Today’s doodle: “When the train is in the station”

Art, Miscellaneous thoughts

Today was one of those days it took me about 40 minutes to warm up and nothing seemed to work. That’s ok. I kept at it, despite wanting to give up, and made something relatively ok in the end… It never gets any easier!

Happy Friday all. Here’s to the weekend.

Urban sketching: a worthy challenge

Art, Creativity, productivity

 

“Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.”

-William Shakespeare

Old Bill is right, of course. We learn through challenging ourselves. You have to exist at the brink of your ability, stretching and straining with every fibre of your being – but without falling over the edge. That’s the fine balance you have to strive for to get better at anything. To stay safe, deep within the confines of your comfort zone, is death.

I’ve always loved drawing people. Faces, particularly. I must have drawn literally thousands over the years. It’s almost automatic now. Of course, I can always get better. But the increase in my skill is going to be marginal, now, particularly compared to trying something new.

In starting to share my work and engage with other creators, I’ve realised just how much talent is out there. I need to up my game. I’m not content with doing the same thing over and over again ad infinitum.

So, I’m doing something that truly challenges me: drawing places. They’re tricky – I’m clumsy, mucking up the perspective and shading. People and cars are moving around. It’s all going too quickly and I can’t get it right. They just feel wrong, disjointed somehow. But I’m learning so much, and it feels really, really good to be a beginner again.

Are you cruising along in any facet of your life at the moment? Is there anywhere you could mix things up, deliberately make things a little trickier for yourself? Your future self won’t regret it – they’d thank you for it, if they could.


Follow me on Instagram if you’d like to see a new drawing every day:

Today’s drawing | “I am the law!”

Art, Creativity

 

I need to think of a good way to showcase my artwork. I’m not happy with my current setup. Thoughts, anyone?

Hope you all had a successful Monday. Mine consisted of a full day of lectures and seminars at university (including double econometrics… that’s particularly fun), an excellent ‘pull’ workout at the gym and getting a fair bit of creative output done.

Violent and original

Art, Creativity, Fitness, Motivation, Philosophy, productivity, writing

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Gustave Flaubert.

What this means for you and I:

  • Have a routine (go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day)
  • Forge habits that, when aggregated, make your life better over time
  • Look after yourself – good nutrition, adequate rest, strenuous physical exercise, access to a broad range of mentally stimulating inputs (films, books, podcasts, conversations etc)
  • Don’t make stupid financial decisions that will put strain on the rest of your life

In sum: get out of your own way. Don’t let chaos impede your ability to do the work you’re capable of. You owe it to yourself.

The flu, creative destruction and the importance of rest

Art, Creativity, economics, productivity

Today’s drawing:

I’ve been feeling awful for two days now. This cold that’s been doing the rounds finally caught me. I hate the feeling of sickness hampering productivity. Every part of me wants to just power through it and refuse to accept the illness, but that’s counterproductive. I have to force myself to allow my body the chance to heal. I slept for 11 hours last night…

But things are looking up. Here’s one of Joseph Alois Schumpeter, an economist who coined the term ‘creative destruction’ – a phenomena which explains a lot of the rapid technological transformation we see in the world around us today. He’s been on my mind, as I had an essay due in on the effectiveness of barriers to entry – the Schumpeterian entrepreneur has been mucking around in my subconscious a lot. So I guess that’s why this drawing appeared.

Had some more success this week. A drawing of my favourite coffee shop, Home Coffee, was noticed by them… I think they’re going to display it in store! It’s just a reminder that consistently doing good work and sharing it does pay dividends.

Here’s to the weekend everyone.

 

 

Today’s drawing: “I am Spartacus!”

Art, Creativity, productivity

Enjoyed this one of a young Kirk Douglas, and actually fairly happy with the outcome. Drawing every day I’m definitely noticing an incremental improvement in my work. I’m getting more confident in my decisions – the complexity of poses, or the boldness of lines.

If you take a look back in my Instagram to around November (when I started drawing more regularly again) you’ll definitely notice a difference: they’re shittier, for sure:

I got my 1000 words written too, despite an impending econometrics assignment (maybe because of it)…

Keep working hard out there, folks!

What Casey Neistat can teach you about persistence

Art, Creativity, Miscellaneous thoughts, Motivation, productivity, writing

If you haven’t heard of Casey Neistat, he’s a pretty big deal on YouTube. He has around 9 million subscribers and is widely renowned for having revolutionised something that’s now become ubiquitous: ‘vlogging’.

He’s a pioneer. This fantastic video essay by the Nerdwriter (one of the best channels out there) explains exactly why Casey’s had such an incredible response:

In a nutshell, it’s the combination of a lifetime of practice and skill with a willingness to be agile, adapting to new platforms and ways of sharing. He’s bringing the eye of an award winning filmmaker to what had been mainly an amateur game – and shifted the expectation of quality of content on YouTube to new heights.

So here’s the lesson: Casey forced himself to produce a vlog every single day, no matter how busy he was, even if he had nothing exciting planned. Applying such rigid constraints to his creative process, rather than being stifling, actually allowed him to flourish. That’s where the majority of his growth has come from, and I think put him into the zone where he was able to create such inspiring, interesting work and connect with such a huge audience.

I’m learning from him and applying that persistence, the commitment to daily output to my own work. So far I’m loving it. The fact I’ve promised myself (and you guys now) that I’ll be sharing something every single day removes the need for it to be perfect. It just needs to be done.

“The best is the enemy of the good.”

-Voltaire

A trap we can fall into too far too easily is holding back on getting stuff done. We tinker, and play around, waiting for the thing to be ‘perfect’ before we put it out there. Let me tell you what you already know: that time will never come.

So, instead of perfect, strive for good enough. Instead of waiting, put it out there. Then, move onto the next thing. It’s precisely that attitude that’s allowed Henry Rollins to be so incredibly productive over so many years.

Without further ado, here’s today’s drawing:

I’m having a lot of fun doing work inspired by film noir, sometimes known as ‘the golden age of cinema’. I’m producing highly stylised drawings, with lots of stark black and white, crosshatching and brightly coloured contrasting backgrounds. I have my mum gifting me a set of brush pens to thank for the injection of colour (thanks mum!). The result is what I’d describe as Dick Tracy crossed with Frank Miller (never thought I’d see those two together in a sentence).

What are you working on at the moment? Stop reading this, and get back to work!


Links

Casey’s channel

Some of my favourite videos of his:

The first one I ever saw… (still watch it if I need a bit of a boost):

And here’s the Nerdwriter.

 

Today’s drawing, and a very short thought:

Art, Creativity, Miscellaneous thoughts, productivity

So far, I’ve been successful in doing a drawing every day of 2018 (all seven days of it… pretty impressive, right?).

Here’s today’s:

Certainly wasn’t easy to motivate myself to draw after a day spent in the university library doing econometrics… But I got it done.

I’ve been thinking about why this recent bout of writing and drawing has been going well (and feeling good) so far. I think this quote is extremely important:

“You can’t win a game you haven’t defined.”

-David Allen

Vague goals are impossible to achieve. Most new year’s resolutions are like this: “get in better shape”, or “be more creative.”

If you set clearly defined parameters, you’ll know if you’re on track or not. You can adjust as and when you need. So “be more creative” has become:

  1. One new drawing a day.
  2. Write 1000 words a day.

And that’s it! It’s binary. If I notice a pattern of routinely meeting these or not, it’ll tell me something about whether they’re the right goals, whether I need to change a habit or routine.

That’s infinitely better than flailing around in a cloud of uncertainty.

Define your game.