It’s been a rough week or two. The image text is a bit deceptive though, I’ve been struggling not so much with doing something new but rather with falling back into bad habits. I let other people’s agendas, perceptions, and perspectives cloud my own mind.
I want to see if I can build something of my own. Create art that makes people smile and makes the world a little bit of a friendlier place, even if just for a few minutes. And earn a living with it. But what happened slowly since I left KARAKTER and more so in the past two weeks since I ended my “take it easy -vacation period” is that I let other people tell me that I won’t be able to earn money with my own art, that thus I should do something different. >> Oh it’s nice art, but I would never pay for that. <<, >>There’s no money in making people happy. … <<. That I’m such a good freelance artist, why would I not want to join their project? There’s a team that needs art direction, why not take it over since I obviously don’t have anything better lined up? I should do monsters, I should do character skins, do Riot-style, do mobile, women 50+ target audience, serious cute realism stylized military casual ….. Because I can do all of those things, other people want me to do those things and thus I should do them.
Which led to me doing “preemptive commissioned” portfolio work. Every morning I got up with the goal of creating another artwork that would catch attention and get me commission work. I was working feverishly, manically. I was doing work for unknown internet people that I had no interest in myself and I wasn’t even getting paid for it. I tunnel-visioned towards “You’re only worth something if the next artwork you do is something cool that other artists and game companies will like”. Read that again. “You’re only worth something if … other (people) will like”. I’m so thankful that through therapy, personal training, coaching, and a lot of work on my part I have learned to catch myself before slipping too far down this spiral. Those steps down are so familiar though, I walked this path so often, so many times. That dark place is still far easier to get to and feel at home than to believe in me and let myself feel happy.
I need to find a way to keep my own ideas in focus, to not let myself be distracted by other people so easily. Maybe physical whiteboards or something.
Coincidentally, it’s suicide prevention week in the USA. As good a time as any to reach out to the people around you and ask how they’re doing.
On Monday afternoon we had to suddenly say goodbye to our best friend, Elmo. Elmo was not the smartest cookie in the jar, but he was the sweetest. His sense of smell wasn’t worth much, but his imagination must have been glorious because he would create pools of drool long before he ever came close to finding whatever treat we had misplaced for him. And while we taught him silly things like “Sit”, “Paw”, “Wait”, and “Search” he taught us important skills like patience, attentiveness, appreciation for the joy of the moment and seemingly endless love. Elmo and I broke two chairs together, we decimated hundreds of amazon cardboards, spent at least an hour every Sunday afternoon possible napping together. There never was a vegetable that he could not intimidate into submission and we could not put together a puzzle for him that he was not able to solve through a deliberate, energetic pounce. We spent hundreds of euros on dog-toys and in the end his favorite one was an Ikea-bag. He was a goofball, he was amazing, he was lovely. He saved my life when I was at my darkest place earlier this year. I will miss the morning tummy-rubs, his midday reminders to us that there is no need for a clock because he knows when it is time to give him his food. I will miss his snoring, his derpy expressions, his huffs and puffs and his warmth against my feet when he was sleeping under my table while I was working. I will never get the chance again to turn my head and see him snuggled up to Maike on the couch. I miss him so much and there is a huge emptiness now where there was security he gave us through his presence in our lives. I often asked you “Who is a good boy”. I’m glad I told you just as often “You are the very best boy”. Thank you Elmo, for all the moments, all the memories, all the joy you gave us. Thank you for your love. You will forever be the very best boy.
Partly because I thought it might be interesting, partly for self-therapeutic reasons I created an “influence-map”. These artists did and continue to influence my own artistic development.
While doing this overview I realized that none of the cool conceptart.org artists had any lasting impact on me. I have some collections from that time, but I never turn to them when I need to rekindle my interest in art. Similarly, I appreciate a lot of traditional artists like Menzel, Sorolla, Sargent’s Watercolors, Repin, Alma-Tadema, Waterhouse, etc. but it’s “just” appreciation. On the other hand, less surprising is that artists like Henrik Fetz, Torsten Wolber, Igino and Roberto Freire who’ve helped me learn and grow in many ways continue to inspire me not only with the works that I got saved on my hard drive but with their current work as well.
It also shows that I don’t look at concept art (for movies or games) to be inspired, I prefer illustration. I appreciate the craftsmanship and the thinking behind concept art, but when I look to be motivated, I turn to interesting compositions, color-choices, interpretation, reduction & abstraction, storytelling.
Finally, even this condensed influence-map (my initial set was double what I collected here) shows that the stylistic inconsistency in my personal sketches comes from the variety of artists that inspire me.
This was an interesting exercise and while it left me with a few questions to work through in my head, it also helped me feel something positive about art again and motivated me to do art.