started drafts of more posts on inspiration, world building etc. unfortunately, i draw a lot faster than i write and type.
in the meantime, here are some excellent pointers from jillian tamaki (i put in a few additional notes in bold):
"Step 1. BE INTERESTED. - Consume media. Participate in culture. Read books, go to movies, the news, fashion magazines, stupid blogs, etc. Browse the bookstore just for the hell of it. All of this contributes to our personal visual fabric. Soon you will be CONTRIBUTING to this world. – Find inspiration in museums and the visual arts. Discover the connections between what is going on now and what has already come before. You might be surprised to learn that your favourite artist is really a knockoff of someone from 100 years ago.
it's always easier to randomly absorb things when you're in the mood, and leave them already partially-digested in your subconscious, than to cast about looking for specific inspiration just at the moment you need it for a specific project.
the world is full of inspiration that it is dying to shove down your throat. embrace it all, you never know when you may need to know about x or y, and you never know where or when those little inspirations are join to pop up. for that reason, you should ALWAYS have at least a pencil and a little pad to scribble out things.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Step 2. COLLECT THAT MEDIA. - See an amazing photo/illustration/design? Save it. I keep a folder entitled “Reference” on my desktop where I keep anything I find interesting. Sub-folders include: Bodies/Gesture, Chinese Posters, Colours, Faces, Vintage Objects, Maps, Nature. A quick jog through these images can really help you out when you’re stuck for a colour scheme or composition. Or they can form the BASIS of an idea. - As a professional, one can write-off much of the media you purchase. Books, movies, museum tickets, etc. all become professional expenses.
part of being a professional is treating yourself like one. every film, vacation, stop at the grocery, etc is an opportunity to be inspired, but that also means you should always be thinking at least a little professionally. for example, if you're watching tv, you might pay attention to how lighting affects a scene, or how a particular character is holding a cup. save these memories and mental notes.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Step 3: TAKE THE SOURCE CONTENT SERIOUSLY. - Read content (the book, the play, the article) carefully and thoughtfully. Several times. If possible leave a day between reading and starting work on it. Sometimes leaving it to sit in your brain for a while is very helpful, I find. - WHILE reading content, highlight vivid imagery, key phrases, descriptive passages, notable quotes, and anything else the jumps out at you. Take quick notes or do a quick doodle in the margin if something comes to mind. – Go find supplementary material, if necessary, to help you parse the content. If you’re doing a cover illustration for War and Peace, it may be helpful to read online discussions, dissertations, reviews, and such. The internet makes this VERY EASY."
if you can't do basic research in this internet age, then i will personally hunt you down and punch you. a basic grasp of history never hurts, but even an ignoramus can work out something.
for example, i worked on a dracula comic. even if i was generally clueless, i could see by the dates that the story takes place in the 1890s. a quick wikipedia of british history would tell me this was the late victorian era, so i could look up "victorian" and get tons of images and info on clothes, buildings etc.
this example also shows how a wide-ranging interest can help; just before i started dracula, i got an annotated, illustrated edition of sherlock holmes novels. several of them are set in the dracula period, so i was able to find all sorts of details about typewriters and posters etc.
i'm actually putting together a full-color, annotated sketchbook covering this process for all the classics comics, so i won't detail everything here. but you get the idea. you can also check out my annotations for the wednesday comics wonder woman to get an idea of some of the research that went into that.
let's talk about something i like to call "bribery".
so, the art school where i teach is having a fundraiser called "dancing with the reading (PA) stars". and they have an extremely loose definition of "star", because one of those dancers will be me.
here's how it works: you go to this site and click the vote box next to the picture me and my wife. it costs $5 per vote.
now perk up, laddies, here's where the bribery part comes in: anyone who votes 8 or more times for me will get an original drawing. (limited to the first 10 people, i think. also, these aren't commissions. i think of something cool to send you, and i send it.)
now, a cynical person will say that sounds an awful lot like cheating. and as always, that cynical person would be 100% correct.
remember: i don't get anything for winning. except for the pleasure of beating out a bunch of decent and deserving people who have worked harder than me. and isn't that what it's really all about? but more importantly, this awesome little art school gets a hand with their community art programs.
so if you're up for a little vote-rigging (and if you are reading this, who are we fooling?), then vote and send me the paypal reciept (and your address) and i'll send something loverly your way.
ps - what the hell, computer? you think "loverly" is an acceptable word? you are dead. to. me.
promised on twitter the other day to talk about creative processes and inspiration; i've been getting a lot of questions about that lately. so first to recap... some things to get the ball rolling, or deal with creative block:
1) physically go do something different, like garden or jog or punch ninjas. not only is a change of scene a way to rejigger your brain, but physical activity increases blood flow in the brain, which physically stimulates your thinking cap. SCIENCE, man.
2) likewise, do something random like draw a bunch of fat old ladies at the grocery store. drawing something neew (for you), that is not tied to what you're "supposed" to be doing, can help loosen up your brain. also, there is almost definitely going to be some point in your life where you need to draw fat old ladies shopping. even if you're not an artist. even if i have to personally make it happen.
3) start drawing/writing whatever is giving you trouble, without trying to make it good. even if you throw away everything you just did, at least you'll have done SOMETHING, and at least clarified certain things you DON'T want to have.
it's always easier to fix something that exists, than worry about something that doesn't.
also, no one ever accomplished something by not doing it.
3b) if you're working on a script or drawing and unsure how to get past a certain point, then save a copy of whatever you're doing, then go ahead and finish it however the hell you want. follow your ideas through to their logical conclusion, because this can help you see if perhaps you were asking yourself the wrong questions in the first place -- which is the best way to get the wrong answers.
i'll be talking about that last one in depth in another post -- it's one of the biggest troublemakers when it comes to finding and fixing creative problems. but if i did it here, this would never get posted!