Trying to be good

I’ve been feeling a bit insecure about my ability to create good work lately. While social media is a great tool to put yourself out there, it also means you’re exposed to how talented others are. There are so many incredibly talented people out there in the world. While that’s often really inspiring, I have to admit, I do find it intimidating at times. So when I start feeling self-doubt, I find it helpful to compare myself to work I used to do. Instead of comparing myself to others. There have been several of my past images that I’ve re-done after a couple months, or years, to improve upon them.

Left 2016, Middle and Right 2017 

So when I decided to rework this image, I entered an exhibit at my old high school which was to celebrate the art departments 20th anniversary. They invited a bunch of old students to take part. We were allowed to submit several images, so I decided to create two accompanying pictures. The idea was to have them side by side so it looked like the two girls were reaching out to each other. I used brighter colours to make the boat and air balloon stand out more. I also tried to make the patterns more relevant to the sea, and to the sky. The other difference was the size, the original was A5, and the others were A3 (which did make me regret doing such intricate patterns after a while. 

Left 2016, