Having recently transitioned job roles from a focused UI / UX designer back to a Games Artist, I found myself drawing more than ever before. This return to a love I had put down for about three years, came about at the right time to really get the most out of attending the entertainment-design-industry-orientated event, Industry Workshops, here in London.
In this blog post, I want to share three massive takeaways from the weekend I left with beyond the usual message of practice, practice and practice. I want to share them with you so that they crystallise in my own mind and so that you can learn from these huge lessons too.
1) Be Mindful And Present When Both Observing And Drawing
Take the time to really bring attention and awareness to what it is you want to draw. Be this during a life drawing session or when thinking about conveying an emotion in a piece, really extend the period of time to just notice what you're looking at or what's inside you. Spend time after to internally process what it is you just observed, to understand the subject matter fully, or as much as you can, before putting pencil to page. Do all this without judgement. Then execute quickly.
This is Kan Muftic's approach to drawing with mindfulness. A meditative practice that not only helped him begin to level up his own drawing skills but also the approach had positive effects on the rest of his life outside of drawing. Muftic explains this process in more depth in his incredible book: "Figure Drawing for Concept Artists."
2) Power Is Quiet
"If you want to appear more powerful, you've got to begin quieting down."
This quote comes from the veteran painter John Harris, who has a way of painting unbelievable megastructures in a believable way. The subjects he paints always have such majesty, such weight and such a grand scale to them that they have the power to stay in your mind long after you've stopped looking at them. He achieves this by not painting in all the details, and representing the huge buildings and spaceships in ways that suggest complexity and mass.
The quote though, while applicable to his paintings and usable in one's own work, was spoken in relation to meditation and how he also practices it to quiet down the noise in his own head to better focus on his creative ideas. However, I think he may have been subtly making a point aimed at a certain loud mouthed presidential individual (although that is probably just conjecture on my part).
You don’t have to render in every aspect of your work. Sometimes, suggestive detail is more powerful. Less is more. Think, before you speak.
3) Connect To That Inner Love
Across many of the talks and conversations with other attendees, the general message and consensus told over and over was that in regards to focusing on what you really like to create and what really gets you passionate. Simply put, the boiled down message is to "draw what you love to draw and the rest will follow."
I hear this sort of message spoken many places by successful artists in various walks of life. Write what you want to read. Play music you want to hear. Photograph what your eye is drawn to. It's important advice and it is good for both the career and one's own artistic soul. It's applicable to young designers wanting to get in to the industry and to those who feel a little stuck where they are and want something to re-engage them.
I fall into the later. Hearing this advice over the weekend has reminded me of some personal projects I started a long time ago that need finishing. Reminded me of all the reasons I started drawing in the first place and reminded me that the process of drawing, while frustrating, is incredibly fun.
So much can be said about these three points and admittedly each one is a book by itself (well, one actually already is). I feel like there is more to say on point three, and I intend to write something in the near future examining this point more fully but, for now, I think keeping these learnings short and sweet should be enough to give you something to work on in your own art journey.