The Unfinished Piece 

As a creator and artist it’s very easy to come up with new ideas concepts and projects. They are exciting, can create a new buzz but sometimes a project just doesn’t get completed or seen all the way through because the artist “found something new” and exciting to work on. 

I can’t lie I’ve done this. It’s easier to follow through on a project when it’s for someone else and when in getting paid but personal projects … the remain unfinished or I lose interest. 

Ultimately I think it’s a lack of discipline to see something through to the end. 

When o tan track and feild my coach always told me it doesn’t matter how long it takes you, just be sure to cross the finish line. I think he’s right. 

I tend to write my project ideas down, this way it doesn’t become a distraction. Yet lately I’ve been itching to share a project with you. However in order for it to be successful I know I need to pair it with my design efforts this way it doesn’t become another dead project. 

Are you an artist or designer? Can you relate? Have you ever redirected or resurrected dead projects? 

Revisiting the list

Right before I graduated college my advisor had me make a very very long list of all – and I mean ALL the things I had and interest in. Most recently – and I mean in like the past few weeks- I’ve been experimenting with the various art forms known to be the basics and fundamentals in drawing and design school. 

Narrowing down – or niching down has been a very difficult thing for me. I find that I still enjoy drawing. However working as a professional package designer by day- there aren’t many moments in which the actor drawing occurs. 

I fact I find that I am often in a mental toxic cycle of beating myself up. There are negative words and comments cycling faster than a hamster in a wheel. I know many creatives battle with this. We call it imposter syndrome, or feeling like a fraud – but it’s true. Too often we question our actions expecting someone to dislike our work. 

This evening I took another skillshare class with Ohn Mar Win, illustrator and designer. It surprised me how many times she mentioned to be kind to yourself, have fun, your sketchbook is a place without judgement. 

I can’t remember the last time I kept a sketchbook consistently. It’s often for a few days and it falls by the way side. We’ve adapted to use Instagram or dribbble as our new space to share creative work. Yet I found that I really needed time and space away from the digital screen. 

In my day job I am either in my feet creating samples for production or for the client or I’m at my desk figuring out how to complete a project for a display. Despite how often I’ve been told “it’s so creative” from people on the outside I can’t help but feel different. 

The client has specific needs they are looking for, there are many restrictions, so to have a space where freedom really comes to fruition makes sense for it to be the sketchbook. 

Ohn makes it a point to encourage her students to practice daily even if just for five minutes. And to draw from observation or from things that interest you. If a time restraint needs to be added it’s encouraged to see just how much can be done in about 15 min. 

As for myself, I’ve been switching back and forth between acrylic paint and water color. I don’t have specific subjects – though I’ve wanted to do a series on my Facebook friends. 🤔 I’m still debating that one as if I choose to do that, I’d need a projector so that I can go through quickly with a base sketch rather than sit and use a grid to ensure proper sizing and proportions. 

As I paint and draw I am in a much clearer mental state. I’m not thinking of too much. I am looking forward to getting into my flow state. 

TimeOut Session

Remember when you were a kid and you were disruptive in the classroom you had time out? It was often meant to cool you down or make you think about what you were doing wrong. 

Yea well I think I need to put myself in a time out session. And as a matter of fact I did. 

One of the most difficult things as a creative is knowing which path to go down – uninhibited. Ideas come easily and our brains run a mile a minuet. In 2013 I decided to pick back up a my calligraphy pen. I took calligraphy in college and still have all the workbooks, assignment preps, and handouts from my professor. Yet there has been so much resistance. 

My biggest fear or pain point in the past few years is that I did not want to be known as a lettering artist. However the love of drawing letters, and using nibs to write calligraphy is still here. I’d like to combine these with packaging. More like the luxury brands. 

However- today I chilled out. I didn’t want to create for anything or anyone. I needed to take a time out session and just draw for the sake of drawing. 

I took a course on skillshare (despite some of the negative reviews about the platform). The class was on keeping a sketchbook. Many of my sketch books are buried in the garage. Along with really old college projects. I feel that this course,  it gave me permission to draw and paint without any specific purpose. 

My mom was walking by and saw my flowers before I finished and she looked on in amazement. Immediately my mind began to say all these negative things like “this sucks, it’s not that great, maybe I should start over”. And then it hit me. 

It’s a sketchbook

It’s not meant to be pretty. And once I was able to get my mind resituated with the enjoyment of simply painting I was able to calm down. 

Over the past few years I’ve delved into learning about business, email marketing, social media, and just information overload. It’s time for me to unsubscribe. I need to focus on the things I enjoy and walk away from everything else that I don’t. 

Is there anything you need to take a break from? What are you unsubscribing from? 

The Gap Between Universities and Real Life Design Services

Today I met with a recent graduate interested in packaging design. She shared with me her portfolio and had different links of her work. When I asked her what does she want to get hired to do, she would tell me packaging design. 

As she presented her portfolio to me she talked about herself, the things she was interested in, and why she catered her projects to her professors. 

I asked her, “is your professor still in the field?” 

“No but she’s had years of experience.” 

Clearly there’s a missing gap. 

I remember when I was in this girls position – let’s name her Jessica. A few weeks ago I did a live painting event and Jessica’s friend was there. She told me how Jessica was an artist and was struggling to find work. I told her to email me. Today Jessica shared with me her issues in finding a job and she presented her portfolio to me. 

Here are a few things missing in your portfolio: 

1. The project is not complete. You worked on a marketing campaign and there are no prototypes, no real life photo shoots, lifestyle images or supporting sketches that shows me how you got to the final product. 

2. You don’t have a focus. Your interested in fine art,  packaging, marketing and photography and you didn’t combine them in one project to really push the creativity. You have everything in separate components. Why not package your fine art abilities into packaging? That’s a specific focus and I’m sure there’s a market out there for it.   

3. You’re stealing images off the internet and your professor is letting you get away with it. Did you purchase those stock images? Did you use free ones? Where’s the citation? Site your sources and keep your integrity intact. You may need to learn by looking at and copying others work – it’s never ok to publish that as your own. 

4. You didn’t tell me how your skills or interest would benefit the company. It’s great to learn about you, but what are you adding and contributing to the end goal of the company? 

5. You sound desperate in your email outreach. While they can take advantage of you, there is room to do additional research and learn about the salary, learn about the role, and learn about the customers they help. 

I can relate to Jessica and I didn’t have someone to show me the ropes. I hope these tid bits help recent graduates in search of their design careers. Don’t give up so soon, and it does take time to find someone willing to take a chance in helping you develope and hone your design skills. 

Learning To "See"

When I was in high school the best advice my art teacher gave me helped me understand how to draw better. Most people draw contour lines – heavy outlines – of their subject.

The best way to start learning is this: Draw what you see, not what you know is there. There is great reason that typically when starting out you’ll be asked to draw still life of 3D shapes.

We’ve gone over the elements and the principles – next we’ll see how the elements and principles play a part in product design.