I was very inspired by Andrew Price's latest blog post (http://www.blenderguru.com/6-tips-for-becoming-a-better-artist) and decided to share my thoughts on this topic too.
Here are my own takes on the tips to becoming a better artist (or at least a better person):
- Start with the basics.
I usually receive emails from fellow artists (beginners and professionals alike) regarding tips and insights on how they could improve their work and generally how to get started with Blender or CG to be specific. Personally, this is very challenging to reply to, since I don't consider myself adept on these aspects or even feel like what I say might be viable at all.
This goes without saying, but always start with the basics. If you're trying to learn a graphics or 3D software, first familiriaze yourself with how the application works and to understand why such functions and operations work such way. Don't head straight and attempt to create a stunning Transformers character. First determine whether you are diving into a safe pool of water; you might get in huge trouble realizing it was boiling water afterall, or that it isn't too deep to dive into.
It doesn't take one night for you (possible?) to get all these stuff (interface, actions, animation, visual effects, etc.) comprehended, it takes time. But the more effort and understanding you put into it, the better fruit you harvest.
Which leads us to the next one;
- Dissecting and breaking it apart.
Based from my own experiences, I have often dug too deep into a problem or two and then amidst the process, I frustrate myself, give up, and simply stop. Why? Because I hadn't planned well and have summoned a monstrous problem upon me, larger than I could realize. But in the past, I realized that no matter how huge the problem I'm faced with, it always helps to cut it up into bits and pieces, individually working on those parts; eventually realizing I've already solved the problem, which I thought was impossible to solve. The key is to tackle it one at a time.
It does help to make a constructive list of the things to do and solve. It might be a tedious job, but trust me, it works.
With relation to art and CG, it is always best (as is my case), to start with the traditional method of drawing your ideas on paper. I cannot stress this enough. With a pencil in hand a canvas/paper to draw on to, ideas are transferred almost instantly from your mind to your hand, instead of directly using your computer and start modeling. Although, at times, it might work to directly do it in the computer, the accumulated time you spend is much efficient doing the old school pencil and paper way.
- Keep learning and listen carefully.
Treat everything as a means to an end, not an end in itself. Set goals straight but it will help to give birth to these goals, creating arbitrary goals in itself. This way, there's much room for learning, anticipation, and excitement. Avoid getting into pitfalls and aksing yourself "What's next?", this can be troublesome in the long run since you don't have a clear path in mind. The world, let alone the computer graphics arena, has a plethora and millions of possibilities to learn, take advantage of this.
Another thing is to listen carefully. Don't just sit there and jot down every word coming from your mentor or lecturer. Comprehend and understand what he is saying. Every bit of it. It might sound ridiculous and non-sense but you'll eventually realize that somehow, the facts he mentioned was true. Then you can filter the ones you think are disposable later on. This applies to listening to children's comments too. They might say "that sucks, why is the color like this?" after seeing your wonderfully crafted artwork; that might sound harsh, but try to realize why he said that.
- Be grateful for the criticisms.
Always be thankful that you and your work is being commented and criticized. The fact that these people spared your work their time is already a precious gift. Respect what they have to say and respond to what they have said, whether it hurts so bad or it lifts you up so good.
- Do not force inspiration.
There were times in my art creation process where I have dug and searched for inspiration so badly that I stressed myself up. Not good. Inspiration comes and goes. When it comes, make sure you remember it and make very good use of it. It comes from anything, anyone, and anywhere. It can come from depression, happiness, loss, etc.
- Communicate through your work.
Yes, that flashy colorful painting and cityscape you modeled was wonderfully made and rendered, but what message does it portray to the viewer? How does it connect?
Although there are forms of art where it is plain beauty and no message, it usually is better to a chapter of your life into your creation and share it to your viewers via the image you have created. It might be a still image, photograph, or painting, but if your viewers feel like they are transported into a dreamland is an experience worth remembering.
- Have a healthy mind and body.
Go out and stretch some muscles, eat a balanced diet. This will eventually refresh your bodily systems including the way you perceive ideas. A properly oxygenated body and mind works better. Always.
Experience life. There's more to our wonderful lives than just doing artworks and creations. Go swim and spend quality time with friends and family.
- Refer to past experiences, imagine the future, and live today.
Do not sulk in bad experiences or bathe in your own previous glories. Love what you are doing now and refer to it when it is done then do another for the next day which becomes the present time. Imagining what happens next can be another creative instigator, it plays wild thoughts that you can use on your existing life.
- Eat and breathe your passion.
This might seem to contradict with the previous ones I've mentioned, but it doesn't. What I mean by this is to get really serious on what you do. Even geniuses grow inferior to those who work really hard and are stubborn enough in knowing something. If you've chosen a path and you're happy with it, walk it to the end, even if the end is not clear enough yet.
- Achieve to be better, not best.
'Best' sounds too cliche. It's a game our mind plays. It's far better to keep getting better, even surpassing the other one who claims to be the 'best'. This way, you keep growing and learning, not stopping.
- Enjoy what you do and 'chillax' (even Einsten does it).
After all that I've mentioned above, the ultimate thing to do is just enjoy and don't take it too seriously. Just stay happy and express it however you want. Best in your art.