Saturday, October 24, 2015

I'll always share ideas (even if no one notices)

"Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality." - Dalai Lama 

Tell me if you've heard these before: 
"Aren't you afraid that someone is going to steal your ideas?" 
"Doesn't it bother you that they could make money doing that?"

No, I am not worried about the ideas that I share for several reasons:

• I'm not the only one sharing-

There are many people such as myself who write and talk about illustration, creativity and the business side of things. Sharing is good for illustrators. The more we chat, the better it is for everyone. There once was a time when the Internet was not there to close the gap and help the world feel a little smaller. We created alone with little interaction. We lived in the freelance bubble. Now we can interact, mentor, discuss all the aspects of illustration freely and openly.

• It has nothing to do with being an expert-
I'm not an expert and I've been sharing ideas since I graduated from Art school. There is no written code that you have to be the best this or that or have million followers. Just jump into the idea pool. The water is just fine.

• Ideas are everywhere-

We are a resource. Believe it not,  as illustrators we are equipped with immense knowledge on skill, ideas, good creative habits and experience. Our trials, errors, screw-ups and successes are totally interesting. These experiences are so vitally rich to share that it's the number one question during interviews and spotlights. Questions that highlight your advice to newcomers is always a big focus.

• There are no new ideas-

Let's break this down by starting with how ideas happen. Ideas are random and what rocks your imagination will be different for someone else. Most of the time, ideas come from the TV, books, music or something we saw online. If you're like me, ideas come to you in vividly rich dreams. We think so many thoughts in a run of a day. Our ideas as illustrators do stretch beyond the average day to day thinking. We are hyper in tuned with gathering information as a way of exploring our world. It really is part of the job. The ideas may not be new, but they are new to us. From there we can put our own personal spin on it in our own personal style. In essence, we twist and reshape ideas as needed. The original idea is still there, it just took an interesting creative turn.

• We live in a sharing society-

We can thank the Internet for a very tight knit sharing community. Never before has knowledge sharing been so easy. I'm pretty certain this is the general purpose of Pinterest- to share everything. It's all there online 24/7. Need a hand reference? Google it. Need advice? Email a pro. Can't get your ideas across to a client? Skype them. Can't afford to go back to school? Grab a class on skillshare. The only problem we face is fitting all this great stuff into our already tight-knit schedules.

• It's not about awards, credit or accolades-

For me, there is no need for awards or labels suggesting this or that is the best or most respected. That's not for me to decide. If my ideas help, then I have done something positive. Quite simply, I'm a contributor in this fast-paced energy idea driven society we live in. Say that ten times and there might be an award in it for you. But seriously, we all want to be appreciated and discovered while leaving our mark. Do the work and be present in your career. Forget the trends and just do what you do best. Believe it or not, there's an audience for you. If there is an audience for reality TV then we'll be just fine. I think this quote sells it- "Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours." -Jane Kenyon

• It's just the way it is!

I'm hardwired to help. I once read that as tourists (because we are always exploring) on this planet, it's our duty to help, to lift up others and to spread knowledge. 
Sharing has an interesting integrity to it. 

"Integrity is doing the right thing even if no one is watching." - C. S. Lewis

Ideas are always contagious because one idea leads to many. An idea becomes something with many actions and cups of coffee. We can have all sorts of ideas in our heads, in our notebooks, sketchbooks but if we don't do something with them then they are just floating in limbo. 

"Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about them." - Alfred North Whitehead

In a way, ideas are like a type of farming. In order for them to grow they need attention, appreciation and constant nurturing. Ideas take time and work. It's like Picasso said, 
"I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else." This is true and this why we need to talk about them and share them more often. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

18 journeys towards an illustration career!

1. As a kid, Ed Emberly helped me learn to draw. He was my childhood hero! 
2. I became obsessed with Where The Wild Things Are when I was a kid. Wild rumpus imagination is a good thing. It's now an everyday thing! 
3. I was allowed to paint on walls. When I was in elementary, I was asked to paint 4 murals on the walls of my school. Breaking the rules felt good! 
4. When I was in grade 10, I worked on props for Paramount Pictures for an 80's movie called Children Of Lesser God. I met and had lunch with William Hurt. The world felt a lot smaller that day.  
5. I had the best art teacher in High school. Mr. Murphy had the biggest open mind and helped me get into University. Asking for what I wanted was a good thing.  
6. I took a leap and went to art school for 5 years. Independence was both exciting and terrifying. 
7. I used to annoy one of my design teachers with my idea choices for projects. That's when I knew I was onto something BIG! 
8. One summer I designed sardine cans at a design studio. I realized I did not really want to be a designer. I didn't want to settle.
9. After I graduated from art school I went back to get my BFA for another year and focused on illustration. Making a decision felt like progress. I was that much closer to growing up.  
10. I took b/w darkroom photography the whole time at art school as an elective. This taught me both patience and attention to detail. The idea od organizing imagery within a frame is important as well as wearing dark clothing to hide spills. 
11. When I started illustrating, I tried using gouache. I disliked it so much I had to master it. Now it's my favourite material to create with. Persistence won!
12. I dared myself to send out a book idea. I got a publishing deal in less than a month. Taking a chance and believing in myself was both surprising and exhilarating. 
13. I worked as a veterinarian's assistant and helped animals. This taught me the customer has a heart that needs to be taken seriously. Listening became a good skill. 
14. I worked part time at a Health food store while freelancing and this taught me that everything is connected to everything. Now I understand the concept that you get what you give.
15. I served coffee. I worked at a coffee shop and learned coffee is much more than caffeinated liquid in a cup. I learned how to make a perfect cup. My love for coffee and I have been going steady for over 20 years!  
16. Having kids taught me to get back in touch with the original idea of creating. My girls reignited the making process which helped me to stop over thinking everything every minute of the day. Making a mess is not just for kids and I'm perfectly okay with all the imperfections.   
17. Being asked to share my knowledge was another surprise for me. As a shy kid, this was never something I'd thought I'd be doing. Standing in front of an audience, although nerve racking, proved to me that I could change the way I perceived myself. Luckily, I didn't die and the earth did not swallow me whole. I even made them laugh even though I was shaking in my shoes! 
18. Illustrating my first children's book taught me that storytelling is the best! It also steered me in a new direction which has been a much-needed shot in the creative arm. We really shouldn't put away child like things. 

Let's continue the conversation: What are yours?