On the precarious topic of balance…

June 10, 2008

It’s been kind of quiet here at HQ– no big freelance jobs knocking on my door, but so I’ve been trying to keep busy and get work accomplished– slowly putting together a website and taking care of numerous little things on my to-do list, and as such I’ve looked at the most recent bio I’ve written for myself. First and foremost, what’s the first statement about me? I confess that I’m a jack-of-all-trades. I don’t think I can really help it– I have a lot of interests, and I doubt I could say I’ve mastered or will master any of them! Illustrations, comics, 3D needlefelting, sewing (more of a recent pursuit though), and screen printing, and that’s just off the top of my head, not counting all the things I’ve tried and failed, or the things I do casually (web-site building, for one). And of course several of those things (like screen printing or comics) have multiple internal processes of their own! Despite all that, I’m always wanting to learn more, do more, take more on my plate. But of course– too much on one’s plate and you’re left daunted about how to accomplish it.

We’re a society of multitaskers now; and this is pretty awesome and frustrating too. Instead of doing one thing (and doing it excellently, arguably) we’re spread out all over the place, dipping our hands into different pools and making wonderful ripples. Or if you’re in my case, making the starts of ripples but never finishing them. My love of exploration has left me wondering where my focus is, and left me wondering how to manage it all. Take a step into my studio and you’ll see pages of started projects, half-finished printmaking endeavors, and pages of plans and plots. I think this is one reason if nothing else why my previous thoughts of grad school were in my head– hoping that somehow an institution will force me to buckle down and complete something. (Not to mention that while I appreciate everyone’s positive thoughts about my abilities, I can’t help but shake the idea that my growth over the last year or so has been a lateral move.This might just be me though.) It’s the hardest thing in the world for me to focus on just one thing, and do it well.

And the other curse of having a vivid imagination coupled with a hard time knowing when to finish something? Well, my imagination likes to go on a trip and think of all the other possibilities of things I could be doing, things I’ve always wanted to do. Practicing lettering! Making repeating patterns! Drawing just about anything! My brain goes on overdrive and working on project A becomes a true test of wills.

I like to think that everyone’s like this– but I’m really not sure. At the same time I try not to berate myself for being all over the place, because I have a lot of interests, and it’s who I am. In a weird way this kind of spread-out view is my way of balancing– because with too much focus, I wouldn’t see myself growing, and with too little, I wouldn’t get too far either. It doesn’t mean that things are easy of course– I get pretty exhausted just from the mental workout that creativity provides. And I constantly find myself wanting an extra self/pair of hands/ten hours a day just to improve things But I guess the lesson is that’s okay, even if it means I’m like this unto old age.

What about you, are you a multitasker at heart? Or do you work on one thing predominantly until it’s done and then move on? How do you balance all the things you want to do when time gets in the way? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


9 Responses to “On the precarious topic of balance…”

  1. Bruce said

    Ha, ha, this hits close to home, but for me, with all of the different things that I want to do are scrambling around in my head looking for a place to settle and come into focus, gridlock happens. And then nothing gets done.

    Pathetic, I know.

  2. Megan said

    I am EXACTLY the same. I have so many different creative interest, its very hard to get my muse to sit down and stay focused. I am currently trying to train her to stay focused long enough to complete a task. I think my word next year will be “complete”

  3. Amy said

    I’m the same way too — I get a lot of ideas in my head, and sometimes I think that I’m not concentrating enough on one thing to make myself better at it. The guilt trip is a little unnerving, but I think I’ve decided to embrace it and go with the flow of things for now. Thank you for starting this up again!

  4. Thanks for starting this up. I will look forward to your next post. I like knowing I am not the only one over whelmed sometimes.

  5. Eli Harris said

    Feelings mutual. Recent studies show multitasking actually shortens a persons lifespan. Scary thought since that’s what illustrators do for a living. I think illustration is the marketable aspect of our creative self, all the other things are made possible by sustainability through our work. It’s in our nature to seek out new things and keep ourselves busy. We thrive on our need for further enrichment. Thanks for posting this blog. It really does help.

  6. Priesianityestasuark said

    twxmsthkolvqvivdwell, hi admin adn people nice forum indeed. how’s life? hope it’s introduce branch 😉

  7. Ryan said

    I am always on the precipice regarding this. On the one hand, I am proud of my range of interests but at the same time I am also wary of my propensity to leave things undone because I get bored easily.

    For the past two years I was very manic about never leaving an artwork until it was done, because I worried it would be another one of those things I would never finish. These days I’m a little more moderate, knowing that I can always just revisit an old artwork that’s been gathering digital dust in my hard drive.

  8. Ryan said

    Also, this is painting with broad strokes, but I find that when I multitask my work suffers, while my fiancee (and most other women I know) multistask like demons.

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