Today I'm excited to have Robert Chapman here on the blog. He's been doing his year of creative habits for 133 days now. Not only does Rob make these really fun creatures and scenes but he also has such an easy-going and positive manner about him that it's just a pleasure to follow him. Here's our conversation:
Crystal: What prompted you to begin the project?
Rob: I started my year of creative habits project specifically because of your blog, Crystal! I've followed The Abundant Artist Facebook page/website for over a year now and would always browse their articles and occasionally listen to their podcasts. Then one day they posted an interview (If I'm remembering correctly) about this year long art project that you were in the middle of, and I immediately knew this was something I could jump into, and likely complete. I had already been thinking about starting a blog of some sort, and now I had my inspiration!
C: So have you always been into art? Did you get away from from it for awhile or are you just beginning? What's the story there?
R: I guess drawing had always seemed to be that thing that defined me. It's always been like, "Hey! That's the guy that draws stuff and things." I've been doing it since I was little. It's funny though, I remember always getting in trouble at school for drawing during my classes. "I'll break your pencils!", was a thing my grade 7 teacher yelled at me in class once. I kept on drawing as often as I could until I reached adulthood, where I got a job, moved away from home, and stopped drawing for a long time. Then about four years ago I lucked into getting my hands on a Wacom drawing tablet and I began learning Photoshop. I've been keeping up with it ever since then.
C: Awesome. So tell us about your process. How do you make time for it every day? Where do your ideas come from, etc.?
R: Well, my process for creating every day has been constantly changing. I haven't thought about it until just now, but perhaps that's why I haven't had much trouble doing it every day; every day seems to have a different feel. I'll complete my drawings in the morning, but a few times a week I'll get them done in the evenings. Usually I'll do them at home, but sometimes I'll take the things I need and do my drawings away from home. During the summer there, I was lucky enough to do my work on the beach! Well, not that lucky, I think I'm still rockin' that epic sunburn. Do people still say "rockin"? Anyways, there's also the fact that I can go digital for awhile, and then change it up by drawing on paper for a few days. No matter where I am or what I have with me, I always seem to be able to make something and get it posted.
As for how I make the time, it's really not nearly as difficult for me as it likely is for others. When I made the decision to start this year long project, everything just fell into place. I was actively looking for ways to be more productive and I had just made the decision to focus on my artwork. I also had a friend who had been offering me some web space for awhile and so I was able to take him up on his offer to get my blog started off. Like I said, everything just fell into place, and there's no way I would have made it so far into this project if it wasn't for the support and encouragement of my friends and family!
Now, for where I get my ideas, that's a tough one actually. I have always wondered how other artists snatched their ideas out of thin air and recreated them on paper, or whichever mediums they use. To be completely honest, my drawings hardly ever end up being what I originally set out to make. I'll begin to make a blue sky with some clouds, for example, and it'll end up turning into an outer space alien invasion scene. All because that one cloud looked a little bit like a UFO. I also find that my previous projects stick with me for a few days. So, when I start the next project, I'll start them off by building onto ideas that I wasn't able to add last time.
C: Ok, so far you're making this all sound pretty easy! So what do you struggle with? Surely it's not all rocking' rainbows every day!
R: There are a few things I do have a little trouble with. Not everything can be all rainbowy, I guess. I'm not sure if I would consider these "struggles" per say, but there are definitely some obstacles that I occasionally face.
For instance, earlier this year I was working on a project for a friend. I had about a week to create 20 slides for a slideshow presentation she was giving at a local art house. She was adamant about showing off my work while also giving her speech. I don't think I've ever been so stressed out in my life. I mean, first and foremost I wanted to give her my best work, but I didn't feel like I had a lot of time to build something amazing. Then there was the fact that I had to make sure each image, which would be shown on the screen behind her for 15 seconds, matched up with what she was talking about on stage at that moment. Oh, not to mention that I had to learn how to use the software that would ultimately display the slideshow. All while thinking to myself, "A room full of people are going to see this. That's kinda terrifying". When all was said and done, the whole project turned out perfectly. Though, I was so focused on it for the week, I didn't eat properly, nor did I get nearly enough sleep.
Something else worth mentioning would be how I'm above and beyond my own worst critic. I'm sure every artist struggles with this to some degree. For me personally though, nothing is ever truly finished. I don't think there's a drawing of mine that exists where I can't pick it apart and find spots where I could of done better, or spent more time on something. To put a positive spin on it though, the best thing ever is when I go through all my digital drawings stored on my hard drive with someone, and they pick out a few that were never published online as their favorites. Those pictures stay hidden because they bug me, but it feels good when someone can find something in there that they happen to resonate with. Something I've learned through experience is that everyone sees art differently.
R: Let's see... first and foremost I really feel this "Year of Creative Habits" thing needs to be bigger. Huge even! It doesn't need to be seen as a challenge to overcome, or a goal to achieve. You can spend as little or as much time per day as you want/need. The only rules are that you need to stay consistent and keep track of your progress, right? Because if you start to miss a day or two, what's the difference between a day or three? Or four? After that, it's inevitable that your motivation to be (and stay) a more creative individual will eventually fade. Why even make the effort? A quick Google search on "Why be creative" will bring up a wealth of quality information linking creativity to happiness. So, that's a pretty good reason to start right there.
Secondly, I find posting my progress online keeps me accountable to keep on going. Especially during those rare days when I just don't feel up to doing anything! I know that there are a few people out there that would get on my case right away for missing a day. So it really helps to have people in your corner to help stay motivated.
Other than that though, I would say it doesn't matter how artistically talented you are. Anyone can do something creative for at least a few minutes a day and get really awesome at it by the time you hit day 365. If that's what you hope to accomplish, of course. I know scientists are skeptical, but how's that saying go? "10,000 hours of practice should make you an expert." I'm not sure I'm fully on board with that, but what I do know is that if you look at my first few days or so compared to some of the stuff I've been doing lately, it's like night and day. Or perhaps evening and day ;)
C: Such great advice! You can see more of Rob's work over on his blog, Robert's creative habit. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk Rob!
(Also you can find my daily drawing for today here.)