Project Monogamy

No, this isn’t an article about a crack commando raid or the grand plans for foreign invasion. Not really about world domination either. No, this is about something rather different. Probably a little less exciting, but we hope you’ll still find it to be interesting. Sorry if your hopes were dashed.

Often times, I’ll find myself knee-deep in a project, working feverishly to get it completed on some crude, near non-existent time-table that was cruelly self-imposed to drive me onward. And sometimes that works, it helps keep me focused so that I can get things done that need doing. And sometimes it doesn’t work.

But it’s usually during this time, when things do need to get done that I get an idea, a new project dawns on me. The perfect way to do something, something new and interesting. Whether this is exploring a completely new medium, diving head-first into something different that I’ve never tried or thought of before or if it’s just a new technique with an old skill that has nothing to do with what is at hand. Usually, this will lead into a whole new project and sometimes with the result of putting the previous one on the back burner, left to simmer for a time.

And that is okay. That is where project monogamy comes in. If you’re like us here at Indelible Ink Workshop, you’ve probably experienced it before to. The urge to tackle something else, something fresh when you probably know full well that you need to continue the one that you’re on. Maybe you feel guilty. Maybe you feel like you’ve abandoned it. But don’t.

There are many areas in life that Monogamy is necessary, many places where it is suggested in life and highly encouraged. Marriage and relationships are but some of many.

Art however is not one on that list.

Art is about doing what you like and seeing what happens. It’s about trying new things, new techniques and new ideas. Yes, there are tried and true methods, patterns, ways of doing things and certain things that you should know. Getting those things down will go a long way in insuring you some success in your artistic path. But they aren’t necessary nor do they guarantee anything. But that is another post for another day.

Unless you have an absolute dead-line and that candle is burning pretty close, you shouldn’t feel guilty about not completing your project right this very second. If you are an artist by trade, you should probably keep on track and get things done on a suitable time-table, but sometimes it’s a good idea to take a step back and work on something else, something completely different. It’s refreshing to work on a side project, it helps invigorate you, to get your creative juices flowing again – and sometimes it just might help to inspire a new way to complete an old project. Often times, it helps us to get another view on past projects, to see a new path. We can learn things from one project that will invariably help with another. That was why I said simmer on the back burner, not to let it just go cold.

There are those times though when you’ll want to stay on task. As stated earlier, its a pretty solid idea if you’re project is a work related one. You’ll want to stay dedicated to the task at hand, devoting your time to what the customer wants. And there will also be those times when you’re working feverishly on something great, something that you’re doing for your own enjoyment and you’ll want to pour every ounce of creative energy into it, putting your heart and soul into it and staying on till its finished no matter the cost. That is okay too. For some people, that is what works best and is completely understandable. So do what works for you, art isn’t science after all.

Usually by the time one thing is off my desk and stamped “done”, I’ve already gotten the next project lined up. Actually, the next two or three things that I want to work on, which helps me get motivated to complete the one that I’m on. But that isn’t to say that I won’t work on another project for myself on the side. It helps to keep things moving in the attic, get the cogs spinning again when I think their stuck.

Art is a wonderful thing, there is always something that you can do with it. There are so many different paths, so many different options and techniques, you should never honestly get board with it. Even if you lose interest in the project you’ve got before you, there will be a multitude of others just waiting for you to try.

So get out there and open the flood gates on your creative juices. You don’t have to work on just one thing at a time, so don’t feel guilty. Things may take a little longer to complete, sometimes a lot longer, but you’ll be able to put the quality in it that your project deserves.  Just roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath, smile and get ready to get your hands dirty – with another project.

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Why Not?

“Why Not?” are actually somewhat powerful words. They ask you to supply a good enough reason not to do something, to present a worthy argument against your fears. When asked, maybe you’d like to actually do it and you’re holding back or maybe you’d really rather not to and you honestly have a legitimate reason to hold back. But sometimes, as talked about in last week’s post, you have to take a deep breath, hold yourself steady and take the plunge.

