When I walked out of University with a fresh degree in my hand I promised myself that I would never ever attend art education again. Despite all analysis I will probably never find out whose fault it was that I ended up with this unfortunate conclusion, but it is more or less a fact that they tried very hard to beat creativity out of me. It’s lucky that creativity does not work that way.
It is not that easy to stop someone being creative. You can break down enthusiasm, but as soon as the disturbing factors disappear, creativity will come out of its hiding place. In my case, once university was over, I went back to my paintbrushes.
What’s so difficult about this?
Teaching art is definitely the odd one out in the line of institutional education because students don’t just learn something (khm.. swallow the text book..), but give their heart and soul to completing a task. So one single number rating the student according to the traditional grade system can swell into a self-destructive monologue in the student’s head, going something like this: ‘this work is complete rubbish, you are utterly untalented. But people are born talented, so you might as well stop creating all together, you’ll never make anything out of this. Haven’t you seen all those other people creating better work than you?’
Imagine that you hate painting in a book. You prefer doodling on individual pieces of paper because you are afraid you spoil it and then the look of the entire sketchbook is destroyed. If you happen to draw in a sketchbook for some strange reason, you use a wire-bound one, so you can just tear the page out if you mess up the drawing. But despite all this, you still go to workshop and bind yourself a real, hard cover sketchbook.
A few months ago I took part in a conference titled ‘The future of creating’. Unfortunately this event had nothing to do with creativity, instead the presentations were packed with 3D printers, drones and robots, but all the same, it made me think a lot about my own profession. After some hours of hearing a lot about ‘competition’ my stress levels were peaking and a question was forming in my head:
Do we really need all this?
It would be useless to deny that the growth of the e-world is good and necessary. I don’t know what I would do without programs to edit my artwork, not to mention blogging itself. Digital drawing is one of the fastest growing part of the illustration business, while 3D is considered more or less the future of graphic design. But still… I believe there are some of us who shrink a little when we hear the word ‘creating’ paired with ‘innovation’ and ‘technology’.
There is only one thing better than creating: creating together. Okay, now I’ve sacrificed honesty for a bit of PR, in fact nothing gets me more panicky than creating with other people around me, but the situation is slightly different now: I’m inviting you to create a calendar with me for 2018!
Monthly downloadable calendars have nearly become a tradition on this blog, but during the holiday season you might have a couple of minutes to create something on your own. So, just like last year, I have created a blank calendar template, which you can download for free from the blog’s content library and decorate according to your liking.
Those who read the blog will not be surprised if I say that I’m not exactly a fan of institutional art eductation. Teaching art is desparately hard: on the one hand the student needs to see if he is on the wrong track, on the other hand creativity is a very fragile thing, which can break very easily at the wrong touch. Criticism has to be put very cleverly, yet it has to be said, if the wish is for the student to grow.
At my old university, these expectations were not fulfilled. They usually tell you right in the face that what you are doing is rubbish, which I still haven’t got over completely. However, despite all negative experiences I have decided to give it another go: I am now back at school, studying graphic design at Corvin Art School, Budapest.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about advent calendars: on the one hand it is very exciting to open a little package every single day and so to get prepared for the holidays, but on the other hand I absolutely hate useless junk – and collecting 24 useful, tiny objects as present is one hell of a challenge. I’ve also been thinking about the fact that the greatest present these days is time. Time for yourself, time to look inside, which is even more elusive during the run-up time to Christmas than other times of the year. This is the reason I chose to create an advent calendar this year in which I give myself 15 minutes every single day. 15 minutes of free creating, without the pressure, without expectations.
I have been asked several times before: what are the things that inspire me during my painting process? If I were very honest and straightforward, I would say „the works of other illustrators and designers”, but of course, no artist says anything like this in case they are accused of stealing. It is just as well, since inspiration is something slightly more complicated than that, so today I’m going to ramble a bit about this subject.
According to definition Inspiration (from the Latin inspirare, meaning “to breathe into”) refers to an unconscious burst of creativity in a literary, musical, or other artistic endeavour. (Source)
Now that the academic approach has been cleared, we can admit that the word ‘inspiration’ is one of today’s favourite and most over-used expressions. It is the kind of cliché, which makes my mind switch off at the first mention of it. Under the pre-text of ‘inspiration’ anything can be sold: a kitchy photo, a perfectly banal quote or even a collection of images. Needless to say, I have also jumped the band-wagon, I create inspirational posters, and what’s more, I titled an entire category on this blog ‘inspiration’ – but I’ll tell you a secret: my paintings are hardly ever inspired by such things.
The way it doesn’t work
Inspiration actually means something different for all of us: something might be inspiring for me, which is not inspiring for you. Therefore it follows logically, that what I’m saying here may not apply to you.
However, we all have that feeling in common when we are just uninspired, so we have to accept the painful fact that inspiration is not always at reach whenever we need it. So don’t expect magic to happen if you fill a tub with foamy hot water and recite ‘I’m getting inspired now’ (even though it sometimes helps).
’I wish I were as creative as you’. I often hear this remark from friends but the truth is that only a part of our creativity comes from our genes, another large part can be learned. In fact, it all depends on whether you stimulate your fantasy. Naturally, working in an office 9-5, then dropping in front of Facebook won’t trigger your imagination much, but you can take the first few steps towards a more creative life now.
Write down & organise
Believe it or not, even you have great ideas! But if you don’t write them down somewhere then it’s as if they didn’t exist because you won’t remember them in a few hours’ time, let alone months later. Is it just some nonsense of an idea? Write it down anyway! In my experience it is worth keeping a record of all your ideas even if you do not execute them right away because months later you might get a wave of creativity and you can make something even of the worst ideas. Revise your ideas list weekly/monthly/annually (as it suits you), then put them in order so that the best ones appear on top.
The moment you find yourself guessing typefaces on posters and ads, you should consider the possibility that you have a fetish for typography. I certainly know I “suffer” from this condition, my pulse quickens at the sight of beautiful letters and font pairings, so I have long wanted to write a blog posts about this topic. At least I wanted to, until I realised that others have done it before me, much better than I ever will. So instead of sharing my own considerable wisdom (haha!) I have collected some of my favourite blog posts about typography.
Copying is kind of a taboo topic among Artists. In posh circles it is common to say that those who copy actually steal, cheat, and use the wrong way to develop their skills. It is therefore lucky, that I don’t call myself an Artist with a capital ‘A’, nor do I belong to posh circles, so I can share my views without fear of losing my “status”.