Friday, July 30, 2010

How to get motivated

Zombies are motivated for brains like you should be motivated towards your passion in life. Learn from them.

Monkey here:

Today I'm going to talk about drive and motivation. Now some tough-ass type of coaches, gurus, advisers, and other sorts of people might tell you that you either have it or you don't, but that's not really the full story.

Often times, we have the drive, but we just haven't found the endeavor worthy of that drive. Because our society often promotes certain fields and not others (math and hard science over philosophy, art, and social sciences), often times we label others (and get labeled ourselves) as "unmotivated," "lazy," "unfocused." I find that when it comes to calculus, physics, and drawing subject matters that don't interest me, I am unfocused (hello Bejeweled Blitz!), unmotivated ("hmm, maybe I'll scrub the toilet instead of working on this commission") and just plain lazy ("zzzzzzzzzzzzzz"). On the flip side, give me a day off and tell me to draw monsters and octopi and zombies all day? I'll be glued to my Wacom tablet an easy 8-12 hours no sweat.

So to all those people who tell others that they should be focusing on their work more, go shove it. And yes, all you artists out there with unsupportive parents - I really am telling your parents to shove it.

If you've ever heard "you should focus on XYZ" instead of art, where XYZ is something that you have no interest in, then you should make a deal with that person who just told you that. Pick something that they have absolutely no interest in, and tell them if they focus on that, you'll focus on XYZ. After all, fair's fair.

The point of all this is that just because someone is not interested in a certain field (like their current job) doesn't mean that they aren't driven - it's just hard to push yourself to do something that you essentially hate. The "trick" is that you have to figure out what you are passionate about and go after that. You have to be specific and not generalize. If you are passionate about art, are you passionate about studying 14th century oil paintings, or are you interested in wheatpasting posters around town? Two very different fields, but both would fall into the general category of "art."

Once you find what you love to do, you'll find that life gets a lot more fun, and "work" doesn't seem so much like work. Maybe you won't be able to land that dream job right away, but once you know the concrete details of your dream job, you'll then be able to start taking concrete actions in order to wean yourself off your current job and move to what you really want to do.

The next step is to take a lesson from zombies and learn to be relentless in your passion. It may hurt, it may take a long time, but in the end, when you're truly delving deep into what you love to do, that's when it's going to be all worth it.

What are you passionate about?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Try something new

Monkey had never used the rainbow gradient in Photoshop. Now he has.

Try something new. Be a beginner again.

Be thankful for what you have, but don't be satisfied. Especially with your art. It's important to continually grow and experiment in finding the best mediums to express yourself. Some of the best architects are also the best photographers. A sculptor is also a filmmaker. A painter is also a screenprinter. "Why," do you ask? Because no matter in what medium we work in, something translates. We can see color in painting and in photograph. We understand light through three dimensional sculpture. We understand movement because we understand stillness. Being an artist means constantly exploring the seeming "paradox," or the unknown.

Sure, if you've never tried drawing before you may not be happy with your first drawing in comparison to your skillful photographs, but that shouldn't stop anyone from trying something new. As an artist we try so damn hard to learn one thing in a lifetime, to become "masterful" at something. Although it's good to have a goal and be dedicated and focused towards that goal. But a goal for the sake of the goal becomes yet another work.

Art thrives on something new, something not yet formed, something you are trying to grasp but don't know how to communicate. It's quite frustrating, but it's valuable to be a beginner. Occasionally, we have to let loose, and stop taking the art so gosh darn serious.

It doesn't work to drag our artist self to the easel, hand it a brush and say, "now, paint." No. We have to start the creativity by doing something crude, crazy, totally "BAD" art. Something happens when you allow the artist self to create "bad art" and relieve it from the pressure of perfection. Only then, can we move on to exploring deeper ideas, delving deeper into our craft, and creating something that's meaningful to us.

So what's the big deal in trying something new? Never knitted? Draw? or taken photos? There is no big deal. Poop poop.

The things in life you will regret are the things yet to be tried. Figure out something new that you would like to try. What is it?

Monday, July 26, 2010



Procrastination is self-sabotage. Even though we knows this and most of us don't like to procrastinate on art, yet we still do it. Whether we start the art on Sunday or Wednesday, it is almost always done minutes before deadline.Why is that? Psychologists say that procrastination is an avoidance of pain. Why are we so afraid of our art? Why is it painful to do art? and NOT to do art? Given how society views art, Seal is not surprised at these paralyzing fears.

Have you ever heard of the phrase,"starving artist?" Or how about, "artists are crazy, self-absorbed, over indulgent, selfish, selfish." Where did we get that? If you live on planet earth, then probably from our parents, our parents' friends, teachers, students, our peers, our co-workers. While a typical high school program grooms their young-ins in biology, English, or math, art is seen as an elective (and only the nerds, crazies, or indie kids take art!). Artists are already filled with doubts and fears before they begin, so it's not surprising that we stare at the blank canvas and a week has gone by before any mark is made.

Procrastination is not born, but learned. The Procrastinating artist is avoiding some sort of pain. There are three main categories of procrastination:
  1. They want the rush of a deadline. They feel they are not creative otherwise.
  2. They want to avoid failure or success, or any kind of visibility.
  3. They don't want to make a decision on (what subjects to paint, what color, what to say in their canvas) so they can be absolved of any consequence and responsibility of the outcome (look what you have made).
Seal guesses that most artists who procrastinate have had to deal with shame. (How dare you make that art? Who do you think you are to create? You think you can actually be a successful artist? get real.) Any bad crit, look, or comment, can trigger such fears to the point that the artist will put off working on anything unless they absolutely have to.

Procrastination is the artists' last resort. To run away. To hide. To put off the canvas for another day. If you are a procrastinator, I'm sure people have probably already told you: "get a planner" "learn time management" "be more strict with your time" etc. etc.

Although the above suggestions help, Seal would like to also propose the following approach:
If you think you are struggling with one of the above issues: Congratulations. Admitting it is already a big step. Here are some things to keep in mind: 1) Since procrastination is learned, it can be unlearned. It will take time (no pun intended), but the payoff is your freedom. 2). Procrastinators don't like what they are doing and most (if not all) would like to change their behavior. (So no need to tell them "they need to change," etc. they know). Now here is the big secret, it's scary, but you can do it. And even the best time management courses do not cover this, and yet it can help you breakthrough your procrastination: you need to find out WHY you are procrastinating. What are you avoiding? Why are you in pain when you do art? Who or What has caused this pain?

Finally, what eases the pain? What makes it better? What makes you feel safe to create? Get more of it.