January 13, 2014

The Creative Process Journal: Dreams, Stepping Stones and Open Doors

It was about 3 months ago after a conversation about the creative process with Greg Manchess, Stephen Stroud and Irene Gallo and a few glasses of wine that I decided to get a little journal to begin writing down the important points. There was so much good information that it needed to be recorded. I’m a frequent lecturer for SmArt School and now The Illustration Masterclass and I knew that jotting all of my experiences and conversations would benefit me and in turn benefit all of those students.
I have to be honest—that first blank page of the journal was scary! Scarier than the first blank page of that beautiful sketchbook you received as a gift. I know we all have at least one. It took me about a month before I could muster up the courage to begin filling it. I knew that as time went on, the clarity of some of the points would be lost or buried beneath newer observations. So, I just began to write and now I begin to share. Here are three points from the Creative Process Journal and a little more on each point:

“Without dreams there is no direction.”

I first met Gregory Manchess when Vincent DiFate asked me to audit a class he would be teaching for the Illustration Department at FIT. One of the first things Greg had the class do was write their 5-year plan. You need to know where you want to go. Generally. The act of writing it down makes it much more of a commitment. Even if you don’t look at that piece of paper regularly—or ever—somehow, you become unconsiously conscious of it. Try it and you’ll understand what I mean.

“Use jobs to build your career. All jobs are stepping stones in the path of your career.”

You can’t rely on a discovery and no one is going to hand you the career you dreamt of. But, you can step closer to it with each job. Each new job is an opportunity for challenge, discovery and growth. You need to find a perspective in the job which allows you to be challenged. It may not be part of the assignment. You may need to become the challenger yourself. Just as a question leads to an answer, challenge leads to discovery. It isn’t only limited to technical skill, but to all the other ways that art resonates with a viewer: scale, composition, lighting, drama, engagement, interactivity, storytelling.

“Open doors present themselves because you have sought them, but mean nothing unless you step through them.”

It’s time to stop window shopping! It has been too often that I’ve witnessed an illustrator/designer/artist who has been staring blankly at open doors. Open doors which have been presented to them because of something they themselves have done. They networked with other artists, entered a competition, enrolled in a class, etc. That door is open and you need to make the next step through it. Usually, the biggest obstacle between you and stepping through the door is… you! We need to get out of our own way!

So, keep dreaming and step through that door!

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