Good habits help
There are a lot of opinions on how some artists are better than others. The question is always; Why? I came upon this talk on how artists can become better by following seven specific habits. Andrew Price, the speaker, is a digital artist that discusses how these seven points helped his career.
The talk caught my attention because, as artists, we are always looking for information about other artists and how they create their work. Most artists work in isolation and this is a way of connecting to other artists. This article is a review of the talk:7 habits of highly effective artists : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM39qhXle4g1.5 million views -Andrew Price, artist, digital
1.Put in time every single day- smallest amount of work possible from the point of view of a young artist.
I agree. You cannot be an artist unless you create art. Showing up to your studio is a must. Wether your studio space is in the corner of the den or outside your house, you need to go there every day you can. Do the bare minimum and you will soon find that you stay a little longer to finish what you started and soon it is an hour or two later. The time has flown by and you didn’t even notice.
2. Volume not perfection- a lot of work leads to closing the gap ie Picasso 1800 paintings 1200 sculptures, 12,00 drawings an even more prints, rugs, tapestries, ceramics -learn most from first 90%. I have had instructors that said the same thing. Get out there and learn how to be fast. In the quantity, you will develop skills and refinement that will make you good. There is a note of caution there, however. You still need to work with some care and focus on what you are creating. You will only get better if you choose to get better with every work. Don’t just copy the last painting. Try to add something new and better with every painting but do it quickly.
3. Steal. He said that if you steal ideas from one artist then that is plagarism but if you steal from many artists, you are blending ideas and that is acceptable. Steal from many so people can’t tell. Price says: find your idols; and steal from them. He quotes Steve Jobs and Banksky as being master ‘stealers’. He said to read the book: Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steal_Like_an_Artist. This is a great book. He highlights many of the issues artists face, uses a lot of humour and has good ideas too.
4. Conscious learning; this is learning with a purpose. When you sit down to work, don’t just idly work. Work with a goal of doing certain skills better. He says that Malcolm Gladwell’s theory in his book Outliers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliers) that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill is not true- what you need to do is work with a purpose/consciously — learning as you practice, then you get better faster.
This is a lesson that I have learned too. When I work on a project, I eliminate as many distractions as I can. I shut off my cell phone; I work in a studio that has no internet; I even put up a sign on my door to say that I don’t want to be interrupted and I put on music that suits the project — usually music that I won’t sing along with or start following the beat. The trick is to find what works for you. I have a friend that puts on classical music while another puts on country music. This is music that relaxes them and allows the creative juices to flow.
5. Rest. Price insists that you need to stop work after a certain point on a project and do something different. You need to put it aside and go back to it later. Leave it alone for a while and you will feel detached so you can work on it objectively again.
This advice is particularly pertinent when you are stuck on a project. Some paintings paint themselves but many do not. When you cannot solve the problem of ‘what is wrong’, it is a good idea to put your work in spot where you won’t see it for a while. You will see it with fresh eyes when you look at it again and usually, the problem is easy to solve.
6. Get feedback. All good artists seek feedback, Price tells us. He quotes Pixar as saying that making sure artists get feedback is their secret success. Listening to criticism and acting on it is the key to success.
Most artists seek critiques. The key to giving criticism is to keep it short. Be careful of the words you use. Select only a few points that stand out. Verbalize these points in positive manner. Never start with a negative. When you are recieving criticism select two key points that stand out for you and note those down. You can put the ten other points on ‘stand-by’. Chances are that those two points will change your painting so much, it will be a totally different painting, leaving those extra suggestions null and void.
7. Create what you love because motivation is a big factor. Price quotes Brian Eno, a musician, as working only on music he wanted to hear and this was the secret to his success. Andrew Price, himself, found that he did girl figures because that is what he loved doing. Tried drawing men and did not like it so he did not do well. He says that when he worked on men, they were terrible.
We are all like this. We do what we love well because it comes easily. We notice more details, we are willing to spend more time on what we like and we treat our favourite topics with more love and care. I love landscape but treat it in a more abstract manner. When I have to work on more realistic topics, I have to really ‘make’ myself pay attention to the work. I feel like running away or doing my regular work.
Here is an article that supports this theory and adds more: 12 Habits of Highly Effective Artists, From Creative Exercise to Living in Airplane Mode by Rachel Corbett. https://news.artnet.com/art-world/artist-work-habits-1052036. She adds even more ideas that can help you. Basically, she says the same things as Price but adds that you have be able to work in all kinds of conditions and you should get used to it. Artists have to be resilient and work despite the conditions. You will never get the perfect environment or feel ‘perfect’ every morning so just get out there and do your art!
I hope this helps you .
Doris’ website: www.dorischarest.ca
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All photography and artwork by Doris Charest
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Till next time …