inks & things

inks & things

Living close to the water

I had a professor at RISD who asked two questions on the first day of class, the first of which was, “Who here lives by the river?” By that he meant who was going to cry during the work critiques, because boy howdy, the crits were going to be rigorous. Hopefully those of us who survived would be stronger illustrators with (hopefully) thicker skins, and those who dropped out would find a better creative fit somewhere else. 

Foundation level classes are necessary to lay the ground work for a long creative life. Sometimes that means knocking down what was put up before. I didn’t appreciate the reasoning at the time, but I’ve thought about my school experience a lot in the past years, and here is what I learned:

It’s difficult to separate what we do from who we are, maybe it’s impossible, but you will get better at it if you try. In art school an awful drawing is enough to make you feel like you’ll never be a good artist. In your first job, it may be a project that never really takes off, a client that you can’t satisfy, the award that you didn’t win. There will always be a reason to hang it up. Humans don’t usually like running towards pain. 

The Catholics use the word vocation (from the Latin vocātiō meaning, “a call, summons”) to refer to a specific purpose and lifelong calling that a person can be drawn to. The idea resonated with me from the first time that I heard it - coincidentally (or not) the same time that I began to draw seriously. 

It takes time to hone a craft, and paying too much attention to short term gains and losses is exhausting. Taking the long view helps smooth out those early peaks or confidence and valleys of doubt. Think 20, 30, 50 years out…if we’re lucky, even longer than that. What work do you want to define your life? What will be your legacy? It’s going to take time, but you will get there.

I don’t know if thinking this way ultimately guarantees success, but it does provide satisfaction. 

The second question our professor asked was, “Who’s from Brown?” Anyone who admitted to it was shown the door, because there is a difference between someone who choose to go to a school to learn the tools they will need for a life of making and those who are for all intents and purposes are tourists. 

I had a great time exploring the Opal Creek area this Weekend with my team at Instrument. We found this little waterfall up the road from the camp site. It turned out to be a series of waterfalls and deep green pools going up and up into the mountains. I made it at least 5 major falls before having to turn back. More over at Salt Fire Fall Dust this week.

I had a great time exploring the Opal Creek area this Weekend with my team at Instrument. We found this little waterfall up the road from the camp site. It turned out to be a series of waterfalls and deep green pools going up and up into the mountains. I made it at least 5 major falls before having to turn back. More over at Salt Fire Fall Dust this week.

Nice type #vscocam (at San Francisco Ferry Building)

Nice type #vscocam (at San Francisco Ferry Building)

New Rodeo work up on SaltFireFallDust, this month.

New Rodeo work up on SaltFireFallDust, this month.

The marathon

I use to run long distance. I found little physical joy in it. I ran because it was hard and I wanted to push myself. The most useful thing that I took from the experience was the discovery that if you just don’t stop, you can finish almost any distance. 

There comes a time in any creative project where the rush of excitement and joy of making something new is gone and the work stretches out towards the horizon. It’s tempting to step away for a bit, do something different, start something new. Don’t. Put your head down. Grind out the miles. 

In his excellent book On Writing, Stephen King calls this part of the craft “mowing the grass.” I love that description, it goes through my mind every time I look at a stack of blank pages and don’t want to start. So much of creative work is just doing work. It’s not fun. 

The only way to build endurance and deepen your craft is by following through even when it’s painful. The more ground you cover now, the more you can cover in the future.

Inking tip: remove brush pen cartridge  for more control & nice drybrush effect.

Inking tip: remove brush pen cartridge for more control & nice drybrush effect.

