“I see previously published work as tattoos… if you get them when you’re young, more than likely your aesthetics haven’t developed enough for time to treat them gently. And then you’re left with a cartoon Tasmanian Devil on the small of your back for life. You can either be embarrassed/haunted by the Tasmanian Devil, or you can embrace it, because it represents a life lived, a mile-marker, a map to the lost self. The ink is the only way back.”—
“Those kids have no idea whatsoever of what went on at Stalingrad. Although I can in no way compare my struggle reading it with that of the Red Army, it has been a very big read.”—Mark Corrigan, reading “Stalingrad” by Anthony Beevor
It doesn’t matter what time of day you work, but you have to work every day because creation, like life, is always slipping away from you. You must write every day, but there’s no time limit on how long you have to write.
One day you might read over what you’ve done and think about it. You pick up the pencil or turn on the computer, but no new words come. That’s fine. Sometimes you can’t go further. Correct a misspelling, reread a perplexing paragraph, and then let it go. You have re-entered the dream of the work, and that’s enough to keep the story alive for another 24 hours.
The next day you might write for hours; there’s no way to tell. The goal is not a number of words or hours spent writing. All you need to do is to keep your heart and mind open to the work.
#and talk about drift compatibility#and inclusivity#and representation#and giant aliens fighting giant robots#and beautiful attention to detail#and science!!!#and just how important different cultures are to different characters#and language and linguistic diversity#and strong female characters kicking ass and taking names while also keeping their personal values straight#and Romantic Intentions not being the sole driving point of a story#and some more giant aliens fighting giant robots#URGHHHHH (via rainbrolly)
Noelle! you were just reminiscing on twitter about old assignments you did and liked. would it be weird or taxing for you if i asked for a list of the neat/fun/hardest assignments you did in school? i'm trying to figure comicing out by myself but i always run into that 'blank canvas' wall where i need direction or challenge. thanks! :3
OH MAN. Memory lane. Let’s do it.
Assignments are both the best and worst thing about art school. They can be really cool and really spark your imagination sometimes, or they can be a real drag - so basically it’s like being a real illustrator but you probably get more cool assignments. I think the trick is to find a way to make it interesting for yourself even if the assignment itself isn’t interesting.
My most challenging assignment in general was probably my doppelgänger piece:
Our assignment was just one word: doppelgänger. The reason it was hard for me is, I’M SUPER INTERESTED IN THE CONCEPT OF DOPPELGÄNGERS. You know on Project Runway when there’s that one designer who has a thing and keeps trying to make their thing fit into the challenge? And then they get a challenge that’s exactly about that thing, and you think they’ll do great but they crack under the pressure and freak out? That’s how this assignment was for me. I spent all day researching everything I could about doppelgängers, reading every article, and trying to do sketches, and just couldn’t get the creepy feeling that I wanted in my sketches. It’s a hard concept to get across. I ended up staying up all night and eventually becoming so legitimately afraid of my own reflection in the mirror that I refused to go to my bedroom to sleep until it was light out (I lived alone at this time). I ended up skipping class. But I got it done in the end.
The piece that took the most labor, though, was this one:
This one was a pretty fun assignment: we had to take a cocktail drink name and illustrate it in a way that communicated the “essence” of the drink. I chose fish house punch, which has a story behind it of some fishermen inviting over a bunch of women and mixing up this drink for them. Then I shot myself in the foot by turning in a super complicated sketch that I didn’t even know how to execute and it got picked. This one took me like 25-30 hours to finish, but I did it somehow. I’m not even sure I could replicate the style I used for this piece if I tried.
Another fun assignment:
This one came easy. We were supposed to choose four words that started with the same letter and make an illustration from it. My phrase was “Violent Victorians Vibrating Vodka” which is a really stupid phrase and doesn’t make any sense but I don’t think the piece is half bad considering I was a sophomore at the time. I think this was one of my first digital pieces.
Sometimes you get an assignment that just doesn’t inspire you and you have to kind of be a snarky little shit about it in order to make it interesting to you:
(full view) This one was supposed to be an illustrated map. It could be a map of anything. I hate drawing maps and I was really uninspired, so I turned in a sketch that wasn’t very good, then when I got home I was like “screw that I’m doing something else entirely” and made this. Which is - not really a map. But I got away with it. (Clearly I tend to default to violence to make illustrations cool to me)
Sometimes you get an assignment that wants you to do one thing but is suitably vague about the parameters and you’re gonna want to push those as far as you can, if you can get away with it.
