Monday, July 23, 2012

You Are A Creator!



Not THE Creator :) When I first left school in 1992 I was eager to get illustration assignments. After a few months and a few freelance gigs I couldn't believe I could fianlly call myself an illustrator! For the following eighteen years I continued to proudly identify myself as an illustrator. But in the last few years I've begun to realize that this title or label has actually been somewhat limiting in my growth as an artist. The confines of the title kept me from seeing myself as anything but an illustrator- not that there's anything wrong with being an illustrator but can I allow myself to be even more? - I thought.

As I started dreaming up new projects and venturing down new roads with my video tutorials, ebooks, and apps I've realized that I've given myself permission to wear many new hats. Entrepreneur, director, teacher, writer, collaborator, graphic designer, voice actor, animator, editor, and yes illustrator are some of the roles I find myself engaged in now. I'm not yet proficient in many of these roles yet but it's challenging and exciting to be able to wake up and declare, "I'm going to do _________ today!"

Re-defining yourself as a creator allows your mind to wander and imagine yourself being successful in areas you might never thought of. Imagining your successes is really the first step to realizing those successes because if you can't imagine it you won't have the motivation to act. Giving yourself permission to become more- is liberating. Calling yourself a creator allows you the freedom to explore and communicate with like minded people about the possibilities you imagine. I have 3 more projects I would like to pursue in the future if I can finish some of my existing work - and they aren't like anything I've done thus far.

A word of caution: Before you really start to pursue too many projects or skill sets let me make it clear that I believe it is very important to master one craft first. Mastering a craft will mean different things to different people. If you reach a high level of mastery at whatever it is that you do i.e. illustration, writing, animation, coding, etc. you will put yourself in a leveraging position. You'll be able to gain respect from the people you approach if you ever want to partner with them, go into business with them, collaborate with, or hire them. You'll need this respect if you wish to attract equally talented people who offer expertise where you are weak.

So allow yourself a broader definition of who you are so you can become more than you ever imagined. With amazing digital technologies and the internet -which is becoming more and more accessible to the little man the opportunities are endless.

My youngest son told me that frogs don't jump to catch insects when he saw the piece I was working on above. My response, "would you have commented on this piece if I had drawn it accurately?" He thought about it and then said, "probably not." If we expect to get attention in the noisy era of the internet we have to create original projects!

26 comments:

  1. Great post as always. More and more I've stopped trying to put myself in a box. I started school as a 3D major, and as a consequence, I know and enjoy things that an illustrator has no real need of, but as a creator, they are very helpful, especially since I am planning to animate and program my own app.
    The last paragraph really caught my eye. As I was patting myself on the back last night for being almost done with the illustrations for my book, I started looking at the work of a couple of masters (Scott Gustafson, and Charles Santore), and realized that while I had been focusing on making sure my characters look accurate, I hadn't really given them any life. So, drawing on that knowledge and my animation background, I have to go back and make some revisions. I have to constantly remind myself that technical accuracy is important, but these are books for kids, and still need to be fun and interesting to look at.

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    1. Great insights - making great illustration is kind of like perfecting your golf swing - sooo many things to think about - so many aspects to keep in mind.

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    1. As always, Will, you have nailed it. When I was in art school, I was totally attached to being an "ILLUSTRATOR" - not even artist. I realize now this believe of just being one, has limited me in some aspects and at the same time I agree with you, when you state that you first have to become a master at one, before you can venture out exploring different avenues. As life constantly demands new ways, I am slowly opening up to the possibility of being not just an illustrator. At this point I could say I am an illustrator, graphic designer, artist, entrepreneur. It is fun exploring new options. I'd like to explore teaching, and at the same time it scares me. I still don't think I am a master at anything, how could I teach if I am still needing to learn so much?

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    2. Thanks Jill! and Anne - you're work is definitely good enough for you to be teaching! I can't think of one teacher I've ever known that was perfect. In fact if you started teaching you would start to fill a few of the small holes in your game.

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  3. Thanks as always Will! You inspire us to keep going and live the dream. I really needed to hear that today..."before you go try all those other tools, mediums, projects- first become a master at one thing!" SUCH good advice for someone like me because I have become jack of all trades in art and have been feeling like something is missing. Every time I start making progress, I would get stuck on one thing or another and so just switch to a more interesting media/project. But now I know- I need to cut out all the fun distractions and focus only on one method until its perfected! With this knowledge, I will have the motivation to become a CREATOR ^_^

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    1. Yes - it will give you the street cred to get others excited about you!

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  4. Great article and the frog illustration is awesome!

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  5. I love your article Will. I have to say my children are my biggest fans, as well as some of my worst critics, and sometimes the least impressed because they always see me working on something. Do you find that is true in your case as well? I imagine you have nurtured creativity as it is a great way to release anxiety, frustration etc.

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    1. Yes - in fact my kids have seen my stuff for so long and often that when they do make a comment I listen even more. I hope they don't read this because it would taint what we have going on...even though they don't know I know what I know about what they think about my stuff...or something like that :)

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  6. I get lot's of "why did you draw it that way?"s so maybe that means I'm doing something right ;) LOL
    Actually I am such a sucker for accuracy that I have to fight with myself constantly.
    Love your post Will. You are always an inspiration.

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    1. Thanks Karen - this is where the artist in you comes through - you have a sense about the way you want it - no computer will ever compete with that...I hope :)

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  7. Hmmmm, I forgot to say, I love the frogs teeth! fabulous

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  8. the many hats that creatives wear.. you nailed it. putting a definition on all that you do is difficult and something I have grappled with as well. Graphic Artist? Illustrator? Designer... augh

    and you also made me smile about your son. I find that my children are the best people in my corner, good, bad or indifferent they tell it like it is. :)

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    1. Thanks lisa - Sometimes I'll trick my kids into commenting on my stuff. I'll say something like, "my art director doesn't really like it." Then they'll either defend it or agree but at least I get some feedback. It's interesting how a fresh set of eyes can really see things you never intended or thought of...

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    2. very true, and lucky for us... to have a the wonderful imaginative minds of children living in our own homes. :)
      The commentary they give, and even the artwork that they create lends a new perspective.

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  9. That's some great thoughts.
    I've been out of school and unfortunately out of an artist community for 4 years now, so whatever I make, I get ooohs and aahs. But that is not helpful if you want to continue to grow as an artist. That's why I recently decided to grow my social network online so I get some feedback through my blog. Just like you say it is important to master one area first, I decided to get really good at painting portraits.

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    1. That's a perfect solution - and it's just the way we're going to be connected from now on. Technology has created an environment that has empowered artists globally! Buckle up! :)

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  10. Another great post! Your last one too was very insightful about this new app world for creators! Always inspiring to read your stuff!

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    1. Thank you Sabrina! This is the best time to be an artist!

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  11. Thanks for a great post! I bought a book (7.00) last year on HOW to be a successful writer as I freelance and am still a journalist of sorts (gaming journalist)- staying up till 4 am to get fresh news for the industry and submitting to sites instantly in a race to be FIRST. Well anyway the book was a Kindle, 12 pages! and the first chapter lines basically said pick up a pencil and start writing- okay you are a writer now. Yeah, some help in perfecting a style? Tips,Voice, etc. No. Blogs like this tackle questions and are appreciated! Dyann

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  12. Hi Dyann, People are grabbing info off the internet legally mind you - and publishing cheap little ebooks that are pretty much worthless. It's the wild west out there right now. I feel that if you treat people right, help out where you can, and provide value it will all come back to you. What a concept right?

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