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.

Furthering education?

June 6, 2008

Ever since I graduated college, I’ve had this little old woman hanging on my back whispering ideas into my head. Her name is grad school, and she’s impossible to shake! My professors in college always said, ‘You should go to grad school! Why wait?’ I was never sure though. I still am not really; I’ve always been on the fence, and that unsurity has led to me not applying. On one hand, the appeal of going back to school is obvious– be around creative types, network, force myself back into the hectic createcreatecreate schedule school gives me by default, experiment, blaze new trails. On the other, there’s the negative: it can be so pricey, what if they don’t want to give me scholarships, it’s a big move, do I have to abandon certain things I have here, do I really need it?  I’m still not very convinced yet.

The other downside to grad school (at least for us illustration types) is that there’s so few programs for us. A couple of limited residency ones, and then it seems like SCAD, SVA, and MCAD. And the Academy of Art (I think?) in San Francisco. Of course SVA seems like the best route for some reasons, though to be perfectly honest now I don’t know how much I want to live in NYC. (AKA, why can’t there be a great illustration program in Portland?) I think regardless of all this I need to do some applying; if nothing else than to see how I’d fare in that grand lottery of art school admissions. I’ve been feeling rather down on myself lately– my artwork is all right, but i think I could be worlds better with time and effort applied. I certainly never feel confident enough to apply to any of those illustration contests like American Illustration or the Young Guns or whatnot. What I do know though is that I don’t feel like I’m working to the best of my potential– perhaps grad school could help with that? Anyway, we’ll see. I’m hoping that working hard til fall will leave me feeling a little more sure of myself and then putting together a portfolio will leave me in a positive frame of mind to see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted. And of course, any advice you might have about the whole thing is always appreciated.

***

In ‘always the last to jump on the bandwagon’ news, I finally got my hands on a copy of the book Art & Fear, and man! That book is so spot on and pinpointed all the creative neuroses I have. Which made me realize I’m not so all alone out there. There’s a whole world of fear-filled neurotic artists! It reminded me ways in which to combat all those worries I have about not being good enough or having envy over my fellow illustrators. If you haven’t read it, I definitely advise you to do so!  (Also a goodie: How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul, by Adrian Shaughnessy. Though I feel I’ve mentioned that one before. Very apt even for non designers!)

It’s June, which means that 2008 is nearly half-over! (Or is that really half-to-come?) Stay busy, pals.

The Distant Future.

May 30, 2008

I am officially the world’s worst blogger, I think. But this morning as I was running errands an idea popped into my head to write about– so here we go.

Head to a store and you’ll find prices jumping for food and supplies. The gas pumps are charging more all the time, flip on the news and you’ll invariably hear about airline expenses, businesses merging and cutting staff, the job search becomes harder and harder, and then there’s rationing… Whether we’re in a recession or not, things are changing and it’s not really for the better, at least not right now. It’s kind of depressing, but it started to make me wonder– how is it affecting illustrators?

Do you think our future is still bright? As the cost of necessities rises, will we still have much of a market? Will magazines discontinue (or switch to photography or stock) because they’re more like extravagances than food or shelter? I wonder. I would like to hope not– publications are my bread and butter! But I’m curious of your thoughts.

Also, how are things affecting you currently? I find that I’m spending a lot more at the post office mailing out artwork than I used to. Cost of plane tickets and fuel make me reluctant to travel (though I didn’t drive– used to bike til someone stole mine recently!), which means I have to cut out any public things like comic conventions or craft fairs. And then there’s the worry about the art I make to sell (as opposed to illustrations)– will people stop buying because they need to worry about more important things? I worry that somewhere along the line creative people will be out of work. I doubt a doctor will ever have that problem– but an artist unfortunately doesn’t have that same clout in society.

I may just be a worrywart right now, but I do wonder– how good will we have it in the next several years? And if there is a lingering concern, should we be considering a plan B? I honestly don’t know what I’d do besides what I do now! So tell me what you see and predict– the good and bad, because I want to know!