This week, I’ve set myself a challenge…that starts next week. I’ve also been working my way out of a rut and trying to work out where I’m actually going.
Well, it looks like maybe I will keep up some weekly updates after all! I mean, it’s a whole two in a row! Ain’t ya prouda me?
This week started off still with a bitter taste from last week lingering. Having felt some frustration about my lack of direction, I decided to focus on defining what it is I actually do, or at least want to do, and finding ways to work towards that.
Finding a style
Whether it’s down to doing so many different things, or the fact that the majority of the creative work I do is now client based, my work has never really had a clear style. How can you have a style when you do so many different things? Of course, sometimes this isn’t a bad thing. Being able to adapt my work to suit different challenges opens up more options for work. But when we recognise great designers and artists, their style is what defines them. Whether it’s the materials they use, the way they draw, the motive or message in their work, those we look up to are those who’s work practically screams their name.
As such, I’m working towards defining myself and my style. To get started, I looked at a few classes on Skillshare, particularly this one by Christine Nishiyama, and this one by Yasmina Creates; which talk about discovering what inspires you and practising to find your style. The ideas aren’t exactly profound, but it was good to refresh my memory. For me, the whole process can be broken down into 3 parts:
Mapping your influence
An easy habit to fall into is looking to other artists for influence. It’s better, however, to look at what it is in your surroundings and other experiences that inspire you and influence your tastes; things from your childhood to things you love now. For me, that’s everything from the who-knows-how-many hours of my youth spent on games like SimCity, to the chaotic nature of clouds, to the mind-boggling concepts of space travel, deep time and biology. I plan to go into more depth in this in another post, but simply put; these are the things in which I find beauty – be it orthographic, architectural drawings or swirling, chaotic nebulae. There’s something in the middle of that where my interests sit.
Discovering your tools
While it’s important to keep an open mind about the medium in which you work, many artists and designers have a base method from which all of their art stems. Whether it’s Van Gogh’s oil paintings or Territory’s particulated HUD graphics, the material helps define the style.
This is something I’m very much still trying to discover, but I feel my interest lies within 3D, data and generative methods. I can’t quite define what it is, but I expect if I was to illustrate something I would more likely do it with a keyboard than a paint brush. Still, it’s important to explore all possibilities and find out how they alter and direct the work you do.
Practice, practice, practice
Of course, the most important aspect of finding a style is making a lot of work. Style comes over time, and you can’t force it. And that brings us nicely onto our next segment.
I’ve set myself a bit of a challenge to encourage practice and development. Throughout March, I intend (key word there) to produce one 3D render a day. It might be an animation, an image, or just some tests of lighting, materials and modelling, but the point is to do something, anything and render it. It’s very much inspired by the likes of Inktober or FAWM; the intention isn’t necessarily to produce amazing work but to produce a lot of it. Some of which I might come back to later if I like it, but making mistakes is just as important.
One major difference between making a 3D render a day and an ink drawing a day, is that 3D images need rendering, and rendering can take hours – hours which I don’t necessarily have. As such, I need to make sure that what I make is simple and quick. It will also be a lesson in rendering and image quality, so useful either way.
The devil makes phones for idle hands
Finally, this week I’ve been thinking more about how I manage my own time and how I can take more control over it. It’s no secret that left to my own devices I can be easily distracted – by my own devices no less. Working digitally puts you online almost constantly, and I’m aware of habits I’ve developed with checking my phone or social networks way too much. I dread to think what hours these things have taken from me, but if I want to put more time into practising, then there’s a whole pool of time just waiting to be repurposed.
My trick for this, or at least my plan, is to make sure my days have a much clearer schedule. Part of why I went freelance in the first place was to break away from this idea; to have the freedom to work whichever hours I wanted each day. However it’s clear that this doesn’t always work, and that having some stricter ground rules can make a huge difference in how effectively I use my time.
I haven’t quite found my routine yet, but it’s something I’ll continue to work on over the coming weeks.
That’s it for this week. Ciao x