There are in fact a good number of things to answer negatively to those words, that much is very true. For example (I shouldn’t even have to be supplying these, but), why not jump into a pool of sharks with sausages wrapped around your neck – and if I have to tell you why, I’m sorry… Standing outside in a thunderstorm holding a metal rod. Licking a car battery. Licking frozen metal. The list could go on – and does, but we’re not really interested in those sorts of questions, so, for now we’ll leave it at that. We already know the answers to those questions and most of them aren’t good ones or ones that we’d like to hear. Those are questions we shouldn’t be pursuing right now. We’ve got better ones to ask.

But there are a good number of questions that you should ask yourself “Why Not?” too. Why not start painting that picture that you had the idea for? Why not take out those pens and inks that you picked up a while back and see how they do? Why not go out for a while and take some pictures in the early sunlight or just at dusk like you’ve thought of doing before? Why not?

Those are the questions that we are interested in at the moment. They don’t all have to be related to art or artistic pursuits; it can be applied to many areas of our daily lives. Why not pull out that recipe you’ve been wanting to try? Why not go out for a Sunday afternoon drive? Why not try that new game that you’ve been wanting to?

You may answer those same questions with “Well, I’m not that artistic…”, or “I’ve never really done anything like that before, so I’d probably not be any good at it…”, or even “Why should I, there are so many people better at it than I could ever be…”

Those are not the right answers. At all. They are the right questions, but certainly the wrong answers. And believe me, I’ve heard them all.

Maybe you don’t feel like you actually have the time – and maybe you don’t right now. That would be a legitimate answer – but one day you will. Maybe you feel like you’ll get lost in the shuffle and become a part of the white noise. Maybe you think that you’re not good enough or that you’re just going to botch it up because you’ve never done anything like it before. Well, who’s to say you’re not going to mess it up the first time?

And who is to say that is a bad thing? It actually really isn’t a bad thing – it can even be a good thing. It’s how we learn as humans. Not succeeding isn’t a bad thing – it just means try again, it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or that you are a failure. You just have to pick yourself up again and try one more time. Unless you’re dealing with nuclear particles or explosives of some sort, you’re usually allowed to have another try.

So what if the first picture you paint looks like you dropped the paint pallet on the canvas and decided to add some darker spots to shadows – in the wrong places? So what if your drawing looks more like a stick figure than a lesson in human muscular structure? So what if your photos are out of focus and grainy, capturing only half of what you wanted and your thumb is obscuring the frame? Or perhaps you forgot the lens cap.

“So What?” are powerful words too. They are a good counter to all those negative answers you might get.

You can paint over it or try another canvas. You can study what you’re trying to draw and grab a fresh piece of paper or just use the eraser. You can reload that camera and give it another go.

Too often we forget just what we are capable of if we set our minds to it. Too often we give up before we even try. Trust yourself and you can accomplish anything.

Your Worst Critic

Artist are a large and rather diverse lot – actually, the most diverse lot there is! They come in all shapes, all sizes, all walks of life. They draw their inspiration, their ideas, their concepts from a million different sources. Each one is as unique as the next. They come from all over the world, from every corner of existence. Each one has a different way of doing the exact same thing and a different medium to dabble in. Some have dedicated their whole lives to their trade, others have only just picked up the tools of their interest, eager to ply their way to fame or just to have some fun. But as diverse as each one is, they all share one thing in common – at least a majority of them anyway.
An artist’s worst critic is the artist themselves.

