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.
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
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.
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!”
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
It’s time to take the comic a bit more seriously!
New Beginnings: a Fresh Start
Last July, I enrolled in the IGNITE Ireland Academy in Dublin. It’s a 6 month course in self-employment, and starting your own business. It’s basically Entrepreneurship. I love it! And I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my wife and son for their understanding and patience.
Once upon a time – after the time when I was young and had sense – but before now upon a time, when I’m a disillusioned mess, I was in the habit, as many mature – but boring people are, of grinning, and making fun of those over-weight, balding, middle-aged men who frequent comic shops.
After all, I’d gone to art college, travelled Italy, read copious amounts of art historical literature including Vasari and Ruskin and had good taste and a pretty educated eye for proper art.
When I rediscovered my childhood art about 5 years ago, and thought about the fact that I’d become an unhappy professional designer, I realised what an idiot I’d been. You see, I’d been drawing my own comics from the age of 8 or 9, and was dead-set on being a comic artist when I grew up, but somehow I took a wrong turn.
I see now that it’s so important not to throw all of those childhood passions away so lightly, because they can still inspire the adult!
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I’m still experimenting with a method. Though I do love to look back on the full colour pages, as I said before, I just don’t have the free time to make them.
This new approach almost works, but it’s becoming complicated again. I’d hoped to work in the ink and pencil on paper style, but I still haven’t quite managed to capture that look when it comes into Photoshop. I’m drawing in graphite pencil, inking over in black, ersasing the pencil, then shading with blue pencil. The whole thing is turned into greyscale – including the blue – in Photoshop. I then hopefully have the option at some later date to remove the blue shading from the artwork and go full colour if I want to. Continue reading