How to overcome the fear of trying something new

Credit: Dive by Madame Lolina

Trying something new can be scary, and sometimes, there’s nothing that anyone can say or do to make those feelings go away.

I have no magic answer that will make all those fears and insecurities go away, but only one piece of advice that has worked incredibly well for me: just jump right in.

Imagine taking your first dive into a cold, icy pool when you’re shivering from the chill morning air. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be in my warm bed, snuggled up in my blanket, instead of having to face that container of water that keeps lapping at my toes as I wince with dread. Though I love swimming, I absolutely hate that first contact between my body and the water. Every time. So I do what I normally do: tell myself that it’s going to be okay, close my eyes, dive right in, and keep on swimming until I’ve covered a whole lap without stopping. And when I emerge, it’s as though my fears had never existed in the first place, and I was in the flow of things – quite literally. If I had let my feelings about taking that first leap overpower my love for swimming, then I’d forever be on dry land.

Don’t just go back to bed.
Diving right in is also the best way to learn if this new thing is something you’ll like (even if you’re rubbish at it at first). When an idea is just in our heads, we glorify it a little. We imagine how great something is, only to be disappointed when what we churn out is not that great (which almost always happens when you’re a beginner – we all suck in the beginning, there’s no getting around it). The sooner you get over this thought of wanting to be the best at what you do right off the bat, and ignore damaging ones that tell you that if you’re not good at it then you must not be talented in it, the better. That’s just your brain craving to crawl back to bed, where it’s warm, familiar and safe.

The beautiful thing about doing, is that you also learn something new about yourself along the way. You’ll also get better at what you’re doing. But only, and only if, you like it enough to plod through the hard, difficult stuff, and wade through the feelings of inadequacy that inevitably follows an apprentice. The utter anguish of having to re-do something because if you don’t – even though no one would notice it but you – you can’t live with the thought that you could have done better.

So you do.

You unpick those stitches, and do it all over again.
You start with a new sheet of paper.
You rework that lump of clay.

You do it because your love of the unknown is stronger than the shackles that keep you in place, right where you are.

Add in a bit of time, patience, and some good old fashioned elbow grease, and you’ll soon realise that whatever you’re doing is no longer new.

It’s now a part of you.

The water may be icy cold wherever you are, but there’s no better time to dive right in.

Celebrating diversity through new creative directories

https://www.womenwhodraw.com/

Illustration directories (or any other sort of creative directories, for that matter) have come a long way since the boom of the internet. It used to be that they were run by companies who would charge a sum for you to be included in their roster, along with other options such as appearing in their printed catalog/annuals, mailers, promotional items, etc. However, with the advent and freedom that the internet offers, anyone can be a part of (or even start up!) a directory on their own, for very little.

That’s all well and good, but what does this mean, then?

It means that the barrier to entry; of being listed in a collective space online, has reduced significantly. You’re no longer bound by expenses, or gatekeepers that were previously the domain of huge, existing directory companies. They would still have their merits, having existed in the industry way before anyone else. But unlike before, you now have a choice. If someone turned you down, or if the cost of listing your profile/work was prohibitive, you can now list your work elsewhere. For free, even.

http://www.panimation.tv/

Will it work? Will you get more work from it?

You may, or you may not. But with self-promotion, I like to go with the analogy of idea of throwing out as many balls as you can out into the world, to see who throws it back to you. Sometimes it comes back immediately, and sometimes, it takes weeks, months and even years before someone sees your profile and decides to reach out. In addition to the kind of work you produce, luck and timing plays a very big part for every artist that gets discovered online, and by putting yourself out there through various channels, you’re increasing your odds, even if by a little bit.

https://queerdesign.club/

Getting yourself on a list

The biggest difference that we see in the new directories is that it’s more niche. Instead of merely having filters that readers and potential clients could sift through, the entire directory itself is more specific, catering to clients who are looking to add diversity into their hires. There’s a directory for women illustrators. Latin designers. Queer/LGBT designers. Women, trans and non-binary animators. Black designers. Most of them are free, and many more creative industries are following suit, so take your pick and go from there!

