Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What’s in a Name?

A young lady named Sara asked me this question below on the last blog post and I promised to respond.

I'm sure you're busy, but I was curious if you could go into detail about your title - "An Exercise in Perseverance." I'm realizing now that I do love art tremendously but NEED to start getting serious and disciplined about practicing/creating/keeping myself out of slumps - so that title really spoke to me.

I find that honesty is usually the best policies in most cases so I will mention why I choose the name for my blog and what it was originally called.

Short Answer:

The choice to be an artist is not a simple one. It is often choosing a life of little fiscal or emotional stability. If one makes the choice its only through perseverance and the reaffirmation of the choice everyday that an artist will be rewarded.

Long Answer:

When I first decided to create a blog I had to address what function I wanted it to serve. My first thought was I wanted to create another vehicle on the web to promote my work. My website’s upkeep is a rather lengthy process of back and fourth with my web guy and to be honest it usually only gets updated about twice a year. I wanted to have more control to post whenever I liked and with a great deal of flexibility. I also wanted to make sure I didn’t need to burn my time away from painting to learn a whole new program. So with that in mind and very little practical thought I created this blog just to get something up and titled it An Exercise in Mediocrity. The title was suppose to highlight that I would be showing a lot of in progress work not really worth of a website update in my mind.

It was about a week before I decided it was a terrible title sending the wrong message that misrepresented how dedicated and passionate I actually am about my craft.

In private and among friends I tend to frequently use self-defeating humor as a self-defense mechanism to work through my own doubts or issues and it serves it purpose. However I have found in the past young artists, including myself, mistakenly tending to do this often in public. I think the reason for this is artists are continually placing themselves in uncomfortable situations where they are forced to be open to rejection on a daily basis while seeking clients. I have found, like it or not, if you want to be a success in commercial art, you are selling yourself as much as your art. You are a large factor in the product you’re selling; you had better be sending the right message to investors looking into your product. Being comfortable with this notion took some time as I tend to be introverted by nature but I have come to understand the importance of it. I learned early on in my career if you don’t find value in your own work don’t have the ignorance to assume others will. Experience has shown me that being defensive or self-defeating in an attempt to convey humility or respect for those you admire is counterproductive to getting work and instilling confidence in your clients.

The simple way to overcome this novice pitfall is learn as much as you can, be passionate and honest about what you do. Don’t feel a moment’s guilt about loving what you do for a living. Strive to hold yourself to the highest standard that you are capable of and be accepting with your limitations while always striving to become better. Seek out those you respect and admire and have the courage to ask for their help but more importantly make sure you are in a position to listen and learn from their knowledge. Have an appropriate level of professionalism and always make your deadlines. If all these factors are covered it is easy to deal with the fact that a client may not be right for you and you for them. You can proudly stand behind your work and seek out the audience that is right for you.

Keeping all this in mind and choosing not once but everyday to maintain this course takes a great deal of effort and perseverance.

I am at a point in my career where the naive notion of making it or not making it, no longer holds any meaning. It was a hard carrot to let go of. As a student it was if I can only get into Spectrum I have arrived or if I get into a national magazine I made it and I will be rich and famous. These are notions for dreaming children. While they are just dreams and goals they are still important. Wanting to be compensated well for excellence in your craft is admirable but if your focus is on making money, your not focusing on what will make you that money, your art. Even though I have met the goal of getting into Spectrum and continuing to do so it is still important to me I can tell you whether or not I do I still have to wake up and make art the next day. Life, like making art, is a process. The journey is the key not the destination. I read somewhere when Norman Rockwell was asked what is your best piece you’ve ever made, he answered, as he looked at the canvas before him, “the one I am working on now of course.”

Returning to the topic of this blog I continually ask myself why are you really doing this? What function does it serve for you? While the answer has changed over time the main reason for this blog is to personally keep track of my thoughts while creating. I can then look back over the developing process. Hopefully in the years to come I can look back and see not only what I have completed but more importantly how have I evolved and why. As an added bonus it is also a way for me to interact with my audience, clients, students, and fellow artists. In this we can help each other learn and evolve together. In the end I think that’s what we are all here to do.

I hope this addressed your question and gives you some insight to why I chose to name my blog An Exercise in Perseverance. Good luck in all your future endeavors Sara.

I also hate posting blog entries with no images so here is a work in progress for an independent movie poster No More Blood I am currently working on. Also ImagineFX has been kind enough to plug a comic collaboration I have just completed.
I’ll follow up on both projects in a later post.


Daryll Collins said...

"I tend to be introverted by nature"

Except at Wendy's!

Lots of good info, Woody. I think you made the right call with the title of your blog.

The career of an illustrator is a fairly uncertain proposition. Unless you are at the very top of the field, it's a constant scramble to garner assignments. Not everyone is going to like your art. You just have to have enough art directors who like what you do.

Trends in illustration change and there is always the chance that your style of illustration may fall out of favor. Again you must keep plugging away, making small changes while staying true to your artistic voice.

The good news is in this profession you can continue to get better and better, unlike athletes, who have a window to peak and then age gets in the way of development.

Keep at it and try not to get too discouraged.

Woodrow J. Hinton III said...

Yep Sorry about that one again Daryll I just get excited when discussing talking Heads!

Thanks for the thoughts.

Justin D. Russell said...

This is a great post, Woody, very inspiring. I share your interests when making my own art. As a younger artist I see these patterns in myself concerning doubts sometimes. Since I met you at the Lunch Meetup and was able to see what you are doing and how you do it, I felt a great deal of respect for you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for being so open about the journey we're all on. I can't tell you how much this particular entry helped me. Thank you.


Dream Team said...

Excellent explanation and post Woodrow. I have watched your work over the years and you have excelled exponentially. Your thoughts and articulation about your work and introspections are on point. I TOTALLY relate to them.
Galen (aka The Scribbler)

SaraHaase said...

Thank you SO much for this. This post is honestly a gift. You're wonderful.