Don’t Follow Your Passion! (Pt.II)

Well, I finished Cal Newport’s book ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You: How Skills Trump Passion in the Search for Work You Love’ «I wrote about previously.

My verdict?

Possibly a life-changing book. The upshot is that if you want to do work (paid work) that you love, and this is of special interest to those who will be in salaried employment: you need to be very good at what you’ll be doing in that work.

Cal says that the biggest thing that people seem to want in their jobs is a good degree of  autonomy and control. They may think that they want more money, but studies have shown that really, it’s autonomy and control. This seems pretty reasonable to me. We like to be in control of our own lives, right? But if you want that, you need to be able to give the employer or show the employer something in return that merits that. Basically, if you are damned good at what you do—I mean really good—and have lots of experience, then the employer is more likely to grant you more autonomy and control.

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Don’t follow your passion. Be great at what you do instead (Pt.I)

I’m 55 pages into a book that I finally got around to reading: Cal Newport’s book, ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love’

My God… it’s good. When I’m finished I’ll write a bit more about it. So far it’s going against the majority of self-help career advice that’s put out there (and which I’ve fallen for, myself). Advice which was somewhat reinforced for many people worldwide by a famous speech that Steve Jobs once gave. It’s also inline with the old adage ‘Do what you love, and the Money will Follow’; and ‘Do What you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ The usual advice basically distills down into:

‘Follow Your Passion.’

There, simple.

Simple? Not really. If you want a great job—that you love, the chances are: you’ll have to be damned good at it. That you’ll need the great skills that are required to get you that great job.

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Style for the Dark Side—or the Light Side? (help!)

This Star Wars webcomic of mine (from a comic I drew as a kid) kind of disgraces me as a designer! But it’s such a hard style to get right, for the particular, unusual content which it carries. I’d love to get your input.

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Turn to the Darkside — or — the Lightside?

Ordinarily, I prefer not to ask people for their opinions on my work, but I’m just too close to this thing and… it’s also complicated.

The webcomic is built around a comic book adaption that I did as a kid between early 1978 and about 1983. So between the ages of 9 and about 14 or 15 years old.

The current look is my CSS-tweaked version of a very plain and basic off-the-shelf Comic Press skeleton template. It’s difficult to get much more creative with it in terms of layout etc., so what I’ve done is mainly adjust the typography, colours and forms of the various widgets and content boxes, like rounding off their corners.

The Design Problem to be Solved

The problems as I see them from a webdesign point of view are mainly all about the fact that what’s being displayed/presented/exhibited in the website is pretty rough looking, at times very tatty, stained, and even partially eaten by Silverfish insects! The paper is nearly 4 decades old. But most of the drawings lack finesse. What this means is that:

  • A ‘clean’ minimalist gallery-style website isn’t really going to fit the tatty looking content. It’ll make the content look even tattier by contrast.
  • When I do a slightly tatty looking site design (like my other alienage11.com webcomic) it just makes everything look like crap 😀

My feelings about the current Dark version

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Home-made Birthday Cards!

I’m sure I’m not the only arty type who does this, but I thought I’d put these birthday cards that I make for my son Johnny, every year—just for fun.

I’ve always done this for family and friends. I wonder if the ones I did way back, for college pals are still in existence?

My son Johnny is mad into football, Liverpool FC and the Ireland team, so it’s fun putting him into some of those matches!

8th Birthday: Playing for Liverpool FC!

Cassilas was the world’s greatest goalkeeper at the time (or so Johnny told me), so it was only right that I should show him being thrashed by an incredibly talented 8 year old!

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Scoring—with his left leg!—against Iker Cassilas! (pens on paper)

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I was a ‘Shadow Artist’

I got thinking about: being creatively ‘stuck’, and not taking the leap into creating your own work, which led me to think of what Julia Cameron said about ‘Shadow Artists‘ in her book The Artist’s Way.

Self-Defeating Self-Help?

I can definitely relate to this. It’s also why the self-help industry is huge. We want to keep reading variations on the same wisdom in the hopes of filling in gaps we missed – or getting that final combination of ‘secrets’ that will finally give us the confidence we need.

The Shadow Artist

I first became aware of it when reading Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artist’s way‘. The author introduced me to the idea of the ‘Shadow Artist‘. I suddenly realised that I was one! Instead of actually making my own art, I was voraciously reading books about art & artists – and painting technique. I was almost an art historian, but producing nothing. I read biographies and diaries of artists –  hoping it’d inspire me, or rub-off. But I think really, it was an easy substitute for doing the work – taking a risk. It was procrastination.

People also like to talk about their great novel – which they haven’t written yet.

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I finally – actually – painted something, instead of just talking about it. ‘The Florentine’ c.2004

Taking Action: Art Classes

When my wife finally pushed me to do art classes, I started reading a lot less about Art – and watching less art documentaries – because  I was more interested in doing my own art. I was no longer a ‘Shadow Artist’. What I did read, and look at, had real purpose. In-between painting, I was studying the work of people like Lucien Freud and Velasquez, and trying to apply it to my own work. Continue reading

Comic Strip, or Comic Page? A failed Experiment

Last week, I tried an experiment with my Webcomic. I split up the page that I’d yet to publish, into 3 strips, and published them on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I was going for more frequent updates, in a way that was more manageable within my time-constraints.

