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A breakthrough in digital drawing: Weekly Art Dispatch, No. 20 🎨

11 May 2021 - Reading time: 8 minutes

This Dispatch is a bit late as I've been AFK for a lot of this weekend. (Amongst other things, I spent all Sunday bouldering with a friend - it was a great deal of fun, but I am a great deal unfit.  I'm still feeling the post-workout ache!)

Not as much art this week as I've been trying to juggle Drawabox homework with traditional drawing with digital art... but I made an important breakthrough.

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Timelapse: Canyon cube

2 May 2021 - Reading time: ~1 minute

Painting timelapse of the canyon cube (Weekly Art Dispatch #19), assembled in Clip Studio Paint.
The frames were extracted from screenshots, so they varied in size.

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A month of digital art: Weekly Art Dispatch, No. 19 🎨

2 May 2021 - Reading time: 9 minutes

It's the end of April, my first month of learning digital art.  How did I do?

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Painting monochrome and drawing big: Weekly Art Dispatch, No. 18. 🎨

25 April 2021 - Reading time: 6 minutes

This week's art output was a bit haphazard as I tried to figure out a balance between learning digital art, while still creating "fun art" with my usual traditional sketches.

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Learning to be a novice again: Weekly Art Dispatch, No. 17 🎨

18 April 2021 - Reading time: 5 minutes

This second week of digital art was more challenging than last week.  I finished a great pencil drawing and made some mediocre digital drawings; started thinking of turning professional and was encouraged not to think too much about it yet; and tried to come to terms with all of it.

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From Hobbyist to Professional, and how to think about it.

18 April 2021 - Reading time: 4 minutes

I initially wrote this for the Weekly Art Dispatch #17, but it became long enough to be a separate blog post.

This week, I was prompted by real-life circumstances to think about my "art career".

All my life I've noodled around with art as a hobbyist: drawing what I enjoyed, learning bits and pieces here and there, not really taking things seriously.  (That's the short version; there's a longer, more complicated story behind it.)  Now that I'm taking my art life a lot more seriously now than I ever did before, a question emerges: What does it take to move into a professional/freelancing space, especially when I don't have any formal art training?  Is there a certain mindset shift that I have to make from hobbyist to professional?  Am I caught in a kind of "hobbyist paradigm" that is unhelpful, and how can I tell?

I'd recently discovered a Discord chat server oriented to art freelancers and professionals, so I asked my question there.  The professionals were kind enough to answer, and they basically said this:

  • Focus on improving your art and drawing what you love; and
  • Be realistic about your skill level, and do your research about your dream art jobs.

More importantly, they gave me a reality check that went like this: The hobbyist-to-professional move will become clearer when you reach a certain skill threshold.  You're not at that threshold yet, so don't stress about all that now.  Just focus on what you can do right now -- which is improve your craft, and enjoy what you do.

Sound advice. This reality check prompted me to consider an even more fundamental question than "hobbyist vs professional": Why am I in the art game in the first place?

On one hand, I draw because I love drawing, and keep coming back to it even when I've tried to give it up.  But I'm also trying to realize a childhood dream of being a professional artist -- or at least, making some kind of income from it.  And there lies a tension.

There's a tension between those two things: doing art for its own sake, vs. doing art as a means to an end (making a career).   There's also a tension between aspiration/ambition, and being realistic about my current skill level and capacity for doing art-as-work.  On one hand, I don't want to embrace mediocrity and settle for the "I'm just a hobbyist" paradigm (which is how I've spent my whole life thinking).  On the other hand, I don't want to let ambition and striving overtake my love for the craft, smother that love, and leave me burned out, disillusioned, and discouraged -- which is not uncommon in the art world.  I suppose all creative endeavours contain that tension between aspiration and realism, between passion/personal investment and hard-headed business objectivity. And a healthy approach to a creative "career" is to keep both forces in a productive balance.

While thinking on all this, I was reminded of my Christian faith...

Don't stress about this or chase after such material things, because God my Father knows what I need, and has a purpose for my life and my art. Opportunities will come at the right times; and even if I miss them, opportunities will keep on coming, they may just look a bit different.  Don't worry!  Doing my art with joy and glorifying God with my enjoyment is the most important thing here -- so focus on that!

Well, I think my faith and those professional artists are right.  So I won't stress about this "hobbyist to professional" question, and instead just keep making art I love.  But also remember to stretch out of my comfort zone -- and digital art definitely accomplishes that!

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