Finding Your Voice

It’s the crazy journey of finding out what everybody already knows about you.

In terms of your art, your voice is the style that is (or should be) recognisable to you regardless of whether your name is next to it or not.

Trust me, it’s a daunting task. It’s one that cannot be found overnight, and usually takes years and years of practice to develop. And that is the precisely the way to find your voice. The journey becomes the destination. Practice and then after a few months or years, take a look into the rear view mirror and notice if there’s any patterns you see.

This could be patterns in themes. What subjects have caught your attention, and in what periods of your life? Does your art reflect any transitions you are or were physically, mentally or spiritually swimming through?

The patterns could also be shapes. Are the type of shapes you are utilising traditionally feminine(circular and curvy) or traditionally masculine(sharp and angular).

There’s a possibility that the patterns could be found in the colours. Because this is a component of the art that has to be specifically chosen by the artist, you would think that this is a conscious choice. However sometimes it is not. For example, I’ve noticed my colours change slightly depending on the certain moment in my life.

All of these patterns are sometimes something artists intentionally create in their work, however many times the repetitive elements are something that is subconscious.

Have you found your voice yet? If you haven’t, get practicing!


Chasing The Gap When You’re Creating

What is in your mind?

What comes out on paper, Adobe Illustrator, or even on the sidewalk with chalk…it’s always different than what was in my mind. i have to admit it’s frustrating sometimes. I can imagine all day. And in fact, I do. 

Daily conversations I’m a part of or overhear on the tube, funny thoughts I might have in my head about certain situations, characters I witness around town that definitely look like extras in a movie…I’m constantly inspired to create (though I may not always act on this inspiration).

What I do isn’t always what the finished drawing looks like. Honestly most of the time it isn’t. But I like getting closer and closer to closing the gap between what I think up in my mind and what comes out of my fingers. It’s imperative to get comfortable with not producing exactly what you have in mind. 

 That is actually the reason I believe most people don’t continue drawing. Because they may imagine themselves creating something so realistic and so beautiful, and are ashamed when reality is not as nice as it is in their minds (this, by the way, applies to way more than simply drawing. It applies to life as a whole).  As a lifelong artist, I’ve experienced this countless times myself and understand the annoyance with your hands not being able to translate.

Learning to be okay with the gap by acknowledging that it exists, and all the while chasing it, is one of the greatest lessons that will allow you the freedom it takes just to start.  Without this, it is difficult, if not impossible, to have the motivation to create art again.

The Value Of Creating Stuff Regularly

Being an artist is weird.

I have all of these ideas floating around in my head but in order for me to execute them, whilst having a full time job, exercising, trying to love on my people, trying to hydrate and not snack too much…is challenging.

However hard it may be, there’s a lot you can gain from keeping your fingers moving with a pencil or a tablet.

Practice. Practice does not make perfect as some movies may lead you to believe(Perfect does not truly exist, sorry). But practice does make progress. As an artist who’s been drawing since the cliche of being able to hold a crayon, I’ve definitely seen the progress my art has made in terms of ability throughout the years.  This is because I keep practicing, no matter how small that practice may feel.  Even the tiny doodles that I used to draw on the sides of my class notes–that’s practice.  Practice is practice, no matter the size or the length of time you dedicate to it in the day.  What matters most is the consistency of the practice.

Confidence. The first time you do something you might be a bit shaky(or, let’s be honest–VERY shaky). You might have worried thoughts, asking yourself if you are doing it right. You might even stop halfway because you’re not sure what you are doing. However with time, confidence is built. You will learn to not care so much about the result because you’ve practiced enough to know that you will be alright through the journey.  With that confidence engrained in you, you will be less reluctant to pick up the pencil once again.

Self-expression. I firmly believe in art being a form of therapy. It is a way of processing what you’re feeling, especially during situations when you can’t even admit to yourself how exactly your emotions are doing. Practicing creativity can turn your anxious, joyous, angry, fearful, fearless, heartbroken(and everything in between) emotions into tangible pieces of art. Art helps you cope with the highs and lows of life as a way to emotionally process. Plus, telling your story is important. You may have similarities to others but nobody in the world has your exact same perspective and has lived the same chapters as you.

Experience The World, Don’t Just Create

Sometimes I go weeks without creating something just for the sake of creating.

What gets me out of that funk is usually experiencing something out of my ordinary. A small concert in Massachusettes, a drawathon that lasts until 6am in SoHo, an art gallery warehouse in Cuba, a poetry slam at Yale…all of these experiences have brought me home excited to create again.

I recently decided to go to a solo piano concert by an old college friend. He plays piano with such a crazy passion; it’s so cool to watch his body and facial expressions. There was a moment when he told the audience to close their eyes as he plays a particular piece. I did, and in those 3-5 minutes I had a whole illustrated story in my head. Behind my eyes I saw kids running and laughing in giant fields of pastel yellow flowers, then finding a tall willow tree that looked perfect for climbing up to the sky. Up they climbed, scrambling and helping eachother up the limbs until they reached the enormous fluffy white clouds. Once they reached the clouds, they started running again, playing tag and laughing so much they almost ran out of breath. Some of the smaller kids were having a hard time climbing the limbs. One of the big kids noticed and got everyone to go help them up. Nobody gets left behind here.

This whole story just to say that your surroundings and what you experience can really spark your creative brain back into being creative again. Being around other creative people or attending an event or traveling 18 hours on a plane to see new land makes a huge difference in your mindset. In turn this will effect the content of the work you produce. I never want to stay comfortable. I want change to shake me up. And often.