Thursday, November 27, 2014

Don't Ignore What You Already Have

Have you ever been to a store with so many choices that you couldn't make up your mind on what you wanted to buy, so you ended up buying nothing?

I didn't realize it, but for awhile my life has been like that cluttered store. It's still cluttered in someways, but it's not as bad.

In my last post I wrote about how getting rid of clutter made it easier for me to focus and create. To me it's just so neat how keeping only the important things gives you such a clearer picture of what's meaningful.

I especially want to bring out how sorting the craziness in my closet has helped me to discover something new in my art. It's a bit strange, but I think what I learned from the experience of getting my wardrobe under control can help anyone who's having trouble finding their creative identity.

After throwing away a lot of stuff, my closet was still a crazy mess so I decided to give Project 333 a try. Basically Project 333 is a challenge to live with only 33 items in your wardrobe for three months. Doing this was unexpectedly liberating and fun. The time it took for me to get ready in the morning went from 45 minutes to fifteen. The days of standing in front of my closet and agonizing over what I was going to wear were totally gone.

However, I was still agonizing over my art.

I felt so I had no idea of what kind of art I really wanted to create. My portfolio is a concoction of all kinds of things: realism, manga, book covers, logos...It's so diverse that my identity is lost in the mix. As a manga artist, my voice and style is pretty clear, but once I start doing illustrations and other designs, I have no idea who I am. For a long time I've been dying to just pull it all together!

At times I've felt like I was simply copying what I've seen. I wanted to bring my own twist to things, but I had no clue what that was.

One day I was thinking about the 33 items of clothes that I had decided to wear. I wondered why I picked those specific pieces. I knew that among the clothes I had chosen were some of my all time favorites--the stuff that I've worn like a billion times. Then I realized that these items had to be my favorites for a reason. There had to be something about the colors and the patterns on them that I really loved, and if I could figure out what I loved about them maybe I could bring some of that to my art.

So right away I started taking pictures of my favorite items, which were easy to find because I had gotten rid of most of the non-essential stuff. These are pictures of a few of my favorite things, but they're enough to get the general idea of what I like:

Basically, I'm really drawn to black, white, silver, gray and splashes of color, which probably should be expected of a manga artist. I also noticed three trends:

1. I really like nature. Many of my favorite items have birds and floral patterns. Also my favorite pieces of jewelry are designed with hearts, stars, butterflies, and bird feathers.

2. I prefer circular patterns. Dots, flourishes, lace...even circular print.

3. I love stripes. Many of my favorite items have stripes.

I also looked over some artwork that I had purchased recently, and I found that all of it is black and white with a touch of color. I felt relieved. Have you ever created a piece of art that just doesn't feel like you?

The truth is although I can create full color artwork, usually when I do it feels very unauthentic. Many artists create in full color, and I thought that I should too, but I wasn't enjoying it. Now I know it's okay. Selective color is fine. That's who I am.

If a piece you're working on isn't touching your heart or making you feel excited, it may help to study your favorite items--things that you've spent your hard earned money on because you were attracted to how it looks. Think about what colors you like to wear and the patterns that are on your clothes and other items.

What you're attracted to can shed some light on what you should create. I used what I learned to make new designs for stationary and a painting:

Now I'm creating with more focus, and I'm enjoying the thought of making designs for spring so I can go all out with the flowers. You can find these designs at my new shop LovelyRiot on Zazzel, a product of my rediscovered style when it comes to illustration and design. 

The biggest benefit of looking at your favorite items for inspiration is that they never stay the same. A few years from now my closet could be filled with colors instead of black and white, and if that's what I'm truly attracted to, my art will reflect that as well. If you keep tabs on what you like, it will show in what you make.I think sometimes our lives get filled with so much stuff that it's easy to lose touch with who we really are at times.

So if you feel lost about what you should create, look in your closet and your drawers. Find your favorite things and figure out why you like them so much. Doing so can give you inspiration and a new outlook on your personal style.