Motivation and Inspiration
Interview with Angela Sasser
Motivation and InspirationAsk an Artist
by Annie Rodrigue
With 2011 showing its nose, everyone tends to reboot or take resolutions. And I would be lying if I said it didn't apply to me, both as a person and as an artist. So I guess this month, it's not about someone asking me about a technical question more than asking ourselves those pesky questions that make us doubt if we are actually doing the right thing or aiming for the right goals as an artist.
What's your motivation? What makes you pick up the pencil/brush/tablet everyday to do your work?
There are questions that either pop up in my head all the time or sometimes people will ask me these in conventions too. Motivation is so hard to define in a single sentence. A lot of artists will say that they do art because they enjoy it and that this is their motivation. That's probably true for everyone, but there is more. What if you do this for a living? Is the pleasure of creating enough to keep you going? At the end of the day, when you've had enough of your job, but still have a deadline to meet, enjoying the process just doesn't cut it. There is this misconception that an illustrator/comic artist/animator/designer have it easy because they get to draw all day and drawing is fun and so they have fun all day! But the truth is, some days, you just don't feel like drawing at all, but work is work and you have to do it. So what is your motivation then, if enjoying the creative process is not knocking at the door that day?
The answer is probably different for everyone, and truth be told, I'm not quite sure what to answer today because I have been struggling a lot. One of the reasons for me would be the satisfaction of a job well done and that it was useful to my client. Another would be recognition. But recognition is tricky, because that means you need to listen to what others think of your work and we all know that we cannot please everyone. We are bound to get some not so great feedback and sometimes even very nasty ones. And the nasty ones are somehow always the ones we listen to the most. Am I the only one who does that? Lately, I've let someone dear to me make me believe that my work and my art was not important to me. (True story!) I was so convinced that this person was right that all motivation was gone. All because of one single comment! But you know what is odd? Only my personal work took a toll! That comment didn't affect my work because I still believed inside that I could be useful to my clients and get the job done.
I'm still baffled by this situation. The brain of an artist can work in very odd ways! But I think the solution is rather simple: motivation should never be fuelled by the people around you; it should be fuelled by yourself only. (Maybe I should print this and put it on my wall.)
Where do you find your ideas? What inspires you?
Inspiration is also something I think should come out of you most of the time. Of course, I get inspired by what is around me, my everyday life, nature, the city, animals among other things. And there are a ton of artists out there that I look up to and who's work inspire me also. But I have always been aware of the danger of getting inspired by others' work. More than once, I would be so overwhelmed by what someone else could do because I looked at it all day long trying to understand how they did. Then I would just give up on my work all together because I was convinced I couldn't pull it off. It's so easy to pick up a few art books from my library and look at artwork all day long just to realize after 8 hours that I haven't even picked up my pencil yet. While looking at others' work to give a boost is a good thing, it can be rather counterproductive if all you do is look and you never actually create! I've even seen people unable to ever try anything because they would like it to be just as good as this or that artist on their first try. Talk about pressure!
To actually counterattack this kind of problem, I tend not to look that much into an artist's work and more into their creative process if they are willing to share it either online or in a book. I've found that learning about a creative process can give me inspiration to try new things with my work, without comparing my actual painting with someone else's painting!
Here are a few blogs that I love to browse through when I need a boost:
Holli Conger: Holli Conger is a great children's illustrator and she is also a gold mine of information about career tips for illustrators, licencing and marketing your work! Just last December, she shared a tip every single day of the month to give starting illustrators a nice push in the right direction!
Art Order: Art Order is another great place for information, artist process and stories! They also offer challenges to anyone who wants to give it a try!
Indistinguishable From Magic: This blog is by Aaron Diaz (an amazing artist!) who shares with us all sorts of processes specifically related to comics. But it could really be applied to anything art related.
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