was able to work on them. Would thinking about all that time and feeling horrible help me make art? Nope!  

Then there was this other prickly idea that I've never heard anybody talk about before. Probably it was just in my head or maybe there's other people that believe it too. This prickly thing was the idea of ownership. It wasn't just ownership of characters and the like. This type of ownership was one of an idea. The very idea that a commissioner would give me was somehow "his" idea.  How is this a bad thing? Well see, as an artist, I wanted to get it right. Getting it right is easy when you have model sheets and references all over the place. But when it comes to describing a situation...especially if all this information is coming from another person....and let's say you haven't talked to this person in forever and have no idea how to get ahold of them anymore...then yeah....anxiety through the roof!  So, I started to think "what really makes this idea their's?" At that point, I thought about the differences between the way I think about and treat my own ideas versus someone else's ideas.

The differences were that if this idea was somebody else's then it became bundled up with all sorts of stresses. Thoughts about them disapproving of the way I drew it, or getting something wrong. Then I thought about the way I which I feel and think about my own ideas. It was very relaxing. I could build on and combine things, I could discover new ways of drawing or painting. It was like the ultimate playground / laboratory.

So given all the above, I began to think about these things as tools in my toolbox that help me make art. Since guilt and sense of time never helped me and actually hurt me, I made myself believe that I just had this idea (the commission idea) in the moment. That somehow, no matter what was going on in the world out there, inside my living space here there was only NOW. No past, no future, only right now. Besides, when I make good art, I'm never conscious of time, it's always forgotten.

I also started to think about the commissioner's idea as MINE. This may sound really odd and even appalling to some of you guys. But for me, it relaxed me soo much and freed up my mind. In effect it was using the best parts of myself to do the job. All from this simple idea of ownership. Pretty awesome huh?

So, think about when you first have an idea, a good idea. Remember how that feels? Now think about something you're being made to do...something you don't want to do, like that overdue book report that was due a week ago. Okay, now that's kind of how I felt, that last one :P  I wanted to use my optimism, and drive to get me through this, not the stick and carrot routine.

I've tried talking to my friends about these things. The default position is to fallback on that old cultural stick and carrot thing: "well you should have ____ because ____". It really baffles me that nobody is as curious about this as I am. I don't really talk to a lot of artists either -_- ...that could have something do to with it. But even if you're not an artist....then surely this whole western work ethic and the misery it causes has somebody curious eh eh? I know that what I did back in June 2011 was a major thing for me. From all that I've read, I've got a good feeling that all of that was reverting to a Right Hemisphere way of doing things. You know..that other half of your brain? :P This is another thing that one friend always rolls his eyes at me over. I still consider it a major thing because it explains a lot ^^

I've read a couple of articles that pointed to worrying and rumination anxiety as the result of too much activity in the left hemisphere. I've had a ton of this type of anxiety over my life. So, what do I want from all of this? Simple. I want to built a new lifestyle out of it. One that pushes concepts of time out of my head, along with the idea of ownership being some kind of lock on an idea, and the fallacy of guilt as being useful in any way shape or form to do something.  In other words, there's two competing ideologies about the world here. One full of fences, ownership, sense of time, guilt, anxiety, and zillions of rules. The other is one of timelessness, warmth, experimentation, openness, and play.  I know that at anytime we all have a mix of these things bouncing around in our heads. I just pick them apart and lil more and wonder a lot about things than most people it seems :P
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Added: 5 years, 8 months ago
5 years, 8 months ago
I really enjoyed this post, I think that's more or less the way to go about it. People probably like artists' work the most when the artist is "having fun" or otherwise really throwing themselves into the work. The artist has to be relaxed in order for this to happen. Whatever the primary emotion of the artist at the time, that energy is likely to come through in the work.

For comissions, people are probably hoping that you'll have a "good time" with the work and produce something exhuberant and playful. It's important that you, as the artist, give yourself permission to own the piece that you're producing, so that you can relax and have fun with it, riff on it.

After all, they commissions YOU and not someone else, probably because they hoping you'll put your personal spin on things.

And folks don't always see eye-to-eye, but that's only a possibility not an eventuality, and so you can afford to cross that bridge when you come to it. <3

Good post
5 years, 8 months ago
Thanks ^_^ A lot of times I don't usually get too many comments on my 'wall of text' style journals, but it sure is  nice to get a positive response!  I've heard commissioners tell me things like that before. "I want you to enjoy this one", "i want to see this in your style", "just have fun with it", etc. Heh, it's funny how it can clash with the carrot and stick mentality when the other guy loses patience and starts pestering you. But yes, I totally agree with you, an artist really should own their art, no matter who it's for and work with it the very same way they treat their own original works.  

