Happy Holidays from Gravity.
See the outtakes
If you are like me—or rather, my former self—you’re probably quite familiar with the phrase, “I’m just so busy”. It’s become the ultimate crutch, the perfect excuse to get out of inconvenient dinner plans and a reason to neglect your fitness routine. It’s even become your default answer to questions like, “How has your summer been?”—an otherwise perfect opportunity for you to share something interesting. But most profoundly, adopting the "I'm so busy" mantra is the one thing holding you back from finishing (or even starting) your personal creative projects.
Chase Jarvis, Artist and CEO of CreativeLive wrote in a blog post, “Busy isn’t success, it’s a lack of priority”. His post, and that line specifically, got me thinking about my own seemingly busy schedule and that perhaps, I in fact had the time I thought I hadn’t for creative projects as long as I made them a top-ranking priority. After some re-jiggering of my schedule, and quite a bit of trial and error, I found the following set of steps to be the most successful process in bringing creative projects to the forefront of my day-to-day.
1) Record your time and don’t leave anything out
I started by documenting, hour by hour, the way I spend my time in a typical week. Sure, I work 40 hours and get an average of 8 hours of sleep a night which, together, takes up 96 of the 168 hours in a week. But what was happening in those other 72 hours? To my shame, I found that I was surrendering that time to Netflix, shopping online, checking and BROWSING Instagram (who does that?), perusing Pinterest, yadda yadda. Don’t get me wrong, I was spending quality time with my husband, taking my dog on walks, cleaning, and making healthy meals (also known as “adulting”), but the rest of my time was being swallowed up by the nonsense.
2) Define and list your priorities
Next, I wrote down a list of my top priorities and bucketed them into the following three categories:
This helped me organize my thoughts and highlighted the areas that needed some balance.
My creative goals, for example finishing my illustrated greeting card series and photographing my designed wedding invitations, fell under the Self category—along with yoga twice a week, journaling once a day, etc. Updating my portfolio site was a task I listed under the Career column, and more frequent girls’ nights was mandatory under Relationships. Turns out that constantly scrolling Instagram, pinning DIYs for my hypothetical garden on Pinterest, and watching hours of Stranger Things on Netflix weren’t even close to making the priority cut (Although, ST is dope and may be budgeted back into my schedule).
3) Rewrite your week and adhere to it
I did this by creating a one-week schedule. First, I filled in the spaces that are absolutely mandatory and don’t vary from week to week like working and sleeping. then I started to allocate the more fluid priorities to the available time slots. Illustrating was now to be done on Wednesday and Thursday from 7-8 pm and photographing my projects would happen on Monday from 6-7 pm, when the lighting was still fantastic.
Looking at a map of my revitalized week helped me realize the amount of time I actually had to do the things I was neglecting for so long. It became obvious that putting off my creative projects because of time (or lack thereof) was no longer a viable excuse. I HAVE the time, I just need to use it correctly.
Sticking to a precise schedule may be nearly impossible. After all, we’re human and curve balls get thrown at us regularly, but getting a sense of what you really care about, and scheduling those things into your week is a sure way to live a life of intent and to get sh*t done.
For a pdf of the schedule template I used, click here.
For years I have experimented with typography and distorting it in ways to fit my sensibility and preference. It started out with simple handwritten type, then calligraphy, then fully formed illustrations. I feel like giving personality to my type allows it to say more than the words alone can convey.
The illustration above is something I made for some friends. It spells out “CLARK ISLAND” in the shape of a guitar.
Backstory: My friends—who are musicians—live on their own island called ‘Clark Island’. They were planning to use that name for their band as a kind of homage, so I decided to create a piece of art for them.
I do this stuff often—jamming words into a shape. It’s a great exercise to fulfill my love of type and art. Throughout this post, I’ll go through my basic process.
For this piece, I needed to find a guitar image for reference to form the outline of the illustration.
Using the basic shape of the guitar, I roughly sketched in the words where I felt they would fit best. With the strings cutting straight through the middle of the guitar and “Clark Island’ being two words, it made the most sense to do it in two lines.
This step is usually the most time consuming. Often times, it’ll take up to an hour and many iterations for me to be happy with the layout—but it’s important to get the structure just right.
Now comes the fun part where you decide how you want to stylize your words. I’ll either base it on an existing typeface or just freely draw it. Again, I noticed the strings and wanted to integrate that into my letters. I came up with a fluid line style that flowed the ‘K’ and ‘D’ right into the strings.
Oh hey look, it worked. Took some creativity and the ‘D’ isn’t quite perfect but it was successful enough. It’s my art and I’ll set the standards.
With the hand-drawn part finished, I scan my illustration and do some minor clean up, then decide how I want the final product to look. I’m a big fan of white on black art so I inversed my illustration in Photoshop and added some depth with subtle shadows using the brush tool.
Here is the finished framed-up product.
To view some of my other work: Instagram.com/runofsketch
When it comes to my personal artwork, I constantly experiment with different approaches. Partly because I haven’t identified with a specific style, but mostly because I just like to challenge myself and see what happens. It’s very satisfying to try something different with zero idea of how it’ll turn out, whether it’s successful or not.
I settled on this scribblized style because I was looking for something that didn’t require much conceptualizing and let me just freely draw. The continuous scribbling allowed me to keep my rhythm and pencil moving without much thought or stoppage. It’s pure fun.
Below is a series of illustrations I did of my family. Pictured are my two nieces and my sister (I’ll eventually get through to the rest of the gang). Technique and timing notes at the end.
Total time to complete each piece: 70 mins
Total time drawing for each piece: 15 min
After choosing the photo I want to use, I print it out full size in black and white (easier to identify the shade values) and trace the outlines of the face and make markings for the eyes/nose/mouth for placement. I use that same photo for the shading reference for the drawing.
Just old-school graphite on paper. I draw the eyes first. Always. The eyes make or break any portrait drawing so I have to make sure it looks right for my own confidence and peace of mind to continue.
Then after filling in the nose and mouth... SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE. I try to keep all the line weight consistent, just having more lines in the darker shades and fewer in the lighter areas.
The key is to set the right value with the middle tones so the drawing doesn’t come out to dark or light. I would take a step back periodically (2-3 times) to make sure i’m not going too crazy and the values look right.
Second in a series, THE 5 LAWS OF GRAVITY FOR A MORE SUCCESSFUL BRAND.
When you're creating or recreating your website, smart design is more than decoration. Smart design makes even the hottest brands more attractive and sometimes the key is in keeping it simple. According to econsultancy, 40% of people will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
That can translate to other areas of your brand. Margin Media reports 48% of users as saying that if they arrive on a business site that isn't working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring. (stats pulled from the awesome Hubspot)
Color is key in web design as it is in other areas of marketing, maybe second in importance only to color in packaging. For your website, color can affect positive or negative growth pretty dramatically. Here's a clear and cool little infographic on color from instantshift:
It's important to be aware of trends in consumer reactions. Smart design + strategy is the recipe that helps your brand exert all kinds of gravitational attractiveness. Be the Ryan Gosling of branding and don’t be afraid to channel your inner heartthrob.