Is one of the artists I watch and was nice enough to write this article and let us post here in MA. Please check it out. This has a lot of great information for those serious artist out there!Art-life Tips i Wish I Knew Sooner
2. talking to pro's
3. Portfolio building
4. Your worth on the market
5. A professional style
6. Dealing with success pressure
8. Healthy/sane art-life
9. How to practice
10. Studio space?
11. Dealing with art anxiety
12. Your media Diet
13. A support base
15. Planning Power!
16. Dont think, do.
17. Quick ways to improve your art
18. Quotable moral boosters0.introduction
So I totally wanted to write some shit I wish had known about being a craftsman.
Artist, writer, sculpter, painter, illustrator or whatever, lord knows we all could use some help.1.Workspace
So ill start with setting up your workspace. (Its like lingerie for your art!) Make a work place that draws you to it and use tools you enjoy picking up. The most important part of any medium is “Ass To Seat Time”, time spent doing.
Here is where you give yourself permission to suck, hate what you do, and make a complete ass of yourself. Occasionally that's the reality of the situation, but your first and most important job (like with any job) is to show up to work, sit down and take a crack at it. So make it to that seat, pick up your tools and get cracking!2.talking to pro's
You must talk to people in your line of work. Most people in your field will be pleased to talk to someone with similar interests. The sort of celebrity professionals that don't enjoy talking wont make themselves available to start with. (plus there's a sort of pride and nostalgic value to being praised.)
Bring your portfolio with you to show off. (Its not egotistical. You must find your target audience and get feedback.) When you run across a respectable professional, be honest and talk to them.
If your no good with words, try “Excuse me,” or “if your not too busy," -i really respect your work as a (X)- or -i heard you were into (X), could I get you to look at my portfolio?” Its alright to ask a professional for there time, its even a bit of a tradition. Don't hold them up forever and thank them for their time when you're done.
The only thing they DO NOT like is being asked for advice that is quickly discarded. (>is a guilty culprit.<) If you don't agree with what they are saying, that's fine. Ask them about where their perspective comes from. No piece of advice from a pro should go to waste. Even if your sure their perspective wont work for you, it doesn't make it invalid.3.Portfolio building
(Here's a hard one.) Building a portfolio is difficult, but for me its like adding medals to a trophy room. A portfolio can be online or presented as a book, but both should fill the role of galley and resume.
As a gallery you want your best works on display. Wow people with technical skill, or inspire them with the power of your vision. (hopefully both at once >w<) Try to organize your work so it complements itself, whether its photos of pottery, or an illustration.
The two composition styles I like best are;
I. |conceptual design page| Finished piece|
The concept designs can be for the piece in question, or works of a similar topic or design.
II. |Finished piece A| Finished piece B|
There should always be some feature that connects A and B. (like color scheme or layout)
Its good to make a dominant piece and a complementary piece.
When doing a writers portfolio, use tittles that invoke strong imagery or a short introductory property synopses. A handful of one to four page stories, journals, and articles display your skill without asking hours from your reader. If you have a high page count story that shows off your stamina put at the back. A portfolio is for browsing, not attacking people with. That said, ALL published pieces should be included with your resume. (yes even if they suck.)4. Your worth on the market
Judging our worth to the market. (the most intimidating part of art.)
Let me start by saying ART DOES NOT PAY. Or rather, you'll be here a long time before this business pays out. You'd make more with a average job and a skill for saving. That said, the advantage of a craft skill is that you take it with you. Job opportunities open as your reputation spreads, and you cant be fired from being a craftsman.
Most who make money from their art do so through taking on big projects with other people. When your asking yourself whether or not your skills good enough, consider instead what part you would take in a big project. Are you a director? An assistant? Are you happy with small jobs? Are you a designer? The lead artist? Or are you the one who coordinates the whole thing.
For any of craftsman to succeed they will need the help of others; be they customers, emotional support, managers, or assistants in big projects.
Its really easy to get competitive and disheartened when looking through big gallery exhibitions, art books (or ever browsing deviant art XD) But there are a lot of skills needed in the art world, and no one is good at all of them!
People say 'love what you do' because its what gets you through art blocks, a bruised or swollen ego, and competitive pressure. Always press to develop your skills. But keep this in mind; From the perspective of someone hiring, you want the right piece for the job, not the biggest shiniest piece on the market. Anyone that is hiring you wants you to fill a role efficiently, big or small. So no mater where you are in the machine, be the right piece for the job.5. A professional style
Any style can be made to look professional if the final product is Clear and Dynamic. Clear writing, clean line art, a good finish, symmetry, all of these things require confidence and a clear vision of your final design. (These are your tools to continuously evolve as an artist.)