I was taking a concept art class and the teacher really only wanted video game concept art that was painted and rendered, which I just…don’t do. At all. Ever. It’s not interesting to me. So we were assigned a group project (with a pretty cool assignment, actually): we were supposed to choose from a list of classic stories and work together to reinterpret it as another genre (which we chose from another list). There was a lot of post-apocalyptic muted colors going on in that class, like…it was SUPER mainstream videogamey, to the point where my team and I chose to interpret The Three Musketeers as an 80s genderbent high school romantic comedy about roller derby girls.
I ended up being really proud of it, even though that class established that video game concept art was not a world I was interested in.
Sometimes it just works out for you:
This one was a tarot card design, based on the tarot deck that Light Grey Art Lab did. We drew tarot cards randomly and then re-illustrated them, and I drew the knight of swords. This was one that just fell into place, as I am all about knights/swords. Goodness, there are a lot of stabbings in this post.
Sometimes you’ll have to make an illustration based on a dry or uninteresting concept:
This was based on a magazine article about being an introvert, and it wasn’t one I felt that I could twist the parameters to include pirates or stabbing. It didn’t seem like there were a lot of options for me to make this one interesting but in the end I was still able to figure out stuff to make it interesting for me to draw. Like oh, I like drawing sweaters, I like drawing fashionable girls and parties, and I was still able to make it something that was fun to draw.
Other suggestions to find ways to motivate yourself:
- look up contemporary illustration galleries that do themed shows (like Light Grey Art Lab) and challenge yourself to make an illustration as if it were for that show (even if the deadline is past or you don’t intend to enter the piece). The doppelgänger and tarot card pieces were based on prompts from Nobrow Magazine and LGAL, respectively.
- Make a list of things you like, and everything you like to draw. (I like to go through all my Tumblr likes to find inspiration sometimes). Then mash something together. Do you like cats and 50s greasers? Hey. Guess what. CAT GREASERS
- Read read read as much as you can and look at as many different illustrators as you can. Figure out what kind of stories and art you like and what kind of stories and art you’d like to see exist in the world.
“The living tell the dying not to leave,
and the dying do not listen.
The dying tell us not to be sad for them,
and we do not listen.
The dialogue between the living and the dead is full of misunderstanding and silence.”—Welcome to Night Vale, episode 37: The Auction (via redcigar)
“The limitations we impose on ourselves by restricting information are far greater than any advantage others could gain by copying our ideas. I do not claim that openness will never lead to trouble, but I am sure that it offers us the best possibility of getting safely home.”—Edward Teller, as quoted in Project Orion by George Dyson
There was a girl, and her uncle sold her, wrote Mr. Ibis in his perfect copperplate handwriting. That is the tale; the rest is detail. There are stories that are true, in which each individual’s tale is unique and tragic, and the worst of the tragedy is that we have heard it before, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel it too deeply. We build a shell around it like an oyster dealing with a painful particle of grit, coating it with smooth pearl layers in order to cope. This is how we walk and talk and function, day in, day out, immune to others’ pain and loss. If it were to touch us it would cripple us or make saints of us; but, for the most part, it does not touch us. We cannot allow it to.
No man, proclaimed Donne, is an Island, and he was wrong. If we were not islands, we would be lost, drowned in each others’ tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature, and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. We know the shape, and the shape does not change. There was a human being who was born, lived, and then, by some means or other, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience.
We draw our lines around these moments of pain, and remain upon our islands, and they cannot hurt us. They are covered with a smooth, safe, nacreous layer to let them slip, pearl-like, from our souls without real pain. Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.
“I love that she’s unapologetically badass. There’s no back-story trying to explain something horrible that happened to her that explains who she is. No, that’s just who she is. She just is this person; no explanation needed. Just like men—when a male character comes on screen and is a badass, you just accept it. And I’m hoping that’s what fans do with Rosa. She is who she is and she just doesn’t give a shit.”— Stephanie Beatriz on Rosa Diaz (via newcadence)