Monday, June 4, 2012

keeping up the creative energy

I promised Amanda Nichole I'd relay this question to all you after-hours artists out there: "How do you maintain the creative energy to do comics and illustration after 8 hour shifts of squeezing your brain for design day jobs? … I find myself doing so much critical thinking and design for marketing agency work and FanimeCon that my brain and body are totally drained by the time I get home!"


  1. I'll chime in on this, because it's something I've admired in people who do have the wherewithal to do things on the side after hours. It's tough. Between all of the other things tugging at our attention (work, family, obligations), it's hard to muster the energy that we were once able to devote to school. Here are two things I've found helpful:

    Most of the time, the last thing I want to do (at least on a week day) is sit down and draw. After getting home from work, doing chores, cooking/eating dinner, touching base with the kids and Mrs., I really just want to relax. And I've noticed now that I'm older, I start getting drowsy at 10pm, so late night creative work is usually unrealistic. BUT, I do find I am more productive early in the morning. I can get up before everyone else does and it can buy me a half hour to an hour of quiet time before I have to get ready for the day. And I get a little bit done. Obviously, it is a baby steps approach, but it has been working.

    Secondly, I think I don't seek the perfection from my work I once did—and I don't beat myself up for it not coming out at a professional studio pace. I think I've psyched myself out so many years with that mindset. I've come to realize it's more important to get the work out slowly than not at all. I think taking that kind of pressure off of myself has made the act of creativity more joyful for me. I'm doing it for the fun of it now. I've made peace with the fact that I'm not going to bust out a comic book every month (even every 4 months for that matter). I'll just keep plugging away 'til we git 'er done.

    That's what I love about the Yarns concept: we take a little bit of the pressure off of us by doing small stories and giving ourselves nearly a year to do it in. And we get the comaradery of encouraging each other as we all struggle through it.

  2. My two cents - the creative energy is always there, it just needs that opportunity to get out (i.e. mind never shuts up. ;) I grab whatever time I get to sketch, brainstorm, etc. especially with having a baby around. I've started offloading additional projects that I so like to bury myself in so that I only have a few things yammering for attention.

    My sketch pad pretty much follows me everywhere. I don't necessarily use it, but the opportunity is there. Say I have a ten minute break, I'll grab the pad and just jot down ideas or sketch. If something occurs to me when I am in the middle of work or something else, I'll note it on my phone's notepad or write it in my work notebook.

    I also consider this work separate from the day job stuff, so to me it becomes "fun time" or "me time". Sometimes I will put off doing a chore until the next day so that I can use that time for creative work.

    It seems like if you keep working on it little by little and try to not establish tight deadlines it is doable. Remember that this should be something that you enjoy and not feel pressured to get it done now. That's what we have our day jobs for. ^_^

  3. I'm a little late to this thread, but great thoughts on this Mario and Orysia.

    For me, the first thing that helps is coming to terms with what's realistic in terms of how often can I work, when's the best time of day, how much I can accomplish with each session, what I hope to accomplish at the end, etc. I also find that since the time that I do carve out tends to be one or two hour blocks it helps to think about what I'm going to focus on beforehand. I like to try and be specific about what I plan to work on, e.g. I'm going to spend 30 minutes gathering inspiration for the visual design of Character A and another hour sketching concepts based on what I found. Small, focused efforts over a long period of time can go a really long way allowing you to go both deep and broad.

    I also like to use brain downtime, i.e. when I'm doing menial tasks, taking a walk, in the shower, etc., to think about things like story, character and general planning/management. This goes a long way in helping jump start my efforts when i get to sit down and do some "actual" work.

    So, there you have it, my two cents on stretching creative energy.