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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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
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!
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‘.
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.
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
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.
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
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)
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?
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
I wrote this after seeing the ‘Who Am I?’ exercise in Richard N. Bolles’ book, ‘What Colour is Your Parachute?’ I thought I might as well put it on the Blog.
I chose the word: ‘Creator’. Richard then asks us to ponder why we chose it.
Creator: Why I chose this…
I’ve always been a creator. As a kid I loved making things and often spent whole days drawing. And, making my own comics—from as young as 8. My bedroom floor was sometimes ankle-deep in my own drawings, and my beloved bought-comics, which I loved to read as often as possible. A pattern will emerge here of enjoying certain types of creative media, and then trying them out myself—and absolutely immersing myself in them.
First Attempts at ‘Making’
I believe I made my first crude castle—which I could sit inside—with a big cardboard supermarket box and scissors when I was only 4 or 5, living in Leigh, Lancashire. Now that was hard work. Big, blunt scissors and corrugated cardboard.
Drawing & Crafts
Around this time I also recall drawing. Drawing would soon become it for me. I also got my first comics when I was 4 or 5 in Leigh. Spiderman was definitely one of them. I’m guessing that it was a UK printed version in black and white. Doctor Octopus featured in it. I can’t remember where it came form, perhaps a visiting relative? My dad or mum read it to me o the sofa. Later, I’d start making my own comics.
“It’s a pity that John doesn’t spend as much time on his writing – as he does on the accompanying drawings.”
—mid-1970s School report, Scotland
No surprise then, that Arts & crafts activities would be my favourites in school, even those involving needlework and cloth. For a time, making sock-puppets was a favourite activity of mine. Robert Douglas Memorial School in Scone, Scotland was fantastic in this respect. There was a very broad range of subjects, including creative ones: Crafts, Art (I think, separate from crafts), and even a sort of drama type class, once a week in the gym. Continue reading
Whilst I was Lead Designer at Equinox
Some loose pencil sketches and a quick reference to an encyclopaedia gave rise to a meaningful use of curves, with an interesting positive-negative interplay of forms.
Swooshy, satellitey things…
There were a hell of a lot of swooshy-logos doing the rounds in 1990, and a glance through the appointments section of the paper (before the recession recently hit) evidenced that the plague hadn’t abated: Continue reading