Artistic dynamics can be argued from every angle, but what I look for is a balance of contrast and symmetry; points in a design that balance or offset other points of construction. What -really- makes a piece full of dimension and expression is a matter of taste.
Keep a journal of things that stimulate your imagination. In this journal there are no censorship or copyright laws, so run wild. Collect enough inspiration and it will break down into tools. This is how you construct something entirely new.
Copying something directly is plagiarism,
copying lots of things is standard practice.6.Dealing with success pressure
Once your immersed in a trade you'll notice your kind of stuck. When artists realize that making money requires socializing, time management, and other things they could never get the hang of, art stops being fun. When it starts feeling like work, the first thought is 'so why not just get a real job that pays better'. Yeah, fair enough, and for some people, that may be just what you need. For the rest of us however, the answer is cause this is the job we wanted.
Im gonna take a brief tangent to say, art is not just a means to live by, its a method of communication. Dont spend ten years writing a book, forging it out of blood sweat and tears for money, recognition, or fame. Do it cause you want to share what inspires you. (Other good reasons are to> preserve cultural traditions, express ideas, or present as a token of devotion to the craft)7.Art-ego
The greatest fear stems from this thought. “Oh dear god, I gave you all that I had and more, the best years of my life!! If this isnt good enough, I dont know what is!”
A craftsman preforms their craft.
DO NOT have your art become a reflection of your self worth. Once a piece is done, it is its own thing. Like children, once they've grown up, there is only so much we can do.
If your worried about peoples reactions, talk to your target audience -before- you publish a work. (And listen to what they say.) Otherwise, make the piece for its own sake. Its not impossible to fluke a classic work of art, but most people have to do it the old fashioned way; a long time spent fucking things up and using advice to do it better next time.
Your potential talent lies in dedication to the art form, not your current level of skill. Be in love with the art form rather than your place inside it. (Practice makes perfect, you know!).8 Healthy/sane art-life
Now that ive said how important it is to love your craft above your creations, my next point is a little contradictory. In order to stay sane, balance your art form with another hobby. If you dance, then try painting. If you paint, try martial arts. Its a good idea to balance a stationary job with a physical hobby. Or a physical job with a relaxing hobby.
A healthy body will help you keep a stable mind,
A stable mind will help you keep a healthy body.
So take care of your self. You know, three healthy meals a day. Go for walks. Get some sunshine. See a good doctor. Get a back rub from a friend ect. ect. Overworking yourself will just kill the joy.
(Distance makes the heart grow fonder. ^.^)9. How to practice
If you could talk to De Vinci and say 'Man your the greatest' he would probably say 'Yeah, but I don't hold a candle to Aristotle'. No mater where you are in your art career, there is further to go. Banging your head against this thought gets no one anywhere.... Unless your wearing a steel helmet!
My approach to 'upping my game' goes like this; I must have a clear goal to achieve. 'I wanna be good at art' are words that will swallow you whole if you let them. Instead I pick a topic and study like it was a COMMAND FROM GOD.
Instead of the vague 'I wanna be good at art' try 'I want to be good at anatomy', or proportions, or perspective. Have a role model that you want to be as good as. Study what they can do. Copy what they can do. Find out how they got there and who inspired them. If its a big subject, break it into bite sized chunks (torso construction, arm muscles) and PRACTICE YOUR ASS OFF! I mean it! Dont cry, WORK. And don't say 'awe but I suck and its been ages'. Just keep going! (i have 'Dont cy, WORK' written above my work desk. Its like magic.)
Most of all, dont practice occasionally. Do it all the time! Spend every second you can to a goal you understand. 'You want to do a baseline like that one from the Red Hot's'. Then you practice the damn baseline. Its time to get aggressively passionate! Break things into parts you can understand. I spend about a week to a month (Martial arts montage!!!!) just working on the same problem area in my art until I can emerge screaming. 'I AM KING!!! (or queen in my case.)
The biggest improvement in my art was making a list of everything I wanted to be good at, and collecting reference of people I thought did it best. I worked out a study plan, and stuck to it in ways you wouldn't believe. (if that study plan was a person, I would have a restraining order by now.)
It took me three years to feel like I was at the head of my game. At any stage of your art, you can do this kind of thing. The start date is once you've picked a list of things to improve on. When you put yourself through these training sessions you must have emotional resilience, stamina, and a mind for problem solving.10. Studio space?
