Clock out with Blik and Doodlers Anonymous

Doodlers Anonymous is organising a challenge (together with Blik) for artists, illustrators and doodlers of all ages: to design a backdrop for a wall clock. And the best part? There’s absolutely no restriction on style, colours, or theme.

Six winning submissions will have their art transformed into 10” wall clocks to be sold through Blik and Doodlers Anonymous; with a portion of the royalties going to the lucky artists.

You might be thinking – oh sure, I can do that on Society6 and all that, but if you’re one of the chosen artists who makes it on Blik’s website, it might just be like hitting the proverbial jackpot when it comes to showcasing your work. You’ll be sitting alongside fantastic artists who has done work for Blik, like Rex Ray, Amy Ruppel and Charles and Ray Eames – which is why I think this competition is a fantastic opportunity to show what you are made of!

Deadline for the contest is 21st August so there’s no time like now to get your drawing on.

For more details, head here to read up on the details and to submit your design!

How to Be More Creative in the Age of Over-Inspiration


Ah, the internet. What would I do without it? It’s a portal that bounces me from one wonderment to the next – an inspiring road trip filled with jaw-dropping illustrations and illuminating interviews, with sideshow attractions of fun video tutorials to community hangouts for every niche under the sun. The internet is the gateway to inspiration on demand, and it seems like the more sidetracked I get, the hungrier I get for more.

When you have a source that beckons with creativity and inspiration 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, it’s easy to be sucked into a loop. There’s always something interesting a mere click away. I know for a fact that I’m not alone in my predicament. In the age of Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and the many infinite scrolling art & design websites (I liken it to a bottomless well of beautiful things just waiting to be discovered) – what does this mean for artists?

The National Centre for Biotechnology Information’s research in April 2015 has surveyed that the average attention span of people in 2015 is now 8.25 seconds, compared to 12 seconds in the year 2000. That means our capacity for holding attention is 30% less compared to 15 years ago – and it’s not surprising, given how our brains are hard-wired to crave new information; according to Bruce Morton, a researcher with the University of Western Ontario’s Brain and Mind Institute.

With each click leading to the next and the more information we devour, the novelty wears off quickly, and off we go in search of better, more beautiful, more interesting things. It’s nasty cycle that perpetuates itself; leading to a host of other problems like a lack of productivity (hey, where did the time go?), procrastination (just one more website!) and for some, the inability (or reluctance) to dive deeper; to analyse and synthesise the information they’ve already visually absorbed.

I’ve talked to college students who were confused by it all – there was no lack of inspiration, and yet they weren’t inspired. They grew up with the internet being a very big part of their lives, and yet they seem to be suffering from inspiration fatigue, and couldn’t understand why. One theory that I brought up was that perhaps they’ve been looking at what was already completed and done by other artists, therefore subconsciously they didn’t need to figure out the process for themselves (hey, since it’s already been done!) Replicating something visually without finding out the underlying thought process behind it all is just like skimming the water without knowing its depths. It’s also a little like eating junk food all the time, which tastes great but isn’t very good for you.

I recommended my students to try and be more conscientious of the information they took in. Instead of merely looking at the aesthetics of the many works of art in front of their screen before jumping to the next, how about they pause for a moment and focus on finding out more details about it instead? Dig through archives of the artist’s work, and perhaps catch a glimpse of their process. Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t (the ails of over-inspiration runs far deeper), but the reminder to dig vertically instead of mindlessly pacing horizontally might just be a good start. I needed the nudge too as I’m sometimes guilty of the same.

It’s times like these that it’s useful to remember Charles Eames’ quote:

Art resides in the quality of doing, process is not magic.

Maybe we don’t really need more inspiration. We need more doing instead.

[This is an article I originally wrote for Illustration Friday]

[Illustration: Neil J. Rook]

Work/Art/Play – registration ends tomorrow!



Some people have asked me why I came up with the Work/Art/Play online class. And it’s a great question because it was something that came together quite organically. It was a result of me being underwhelmed by the students that I taught in college – who I felt lacked real-life strategies and were unprepared for the world beyond graduation. Turns out it wasn’t just my students who had issues. A lot of artists mentioned to me that they had the same problem – no matter if they were self-taught or if they had studied the field before.

And so it all began.

Three years ago when I first taught a bunch of students at a local college, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that I was supposed to teach them about creativity, and that I had 3 assignments that students had to complete in one semester. These assignments were to increase their creative thinking skills as illustrators, and while all 3 of the assignments were different in execution, the fundamentals of the projects undertaken was similar: how to create work that would sell.

As we ran through the assignments (I had designed them specifically for the class), I had more and more students come up to me – a lot of whom were overwhelmed, scared and unsure of their capabilities. Some weren’t even sure if they’d want to continue being an illustrator after they graduated, citing the lack of local opportunities and the horror stories of not being able to afford feed themselves and keep a roof over themselves as a new graduate.

So apart from tutoring them on the assignments, I began to include snippets of information and profiles of artists who were changing the world, one stroke at a time. I taught them new concepts and undid outdated ones – trading old beliefs with new ones that were positive and ones that served to propel them forward as opposed to ones that held them back.

Entrepreneurship seemed like a far-flung concept to them, one that was intimidating and hard-to-reach. So I started from the bottom, and slowly built a foundation that was easy to digest, and one that allowed to build their own future. The process wasn’t a quick one, I’d tell them. It would take time. But if you knuckle down and continue to build your dream slowly – even if you maintain a full-time job, the result could be quite magical.

It would happen before you knew it. You would inch closer and closer to being able to create the life you wanted. That you’d be able to work on the projects that you’re interested in, and you wouldn’t have to compare yourself with others because you’d be working on things that you believe in. Having the option to choose the work that you’ll do, and to be able to select clients would no longer be a dream. It would be real. You would be able to dictate your own time and enjoy your work.

So here’s what I’d like you to ask yourself:

What would you do if you could work on your own terms? How would it feel? What would you pursue?

What if you could learn strategies that work for you as an artist and illustrator in this modern day and age? What if instead of focusing on tactics that merely give you a short-term high, you took a good look at your career and plan out how you’d like to spend your days – in a fun, productive manner? What if I told you that you could take proactive steps to make your dreams come true instead of wishing for something or someone to aim their gaze on your portfolio and website, and then bless you with just 15 minutes of fame?

What if you could take control of that process, so that it’s thought out and methodical, instead of holding out on your work to get chosen because of a fluke?

I’ve designed Work/Art/Play to give you a roadmap on what you can do to effectively put your goals and ideas on track. I want you to make a difference. I want you to feel excited as you jump out of bed in the morning, and instead of merely waiting for other people’s approval of your work, you find the right people to connect with.

It’s a full on, 6-week immersive online class that’s now open for registration until tomorrow, Friday 7th August 2015, and everyone from anywhere in the world can join in. If you’re looking to build your own illustration empire instead of merely being a pencil pusher for someone else, then this is the perfect course for you.

Registration has ended, thank you so much! Click here to sign up to be notified when the next session begins!