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Share with me: What do you think of these directories? Do you like them, or would you prefer a different solution? Do you have more to share? Or what if you have happy stories of being found by clients or fans on them? I’d love it if you would share your thoughts with me!

Review: Draw Stronger: Self-care for cartoonists & visual artists

Draw Stronger

Drawing can be dangerous. Just ask Kriota Willberg, author of the book Draw Stronger: Self-care for Cartoonists & Visual Artists. She draws from decades of experience as a massage therapist (for over 30 years) and educator in health sciences and the arts, which culminated in this very niche book – a guide to injury prevention for cartoonists and artists.

I did some background research on Kriota and found this podcast at Comics Alternative which was really informative. I learned that she was a guest faculty at the centre for cartoon studies one year. And there, she realised how students would draw with sketchbooks in their laps, even if there was an easel or table. They would be curled into a fatal position or hunched, not realising the detriments of a bad posture long term since they were all new to the field. She was concerned about soft tissue injuries and repetitive stress injuries because as a massage therapist who specialised in orthopaedic injury, her day job was in addressing repetitive stress injuries in variety of different context day in and day out.

Draw Stronger

She then tried to do more research online – trying to find resources for cartoonists and artists about injury prevention, in the context and scope that she wanted. She couldn’t find much about it, and so she took it upon herself to put it out there.

That’s just a small part of it. Because the book, as it turned out, wasn’t as comprehensive in the beginning. What you see now (a 136-page book) started out as a 60-page mini comic called No Pain that she passed out to her students who were drawing for class. It was about the immediate basics. Within the next couple of years, she added First Aid for Drawing Injuries. And then 40-page comic on back pain. She then decided to look for a publisher because “stapling 60-page comics is really hard on your hands.” And when she was putting together all the materials for the book, she added a few more smaller chapters to it to round it all up nicely.

My favourite chapters in the book were the ones with various exercises that an artist can do to help counteract the many hours spent in the same position during the creation of their work. She covers hands, wrists, neck, chest, shoulders and back – all illustrated in great detail – and I find myself mimicking all the exercises she recommends just to test if I was as mobile as I should be.

What I liked:

I really liked the format of the book. It’s small, light and easy to carry around (which harked back to Kriota’s purpose – she actually wanted it to be smaller!) I’ve always been interested in body, muscles and movement – I’m that geek who used to go to the library to read up on books on massage, physiology and dance while I was training as a landscape architect. I thought the book is really comprehensive. It doesn’t merely cover a lot of dos and don’ts, but it also tells you why. It illustrates this by diving deeper into anatomy and how the body works too. I really liked the limited color palette and how the illustrations helped to highlight the ideas/advice that Kriota puts forward. I thought that the niche that Kriota picked is really great – there’s a lot of information here that would benefit artists (who are different from other professionals) in how they work from day to day, and I’ve never come across a book that addressed this concern specifically, which is a huge yay.

Draw Stronger

What I thought could be better:

The heading font for the book is a special hand-written font that Kriota created, which really adds character to the book. However, because the hand-written font is mostly uppercase, the text looked blocky (plus, the body text and heading were of the same size on the same page) and sometimes made it difficult to focus because of a lack of hierarchy. There was a lot of great content (text + illustrations), but for me it felt like a lot of the information blurred and blended into one another as though there wasn’t much breathing space. But I understand that it’s not easy to pack the amount of information she did into a small book, so it was just a small (and totally ignorable) gripe of mine.

Overall:

I would highly recommend this book for artists and illustrators. In fact, I think it’s required reading for artists at any stage of their career – Kriota brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that benefits a lot of those who are seeing signs of strain and injury in the course of their creative work. She’s very specific in terms of who will benefit the most from it (not mural artists who work on large artworks etc, but people who draw at a desk who work on small pieces), and thus have gone really deep into this subset of audience. I believe that prevention is always better than cure, but unfortunately I think those who find the book will be those who are already noticing the toll it has taken on their bodies.

If you’re just starting out with no signs yet of body pain (lucky you!), and you are here reading this review – do yourself a favour. Get this book. (Amazon link)

To learn more about Kriota Willberg, head on over to her blog.

[Images from Uncivilised Books]
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