Sometimes it's really akward making that transition from a personal hobby you do for yourself into something you do for other people to get money. I guess in the end, the best way to protect against it becoming like mundane work is to keep your motivations the same and not let anybody hijack it with their own impatience. I heard a quote once that goes something like "if you want to turn something into work, make the ends more important than the means". I can't overstate how much nonartists seem to run on this mentality ^^; It's so totally backwards to me.
5 years, 8 months ago
I'm gonna skip right to the "make the commissioners ideas mine" thing, because I think for someone like you, thats the place you wanna be.  Please forgive me if I don't make sense, I'm still sleep deprived and jet lagged XD

This is what I deal with at work everyday.  Someone brings me an idea, either visually or just describes something to me, and if Jesus loves me that day they go "this is just my idea, YOU'RE the artist, do what you think will be best."  Now sometimes..or shall I say most of the time, it's an idea that I Reeeaaly don't care about XD  Call me a jerk for thinking that, but I just have to be honest.  So what do I do?  I'm not into their idea, but this is my JOB to do what they want, but it's hard for me to draw what they want as an artist because I'm just not feeling the idea, and if I'm not feeling the idea than I won't be happy with what I draw, and I can't give somebody something I'm not happy with, because I dont like doing things I'm not happy with (and the run on sentence continues XD)
So what do you do?  You do EXACTLy what you just said...Treat the idea as if it was yours.  Have FUN with it..it's possible, even with the least interesting things.  It's like Macgyver..you're in a situation, and is limited to a certain amount of items (ideas)...Make it work! ^_^
Now unfortunately, you're going to get those people who ONLY want what THEY want..They don't want your ideas, they won't want what YOU think will make the idea better, THEY DONT CARE..they want what they want...Then what do you do?  Well, you can either embrace the Mcdonalds business mentallity of "the customer is always right", and shamefully submit to all the customers needs even though your way is the right way.  OR, you can just simply be like "I would really love to help you, but unfortunately as an artist, this just isn't the type of thing I do", then reassure them that it's nothing person, but it's just not my specialty"  Then maybe out of kindness, refer them to (if you know of one), someone who you think would be a good canidate for the job.  Sure you're not really making the money of someone who takes on everything, but you are developing a good customer relations reputation at the least.  Fun Fact, people will give you money just because they like you, it can sometimes have nothing to do because they like your art ^^

5 years, 8 months ago
Thank you so much Sammy ^.^ I had a feeling I was onto something with these ideas about ownership.  Haha! I really like your Macgyver spin on all this, I love that show! (Incidently,  I just got myself a car today, and what was in the console...a roll of duct tape!!).  That mentality of making the image your own - I used that to make some really nice comishes that I actually feel proud of. They became something I enjoyed working on, only I just happened to get paid for it hehe! Of course, the enjoyment of working on it came first. If the client has a mental meltdown or obsessively pesters me however..... then yeah it's usually time for them to take their money elsewhere.  Could also think of the characters you work with as toys to play with.  I wish I had more war stories of using this mentality to do comishes, but the truth is I haven't used it enough yet ^^; But I'm look'n forward to try'n it out!
5 years, 8 months ago
It may take a lot longer to develope a clientel as a commissioning artist, but if you're patient, and talented (which you are), it'll happen. One thing I really like about you is that you're SUCH an artist XD  I don't mean that like "you draw a lot", but it's how you think about art, what drags you down about it, what motivates you.  You're crazy passionate about it, which is incredible.  I'm not saying that people who just sketch out a ton of pics for money and do whatever anyone asks ISNT, because thatsa total talent of its own..All artists work different. That works for some, but not all, but its all about what works for YOU.  Art as a job is not a job..Art is a passion, it IS a lifestyle.  Its not for everybody.  ANYBODY can draw, but not everybody has the passion to be successful at it.  YOU have that, so now it's just a matter of finding out a way to make it work for you as a carreer, job, or whatever you wanna call it.  It's never just a matter of getting things started and having everything work out.  You'll still just get those people who will make your life hell.  Those people who give you no artistic freedom, and those people who are never satisfied.  You can't avoid it.  Even the people who have that dream art job, where the office is covered in lovable kittens, and your favorite cartoons from your childhood stream 24/7, have those stressful clients, or just art slumps. But it's keeping that stress to a minimum thats important.  Sure, the money may not be flowing like it does for others, but money doesn't keep anyone happy.  Doing something you love does.

I can really go on for days about this, but I'm just gonna shut up now because everytime I post in your journals my replies are retarded long XD  You just have a lot of interesting things to say, and I can relate to so much of it, so I can't help but get excited when I hear someone say something that has, or is going through my head as well.
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