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.
I find the internet a double-edged Sword in that sense. And I know lots of other brilliant illustrators who feel the same way. There’s great scope for you to get your work out there, via this extraordinary medium, but that goes for everyone else! And there are a hell of a lot of really great creatives online. Take a look at Behance.com and you’ll see what I mean. Yes, it can be inspirational to see their work, but it can also be very daunting – and even scary – once you start comparing what you do – with what they do! I think I wish I could do work work like her, and him, and her and him and on and on… but they usually all have different styles. How can you possibly be like EVERYONE? And why would you even want to be? You’d lose your own artistic identity – and probably end up with a Jack-of-All-Trades portfolio of disparate styles that are pale imitations of their stuff. There’s not much prospect of real meaningful artistic development or of finding your unique voice, if you go down that unfulfilling road.
Finding Your Dream Occupation
Get a piece of paper…
You can write down all of your interests, those things that you enjoy and love – and then write down your skills (or talents, if you prefer that) and see how they overlap. Next, try to find opportunities out there that could best use that overlap. Chances are that if you work in that area: you’ll like it and get really good at it. Provided the job or clients or workmates or boss don’t put you off!
Still Not Working Out?
The thing to do in that negative instance is to leave for something better: as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I can’t claim to have followed that piece of advice in my own career. It’s so easy to get institutionalised in a job, to the point where you think:
- This is as good as it gets. Anything else might be worse
- I’m not good enough for anything else. That’s why I’m here
- A job’s a job. It pays the bills (and I have responsibilities)
It’s hard to believe when you’re stuck in that place, but lots of people do have nice jobs.
Look Back (a bit) to Move Forwards
What Did You Love Doing as a Child?
Sometimes, we forget what it was that originally fired us up before we went into the workplace (and maybe had our spirits crushed, or lost focus on what really mattered to us). A way of rediscovering this is to explore back through what it was that you loved as a kid. It can provide some great insights. For me it was:
- WWII and Star Wars and all sorts of other 1970s geek culture
- Space stuff
The key ones are in bold! I realised a few years ago that I actually still liked that stuff – to greater or lesser degrees. And I wondered where the hell I went off track? Well, life gets in the way doesn’t it. And we also get interested in other things for a while.
Get to it!
The thing is, to act on it as soon as you can! And I think that advice is especially pertinent to younger people, college graduates, people who still have few responsibilities – like mortgages, bills and kids. The sooner you start, the better. And who cares if you make mistakes. You’re young! And the expectations on you won’t be so high. Entrepreneurs have a phrase: Fail Early. (and learn from it – or try something different)
Now: Stop Looking Back
I try not to think too much about where I’d be now, creatively and careerwise, if I’d figured things out out earlier in my life and worked my arse off at it. I’m 47 now. Imagine what an artist I’d be now, if I’d figured it out and practiced it – every day – from the age of 21! Thousands of hours of practice! It’d 26 years of daily drawing and writing and storytelling and creating!
And do you remember what Malcolm Gladwell said about 10,000 hours of practice – to become an expert?
But, it’s not 26 years ago and I’m no longer 21. So let’s keep doing it now – or start to if we haven’t already. I’ll write more about this. Thanks for reading and please check out my webcomics:
– John White
PS: And thanks to fellow Illustrator and Author, Chris Judge for telling us all at Illustrators Ireland about this TV opportunity. A year before, I probably wouldn’t have done it. For some reason, I just went for it – and I’m glad I did!