The thing I’ve been working on most lately is myself (my art, my business, my sanity) so I’m sharing some of that today.
Artist Hat vs. Manager Hat
The thing about pursuing a career as a professional artist is making art and sharing it with the world are both their own distinct job. As an artist, I think most of us are compelled to create. For some people that compulsion manifests itself as a hobby. Others strive to make it their life’s work. During our interview with Kevin MacLeod and Ryan Camarda, Kevin brought up the idea that art serves no purpose if nobody sees it. It’s an excellent point that art is made to be seen and not doing everything to get it in front of as many eyes as possible is a disservice to that purpose. My problem is that view eschews art therapy and people who make art for themselves like Outsider art. (Henry Darger is a fascinating example and the subject of the documentary In the Realms of the Unreal)
Putting all that aside, as a professional part of the job is getting your art seen. For a number of us this is where intentions clash. I saw it in college when professors would give students a project and they’d ignore all guidelines and direction. It’s baffling to pay thousands of dollars to attend a school, take a class, and then disregard instructions. Yet it happened regularly and at times I had to keep myself from doing it. Why? Well, artists make art to express themselves. When somebody tells you what to make you can feel like a circus animal, trained to do your trick the way they want you to. If there’s not enough room to be creative and make your project your own you can lose motivation. (As illustrated in Technical Dave 5 – Chocolate Rebellion)
Trying to manage yourself at times can feel like you’re of two minds. You make plans, you set goals, then you sit down to work and find you don’t feel passionate about it. If you chase down what you are passionate about it can be something fun but with little to no financial rewards. Professionals can’t afford the luxury of only fulfilling creative desires. We need to find that little part of the venn diagram where our interests intersect with what people will pay for. Sometimes this means reassessing and learning to appreciate other things, sometimes it means reassessing who you approach with your work and how.
Creative Paralysis and Guilt
I started doing the Daily Doodle exercise for two reasons:
- To get myself to draw every day
- To allow myself to have fun drawing
I love drawing. I want to draw all day every day. But the reality of life is, when you’re in charge of your own schedule, things can get in the way. Building a site, promoting your work, having some form of a social life, it’s a lot to have on your plate. There’s just so much to do and there’s so many options now. It can become overwhelming and lead to analysis paralysis. You spend so much time trying to make your mind up on which action to take you fail to take action. Also, as much as artists struggle with guidelines, we usually need some semblance of them to make a project work. When somebody tells me to do, “whatever,” on a project I freak out. I have to figure out what it is, how I’m going to come at it, and then there’s trying to deliver my best while second guessing myself the entire time.
The second reason might sound odd considering I just said I love drawing. Why do I have to allow myself to have fun doing it then? It’s because of guilt. To get into the routine of producing things regularly you can’t often afford the time to enjoy and experiment. You have to get it done and move on to the next one. I remember hearing on Webcomics Weekly how occasionally they’re asked to show layout sketches and then they realize layouts don’t really factor into their workflow. I started realizing I don’t really draw for fun anymore because I’ve trained myself to see having fun with a drawing as I’m not getting things done. Like a person who can’t savor a meal because they’re afraid they’ll eat too much if they enjoy it.
The main thing I want to focus on in 2015 is animation. I have lots of ideas and ambitions for things I want to make. When I’m in the thick of it I’m elated. My problem is I have limited experience. So when I come to something I haven’t done yet I have to work at it. I know I’ll lose days to learning the ropes. It’s just difficult to keep focus that you’re going the right way with something when you fall on your face. Some days I’ll be on fire and knocking things off my to do list. Other days I have to redo something because one link in the chain caused it to not come out right. Ask any artist how disheartening it is when a program crashes and you failed to save or your entire file got corrupted. These things creep up along with the insecurity most artists (heck, most people) feel in general.
You Oughta Be in Pictures
I’m planning to roll out my animations through several sites. Each has their own communities I need to get more involved in if I want to take better advantage of the opportunities they present.
Newgrounds is a site that’s been around a long time. It’s known for hosting flash animations and games as well as other arts. There’s plenty of animators on the forums and I hope I can make some friends there. As I experiment with making games I’m sure it’ll prove useful.
YouTube has been my go-to for video, for posting on these WIP Wednesday blogs, live podcasts, and just sharing internet videos in general. There’s the potential to share my work with the most viewers possible. But by the same token there’s also a lot of noise. And, as we’ve discussed on the podcast, their viewing algorithm is weighted against animators by rewarding longer, more frequently-uploaded content. Considering I have plans in the works for both a Lets Play and video review series we’ll see how things fair.
Vimeo is a video hosting site that also offers On Demand sales and rentals. They offer free, Plus, and Pro accounts. Their focus seems to be more on short films and telling stories. I know fairly little about their community but they do tend to have a more professional look.
When I start doing the Daily Doodle again I want it to be about being the most productive I can be. That means I need to be doing the drawings in bulk when I’m brainstorming and then sharing them here. Those doodles will then get refined and polished into finished pieces I’ll be putting on the Lil’ Reaper Books store. I’ve been studying which places to do the printing through, how to promote and market them, and thinking more critically about who I market them to.