True, there are some bold ones out there – and good for them, secure in their confidence and knowledge that they are indeed the best of their trade – regardless of whether or not this is indeed fact or merely their idea, its real enough for them and that is what counts.
It doesn’t matter to them, their work is good regardless of what anyone thinks of it. And that isn’t a bad mentality to have regardless of how good the actual product is, so long as the artist is enjoying themselves.
But for the majority of artists out there, or at least the ones that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, they have all wondered if their work was good enough, always wanting to do another touch here or another drop of color there. That isn’t a bad thing either, wanting to go the extra mile or two to make sure their work is the best it can be or at least do everything that they can do to make it that way. But you should never question your work to the point that you don’t share it.
Sharing your art, your work, your passion is the best thing you can do with art. It isn’t a spectator sport, it’s a get your hands dirty and grin sort of affair. It isn’t what makes you an artist, sharing your work – you are, by definition and truth already one if you have made art, even if you are withholding it from your eager audience.
Sharing your art is a good idea, showing it off, letting people know and see what you do and what you are capable of. You should have the mentality of the child showing their parent the picture you drew, the one that they want hung on the fridge, proudly displayed for all to see.
When you share your art, when you get over the initial fear of criticism, the better you will be. Criticism isn’t bad – especially when its constructive-criticism. There is a big difference between criticism (or constructive criticism) and just knit-picking, a rather large difference. When you share your work, when you take that plunge, along with all the negative, there comes the positive, the comments (those are the good ones). You hear what people think of your work, how much they like or dislike it. And most importantly, you hear their take on it and a few new techniques. It’s good to have your own way of doing things and figure things our for yourself, but it’s always a good idea it be able to talk to someone about your passion and get their suggestions for improvement. Not all of them are going to work for you, that is true of anything really. But between the ones that won’t work, there are a good number that will and that you’ll love.

You don’t have to just go run out there and start showing off your latest painting or drawing on the streets, running up to someone and spinning them around with your work. That is actually a terrible idea and will probably not help facilitate a future in art – at all.
And you shouldn’t expect to see your work emblazoned on the billboards in Time-square either, at least not right away. But if you work hard enough, you practice your trade, you may just get there one day.
There are many good places to share your work, especially if you are looking for suggestions, input and constructive criticism. There are actually many websites solely dedicated to sharing your art with many devoted communities just waiting to see what you’ve got and to discuss it with you.
One great website if you are looking is Deviant Art. It’s a great place to start if you’re an amateur looking to simply get your feet wet and share your art or if you’re a serious professional with a portfolio a mile wide, it doesn’t matter. They’ve got plenty of discussion areas and people who look forward to seeing what all you’ve made, eager to hear how you did it and to make some suggestions for future projects.
A word of caution though, when dealing with the internet and forums, you should make sure that your work is perfectly marked. This prevents people from stealing it and also to make sure that you get credit for it. Watermarks are your friend.
The world didn’t get where it was over night and that is a very important lesson to learn, the sooner the better. It took time. Lots of time.
Nobody started off a legend, nobody got where they are today by simply picking up a pencil – they got their by picking up that pencil and picking it up and picking it up again and again till they got where they wanted to be. It took practice, many hours of patient practice.
As clichéd as it can be, Michelangelo didn’t just decide one day that he would paint the Sistine Chapel, thinking he would just throw some paint up there and see how it looked. In reality, it took him years to plan and years more to paint. It was a massive undertaking, carefully and thoughtfully done. It was also one of his last works, meaning he had plenty of experience and practice under his belt before he even began the project. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do something that will be remembered throughout the ages as something spectacular. It just means that you have to try to remember that being thought of as one of the greats throughout time immemorial isn’t a tangible or worthy goal, but to create great works that you love and have a passion for is more than a worthwhile goal, its something to go after.
You just have to try.
So go share your art, pull it out from hiding and let the light shine on your creations, let your yet to be adoring audience let you know what they think of your passion. Take a
break from being your own critic, let someone else have a turn. You may just like what you
hear.
I assure you, it can’t be as bad as what you would have it. You can rest assured of that.
And remember, Everyone, Everywhere started somewhere and at sometime.
There is only one way you can improve. Take the plunge.

New Prints that You’ll Love!

