Changes Around

Okay, this has been a long time coming, and because I kept planning for it to come with some new art content, it probably took a lot longer than it should have. In short, there’s been a lot about my approach to art since I graduated back in 2011 that has just plain not been working.

For starters (because— I think— it’s the easiest thing to address on my long list of bad habits that need to be broken), I’m going to fix my approach to blogging. When I reach into the distant past, back before this site became a ghost town, I find myself having written these stiff, formal blog posts that conjure up a mental image of a small child dressed up in his dad’s work clothes, gigantic on the little kid, and he’s trying to talk all serious and grown up; I don’t see someone having fun and trying to improve his craft. What’s worse, my old blogging voice doesn’t seem to be convinced he can improve at his craft. Old blogging me just knows this project is going to wither and die halfway through, and he’s barely trying to convince his reader he believes otherwise.

So, firstly, I’m going to try and drop that affectation. I don’t like putting it on, and I’m sure it does me a massive disservice. When I see my former classmates’ art blogs, or read the blogs of professional artists, there’s none of that. There’s artists having fun with what they’re doing, taking it seriously, but not being dull about it. About the only reason I might slide back into that stodgy old blogging voice of mine is that it’s an old habit which, I’ve been told, die hard.

I’m also going to try to fix my posting habits, specifically, the monolithic cover-the-whole-project-in-one-post posts that I used to do. Creating and editing them is just a massive pain in the butt. I’m sure it would be one thing if I was recapping something I’d already done, but when something is in progress, going back and adding to the post is a mess. It’s not easy to share when I’m stuck or looking for feedback, and it’s so easy to feel like I’m not making any progress when I can’t help seeing today’s texture pass right next to yesterday’s pass. So, every update is going to get its own unique post, and I’m also going to try to post more regularly. For now, we’ll say once a week, even if it’s just to share a few scans from my sketchbook and to promise that I’m not simply playing Baldur’s Gate II waiting for inspiration to strike (because, I know, better than most, how poorly that works…).

Of course, the bad blogging habits only matter as much as I can also surmount the bad art habits that I’ve built up over the years. There’s a long list of ones that are so obvious they’re not really worthy of getting long sophisticated discussion. I don’t think I need to break down why “Taking long hiatuses from 3D” or “Not tracking down tutorials when stuck” or “Inexplicably not being fed up enough with my current situation to start working on art prior to 9 PM any given day” are bad habits. They’re mostly here as part of my public commitment to recognize and fight these bad habits whenever I notice them.

The one majorly bad habit that I do want to discuss, though, is the lack of variety in my work. I think this one definitely contributes to the ease with which I find myself getting frustrated. I mean, I’m still way too new at this to have pigeonholed myself so thoroughly, especially into a category that, on the surface, I appear to have so much antipathy for. Sure, my major was heavily focused on environment art, but it still turned out animators, effects artists, tech artists, concept artists, level designers et cetera. There’s no rule out there saying that my first real job has to be based on the focus of my schooling. I’m far enough away from consistently making triple-A quality realistic sci-fi or modern props and environments, that the sunk cost fallacy shouldn’t kick in too badly, and I need to branch out. I want to take stabs at making characters, or creatures (they’re the majority of what fill my sketchbooks after all…), try some hand-painted textures, learn to paint, either or both digitally or traditionally, get back into writing, design levels, mod games, make board and card games from scratch, and try a billion other relevant, interesting activities.

Maybe in trying new things, I’ll find something I like more than the art that currently gets me so frustrated; maybe I’ll find solutions to issues I’m having with the main focus, or maybe I’ll just stave off insanity by giving my brain a different challenge. It probably can’t hurt, either, to explore a bit more within the wide variety of software (and ever-expanding selection of traditional media) at my disposal and see what sorts of unexpectedly cool stuff I can create.

I’m sure there were others that I wanted to discuss in greater detail, but I can’t remember what they were. Some of them probably got downgraded upon further reflection to the “so obvious no discussion is necessary category”, and others probably got lost in earlier sets of bullet points for this post in which I was planning to go off on a massive, unproductive rant about how I had really wanted to get into concept art as a young’un, but right around the time I was looking at colleges I somehow got it in my head that I needed the word “game” on my degree and thus found myself in the more 3D-focused Ringling program. Whatever, I’ve been dragging my feet on posting this and getting back to work for so long that I’d rather just kick it out incomplete and edit it later than suffer through one more day in this too-long string of un-productivity.

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