Comic strip 1, as extracted from a larger 'Between * Wars' comic page

One of the Comic Strips – as extracted from a larger comic page, ‘The Old Boy’

Realising it wasn’t working, on Friday, I quickly re-published them as one big page, ‘The Old Boy’ and got 30 Facebook ‘Likes’ within a few hours. That’s 30, instead of the 3 or 4 I was previously getting. People much preferred the old way!

 

I was all excited about the new comic strip format

I was actually really excited about doing this. One of the problems with my Between * Wars comic has been frequency and regularity of updates. because if there’s one thing that will lose you the readers that you’ve gained through your hard work and quality output, it’s going for indeterminate periods without giving more instalments. Your readers won’t know when or even if there’s another episode coming, and will get frustrated, lose interest and maybe even forget about you. Continue reading

Beginning to Loathe Social Media Now…

In one of < my recent posts I was thinking about ditching social media, and I reflected on its dubious benefits in terms of business and in ones actual – real – personal life. So I decided to try going without it, to see if the world would come to an end.

After all, I did close my Facebook account for a year once. And I stayed out of it for a month when I opened a subsequent account, which (was to be used solely for promoting my comics). But, I got sucked back into the social/casual side of it again.

I did sneak into Facebook a couple of times for a few seconds, over the last couple of days, just to check if a few articles that I remotely posted to it – actually posted. And I also remotely posted a promo for my upcoming comic page to my Facebook Comic Page, Twitter and Instagram – via Hootsuite – yesterday. The articles I remotely posted were ones that I found while searching around my newly re-discovered internet thing which they still call the World Wide Web. They were all about leaving social media and about Big Data. You see, since getting out of Facebook, in particular, I’ve gone back in time about 10 years, to Web 1.0, and found so much great content – by myself – using search engines! It’s not fed to me by my Facebook newsfeed – based on algorhythms, which are analysing and tracking me. And, when I click a link to an article, I’m not kept within Facebook’s iFrame! Now, I’m sure that some corporation or other is still tracking me wherever I go; but I’m not sure how far we can go in fighting that battle, against: Google, my Safari Browser, my iPad or PC, my Sony Phone, the sites that I look at, etc, etc. But it’s a start.

Big Data: We Became the Product

It’s a bit chilling now, to look back to 1998, when I excitedly signed up for my first ever ‘free’ email account: Hotmail. Little did most of us know that we, the users of this lovely new fun and democratic creative space called the Internet, would, in a few years become The Product – not the free apps themselves, but us. They wanted our data.
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Mr. Ivy OwlTopus

Here’s another artistic/Design process article for you; showing how I created this illustration with pencil, paper and Photoshop. (See more of my illustrations at my portfolio: johniwhite.com)

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My Ivy-Owl-Octopus Chimera experiment!

Where Did the Idea Come From?

I wanted to experiment with pencil drawing – and Photoshop. So: no inks and no graphics tablet for the drawing phase. But what to draw?

The subject idea probably popped into my mind after walking through Knocksink Wood, near Enniskerry, County Wicklow here in Ireland. There was lots of ivy all over the trees, and it reminded me of tentacles (and snakes, which I can’t bear!).

How Did I do it?

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Should I Just Quit Social Media?

I logged out of all of my social media accounts yesterday – except for LinkedIn. I switched-off and uninstalled Apps for (the obligatory) Facebook & Twitter, and also Instagram and Tumblr.  And guess what? My world didn’t end. In fact, I feel wonderfully light and more aware of the world and the people around me.

And I’ve also rediscovered how interesting the internet actually is!

Rediscovering the Web

There’s so much great content to read and view. That is, when one has the time – and when one actually searches for it, rather than getting it filtered through news feeds. Yes, filtered by someone – or something else.

Admittedly, most of my reading yesterday and this morning was found via search-terms like:

  • “Things to do online instead of social media”
  • “Social Media is a waste of f**king time” (for fun)
  • “Social Media is Pointless”

The last one was interesting as it brought up some more business-related articles which heretically question the real value of social media to one’s bottom-line. Sure,  it gets you ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’ and ‘Shares’ and ‘Retweets’ – but how many of those convert into actual sales, business or even traffic to your website? “Well, our sales, profits and share price have dropped – but our Facebook followers are at a new high!”

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I’d prefer people to see 1, 2 & 3 – than a load of “Follow me at…” social media icons

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My Two Tube feature on RTE Television

As part of their artists’ profiles TV series, I spoke about Art, Illustration, Making Comics and the inspiration that we can get from our younger selves. Because our childhood interests and passions, can be the key to what we’ll enjoy doing when we grow up – if only we’ll listen!

Star Wars gets a very big look-in as a major inspiration and life-changer, to me, when I was a creative youngster. So, if you’re a creative person and you love Star Wars and comics; this is for you. I spoke a bit about 2 of my comics, the young Star Wars one: Star Wars age 9 – and my current grown-up 1970s nostalgia one: Between * Wars. Please check them out and follow them after you watch the video and read this article.

Above: My Artist Profile video feature on RTE TV’s Two Tube


 

In a Nutshell…

What the producers of the 2 minute piece took from it went like this,

“Two Tube went behind the doors of Illustrator John White’s Dublin studio and explored his diverse and colourful world of fine art, comics, illustration, and design; the secret is to always remain a big kid at heart!

It was a fun thing to do at the very end of last summer, but it also focused my mind about a few things; particularly about us spending our life – and we only get one of those – working at what we enjoy.

Finding Our Own Voice – and the Web

I also spoke a bit about how we should try to find our own voice, creatively, and not be too intimidated by what other brilliant people are doing. Continue reading