Literature Notes #005

My notes as a reader on:

Matthew B. Crawford – The World Beyond Your Head – Chapter 4

I must preface this with my general stance on philosophy and self-help books. You can find good ideas anywhere, just be aware everything is flawed. No book will ever take the burden of initially then repeatedly taking action, making corrections and overall living and learning from mistakes from you. No book will be the perfect guide for anybody. But who knows what you will discover for yourself from the book before you so give it a go!

I can’t tell whether Crawford’s book is moving me as much as it does because it resonates with me so well or because my defenses are weakened from morning sessions of reading Schumann’s book on writing. Today, starting and not yet finishing chapter 4, was a particularly fruitful reading session for me. I love reading about human perception as all my crafts depend on it. What arrived in my head today, not necessarily what was on the pages, is this:

As much as we would like to escape our body, nature, the material world itself, the limitations of our mind and imagination even, we are still anchored to this reality. We at least originate in it and are built for it. A consequence of this is that we have a taste for reality; we relate to it on a level that is deeper than we might like to admit. Art that captures it moves us. In our most primitive form we are a moving body and no matter how domesticated, our brain thinks like one. For example, we have the easiest time imagining our own body as the center for any measure of distance. Things are left or right or in the front or behind us.

For me as an artist this is thrilling news. My options how to show a world or any space really are melting. The most natural thing that there is is an ego perspective, we see like this every day. Next to it comes a „natural“ eye level and angles. What is a camera? What is a camera in essence if not an ego perspective view of something or someone looking onto a scene? I was looking at and constructing all my pictures wrong. This also seems like a huge help when visualizing things, starting out with oneself as the center of a imaginary place. I’m afraid I will need some time to cope with what I learned today and test the thesis thoroughly.

100 Days of SPREY – 55, 56

Today I want to tell you a creepy story. Let‘s call it the dangers of creativity, but with a wink.

On Monday, the 25th of January, I wrote the revised script for the next chapter of my webcomic „Street Prey“(SPREY). Only after two or three days of misery did I realize I was battling to cope with emotions bigger than me. My own script that is not the best comic script ever written moved me so much that I changed. Usually it‘s the other way around, the comic changes when I learn something new about making art or storytelling. But I guess it is a giving and taking here. By the end of the week even I realized I could not just go back to making the comic like before without at least changing some things up for the future. In the meantime I spent a ridiculous amount of time on gamedev, concept art and learning. And this time something clicked and the quality of my work went up instantly, across the board. My own theory is that I did not make sudden new art gains but rather found ways to put what I already knew in theory down on canvas now.

My perception of life changed, and then my perception of my art and art in general followed, unlocking more that I could observe and do.

You surely know phrases like „Make art for yourself“ or „Live at your own pace“. Both of these are equally scary if you sincerely attempt to live them. I will admit I only very recently could give them a personal meaning for myself.

Making art for myself means making art you wish someone would make for you and others to enjoy and that doesn‘t exist yet in the exact form you want to have it. But then, when you think it through, you run into a huge problem. You have to accept a lot of hard truths. Think about it. If you weren‘t you, would you read your own comic? Would you follow the artist doing your art your way on social media? If you hadn‘t created it yourself, would you like it?

I wouldn‘t follow myself and I wouldn‘t read SPREY. I would hate it to wait for a panel day to day. If it‘s a cinematic experience, why don‘t you give me the whole scene immediately as comic or animatic. And if you need it interactive, give me the branches and have it all drawn out or shut up. That hurts, is incredibly amusing at the same time (you would think you as an adult would have figured something that simple out earlier!), and still hurts a lot, but guess what, artists are problem solvers so it‘s my task to find ways to make that work better. I am cringeing sincerely while writing, but I am also laughing. And the following myself problem is also easy to solve actually. My social media feed would just have to contain what I am attracted to as a viewer myself. Sounds obvious but isn‘t if you have or had a hard time loving or even just accepting yourself.

Now to living at your own pace. I had no idea what my own pace was and I‘m still not entirely sure I have a full grip on it, but it‘s better than before. I‘m under the impression I was constantly driven by fears and unreasonable expectations in the past. When I stopped caring whether I‘m fast or productive enough or whether I‘ll have something to show on social media at the end of the day, I could let my mind go and focus better. And ironically, letting go might help actually getting more things done. Social media…I am ignoring them mostly for now. That is not ideal but contributed to the environment that made me rapidly improve recently. That really makes you think. Also social media is not the devil. Nobody says you have to bend backwards for any attention you can get. I can only just be at so and so many places per day with my mind and focus.

Oh my… what now? I need more time to think about SPREY‘s future while making more prep work for chapter 2A. What a coincidence.

See you next blog entry!

Above: Rich and Willard translated into the new style. It worked surprisingly well, yet the question is, is it sustainable?