43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

An artist who wants to finish what he starts and always do the best thing

Hi all

I'm a self taught freelance storyboard artist for advertising in his fifth year of struggle in an industry that no longer bothers to train or groom anyone like it used to. In this field you are on your own and there is little to guide you in skills acquisition and finding connections. It's the fuzziest of fuzzy edged jobs.

I always meet deadlines (They are short and brutal) and work pretty much every hour of the day I have available to me at improving my skills and speed.

The only thing is I have trouble guiding myself to the best thing to do at any given time and also have real trouble finishing personal projects. Once the motivation of money goes away my work intensity drops off and I start to follow every impulse I have. I never have completely finished a project done strictly for myself. I will start innumerable things but rebel at finishing. Some of the problem I have is frustration about my inadequate skills and some is boredom.

Lately the need to pay attention to personal projects as a way to open doors for me to both make more money and fulfill myself creatively has become acute. The passing of my father, the birth of my only child, and turning 50 have brought me up from my youthful reverie rather rudely.

So I'm coming here to hopefully learn to get my crap together.

Can anyone point me at anything helpful?

Egypt Urnash's picture

Personal projects are for YOU.

Don't worry about what anyone will think about your personal projects except for you. What do you like to draw? How can you set things up to shamelessly pander to yourself in every frame?

As an example, look at Mike Mignola's 'Hellboy'. Mignola likes drawing monsters, plain and simple. By making the central character of his personal project a big crazy-looking monster, he knows that whatever else he has to draw in a page, he's always gonna get to have some fun drawing a monster.

One other thing that's been working for me a lot is collaboration. I'm working on a comic book with my husband - we both created it, he does the writing, I do the art. I'm not the only person I'll be disappointing if it ends up on the pile of abandoned projects; I'll be disappointing him, too. Who's in your life that thinks close enough to you that you can get together and jam with them? (And yes, this comic is set up so that pretty much every page involves me drawing a mix of things that're a challenge, and things that are just plain fun.) It's on hold for the past couple of months because the Muses smacked me upside the head with a Tarot deck - but I'm aching to get back to it. Because I really want to see the final product.

And, of course, you need to take time to gestate something big and personal. Reading lots of weird things and letting them stew to see what ideas stay with you and want to be developed further is as much a part of the process as actually making it!




An Oblique Strategy:
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