Now, separate your home life from your work life. This is a job, and like any job you need to be able to go to work. (Keyword go.) The trick to big endeavors pacing your self. Once your in your work space, the rest of your world should disappear. 'Ass to seat time' starts and your favorite tools should be in your hands and moving. Microphone? Pencil? Sculpting tool? The trick is to pick it up.
(I hold mine for comfort. >w<)
The best thing is a studio outside of your house. You can also make a workshop/studio space in your house. The important thing that this place is different in your head from your day-2-day life. (I like that mine is in town. It gives me a station in town and I find urban environments inspiring. I also walk there early in the day for regular exercise.)
Again, make sure this space is one that calls to you. Put things around your desk that you enjoy playing with. (They are distractions, but I give you permission to take small brain breaks.) So long as your getting 'ass to seat' time and wiggling your tools around, you will see progress.
(I style my space off the classic otaku mangaka look. Anime posters, soft toys and figureines, manga everywhere, and lots of how to art books. Mind you, I dont have much in the way of disregarded energy-drinks and trash, but im like that.)11. Dealing with art anxiety
You know the biggest scariest part of a roller-coaster? (its not the top, that's the fun bit!) Its that last bit of line right before you get on. Starting a big project -is- that place in line. The people behind you are saying, 'get on the damn roller coaster!' Your guide has seen your type before and just want you to make up your mind. 'get on or get out the line buddy'.
There is no line. There are no attendants. Your here cause you want to be. Its not a roller-coaster and you can stop at any time you want. You know what that means? No one is watching. You can take this ride as many times as you like.
Most artists at the top of their game make a lot of stuff they don't publish. Some good, some bad. Some is flat out embarrassing. They are people who have gotten the hang of the game, but they are just people. Be the same. Make shit, and if something looks like it has potential to be taken further, then do so.
(Man I do a lot of moral rants XD) 12.Your media Diet
My next point is about your media diet. This is my own terminology so far as I know it. But what it refers to is what you feed your creativity. If your brain is like an information kitchen, then art is like cooking.
So, your looking at a blank slate. You..
A. Get started right away, totally even finish something. But at the end your completely uninspired.
B. Start something and it turns out alright, but its the same old thing you always do.
C. Stare blankly and get.... nothing.
D. Oh god! it just gets worse and worse!!!
The first three belong exclusively to a poor media diet. The last one is low self esteem and lack of vision, due to a poor media diet.
Lets work on A. This is good. If you at least have enough in your kitchen to make a meal (finish a piece), that means your being fed. Get more ingredients. You know that journal I mentioned keeping earlier? Yeah, use one of those. Be on the look out and grab -anything- that inspires you. The act of scribing inspiration and ideas down is a part of the creative process. These are your tools and without them... well... its like trying to replicate Rembrandt using a stick and sand (on a beach at high tide!)
B. So you've mastered something. You now own the greatest tool for getting you hired. Dedication. If what you do comes to you naturally, your just as lucky; this means you have talent. If what your doing seems samey, this is a good sign. You are ready to for the next big advancement in your art. So pick your next subject to study, and attack vigorously!
C. If you honestly get nothing, then you my friend, are as unshaped as your blank slate. This is still good. You'll need to spend some time seeing what inspires you. If you have some inspiration, don't feel it needs to be a full project. Doodle ideas, write an outline. Play with your materials. What your in need of is lots of experimentation. This to me is the most romantic stage of art. (like courting!) All the possibilities are still mysterious.
The other C. is that you dont like the ideas that spring to your mind. Afraid to copy? Have performance anxieties? Worried about the contents of your head? Are your ideas more violent, profane or perverted than you would have liked to admit to?
Spend some time dredging the bowls of the internet. Once your done you will feel a bastion of delightful creativity. There are thousands of people publishing worse stuff than you every day. Often getting payed good money for it. (Sometimes in lagit' ways!) And what you do doesn't need to be published. The process is just for you, and you decide if you want to share with the rest of the world.
D. Just keep going. Once your done don't look. Turn it upside down. Cover it in a sheet. Keep doing this. Keep going out of sadism and then hide the evidence around the house. When you see an old project scream like you just found a spider and cry like you accidentally murdered a pet. Eventually your bound to notice (how fun screaming is. I mean,) that its really not that bad.
Keep that journal handy. Always be scribbling in it, about your day, things you've seen, ideas you've had. (Plan out projects, even if you know you'll never get round to them.) Watch a video. Read a book. If it sucks, actually write down what you would have done to fix it (or make a note of those common pitfalls). Try expanding where you would have taken a failed concept. If you like what you see, totally catalog your favorite parts.