“What makes a good story and how has outstanding of that changed over time?” Is a question raised in a recent article in The Verge by Veronique Greenwood, and one that got me thinking.
We are living in a era that is increasingly being defined by a succession of new technologies used for social interaction. It can be difficult to separate what is in a story from how it is conveyed because; 
We’re in the thick of things here and it’s hard to get a good perspective on history as it is unfolding.
The form of a story plays a role in how it is told. Think, reading a play instead of watching one.
The form a story takes, more specifically, the way that it is communicated is one that I find interesting when it is compared to the older tales of humanity. For example: The Illiad vs Snowfall. Will this New York Times article sink its hooks into our collective subconscious because the technological delivery mechanism is so relevant and attractive to our tastes? Snowfall is still being referenced over two years after it debuted, which are like dog years in internet time. Will it live on after the environment it was created in is no longer accessible or will the eventual technological obsolescence scrub it from history? 
It won’t take a long time to find out. Remember Flash? If you work in the interactive community, you probably do. At one point it was the dominant technological form of communication. I got married way back in the early aughts, and I created a interactive CD (using Flash, of course) as part of our wedding invites. I can’t find a computer old enough that can play it. We have the paper invites, we have film from the wedding it self, but I may never find a good way to share the little experience I built for our guests with our daughter.
Will the things we make be held hostage by the technologies we built them in, or will their be a way to transcend technology? The Illiad has. Look at this timeline:
12th century BC Trojan War.
7-8th century BC Homer composed the Illiad as a poem that is spread in the oral tradition.
The work continued being of great importance throughout the Classical Greek, Hellinistic and Byzantine periods.
10th century AD oldest known manuscript.
1473 reprinted in the English book, “Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye and widely circulated in Europe in Latin translations.
1602 William Shakespeare bases Troilus and Cressida off of the Illiad.
1791 William Cowper prefaces his translation with, “I have omitted nothing; I have invented nothing.”
1870 William Cullent Bryant publishes a blank verse version.
20th century sees several re-publishings and the inclusion in many school curriculums.
2004 Troy, the movie.
This leads me to postulate that technology is just the shell that holds a story for a time, before a new shell can be used. A compelling story should live as long as people are interested in hearing it. I hope.
A few questions to leave you with:
Are we in a new golden age of myth and folklore? 
Will that great story told in Flash have a life 10 years from now? Or will the message be stripped from the medium, leaving only stories behind.
What will be the next Beowulf? 
Who will be the next Brothers Grimm?  
What can we do to create content, or spread ideas that have universal appeal and longevity?

What makes a good story and how has outstanding of that changed over time?” Is a question raised in a recent article in The Verge by Veronique Greenwood, and one that got me thinking.

We are living in a era that is increasingly being defined by a succession of new technologies used for social interaction. It can be difficult to separate what is in a story from how it is conveyed because; 

  1. We’re in the thick of things here and it’s hard to get a good perspective on history as it is unfolding.
  2. The form of a story plays a role in how it is told. Think, reading a play instead of watching one.

The form a story takes, more specifically, the way that it is communicated is one that I find interesting when it is compared to the older tales of humanity. For example: The Illiad vs Snowfall. Will this New York Times article sink its hooks into our collective subconscious because the technological delivery mechanism is so relevant and attractive to our tastes? Snowfall is still being referenced over two years after it debuted, which are like dog years in internet time. Will it live on after the environment it was created in is no longer accessible or will the eventual technological obsolescence scrub it from history? 

It won’t take a long time to find out. Remember Flash? If you work in the interactive community, you probably do. At one point it was the dominant technological form of communication. I got married way back in the early aughts, and I created a interactive CD (using Flash, of course) as part of our wedding invites. I can’t find a computer old enough that can play it. We have the paper invites, we have film from the wedding it self, but I may never find a good way to share the little experience I built for our guests with our daughter.

Will the things we make be held hostage by the technologies we built them in, or will their be a way to transcend technology? The Illiad has. Look at this timeline:

12th century BC Trojan War.

7-8th century BC Homer composed the Illiad as a poem that is spread in the oral tradition.

The work continued being of great importance throughout the Classical Greek, Hellinistic and Byzantine periods.

10th century AD oldest known manuscript.

1473 reprinted in the English book, “Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye and widely circulated in Europe in Latin translations.

1602 William Shakespeare bases Troilus and Cressida off of the Illiad.

1791 William Cowper prefaces his translation with, “I have omitted nothing; I have invented nothing.”

1870 William Cullent Bryant publishes a blank verse version.

20th century sees several re-publishings and the inclusion in many school curriculums.

2004 Troy, the movie.

This leads me to postulate that technology is just the shell that holds a story for a time, before a new shell can be used. A compelling story should live as long as people are interested in hearing it. I hope.

A few questions to leave you with:

  • Are we in a new golden age of myth and folklore? 
  • Will that great story told in Flash have a life 10 years from now? Or will the message be stripped from the medium, leaving only stories behind.
  • What will be the next Beowulf? 
  • Who will be the next Brothers Grimm?  
  • What can we do to create content, or spread ideas that have universal appeal and longevity?
New illustration work and prints up on Fantom Forest