I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration and what it means to be creative, ever since I started the madness that is “Learning To Draw” this August. I’m not even sure why I kicked off this drawing project, but somehow I just feel like it needs to be done. For the past month I’ve been drawing for 2-8 hours each day, and last night I felt like I hit some kind of wall. I think I need to structure up my approach to this whole project. To me it feels like this drawing thing is something I simply need to do, there’s really no better way of explaining it. It’s like I had this map inside my head my whole life, but I just pushed it aside year after year, thinking I got other things I need to do, before I can devote any time to exploring where this drawing and painting will take me. And once I started exploring this map I know I can’t quit. Life is short, I need to find out where this will take me.
I got absolutely no intentions on ever making a living out of the drawing and painting. I’m starting my new job on Stockholm next Monday, and I’m very excited about that. The job is in the video games industry, but totally unrelated to drawing in any way. Speaking about jobs, if I take a step back and rewind the history just a few months, I think I got a pretty good idea of what sparked this drawing and painting. About a year ago I actually realized I could die at any moment. I was near choking on a mint, and before my programmer friend JiTe stepped in and saved me, I had the chance to experience what it feels like to realize you might die. I felt no fear as I desperately struggled to get some air down my lungs, but my whole body was in panic, ofc it didn’t want to die! I was thinking “This is it, this is dying. It’s not like in the movies where people die as heroes, saving kids from burning houses, where their death serves a purpose. This is real life. People die of trivial things like falling in a bath tube, or getting hit by a car on the way to school. That’s so meaningless and sad! And now it’s my turn.” And then JiTe helped me to get the mint out so I could breath again. I went to the bath room to wash my face with cold water, my legs trembling so much I could hardly walk. That incident somehow got me thinking time is not infinite.
In June I started my summer vacation from Junebud. Stressing down I finally had the time to think about how I was living my life. I wrote a post about how it felt like I was spending too much time on random shitty stuff like Facebook and 9Gag in July. So I stopped vising time consuming sites that did nothing else than wasted my time. And that vacuum needed to be filled up with something constructive. Something important to me. I started to doodle and draw during the summer, and the combination of Junebud’s bankruptcy and the fact I got more spare time than I had for the past couple of years, created some kind of canvas that really came to life only when I re-discover this thread on Conceptart.org. It’s this Greman guy Hannes who one day decides he will learn how to paint and draw properly. He is born the same year as I am, and he posts his first post the same winter I started studying game development. So in some dorky way I guess I felt a bit connected and inspired. Hannes really becomes an amazing painter and proves everyone can learn, it’s all about how dedicated and willing to learn you are. Talent sure helps a lot (in the beginning), but it’s not vital for your success. I think talent helps you getting into flow, and when you are in flow things feel more fun, and if you find something fun chances are you will continue doing it and get better at it. Right?
At Junebud our concept artist Johannes (check out his amazing portfoli & blog), always talked a lot about how to improve, get better and kick some ass. He was totally against the concept of “talent” and said it’s all about deciding. Decide what you want to do, and then just stick to your plan. Grind, work and get better. Johannes is a very inspiring guy, and he’s always striving for improvements. By listening to Ola (Junebud’s former CEO), Johannes and our animator Karrey I learned a ton about self-discipline, time management and analyzing human behavior. I started to think about creation of images and art like a carefully planed process and not something you do only when you feel inspired. To get good at something you need to do it often, over and over again and make many mistakes Mistakes are really what makes us good at something, they improve us the most. Be happy for making mistakes, they show you are trying to get better.
I almost never get creative and inspired from looking at other people’s art. When I look at what other people draw I enter an “observational mode”, not a “creation mode”. I try to learn from others, but I don’t get inspired to create something that represents my own feelings and experiences. Because that is the ultimate goal for me, to express that burning, vibrant knot of feelings I have deep down, in the back of my mind and heart. It’s hard to explain what I’m talking about. But it feels like this is the core to why I’m doing what I do, why I’m drawing and painting at all. I try to express feelings and emotions. Happy, sad, confused, scared and everything in between. I can lay awake at nights, wishing I knew how to paint the feelings I get of listening to a specific song, how to nail it down on a piece of paper. And right now I don’t know how to really do that, so that’s why I’m studying the basics of drawing and painting. To find out how to translate my feelings into something other people can understand.
That brings me to why I think so many artists have lived lives in chaos, sometimes unhappy and bashing themselves. Living a life on the edge ALWAYS makes you feel at least something. If you live a calm, relaxed, easy life you get lazy or you fall into routines that protects you from the real ups and downs in life. You live your life from 9-5, in a suburb, watching TV at night, spending your vacation on the Canary Islands (if you are a Finn or Swede). I’m not saying that kind of life is bad, it’s a safe life, a life the majority of the world’s population strive to achieve, and I respect that. But I’ve noticed a lot of creative artists subconsciously make decisions that prevents them from living that kind of a life, because it would put them in a position too far from chaos or destruction that makes them feel. And emotions seem to be some kind of fuel for the most of us.
So the question to me is how to balance a healthy lifestyle (going to bed in time and eating healthy stuff), hard dedicated work and a life that’s not too predictable and safe? I love working in the game industry, it’s full of awesome, inspirational people and there’s always so much stuff going on. And I try to do things that opens my mind and makes me feel stuff, like hanging out with friends, travel to far away countries and drag myself out of my comfort zone. If I practice hard enough I might be able to even put down some feelings with pen and paper in the end. That’s all I ever want.