Friday, November 11, 2011

Don't Always Do It The "Right Way"

Remember when owning a home was a mandatory part of a healthy financial portfolio? I think this is the first time that financial planners are backing off saying, "owning CAN also be a good addition to a financial portfolio."

I bring this up because when I'm down at school I constantly hear students telling eachother things like, "you're supposed to do it this way" or "that's not the way that so and so said to do it." I believe in obeying the rules most of the time...wait - that sounded like a rule! bout: Obey some of the rules some of the time but not all of the rules all of the time unless you want to but if you want to break all of the rules that might be good too however that probably won't work either so don't listen to me but you should listen to some people if you feel they're giving good information. hmmmmmmm. How bout some examples:

Bill Gates - laughed at by IBM executives for only wanting to license his operating system. In other words he was laughed at for "doing it the wrong way."

John Lasseter - Fired from Disney for wanting to introduce computer animation to Disney productions - Started Pixar - Now chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He is also currently the Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering...pssssst - he did it the wrong way.

Steve Jobs - How many times do you think he was laughed at for all the innovative ideas he implemented. It's easy to think, "why would I laugh at Jobs? - he created so many wonderful products." Before he attained his unimaginable success he was often branded a nut for his strange decisions.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin created a search engine their way - a different way - they broke the rules. They were also late to the search engine party and couldn't get anyone's attention. All the big search engine companies showed them the door when they tried to sell their they started Google.

Last night in my watercolor class I kept hearing students talking about using watercolors "the right way."....

So I created this piece: Watercolor, collage, acrylic, digital, and ball point pen.

We are in a creative field and some rules are very important...but learning to break some of them is the difference between leading and following. Can you afford to follow in an industry that's always looking for fresh work?

Assignment: Illustrate a "banjo pig" using watercolor to post on


  1. Awesome post! I have been thinking this post and couldn't put it into words.
    "We are in a creative field and some rules are very important...but learning to break some of them is the difference between leading and following. "
    You hit it exactly!

    Another leader talking about rules, just for fun.
    "And thirdly, the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules." -Captain Barbossa

  2. Thank you ..thank you ..thank you!! I am one who loves to color outside the lines and tell my children the same thing! Wonderful post!! BTW..adore your work!! Sarah - Cottage Garden Studios

  3. I always told students that you have to know the rule before you can break them. You're trying to make us think you broke the rules in that beautiful banjo playing pork piece, but the truth is you're following the rules, just not the traditional watercolor rules. Great assignment idea. Hmmm... I think I may come to your class and paint one of my own.

  4. Great post! I've also heard the advice that Kactiguy gives his students and it makes so much sense. I try to pass it on to aspiring artists. You do have to know the rules in order to effectively break them. But just now reading your words made me realize I need to lighten up and break some rules, even if I haven't quite yet mastered them. Just to loosen things up a bit and remember to have fun!!!

  5. In the (mock?)documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop" Graffiti artist Banksy laments that his protege Mr. Brainwash -AKA Thierry Guetta's success in mounting an epic show of his work by saying that he broke all the rules. He then quickly follows by stating that "then again there aren't supposed to be any rules". I agree with Guy. As soon as you know the rules, it's easier to break them succesfully. If you don't know the rules in the first place you are just fumbling in the dark.

  6. Who was giving the advice in class??

  7. It's important to get the rules of design right first and then the rules of the medium will always come secondary.

  8. You guys all bring up good points and I didn't want to convey the idea that you have to toss out all the rules. I followed many more rules than I broke in the banjo pig - I just wanted to demonstrate that I tossed out all of the watercolor rules. Not that watercolor rules are bad. Just that it's ok to toss them just like it's ok to follow them. I told the class that if they were selling their piece as a "watercolor painting" they shouldn't mix media as it wouldn't be honest to the buyer. BUT - the focus of our class is to experiment with different mediums in order to create illustration - which means you can toss any medium rules in pursuit of something unique.

  9. Fantastic illustration!Love the style:)

  10. Will you hit it squarely on the head. When I first learned to play the bass, my instructor told me "I will teach you the scales and theory but then I want you to forget it." He wanted me to internalize the information and use it as my own. I think each of us do this with our experiences and just let it flow.

  11. Fantastic Will! great on every level. Plus... that pig is outrageously cool! Can I do the assignment? Is it for everybody?

  12. Thanks again you guys! Cam - do the assignment and email it to Guy Francis - he'll put it up on the banjo pig site - anyone can do it...just put on a set of novelty teeth and a straw hat and git crackin ya fool. :)

  13. After leaving school, it took quite awhile for me to get over doing things the "right" way. I thought because I was dong children's book illustrations, that I couldn't do anything else due to the emphasis placed on finding a discipline and sticking to it. Finally, just a few months ago, I decided to do what I wanted and to hell with what anyone else thought about. The irony is that now I have a ton of projects I want to work on, and am almost paralyzed into inactivity because I don't know where to start!


Feel free...