I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life and my work. Comics, like anything worthwhile, take an insane amount of time to produce. I always find myself trying get more work done faster. And since it takes so long I constantly find myself questioning whether it is worth my time or not. There are a lot of other things I could be doing.
So here is the dilemna. We only have so much time, and that time is extremely valuable. So what should we do with it?
The answer? Well it’s not so simple because what I should do and what you should do are entirely different. Our options are not even the same. But I think the factors that go into making that choice are same for all of humanity. How should we go about choosing what to do? Most people in the world do what they have to do. They have to eat, pay their bills, sleep, die, whatever. We all have things we have to do. But we also have some choices. How should we pay the bills? How can we make more time to do what we really want to do? Who should we spend time with? What is worthy of our short amount of time?
If you consider yourself an artist then you may be spending a substantial amount of your time doing artwork. If we are going to do artwork with the time that we could be using to spend with family, work, or do anything else more rewarding, then there must be some reason or purpose. How can we justify using our time on something so … self centered? I think most of us get a good feeling from seeing artwork, and we want somehow to recreate that good feeling by doing it ourself. You can call it competition (our desire to out do or mimick other artists), you could call it jealousy, or you could say it is a noble cause because it is something animals can’t do. This good feeling is not really enough to justify all the time we are spending to produce our work.
There are of course the financial rewards of doing artwork. If you are a professional then it is possible to make money off of doing your work. But if you seriously love what you do then you might not want to turn it into something you have to do. Even if you have to do your artwork to make a living I’m sure you have hopes of doing something more with it. If you are trying to do some meaningful artwork in the hours left over from a full time job, then you of all people truly understand the limits of time.
Have you ever started a project with tons of motivation only to find yourself in the middle of your project wishing it wasn’t so difficult and demanding? Even when we finish our work we find ourselves wanting something more after the good feeling wares off. We may argue that it is a noble cause because we are pursuing excellence when in reality, we are really just pursuing that good feeling. The reward of our hard work and effort.
Don’t you want to create something more meaningful than just a good feeling? There are so many valuable ways I could spend my time. If there were not something more to my art I would no longer pursue it. Luckily for me I have found a much more meaningful purpose in doing my work. My purpose is a little different than most but I’ll explain more about that later in this article.
I find inspiration in my favorite stories. When I watch a show like Naruto I am clearly reminded of why I want to do artwork. I want to be moved, and I want to move others. If you havn’t seen Naruto then maybe you’ve seen one of the Pixar films like Toy Story, Bugs Life, Finding Nemo, Cars, Incredibles, or their most recent film, Ratatouille. These films revive the human spirit and bring out our most noble virtues. They touch upon truth. In the end it all comes down to love for our neighbor and the hope of seeing them do well.
A sketch I did of Naruto
These stories set my heart on fire, and the designs look so good that I immediately find myself drawing once again. Then more of the good feeling comes when I see my initial sketches. When I’m really inspired I write story lines for my original characters in the hope of creating something truly meaningful. The problem is that this motivation dissipates when I begin to see the realities of how much time and effort it will cost to produce such a work. It is just damn near impossible to see how I could realistically produce anything of real substance. The only reason it seems possible at all is because of the existence of shows like Naruto and Incredibles. Their existence is proof that it is possible. But there is such a huge gap between my dream and my reality. How do we resolve this?
Continue reading “Work with Purpose”