The Soft Sciences of Professional Practice: Thing 1

This blog series based on a talk I did originally for a class of LCAD students in November of 2016

In college (or whatever way you learned your thing) you learn how to DO your craft: Visual hierarchy, rules of layout, color theory, how to use design programs - the mechanics of it. And if you're lucky, somewhere along the way you also get taught about doing the WORK of your craft: How to hustle new work, manage clients, invoicing, project management, etc.

Here in Soft Sciences, I'm going to talk about some of the touchy-feely, soft and squishy places in-between those two things.

Thing 1: Find Your Non-Work-Related Niche

As artists, it's really easy for us to get a little caught up in ourselves; to become really about our current style, our process, the things we're into... It's easy to get caught up in who we are as artists or professionals and forget that we are whole people. Whole people with lots of different parts of us that are worth noting and celebrating.

We live in a time where it's increasingly difficult to stand out or make a name for yourself as a creative, and you know what's fucking exhausting? Chasing after current trends, trying to add our own attempts onto the pile in hopes it'll grab us some extra follows. If we're constantly running after a train that is always ahead of us, we'll die long before we find any creative fulfillment.

It's so important to nurture the other things about you that make you you. Some of those things will directly effect your work. Some of those things won't. But when you nurture all the different facets of you, the whole machine works better. Stop taking care of yourself (emotionally, intellectually, physically, whatever), and other things begin to suffer, no matter how hard you work at your craft. Like how forgetting to replace the timing belt in your car will blow up your entire engine, at a terribly inconvenient time when you have no money saved up to buy a new car (Just like, as a for instance. I would never be so careless as to forget to replace my timing belt!). It doesn't matter how new your tires are or how frequently you changed the oil.

Not only does this nurturing of our whole selves get us functioning better on a human level, but discovering all the different dimensions of your whole person will help you connect to the world better. If you find out that you love seeing spoken word poetry performed, then seek out those kinds of events. Through that, you're going to discover new places, meet new people, feel new feelings. And those places and people and feelings will lead to other places and people and feelings. Let yourself fall down that rabbit hole and find all the things in life that get you excited and make you feel alive. Life will feel better, you'll be a better human, and you'll be a better artist. Or at the very least you'll be more interesting.

I might never be as good of an illustrator as Valerie Rustad, or as talented of a letterer as Jessica Hische, but nobody else has my talent plus my unique set of interests, passions, insights, and character. Add those things to what talent I do have, and... well shit. I'm kind of awesome.