If you thought I was lying on a beach somewhere, you are thoroughly mistaken! Here’s part of what I’ve been up to this past year or so. Probably the busiest time of my life ever – and still is. Watch the video to find out why.
Why is it sometimes so hard to keep a schedule when creating content for the web? And how can we set a system in place to circumvent our fleeting motivation? That’s what I try to answer in this episode.
If you are serious about your craft, having a workspace dedicated to your art is essential. Even if you’ve gone digital, you need somewhere to put your Cintiq and be comfortable, since you’re going to be stuck at that desk for a looong time. I’ve been through a bunch of tables myself and still haven’t found the PERFECT one. But I’m fine with what I have and ultimately it’s not the tools but what you do with them that matters. That said, you need something that does the job!
Here are a few things to consider when shopping for an art table:
- You need a table that can be slanted, so you don’t have to crouch forward too much. A slanted table helps prevent back/neck trouble down the line.
- Your table should be slanted just enough so you pencils roll off whenever you’re not looking. I’m KIDDING! How much/how little is all about what you’re comfortable with. Some people like standing up at their work table, others like to be on the couch. You decide. Whatever feels comfortable enough.
- It should be possible to adjust the angle/how slanted the table is. Because you might find a 5 degree angle makes all the difference.
- Besides the angled table, you will want to have either a part of the table with a regular, horizontal surface, or another table besides it to put your stuff. If you don’t have a “lay-away” table, your mess will go on the floor and you’ll have no place for your coffee cup. Which is a violation of work laws everywhere!
- There are a number of hacks to prevent stuff from falling off your desk. Rubber matting/shelf liner is by far the easiest and least intrusive. If you have an old table you don’t care much about destroying, a few screws or nails in the top might be helpful (bonus tip: a binder clip on a nail can hold almost anything, from your reference books to your art). Or glue a pen holder on it. Only after months of working at your table, will you discover your own habits and needs.
- You need a tape roll of not-too-adhesive tape for taping your artwork while working on it! Use Scotch tape or masking tape, anything you can easily remove again, without destroying your art or leaving sticky leftovers on your drawing board.
- Anything under the table? If you’re going to spend long hours at your drawing board, you don’t want to constantly be banging your knees against a metal rod or whatever. Check underneath for possible annoyances before buying.
- If you’re on a budget, consider just putting a wooden board big enough to fit your drawings (and then some) on a big “regular” table. A sturdy box underneath and a few screws to prevent the board from slipping and you’re off! Or get something used, at least for starting out. Buying a $300 crafts table might sound great for your art prowess, but are you really just putting off working, imagining this will make you a better artist?
- Obviously you also need to consider the space the table will go in. Too big or too small? Only you will know as it’s going in your work space.
- Use a lightbox often? Consider getting a table where that is built in. I found that having to go to another table to adjust a drawing was annoying, so now I’m back to drawing on a big glass light table again.
- Please note that the chair is almost as important as the table. I have a chair without wheels, because I tend to lean in quite a bit, causing the chair to slowly slide back if not completely steadfast. Which again cause me to subconsciously tighten my lower back muscles = pain!
- You need work light that doesn’t hurt your eyes (anything but flourescent light!) and makes it easy for you to see your art. Be sure to place the desk lamp so your hand doesn’t block the light as you’re drawing. Right handed = lamp to the left, left handed = lamp to the right.
I always recommend people to use whatever tools fit their needs, not what other’s do, so please take all this advice with a grain of salt. I do hope you got some value from it.
What kind of art table do you have? Please share! I’d love to hear what’s working out for you.
No time is more approriate for a little self- examination than the beginning of a new year. Sparked by a rather painful personal relationship issue, I dig deep and look on the dark side – not just only my own less-than-perfect psyche but also the general emotions like envy, the need to vent or the need for recognition – and what happens if we are not mindful about the vibes we’re sending out. I go through ten lessons I have learned in the past few years that hopefully helped me become a more positive influence and a happier person to boot.
The ten lessons:
- Complaining is the first step. BUT NOT A STRATEGY FOR CHANGE
- If you keep doing the same thing, you can’t expect a different result
- Negativity is not helpful
- Just because I have high expectations of myself, doesn’t mean I should have them on behalf of everyone else
- You don’t know what lies behind a success
- When you’re envious of others, it’s because there’s something there that you want
- The grass is not greener
- The need for recognition is not a hole that can be filled
- Hurtful episodes can be turned into something positive
- Being positive is just as annoying as being negative
Hopefully these painful lessons can be an inspriration and a wake up call to others.
