100 Days of SPREY – 14, 15

I almost didn‘t update my comic yesterday! Almost.

I was very tired in the evening, so tired that for one and a half hour of drawing time nothing of significance was down on the digital canvas. It was as if I forgot how to draw entirely. Then after a surprising second wind that felt like waking up while being technically awake already I created the art, updated just in time, and with two sister panels! I sought to bring more balance into my life, relaxation, and the price seems to be that exhaustion is a thing again, a constant companion even. And changing from a mode of relaxation to working invites resistance. The other option, just ignoring all of it and working beyond all limits all the time, is not a sustainable way to go as it would surely result in severe health issues later down the road. You can maybe even do this for a couple of years, but not a lifetime. And I‘m here to create for a lifetime.

I think my increasing struggle actually comes from a good place. I might be at the beginning of a new cycle of my development as an artist. While I am somewhat competent at art I am helpless like a newborn at the moment, like a crustacean that has just shed it‘s old shell and is soft as butter until hardened out again. I have a lot of new work to do.

First of all, I would love to simplify what I‘m working on. I‘m juggling too many projects at the moment. This is not even a complaint, just an observation. I am doing my best to finish them up and focus on fewer, bigger things for the future. Focussing on Street Prey was a really good idea and is a good goal. Other than that my wish to impress anyone, making free art for friends and family, or create random art for my social media feeds has effectively died off. Of course I wish I had a larger following, but I can‘t force that. Not every artist gets recognized in time or at all. What I can do is continuing to make my art and cultivating myself.

Secondly, I would like to simplify my way of working. For the longest time I lacked a grip on my own process, even when I knew that was a bad thing. I just couldn‘t do anything about it and made art anyway. Now with Street Prey, I‘m confronted with a reoccurring set of problems to solve every day. While the tasks vary in detail question, many things are returning, so I‘m getting the repetitions in, other than with standalone illustrations that can switch styles like crazy. Repetitions mean automation of some problemsolving over time and opens the brain up to focus on bettering other aspects of the problems to solve. Therefore the artist believes they are endlessly struggling while they are struggling through solving different problems consciously that build up on each other. There is just never a moment of rest, relief or joy that is distinct from the joy of small successes in day to day work such as making an important line right at the first attempt or finding something that will change how you draw a reoccuring element such as noses from here on.

And then I‘m discovering a new layer of „Less Is More“. That is one of those evergreens such as „Just Draw.“ You don‘t need to collect all the techniques, you don‘t have to know all the masters anybody could ever be inspired by, you don‘t have to work in every medium or have tried to work successfully in every art form there is, was and will be. And you don‘t have to work on every idea you have. That does in no way mean you should shield yourself from all these things. If you have much to choose from, you have a better chance of picking up what is the best for you. What Less Is More instead wants to teach you is that you don‘t need to worry and switch so much. Stick to few things but put all your energy in them, and you have a higher chance of finishing your projects and getting really good at what you are doing. But I get it, it can be really hard to determine what you want to do and how you want to do it. There is so so much to choose from.

There is no solution for this that works for everybody. I can only tell you what seems to work for me:

1) Realizing that there is more out there that you could hope to explore in depth within a human lifetime. (goodbye, fear of missing out)

2) Realizing that if you tried to work on every idea you ever had you would be busy longer than a human lifetime, too. (goodbye, impulsive decisionmaking)

3) Realizing that I have only one human lifetime and I don‘t know it‘s length. (goodbye procrastination)

4) Realizing that most of your ideas and works, even if you did not pursue the obviously bad ones, probably aren‘t and won‘t be that good. But it‘s never about the many that don‘t work, it‘s about the few great ones you accomplish amidst them. Those will be remembered and you can only get there, if you still make all the others and learn from them. (goodbye perfectionism)

5) Some people know what their authentic art and message is when they are children, some define or redefine it later in life for themselves. How do you know it‘s authentic? When you want to work on it, even if you are not getting paid, attention, or any other reward from the world. (goodbye choice paralysis)

That was a lot!

Should I send my comic into a hiatus before my new shell has hardened? No, it would be a form of waiting until I‘m „good enough“. We don‘t do that around here anymore. So I‘ll endure my next evolution while working. I will need to draw a lot outside of the comic itself, practise a lot and to explore my personal „less“ of Less is More.

See you next blogpost!

Restructuring II – Flatting and Perfectionism

Reflecting on my process and how it‘s developing I came across an interesting thing.

Shouldn‘t flatting be something relaxing by it‘s very concept? Flatting is the process of filling in shapes separated by linework with single flat colors in digital art to have an easier time playing with the rendering on top. The uninitiated would compare it to painting by numbers. Yet, flatting is unforgiving. If you leave out any small patch of pixels, it creates a bright hole and look worse with every filter and layer of paint you apply on top. So it is something that is simple and relaxing by concept but unforgiving in execution. Some tasks in art making are like that.

I‘m always stressed out about the flatting mistakes I make, but what if that is how it should be? Mistakes aren‘t a possibility, but a reality. They WILL happen. To anybody who ever wrote a text – the first draft is never perfect. No matter what, you can always correct or cut something afterwards. Why should it be different with flatting or art in general?

Why should my number one goal be perfect flatting in one go? Isn‘t what wins the day my hard earned ability to find and eradicate the mistakes I make before proceeding into parts of the process where my flatting errors are multiplied and can only be solved by a general correction layer slapped on top of the panel? And does anybody care for my works in progress at all when the result is alright for it‘s purpose? Of course, a good process gives you a better time getting there, but it‘s not everything.

I think that is the part of perfectionist thinking that robs you of energy, always a little bit. „I couldn‘t avoid mistakes today“. And then you are more tired than you would have to be, even if you have avoided risky, playful and experimental decisions that would have most likely lead to mistakes or failure, too, but also given the opportunity for greater rewards? So if you can‘t escape it, why not embrace it and learn to trust yourself that you will fight your way out to a great final result again?

As for today‘s voting results –

75% of you want Rich to greet the guys. On Instagram this was quite the close call – 4:3 votes. On the eligible discords on the other hand things looked quite different. Only 4 of 22 votes would have preferred that Rich minds his own business. As always, thank you very much for voting!

So you want Rich to tackle life full front, even if he himself isn’t the most extroverted guy. Well, he does his best to comply!