A sure way to keep from making static, lifeless drawings is to think of drawing verbs instead of nouns. Basically, a noun names a person, place, or thing; a verb asserts, or expresses action, a state of being, or an occurrence.
I speak often of shifting mental gears and here is another place to do it. The tendency to copy what is before us without taking time (or effort) to ferret out what is happening action-wise is almost overwhelming.
No artist contained an extra wrinkle in their brain as big as Leonardo Da Vinci. He was a creative genius who combined the disciplines of both art and science to make something new.
Leonardo’s formula: see, contemplate, emulate, remix, and recast.
His undivided mind drove his imagination which led him toward discovery and innovation. He was also a tinkerer, even a procrastinator. Below are some sketches from his notebooks where he noodled on concepts and ideas.
“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
As if the 10,000 different colors in the pantone palette app isn’t enough, how about this.
Using the Cronzy pen, you can scan any color in the real world and use it to draw. Alternatively, you can choose from the 16-million unique colors in the app. Now you can color in Donald Trump in countless ways.
A few days ago I tweeted “No more adult coloring books.” I did not mean to disparage the inner artist, just the fad that makes $12 million in sales a year. Why do people stop making art in the first place?
“Children learn through play, but adults play through art.” – Brian Eno
I found out that today is National Coloring Book Day, so I did a little research. I stumbled upon Back in the Days Coloring Book by photographer Jamel Shabazz. The 32-page coloring book is based on Shabazz’s 2001 photography book which documents New York’s hip hop scene from 1980-1989.
Here are some images from the coloring book:
“In essence, all of my work is nostalgic, so almost every photograph I took during that time period, could have had a place in the book,” Shabazz tells TIME. “For me personally, I knew that images reflecting the old subway trains and classic fashion were important ingredients.”
I just contributed to the adult coloring book craze and bought a copy myself.
One way to generate good ideas is to produce a lot of bad ones first. Focus on quantity rather than quality so you have a lot to play with.
New Yorker’s cartoon editor Bob Mankoff says coming up with good ideas starts with asking yourself “what if?”
‘Ideas breed ideas’..He’s always amazed by the people who tell him they have a single great cartoon idea. One idea is never enough, and it’s rarely good. “The way you get good ideas is to get a lot of ideas,” says Mankoff“
Part of being a creator is learning to cope with failure. Not everyone is going to like your stuff. Mankoff sent the New Yorker thousands of cartoons before the magazine bought one.
No art gets wasted, though. Some cartoonists like Carolita Johnson recycle rejected cartoons. She’s a tweaker, combining ideas to see what else works and then she resubmits. She tries not to overthink it. The New Yorker bought one of her cartoons because it was more clever than funny.
“A rejected cartoon isn’t a dead cartoon.”
Creativity works like a muscle. If you want to strengthen it, you have to practice your craft every day. As Maya Angelou says, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Discipline is how cartoonist Matt Diffee skips inspiration and gets to work.
“The idea being blocked is the norm.” To get the juices flowing, he begins his weekly two-hour idea brainstorming sessions with a full pot of coffee and a blank sheet of paper.“As I empty the coffee, I fill up the paper,” he says.
It took Matt thinking over 40 unique concepts before he landed on the one to represent writer’s block.
There are no hacks to the creative process other than putting in the work and learning from your mistakes. The willingness to accept feedback is a lesson in disguise. As an artist, you have to enjoy your craft and be crazy enough to keep going even when no one believes in you.
“NYC has always been in my peripheral vision whilst growing up, specifically through my interest in film and hip-hop. my first trip was in 2001, just before the WTC fell. this proximity to 9/11 had a lasting impression on me and consequently my work.”