Learning with onions

This is in some way a continuation of yesterday’s blog entry, but you don’t have to go back to understand this one.

I finished another piece of homework that was due last week, but I had to move to this one because of work. My task was to create a page of visual communication study about a plant topic. Still following “less is more” I chose one of the least exotic plants there is. The common onion. And while I am curious and have many things I would like to know and explore about onions, I indeed only had time for one page. And then I decided to give my everything into it, everything my tired evening self after a day of concept art with daily deadlines (at least at the moment) could muster.

This page might not even look like it, but I learned so so much. Let me share my thoughts. Maybe you can use a thing or two for your own design work, too.

  1. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing – wild ambition is no exception to that. I made a series of entomology pages about wasps last week, pouring all my passion and curiosity into them. And I expected no less than roughly eight pages about onions from me this week. But my ambition and reality just didn’t…meet. I love my work, but I am very tired in the evenings. Eight pages will not happen this week, maybe if I ignore all other homework, but that is just not an option. So I let go and told myself – do one page today, do what you can and let go, move on. Focus on one task at a time, one iteration of an exercise at a time.
  2. Trust the process. I cannot tell where this impulse came from, but I thought to myself if it is going to be one page, I will train graphic design. I chose a simple topic that was still interesting to myself and created a page like from a gardening book. I ran the full circle, research, notes and scribbles, arrangement of the elements on the page, changing from Krita to Affinity Publisher mid process for the layout and lettering/font matters, then changing back to the final polish. I am glad I followed my intuition. This is not the greatest page humanity has ever seen, but I’m glad I finished it. It was a great exercise. And it is also more than I would have expected of myself.
  3. Small things add up. In the past, and this is not even long ago, I found myself having an all-or-nothing mindset. I can either do the full thing today and have my result and reward or do not even start doing it, because what’s the point? SPREY has been a valuable factor to break that up. There is no chance SPREY can be done in a day, even the most stubborn version of me will accept that. And with many other things it’s like that as well. You can’t master a skill in a day, build a career in a day, unlearn bad habits in a day and so on. And it does not have to happen in a day. Relax. Look for the small bits of work you can do right now that do not overwhelm you. Maybe reading 10 pages of a book that will help you learn something a day, working 20 minutes on a personal project every day. And it does not have to yield a result immediately. You’ll get your results over time when the small bits of work compound, the solutions you found for very small problems compound and you suddenly deal with bigger problems to solve and it’s absolutely manageable, as the smaller ones are out of the way now. Small things do add up!

And with that, see you all next blog entry!

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