Go to video shops, and libraries. Pick stuff up. Make a regular event of it. Grab stuff your curious about. Pick up things that catch your eye. If all else fails, roulette select something random. I like youtube browsing and wiki trolling any information im curious about. When I see something I like I make a note of it in my journal.13. A support base
And ten! *reads check list* A support base is the other half of staying sane. Like having a place of your own to work in, having colleges quells cabin fever. (I <3 Alliteration) Even if your the aloof sort, go get more 'aloof sorts' to hang with. Networking skills is about 3 on the list of things I still want to know more about.
You can pretend your totally gonna get discovered while hiding in your basement. Its a romantic thought, but its faster to go out and say, 'DISCOVER ME!!!' While holding up a portfolio of what your capable of. Faster still to walk up to your prospective target and say 'Excuse me sir (or madam), do you mind discovering this portfolio of my work?'
Get into art events even if you think everyone there totally sucks and your way better then them. (or perhaps that you suck and that everyone there is way better then you.) Unless a place is costing you far more then what you get back, getting involved is priceless. If you ever want to become a part of a production team, or lead projects, you'll have to know the kind of people you'd potentially be working with.
>Quick tip to popularity. Accept what people have to say. I'm not saying you have to agree, just understand what they've said. (from the non 'your an idiot' point of view) My favorite diplomatic statement is “Hmm, I see it this way... -insert rant-” or “Yeah! On the flip side... -insert contradictory statement-”
The first statement parallels different perspectives. The other says 'while im not invalidating your thought, I have one of my own'. If all else fails, try the old, 'We'll have to agree to disagree'. Works a charm every time.14.Publishing
Publishing is where my knowledge becomes purely hypothetical as i've only sold self published works. But keep production costs as low as possible and move numbers! Now' the time to find this product its target audience and let em have it!
Your job as an artist is done, now you are in the marketing biz. If this isnt something you really enjoy, you want a manager. This person must be able to edit your works, get your name out there, and reliably move numbers. This is an important person to be able to level with so try no to let your relationship become too dramatic.15.Planning Power!
The power of drafting out your ideas is amazing! If you can stick with a plan to the end (even a bad one) you will know success.
If its a big project spend some time with a big piece of paper, and another piece to make small notes on. Quickly (I say an hour max) Write down every little piece of inspiration you had. Start with the most vivid things in your mind.
Make a process outline. For a writer this is a beginning, middle, and end. For a painting, its the shape, idea, or major colors of the picture. For a scultor, this is the front back and sides of your design. Sketch quickly. Portray your ideas, not your skill.
(Most ideas are impatient and wont wait for you to get lost in details that can be fixed later).
Next, arrange a time frame. (An ETA if you will.) If its going to take a day, know what you can finish in an hour. If its a weeks work, know what you would expect to finish in a day. If its a months work, know what you can get done in a week. (And so on.)
Its good to pace yourself, But what I suggest is setting an “optimal time frame” a 'realistic time frame' and '-after about here I would just give up- time frame'. If you honestly can't finish a project, take a break. Start a smaller one you know you can finish. This will rekindle your momentum. It can also help you isolate problems on a smaller scale16.Dont think, do.
All sorts of distractingly philosophical question come to mind while your working on a project. Like, 'Who am I really doing this for?'
'If this is as hard as any other job, why don't I get a better paying one?'
'Why am I doing this? I dont want to be doing this?'
Once you've started, don't stop. Whatever this distracting part of your mind is (insecurity, boredom, a nagging parent) find what it takes to distract it while you work. Some people have the radio or TV going. You can sing or hum. If its a nagging parent turn on a stopwatch and see how long you can keep them nagging for. (my record time is 4 hours. Beat that!)
When you really get into a project you will forget about time. (its like... i'm in the zone man.)17.Quick ways to improve your art
The fastest way to improve is to replicate works by your favorite professional. (its harder then it sounds!) Once you can do that reliably branch out. Only things you've finished can go in your portfolio. So don't rest too much pressure in what an idea might potentially become.
Also, THERE IS NO GETTING GOOD FAST.
It takes a certain amount of failed attempts to see progress. (100's in my experience)
There are no real tricks, just practice, and more practice. (1000 hours to master a skill)
The best trick you could pull is creating works nonstop for the rest of your life.18.Quotable moral boosters
Perfection requires attention to little triumphs, and a lot of time banging your head against a wall. So have patience with your craft. When your starting out everything you do will be experimental pieces and personal works. Find out what you want and do what it takes to get there.
In the end you work for yourself. Do for the love of the doing.
When art pours out your seems, you can catch some now to inspire yourself later.
No matter where you are in the ocean of art there is always a bigger fish. But no worries, there is room enough for all of us. :]