As promised, we’ve got another round of prints available for purchase in the shop!
There are plenty of great, inspiration prints this time around – Even an extra print, one more than we mentioned in the last post that should help people realize how lucky they are to be among the privileged few to visit your home.
We’ve got more things coming down the pipelines, more prints and maybe a few other products soon as well. So remember to check back often for news and updates. Till next time, keep doing what you love!
You can find all of our new prints in the Indelible Ink Workshop Etsy shop

The Internet, Art, and the Freedonian Market

It’s an interesting thought, how the world has become so connected in the past one hundred years, how the social networks and internet have both completely revolutionized the way we as humans interact, how we deal with each other, and how we communicate our thoughts and ideas. They have their perks and drawbacks to be sure, but for the time being both appear to be staying right where they are – if not growing substantially. They have invariably tied us all together, weaving quite a literal web about us – and yes, there may have been just a little pun intended. They have brought us together, all across the globe, as a whole, more than ever before.

For the first time ever we’ve been able to have nearly instantaneous communication with anyone, anywhere. We’ve never had the luxury of debating the price of eggs in China and actually being able to simultaneously find out just how much they really are, proving you right (or wrong) instantly. There are, without a doubt, a number of far more useful applications for the internet, such as research, medical advice, educational purposes, online dictionaries and reference material comprising hundreds of thousands of man hours, and humor all clearly being toward the top of the list – things for which it was clearly designed for.

With the communal web way that we’ve seemed to have woven, we’ve been tied together – for better or worse. Things that impact one country won’t long be overlooked, what affects one nation will soon ripple across the web and alert us all, like a fly hitting a spider’s web, sending out those thrumming vibrations that will soon attract the masses. And it doesn’t take long for something to become a literal overnight success, attaining instant stardom in the blink of an eye. What took years or decades before can happen in the blink of an eye.

Its true, that to an extent, our economies, as with ourselves, have been tied together. We’ve truly become a global market. When one country hurts, its likely others will feel the effects soon enough. And when the market crashes in Freedonia, you can bet top dollar that the people of Sylvania will soon hear about it and react accordingly – in no small part due to the internet. It doesn’t really matter if they are next door neighbors or thousands of miles apart when the internet is involved.

As our economies and lives have been linked inexplicably together, so to have our hobbies with them, our interests and our crafts. And this can be a truly great thing where art is concerned, tapping into the vast creative potential offered up and the talents and know how of some very skilled, very creative people. Some of it can get lost in the shuffle to be true, but every little bit does help in the end. Tutorials, examples, concepts, ideas, techniques, tools. There are a lot of good uses out there. And just like any tool, the internet can be used in hundreds of ways.

But right now the world has entered a time when funding is in short order, a time of economic recession. During these times, things can get tight and very difficult. People are starting to be more frugal, looking how they budget, how they spend their money and to what ends it goes to. And this doesn’t just affect one nation – its spread out to us all. While we’ve been bound together for better or worse, we’ve also been tied together for richer or poorer. Thankfully it’s usually around this time when people start looking into other methods of doing things, more hands on and artistic approaches.

It’s a good feeling when you can step back and see something that you’ve made, whether your creation is for many people or simply something that you made for your own enjoyment. It’s during times like this when people need art to brighten up their lives, to bring a smile and spark creativity. If we can go that extra mile to put that one extra little embellishment in our project, it usually brings a smile to our faces and another idea with it. By putting just a little more effort into our project, we can have that effect, that inspiration for the next project before this one is even finished. On top of making things a bit more interesting for our daily humdrum, art is also a great release. It offers us a creative outlet, an activity to get our mind off the daily things that drive us mad. A blank piece of paper can be a great therapy, one with limitless potential. And sometimes all we really want to do is get our hands dirty and do something worthwhile.

Right now, all across the world, people are looking back into different techniques, more hands on approaches. The saying is true, fortune favors the brave – and especially right now. We just have to try, but more importantly, keep trying. It’s fine and dandy to try, and fail once, then walk away, but to keep trying is really the challenge.
What you do doesn’t have to be much, it doesn’t have to be big either. You just need to keep doing what you love to do and make it work for you.