Category: Work Life

You aren’t as busy as you think:
Guidance on remaining creative and getting sh*t done

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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:

Self Relationships Career

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.

-Julia Perry

Illustration styles: Don’t think, just scribble

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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.

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Total time to complete each piece: 70 mins
Total time drawing for each piece: 15 min

The Setup

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.

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.

The Finish

  • Scan drawing
  • Light Photoshopping
  • Add color overlay
  • Drink (optional).

-Huy Cao

Don’t think. Just draw.

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This past year, I started realizing how little personal art I’ve done. It wasn’t due to a lack of effort, but more a lack of patience and commitment (okay, and some lack of effort too).

I tend to take on these huge projects that I carefully plan out inch by inch. The pieces I want to do usually require over a month of work and they almost never get finished. I get burnt out and ready for something new about halfway through.

I somehow managed to make my greatest passion stressful—I was trying too hard. I forgot the joy I always had just mindlessly doodling, not worrying about every line having to be precise and every element laid out perfectly on the page.

The four illustrations below are what I have done since this realization. They can hardly be called mindless doodles, but I attacked them with the same approach. As soon as I came up with the concept, I went to work, letting my hand move freely and didn’t stop until the piece was finished. Each illustration took me anywhere between an hour and an hour and a half. Much better.

Grandmas Boy

Mitch Hedberg - pastel

Jordan in Motion - graphite

R2D2 screenprint

There’s no end goal in mind with these illustrations, they’re just kind of laying around somewhere in my room. Although, one of them is contributing to a good cause. I’m donating the “Jordan in Motion” sketch to a silent art auction being put on by Philanthro — an organization I’m a member of — in partnership with Art with Heart. You can learn more about the event here and if you have an art piece you would also like to donate, email mary.wu@philanthroproductions.org by March 24.

Doing this reminded me what I was capable of creating when I allow myself to let go of some control. I relied more on my artistic instincts rather than having everything planned out. It has also helped breathe new life in other aspects of my design work. Sometimes, it’s better to not think and just draw.

-Huy Cao

Retail = Rebuild

030610a_headerThough the devastating earthquake struck over two months ago, Haiti is barely beginning to rebuild and will need aid for years to come. There have been many calls for donations, especially through organizations such as the Red Cross, but you can also support the recovery effort just by shopping.

The Haiti Poster Project has launched what they describe as a “collaborative effort by the design community to help effect change through our work. Signed and numbered, limited edition posters have been donated by designers and artists from around the world. All money raised will be donated to Doctors Without Borders.” Browse the stunning collection here.

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Inkspiration Part 1: tech tattoos

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Sailors do it. Musicians do it. And now even geeks and grandmas do it. These days tattoos are almost ho hum, almost de riguer. But still of intense interest to designers and other fans of visual art.

The reasons behind particular tattoo choices may be personal but a lot of people seem to be using their bodies like they use the bumpers of their car. If you can’t get that vanity plate you wanted, why not just pay to have someone permanently embed the message into your skin—with needles?

Maybe the weirdest decisions to do this are on the behalf of those that want to show their love of new technology. Tattooing your brand loyalty may have seemed hip in 1984 and could be cool in 2010... Continue reading "Inkspiration Part 1: tech tattoos"