I finally found the time to rebuild my portfolio website, and what a good time to publish it than in the new year. (Admittedly I’m two weeks late…working schedule, it’s still January).
I’m going to be honest with you, this is not a task I’ve enjoyed much and I used the small-incremental goal setting to complete it. Is it complete?…..I still haven’t published my general illustration examples.
Anyway, with the new year lots of people find it a good time to be reflective, as we often find ourselves with more time off. We all know 2020 been a pretty surreal and terrible year across the board…..and the beginning of 2021 isn’t looking much better. I still think been reflective is a useful mental health exercise, even if it’s just learning to reframe our experiences more neutrally.
One of the most powerful (abet obvious) lesions I have learnt this year is that negative thoughts build negative emotions. I’m not saying people need to be blindly optimistic, definitely not saying that. But there is power in the neutral and just banning hurtful words from you inner vocabulary makes a world of difference when you are spiralling a low mood.
It is easy to go through a bad year like 2020 and not see any worth or progress. I wanted to share a few of my achievements this year, just to highlight how things have changed on a a micro-level if not necessarily on a macro-level. I encourage you to do the same for yourself if you are equally feeling lack-luster about the future.
My 2020 (micro) achievements ….art related
I built a custom PC without any previous knowledge about how computers work.
I was very much a ‘don’t care how it works as long as it works‘ computer user. I had a Macbook air since my undergraduate degree. Macs are great for that kind of person. They are reliable, excellent build quality and stylish. I had very few issues with my MacBook to be honest, it is however a rubbish computer for art working. Sure, you can use it for those purposes, and I did for my masters degree but I think I hindered myself unnecessarily.
It took me a couple weeks of intense research, learning what components do and how to build a PC on my own. It was nerve racking and had a quite a major delivery issue with the first monitor that didn’t help with the anxiety. But I maintained the focus that if 12 year olds can build computers I can build a computer. It was worth it.
I’m quantifiably better at all the skills I learnt in 2019
I’ve had multiple job interviews where I have test artwork and if I can think back to my first competency test and my last one. The skills and knowledge I have gained in the adobe software is night and day. Familiarity with the programmes just comes with time and practice.
Its important for me to realise that prior to 2018 I practically had no digital art knowledge. This is all been learnt on my masters and I’m always continually learning and discovering what I enjoy.
Learning 3D modelling has helped with my art fundamentals more than years of traditional art training
With my new computer I have been able to dip into 3D modelling as that was one of the skills in my masters course I enjoyed immensely. I didn’t know the medium existed beforehand (I am not a gamer, I never had to think about these things).
I learnt 3D modelling on Zbrush which has helped transfer some knowledge into other software (subdivisions, boolean, etc.) but I had gaps in my knowledge because its largely a push and pull clay simulation. I’ve slowly been working on learning 3D modelling from the basics. With that I’ve had to learn light sources and textures from a material understanding which is very different from my experience with still life drawing. Its hard for me to explain concisely so maybe this would be a good topic for another blog! I feel like my understanding of creating artworks has increased the most it has ever and that’s exciting.
I can build good habits and am confident that I will create artwork in my downtime
The shift between being a hobbyist “drawer” and seriously pursuing illustration and design as a career is daunting. It is a different workflow and mindset to work on projects compared to picking up a pencil once in a while on a whim, and ‘workflow’ is probably an individual thing you need to learn on your own.
Although I was always complemented on my artistic flair, I have never regularly drawn as a habit. I went through peaks and troughs depending on my current interest or my employed status. Meaning that sometimes I wouldn’t create work for months at a time.
This year changed that and I realised that given the time, I will create artwork. I can set myself short-time and long-term projects and see them through. And most importantly, I can finish a drawing!
Its not worth learning a skill just because it looks good on your CV if you don’t enjoy it
Graduating can be a very insecure time. You are competing for jobs with people who may have decades of experience and every job listing may list a variety of skills. I fell into the trap of thinking I need to learn as much as I can, as fast as I can, so that I would be more employable.
This ultimately led to me being quite dishonest with myself and forcing myself to learn software I had no interest in learning. And whilst having a foundational knowledge is useful for times you may want to do a quick task. Forcing yourself to produce work you don’t enjoy doing is,
1). never going to look that good because your frustration isn’t going to help problem solve in areas you are finding difficult and
2). wreck your self-esteem and identity
as you wont feel like you are finding ‘your voice’ or passion in the work.
If you are left wondering “why am I doing this? I’m not enjoying this”….stop doing it then.