Hello good people of the internet and fine folk all around and welcome to another week here on Project Discovery. Summer is still brewing, it's almost time for the weekend and thus we can relax with a bit of light reading. This week it's time for a more personal message, perhaps not jam packed with 'sciency facts', but more so with something that has held a lot of value for me and is along the feelgood lines. Curiosity. Since it's in the title there really isn't any point in hiding until the end of the article, otherwise I would've called it something like '10 ways to define your career and cooking skills'.
Now to give this article a bit of structure I will do this through the lens of becoming a better (concept) artist, this might make it more beneficial and, I will have something more to say than:
As per usual, and as taught to me by my father, let's break this word 'curiosity' down in order for this reasonably abstract concept to show it's true colors. In order to understand what curiosity does for us we need to define it's key components and what other attributes it's connected to.
I always like to imagine a web of attributes, each linking to a state of mind, together forming patterns and pathways that we use for anything and everything in our daily lives. Trying to see the bigger picture in this way has helped me understand problems such as: 'why am I not motivated?' or 'how do I stay disciplined?' and 'How come Zenyatta keeps killing me and no one is counter pushing'. Each of these questions is covering one or more of these attributes and states of mind.
Toggling one of these attributes off in the web might mean a whole lot more get disconnected. The way this web is configured is different for each and everyone one of you, this is what makes us so different, but also makes us interesting. For one a trigger might lie in relaxing through knitting, for another a run, and another can't relax unless the heart rate is going through the roof via a lovely jolt of caffeine.
Curiosity for me is one of the most interconnected attributes in this web, it's so important in fact that without it almost every other system of my creative functioning would shut down.
I went through a whole host of jobs that I left for many different reasons. Most of them were in the field of concept art as well and, it took me a while to figure out why I couldn't figure out why I couldn't find a fit. Glad we all got through that sentence. Good job.
I've spoken before about the importance of getting to know yourself, it really is the cornerstone to a happy life, for the simple reason that if you figure out what you dont like you can start eliminating those factors thus being more happy. Easy.
One of the things I found is that curiosity is the key driving factor behind motivation. It works as follows:
Curiosity - leads me to ask silly questions.
Those questions lead to discoveries.
The discoveries energize me because my brain receives a stimulus (I spoke about psychic energy before as well as brain atrophy which I basically just copied from here)
That energy leads to a visual stimulus in the form of inspiration (I really do hate that word)
Inspiration gives a certain drive. This drive has 2 parts
Autotelic: I want to paint this because I think it's cool
Exotelic: I want to paint this because I might get praise or jobs from it. Having both is good to keep balance since the autotelic reason is mostly a road to self loathing, crushing artist fear and so forth.
With these powers combined this forms
Captain motivation. One part incentive, one part artistic passion for self improvement and deprivation, one tablespoon of inspiration and a good helping of curiosity.
Pretty neat if I say so myself. But that's not the only thing. Curiosity has a lot of fringe bonuses, aside from being a wise ass at parties, that each have their own even more fringe bonuses. It's just a matter of diving down that rabbit hole to see how far it goes. The more you map this internal chart the more you can identify culprits of a whole host of negative influences. Grumpy for days but can't figure out why? Do some digging!
Curiosity for me leads to a lot of researching which takes me to places I would've never thought of visiting. From weird microbial structures to the graffiti they use to mark utilities. And as expected, it goes even further.
But back to concept art for just a minute. The core definition of concept art, and I will write a blog about this because people keep getting it wrong, is solving problems. Not making pretty pictures.
So what do you need to solve problems? Information. Lots of it. As Sir Francis Bacon said: "Knowledge is Power." And now you know where that comes from too, you're welcome!
The more information you have the more versatile the solution can be, which in this profession is kind of a big deal.
This means you have to find the information in which case it helps if you are curious because, curiosity gives you energy to go out and find it. Which leads to motivation, and, well. You've seen where that goes. It's a pretty nifty cycle actually.
Getting this information and turning yourself into a problem solving superstar will cascade through other aspects of your personality and thus career. It can lead to useful traits such as initiative, assertiveness, trivia trophy master and conversationalist. Some of those are more important than others. Better still is if you get the information from talking to other people which in turn will make you more social as well. There really is no limit.
You see, at the end of the day what defines you as a person is a huge part of what defines you as a artist. The ability to identify who you are will help in identifying what you want to paint. Which will lead to questions such as how you want to paint it, both in style and medium, cascading on and on. Once that curiosity machine is turned on and reaches full power there is no stopping it.
Curiosity helped me through a lot of difficult trials, whether it was in personal life or at work when I felt overwhelmed. When I was new in the industry I had no idea what my day to day tasks were and I was too afraid to bother my AD every few hours after he told me off. So, I got curious and started talking to people to see what was needed. Everything on the road to becoming better at art starts with you asking questions. Once you get going you'll find that you can answer most of the questions yourself. Trust me.
So what does your internal map look like? Is it a web like mine or are you configured in a different way? I would love to know, so you can drop a comment right here or on twitter or facebook.
Lastly I will leave you with a useful link to more articles! Suzanne Helmigh, my lovely girlfriend, writes a metric ton of stuff as well which you can find on her deviantart journal page right here:
That's it for me this week, go enjoy your weekend!