SuperListenMode 282: Don’t give a hoot about showing sketchbook mileage

SuperListenMode: Don’t give a hoot about showing sketchbook mileage

I’ve come across so many reputable artists talking about keeping sketchbooks all the time. Filling them, doing deliberate practice, studying and learning at tremendous speeds. That you have to have a sketchbook with you at all times. Fill up X number of pages a day, week, month, year.

Get those 10000 bad drawings in and push through the struggle.

That you *should* do this and that if you want *this career*.

That’s incredible and it works! It’s great and I recommend it especially when you’re learning and having fun! Persistence, patience and being honest with yourself.

I haven’t done it in years because I’ve lost some of my drive and belief in myself – I hope to do more of it in my own slower, flexible way, when I’m ready for it. 😀

Well I need to now as I attempt to rebuild my portfolio for job hunting/career building! (Note I wrote most of this blog post while I was still at Mighty ;P )

Personally I felt guilty for not doing the “always draw in sketchbook” thing in recent years and feeling like a terrible artist who doesn’t practice and study everyday. All this self pressure on myself.

Comparing myself unfortunately – oh no no! Not again!
It’s detrimental to you, Leonie!

When I was at Mighty, work has taken a huge chunk of my creative energy.

Mighty work and life had consumed too much energy for me to be able to regularly create things for myself. So I found myself doing a lot of blogging and personal simple comics for self expression, as an outlet for my feelings instead.

So studying was not something my exhausted brain can do after a long day’s work. Usually I don’t have the energy and stamina to draw when I’m out and about…all I can manage is nap on train rides to recover from exhaustion :< And forcing myself to create when I’m drained at the end of the day would simply make me burn out completely from art altogether. And cement and prolong my creative rut.

Wrah! I have low stamina 🙁

So I’m/I was pretty bummed that I don’t have much energy as I would like. Been burning out fast whenever I push myself to make time, learn and create things for myself in recent years. When I see other artists’ incredible work, I see them from a place of envy and self doubt with my own skill and whether I’m able to progress, learn and create with joy. Questioning what I really want to put out into the world since usually all I can just muster are personal comics while I’m struggling and figuring out my mental and physical health. I want to put quality and meaningful things out there.

Creative ruts are things to work through! :’)

Perhaps things will change this year as I’m now on my own. Scary new beginnings right? Gotta be brave like many wonderful artists out there.

Plus you’re “supposed” to post and comment on other artist’s work constantly to build community with other artists but currently I don’t want to as I’m selfishly trying to not get heavily influenced by what current artists are doing, I feel overwhelmed, paralysed and intimidated by all the awesome work, I need to figure out my own purpose first and it’s emotional energy I don’t have at the moment. I don’t watch as much artist videos or podcasts as I used to because I just end up feeling like I’m falling short and have lost my intrinsic drive and fun in creating things.

This will hopefully change this year as I figure out myself this year and seek out like minded people.

Who knows. Still in self discovery and self care, retreating, procrastination mode. I’ll slowly find my way out of this rut.

And yes, I’m looking for work and my situation has changed. It feels super discouraging and saddening out there with all the depressing game industry layoff news.
A lot of things to juggle and think over.

Plus the artists I admire seem to thrive and enjoy social media, are community minded, go out to social events and perhaps teach, podcast or do youtube videos as well. I don’t know if all of this is for me as being a public, community person is emotionally exhausting and unsustainable whenever I try. Trying to be a fun, entertaining, engaged, outgoing person to hang around is not what excites and motivates me.

Maybe it’s my current headspace too.

I’m more of a quiet, awkward, stubborn, low-energy listener with limited interests. Sometimes I am silly and I laugh and ramble a lot ;P

Why do I put myself out there?

I want to express myself, post work, learn to be better at art, health, friends and life, help others if I can and connect with people that way. Reminding myself this whenever I feel things are too hard and I want to retreat and hide from the world :’)

I opt for an online presence as it’s easiest for me as an introvert! Though I might spend too much time than I would like! I’m still not participating in groups, socialising and whatnot as much as I “should”.

I’m still in “spring cleaning”, planning, self discovery & procrastination mode. :< Processing ongoing. I’ll talk more about this another time once I’ve mulled it over further.

Digressing. I know I can’t be a hermit all the time. I have a lot to learn with getting myself out there again :’) Always figuring out a balance that’s right for me.

Nowadays I’m better at saying “no, this process/way of being does or doesn’t work for me right now”. I can’t perform as this “perfect, passionate, generous, influential, community-minded artist who makes art 24/7” role I’ve made up. I have nothing to show for that ;P That sounds too good to be true and unrealistic anyway. I’d rather do the best I can and take things slowly.

I need solitary, rest breaks from doing work, blogging [yes these blogs are time consuming but I enjoy it], job hunting and personal art! Trying to keep it to 8 hours a day too. Just be present with things, recover my sore body and mental health and rest my hands this year. Striving to not overwork, strain myself as I struggle to find work and get out of my rut :<

Taking time for self care, recreation, friendships, unlearning unhealthy, bad habits and stepping away from things if I’m feeling fatigued and emotionally drained. Other times I do get physically tired but mentally fine.

