Start your art project

Welcome back to Pencils & Stories!! It’s been a while since I have posted on the website.

Recollection City has been going strong for a year now. I have developed a course on making comics and taught it one time already. A while ago I started making videos but experienced a steep learning curve and a string of technical issues in recording video.

Today I finally relaunch the website and have a brand new Youtube channel to go with it!
It’s not perfect, I have a lot to learn about editing, on camera presence and ordering my thoughts in speech in a clear way, but as with everything, I will learn only as I go.

The first video is an extension of this blogpost I’ve written back in 2015. (Yikes!) I have gained some more insight in the obstacles that can plague us when we want to start something new, start improving or start our dream art project. And I’m happy to share it with you today!

Start your art project

Starting an art project can be hard. When we want to kick off something new, often times we feel “not ready,” and we don’t exactly know why. Even if we’ve overcome the “fear of the blank page” there can still be thoughts that hold us back, or sneakily obstruct the clear view on what we should be doing to move the project further and get it to finished.

In this video I name three of the biggest reasons artists are hesitant to start new projects, or why they are sabotaging their progress. And I share a single counter thought to these obstacles.

You’re not alone. But is there truly a thing like “being ready” when you want to challenge yourself? And is it necessary to be ready at all?

Here is the video:

As you can hear in the video, some of the biggest reasons we may be hesitant to start (REALLY working on) new projects are these:

1. I’m not ready to start because I don’t have the skill yet.

You will only get the skill by gaining experience. Shelve your big projects for now (you’re not starting them anyway 😉 ) and start something small, work on it for a few weeks. Finish it. Then slowly expand. Eventually you’ll gain more confidence to start your bigger projects.

2. I’m not ready yet because I have to prepare more.

Sometimes you do. When there’s glaring plot holes, when you’re not sure how to draw your main cast yet, when you haven’t figured out the style yet…. Absolutely, do some more work beforehand. But you can’t be prepared for everything. You will also get more new ideas as you go and keep refining. So when you have the basics in place: start! You’ll run into all kinds of things as you go. Design and write them then.

3. I’m not ready yet because I don’t have the time.

Life happens and we all have different amounts of time to spare. This can be a complicated concern with multiple facets:

  • Sometimes other things have priority right now. That’s ok. Make a concious decision to focus on that and not on art for a while. This doesn’t make you any less of an artist! Art and ideas are not going anywhere. Have a small notebook to write down ideas as they come, do some drawing to unwind. But take the pressure off yourself to have to create if you can’t.
  • When you do have some leeway, often times you can find a little more time in your day. Watching a lot of Netflix in the evenings? Maybe you can watch one hour less and dedicate it to a tiny project? Maybe you have a long commute and you can draw on the train? Maybe you can record small stories for Soundcloud in your car with your phone? Maybe you have 15 minutes to spare during lunch break? Maybe you can get up 30 minutes earlier? Get creative.
  • Do not sacrifice the essentials: rest, breaks and sleep, social time, meals, responsibilities, etc. Art is not worth losing the important things in life over.
  • If you have a small amount of time you can also adjust the project to your timeframe. Don’t cram a gigantic project in these precious windows of time but see what time your have available, how long you want to work on your project and then make it small enough so that it fits.

The biggest “solution” to each of these obstacles that stand in the way of starting your project or getting really serious about it is this: realizing that you are never ready. There is only one way to see your project through: start, mess up, continue, adjust and refine. And eventually you will finish your project.

A key element in this is starting small. Start a tiny project. Finish it. Start another one. Finish some more. Then slowly expand and you can start your bigger projects, because you know what to do, what your pitfalls are, how much time you need for certains steps, what you need to get started, etc.

I wish you happy art making. If you can, start something today. Just brainstorm a list of tiny projects you could do.

Need some help? I have made a list of 30 tiny project ideas that you can download for free here.
30 tiny projects

I hope you’re excited for things to come when it comes to Pencils & Stories, I sure am!

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Thanks so much for reading and watching! Have a great day and happy art making!

-Henrike