Showing Up In Spite Of

That's what they tell you to do.

By "they" I mean the gurus of the art industry, the writing industry, and maybe whatever other industry there is. The idea is that no matter how insignificant you might feel, no matter how inauthentic an artist/writer/designer/blogger (you add what's missing) you think you are, it will do you well to show up every day.

Showing up simply means getting yourself out of bed and working on something. If you're an artist, draw or paint something every day. If you're a writer, write something each day, even if it's just a paragraph. By doing so, you're not only honing your craft, you're also creating a body of work that you can go back to, edit, improve on, and repurpose.

I try very hard to keep at it. Sometimes I join challenges. There's quite a bit of them online. There are 30 day challenges, 365 day challenges, challenges to keep you drawing or painting or taking photos. You've heard of NaNoWriMo, I'm sure, and there are versions of it for picture book writing, poetry writing, and so on.

Some of the motifs I've used for creating repeat patterns came from those challenges so they can really be very useful. 

Here's what's not been useful to me: joining classes where there are so many students, you feel as if your work was never even seen by the instructors. At the end of the week, when it's review and critique time, it feels as though the same artists with the same illustration styles are singled out. Once or twice, there will be work that will be a bit different, but for the most part, you can tell which ones, even before the critique day comes, will be shown.

Luckily, I'm too old to let things like those get me down for too long. Whether my work sucks or not, I post them on Instagram or Facebook. It helps to have a tribe made up of really supportive family and friends.

But there's something else I've taken to doing regularly that keeps me focused--my own version of a bullet journal. Bullet journals are great because you can customize them to your purpose. I take intense satisfaction in seeing the items in my to-do lists checked off (the original way is to put an X but I tend to see that as something I didn't do so I opted to use a check). I put everything I know I want to finish (a new motif or pattern, for instance) and everything I have to do (vacuum, juice the veggies, exercise) in there.

It's so flexible, you get to write in your own monthly tasks, include art pages, ideas, even affirmations, AND you can find them because you write in your own index! How genius is that?!

Anyway, it helps me to show up.

I've also taken on my own personal weekday challenge (weekends are for staying away from the computer). At the end of my work hours, I pick out a motif from whatever design I've been working on and I animate it. I recently took Skillshare classes in simple animation and decided that the only way I can get comfortable doing it is to practice animating something each day.

Nothing fancy, just Photoshop motion stuff. It helps if you don't have to start from scratch which is why I use elements from something I've already worked on.

This one, for example is from a new repeat pattern for a collection I'm working on.


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This next one took a whole afternoon because I got too ambitious. I decided to feature something I did that had nothing to do with art.


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The whole thing is new to me and while it does take a bit of time for me to finish something that lasts only seconds, it does inspire me to keep showing up.

How about you? What makes you show up each day?



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