The great thing about the new year is it’s a chance to get some perspective and stop and think for a moment. Look back on the year that went by too quickly and evaluate. What worked and what would you like to change for the new year?
Rather than making some grand resolution like “draw 2 pages every day”, try setting small, achievable goals that build a habit. As my friend Kody Chamberlain put it:
I’ve found that small ongoing adjustments are more effective than attempting a major and sudden change. Try that if you need a resolution.
I’ve made a habit of doing resolutions, not because december 31st is the only day you can make changes and take action – you can do that every day – but because people tend to ask me. And having to answer a question is a good excuse to think.
Maybe you’ve already made a plan for 2015 but in case you’re not sure, here are 5 ideas for New Year resolutions for artists and other creatives:
1: Spend an hour every week cleaning up the clutter around your drawing board and/or office. It’s really easy to get behind on simple things like these, and eventually it can bog down your workflow, having to look for tools or references or just having to work in a mess. Clearing physical clutter cleans out mental clutter as well.
2: Take at least one coffee meeting every month with someone you admire. This could be another artist, a writer or someone completely outside your industry. Someone you have a gut feeling there’s something to learn from. Prepare a few questions but try to be open and curious. Ask about their struggles, their strategies and their workflow.
3: Take a walk every day. Clear your head and get some movement into your joints. As artists and writers, we spend a lot of time sitting down and that hurts our bodies. You don’t have to go to the gym, just walking or doing 15 minutes of exercises and back stretching can really make a diffference.
4: Get in the habit of asking yourself: Is this helpful? Whenever you’re asked to do something, evaluate if it’s helpful for your overall goal, whatever that is. And every time you get angsty, depressed or start to worry about your story, your craft or if people will like you, stop and think for a moment: Is this helpful? If the mood or your worrying is not helping you produce better art, stop it. Do something helpful instead, like sitting down and getting the work done.
5: Quit one of your social media platforms. I know this one hurts. But think of the many hours a week you’re spending clicking links from Facebook, scrolling your Twitter feed or liking pictures of art (or cats!) on Instagram. You don’t have to shut down your account, just consider removing the app from your phone or simply don’t go in. We see it as a deserved break in our routine but more often than not, it’s a huge time suck. You’re better off looking out the window for 5 minutes and clearing your head.
This year my personal resolution is to spend the first hour of my work day, EVERY work day, on my own business. Whether that’s this site, my own comics or that novel I’m working on. Every day I come in to work, I don’t answer the phone or check my email or put out that brush fire. It can wait an hour, surely.
I also believe in the power of commitment, of accountability. So now that I have told you, I guess I have to keep my promise to myself, right?
What’s your resolution? Please share! Maybe there’s an idea someone else can stael to make their 2015 the most productive and epic creative year ever.
When you’re writing your script, it’s important to take the pressure off and ban your inner critic from meddling.
Writing a script for my comics was the lesson that took my process to the next level. And after I learned to write a script, the next most important lesson was to think of my script in terms of drafts. After all, if it’s a first draft, you don’t have to be Alan Moore right from the go!
Here are some pointers for getting that first draft done:
- Empty your head as fast as you can. Get it on paper, beginning, middle and end. You can always change the particulars later.
- Perfection is not what you’re going for. It’s a first draft and it will be edited later! Don’t worry about grammar or mull over character names or location description, just get the story beats down.
- Resist the urge to show your writing to anyone before the first draft is finished. Stephen King talks about writing with the door closed or door open in his book On Writing (which I can highly recommend). This means the first draft is yours and yours alone. If you have people critizing or asking the wrong questions it can totally derail your process. Write your first draft with the door closed.
- Think through scenes before you sit down to write them. Take notes or just run through the scene in your head. The good thing is you can do this anywhere, anytime. And it makes the actual writing SO much easier.
- Break it down into manageable parts if you feel looking at your entire story is overwhelming. 1st act, 2nd act, 3rd, act, individual scenes. Decide how many scenes is necessary to get from point A to point B and deal with each scene as its own little story, with beginning, middle and end.
- Always be moving forward. Force yourself to get to the end before you go back and change things in what you’ve already written. Take notes of what you want to change but save the editing for the second draft.
- Know the ending before you write the beginning. No, you don’t need to know the particulars but have an idea, a destination. At least know if it ends on a happy note or if it’s a tragic journey you’re setting out on.
- Bonus tip: When you DO get to the end and write that the way it’s supposed to be, go back and rewrite the beginning so you can put in little clues about the ending!
Now, as I say in episode 2 of the tutorial videos, it’s time to put your script in a drawer and forget about it!
Related video: Writing your script