Juggling life so optimistically, I can create things at my own pace when I’m energised, having fun and rested. Learning to listen to my body better.

In short: caring for my mental and physical health + job hunting + cherishing friendships are what I’m focusing on this year.

Slowing down and experimenting with social media

Social media algorithms thrive on posting a lot, daily to 2 times a day while I don’t want to be rushed to do personal art as it is. I can’t do daily – that’s super intense when it comes to the work I do! I’ve been keeping it to Mondays and Thursdays or loosely 2 times a week now thanks to my buffer so I can better figure out my experiments and process with better focus. I have lots to learn!

To be fair, I didn’t have the energy to go too beyond the purposes of self expression and getting my work out there when I was working at Mighty. I liked drawing cute things and it was great I was able to be consistent at it. Enough to have a few kind patrons (thank you!) (:

Ah well, gotta keep learning.

Quantity does help when it’s deliberate practice. But being ruled by social media to constantly pump out work is a double edged sword. How can you consistently produce quality, refreshing, interesting work? A lot of planning is involved so it’s not a constant, stressful and rushed process. :<

Gosh I’ll run out of my own buffer by late March! Eep!

With my own work I kept doubting the worth, resenting others’ influence and public success, fighting against the silly popularity game, getting distracted, envious and anxious about posts I put out there. It was a place of negative self comparison, isolation, loneliness, insecurity, competitiveness, pressure and I was often coming from a place of lack and inadequacy.

I found myself too focused on silly numbers and it brought out the worst doubts and fears in me. I’ve lost the joy I had in creating and felt paralysed about all the possibilities and things to learn – so hello creative rut.

I don’t want to put out positivity when I don’t have much to give to myself. Faking it felt great in the short term and admittedly got me through tough times sometimes because of online interactions with people. But overall, it became too exhausting and it backfired because it felt disingenuous.

Often feels difficult attempting to balance what people like versus doing something that feels genuine to me. It’s not helping my mental health when I see people “doing” great with their lives, giving out advice and insights on what an artist “should” be doing or showcasing their experiences. Consciously striving to remember that not everyone is happy, got things figured out and successful as they publicly seem.

And it’s never enough in spite your efforts to grow an audience – it’s depressing when most don’t pay attention or actually care. I felt trapped, stressed, pressured and forced to move fast, keep up and be seen rather than the slow, on/off, deliberate and relaxed approach – the way I prefer it. Figuring out my own pace and joy again when I’m ready (:

I feel so much freer with less anxiety since being away and now I’m trying to figure out my mental and physical health first. When I’m better healed, I hope to find the joy in creating again and not worry over analytics anymore with my own growing courage and confidence (: I enjoy not using social media but I’m still enjoying youtube and twitch since it gets me in the relaxed, learning zone.

Since things have changed, I want to be better at focusing on the people who matter and not the social media numbers. Maybe I will get better at it since I have purpose with social media now that I’m looking for work.

I’m more focused on the interactions themselves.

On sketchbooks

I don’t believe in only focusing on how many sketchbooks you fill, how many hours you “grind”, how fast you can speedpaint/concept/illustrate, creating only what people want for recognition, dopamine, awards, competition and approval, how many times you fail, how often you are present/engaged with social media or what you can show off. That’s just not for me. Those things alone are not meaningful, fun, enjoyable, motivating or enough for me to do it.

I don’t care if there’s no bigger clear purpose for me to believe in.

I am not the kind of artist that constantly doodles mindlessly for fun. So maybe I should try it though to unwind for myself! I’m open to being wrong ;P

Digressing. I want to slowly work through the process towards something I want to express or learn rather than aimlessly go for quantity and pump out work to perform and please others. It definitely works for some artists as their amazing business sense, community and art style has gotten them far though. It’s just not my pace. I’m slow! haha

Purpose, Process and Progress

I need to have a focus, interest, message and purpose with my studies and learning. I want to have fun with my process. Be proud of my progress so far. I definitely do quick comfort zone art pieces for fun too!

Once I have a purpose with my art, I get carried away learning! Get focused into my fun zone. As many of us do! I want to be respected for my work, be able to be creative, express myself and keep growing.

At the moment, it’s arting whenever I feel like it since I’m working on my health and career first then I’ll strive to push myself out of my long running creative rut. I do hope to draw regularly and when I’m ready! But I won’t guilt myself about not filling up sketchbooks.

I want to keep growing, thinking, playing, expressing myself and learning how to illustrate in various ways. I want to push my comfort zone with my art style and message in my personal comics when I’m ready. Wrahhh I’m creatively frustrated and going in circles even in this post – as one does when they’re feeling stuck haha

Keep making my own rules.
Slow down. Express myself. Find my creative, fun zone again after I get better with life and my mental and physical health. Not push myself too far and understand my personal limits. Make sure I do things I enjoy and take breaks.

I’ll use my sketchbook or my makeshift set of papers when I’m able, want or need to. Transform them into something fun, free and experimental – something I haven’t done in years.

I’ll do my best to learn and practice different ways to keep it interesting ;P

Currently working on my mindset and personal direction right now.

I hope you find the fun and joy in the things you do too (:
Explore your own way that works for you.

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