Work/Art/Play 2015: Registration opens next week!

Teaser2015

Folks,

You know how I’ve been teaching this one workshop every year? It’s called Work/Art/Play, and it opens up next week for registration. Mark your calendars – it’s going to happen on 20th July, and classes will begin on 10th August 2015.

If you’re working full time in a different field but want to explore how to make your mark in the world through art and illustration, this is the class for you. Or perhaps you’re a recent graduate or someone already knee-deep in the industry – you’ll benefit too. We’re going to go through 6 weeks of life and perspective-changing lessons that’s going to give you a solid blueprint on how to take your work above and beyond. It’s all happening online (students all over the world are welcome), and I’m going to personally take you through the paces to uncover your strength; and show you how marketing isn’t scary at all. Not one bit.

Watch this space for more details, but to make it easier for you, Click here to be notified when registration begins!

Let’s not be too quick to judge

 Malika Favre

The other day while I was perusing Facebook, I saw one of my students post up a diatribe on how some artists are getting recognition for work that isn’t “that” great, while other artists who can do better are not getting the recognition they deserve. Her short post included reasons she believed as to why some artists were successful and the rest, aren’t – which involved the former knowing more people and for being good at kissing ass (which might not have been her exact words, but that was what was implied). She was also criticising how other people do not recognise good work if it hit them on the head.

She was a smart student, and this concern of hers was something I’ve encountered more than once. I promptly told her to stop and think for a moment and gave my reasons why. The post was deleted a while later, but I kept thinking about it. I was unsettled.

It’s easy to watch other people’s success and then whinge about your lack of it.

“She’s not as good as me, but why is she getting all the publicity?”
“His grades were lower than mine when we were at school but he’s showing at a gallery now?”
“That group’s stuff is just so-so, but why are so many people flocking to their stall?”

It’s one thing to whine about how other people may be successful, but it’s another to assume that they managed it under suspicious circumstances. “Oh, they must know someone”, or “I think they must have gotten the gig in return for another favour [sic]*”

That, is not cool at all. Unless it’s true. However, if it is, then it’s now gossiping instead of being judgemental – both of which won’t do you much good in the long run anyway.

“The famous ones know more people.”
While not all of your assumptions are wrong, thinking along this line of thought is destructive and quite frankly, mean. My retort to those who bemoan how well-connected successful artists is my usual: “So, what have you been doing to know more people?” That usually just ends with them stammering about how they lack family connections that would lead them up the higher rung of the social ladder, blah, blah, blah. Because, you know – there’s no way they could have gotten there on their own.

It’s easy to complain about how well others have it, and while sometimes a good rant is just that – it would be much more constructive if you’d ask them how they got to where they were instead. Yes. The good old asking-a-question trick. Heck, it’s not even a trick, really. Not if it’s done without malice and snark, and politely with a dose of old fashioned curiosity. Their answer might really surprise you. Underneath it all, artists are people too – and yes, that goes to those who are successful as well. From what I know, the ones who are successful have great tips, stories and advice to share, that it would be such a waste to let one’s ego get in the way of finding out what really happened along their journey.

But what if someone by a stroke of luck has a great network care of their parents/relatives/friends/school? It happens, and while that may leave others seething with jealousy; remember that the artist also needs to make it work. Maybe they’re embarrassed about it. Or maybe they’d prefer not to have the leg up, but circumstances made it hard to say no. Maybe they don’t deserve it. Maybe they do. There’s all sorts of reasons, many of them have nothing to do with you. And so, let’s not begrudge others for their good luck – rather, it would be more fruitful to engineer some luck of your own.

“But I’m better than he/she is.”
If you believe your work is great and that you’re an undiscovered genius – good for you. Anyone can call (or think of) themselves as the greatest talents to ever walk the earth. However, what other people think of you might very well be otherwise. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t believe in yourself; on the contrary. Being a genius (or any other compliments for that matter) is something that others bestow onto you; which would make it undoubtedly more meaningful. Sort of like how giving yourself a trophy is kind of sad.

If you believe all the work you do is great, how else would you learn? If everything you created was a work of art (critics be damned), how would you know the good from bad? As a student, where does it end? A healthy ego is necessary to be a great artist, but to have an inflated one from the onset does not bode well for you – it gets in the way of learning (which should never end even if you’re successful) and it also gets in the way of getting to know more people (because you might end up being a jerk who thinks he’s right all the time).

So what can you do?
Fear not – to rid you of your judgemental and egotistical streak (hey, it happens to the best of us!) I have a 7-step program that I recommend heartily. Doing the below will significantly up your goodwill karma and results can show in as little as a month or it might take as long as 5 years for great results. Mileage will vary according to how hard you work:

  1. Be nice.
  2. Ask others for advice, don’t assume or judge.
  3. Ask for constructive feedback for your work.
  4. Listen for feedback and try them out – if it doesn’t fit, discard and repeat.
  5. Reach out to other people who you think might like your work. (Bonus points if you have something to say or a story to share)
  6. Say hello a lot.
  7. Be nice.

Rinse and repeat.

Try it and see for yourself. Not everyone made it through having connections. Most of the time they’ve worked really hard and worked smart by reaching out to people who in turn helped them. There’s a lot of things that could have happened in between that’s compounded by luck and timing too.

So in short – the road to success looks something like this (mind you, this is very simplified):

(talent x hard work)a + (luck + timing)b + helpc = successx

Note: With all of the above, the variation of success is subjective, and is wholly dependent on the effort put in (a) & (c) and factors beyond our control (b) in the equation.

Thoughts? Share them with me in the comments! And if you want to read what 39 other artists have to say about experiencing jealousy/envy, here’s a free download of the PDF copy of issue #6 of the Good to Know project!

[Illustration by Malika Favre]

Review: Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of the Natural World

I’ve been a fan of Julia Rothman for the longest time ever. You might remember my review of her first book of, Farm Anatomyand so Nature Anatomy is her second visual guidebook for Storey Publishing.

It’s a beautiful book, and the fact that the entire 224 pages of it is fully illustrated makes it a treat for nature lovers, scientists and for anyone who loves reading about facts and learning something new. I can imagine this being a great book for kids as well – it’s colourful, interesting and with lots of snippets of information sandwiched between each page, is a treasure trove for inquisitive children. There’s also recipes, crafting instructions and an lesson on how to paint landscapes!

From the anatomy of flowers to beautiful barks, from the various types of water bodies to the inner workings of mountains; each of the seven chapters covered in the book is a wonderful introduction into nature and its many inhabitants. And while the book doesn’t contain the most thorough of information, it’s certainly up there as one of the most visually interesting ones I’ve seen.

 

Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman

Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman

 

Julia writes in the introduction:

It’s about as fair to call this a “nature book” as it is to call my little walks “nature hikes”. There is no way to include even a small portion of the enormous world around us in a book of any size. Where does it end. There is an infinite amount to learn about, from the constellations to the core of the earth. I guess I think of this project as MY nature book. It’s the information I was interested in learning about, the things I wanted to draw and paint. While it is only a teeny scratch on the surface, it has given me a chance to become acquainted with plants, animals, trees, grasses, bugs, precipitation, land masses and bodies of water that I wanted to be able to name when I walked by.

Her fried, John Nieskrasz was her companion throughout the making of the book, and was an influential green voice and tour guide in her rediscovery through nature. Overall, it’s a brilliant tour indeed of what Mother Nature has to offer (even if it’s merely a scratch on the surface!)

I’m hoping there’s a third book from Julia!

Nature Anatomy is available from Amazon.

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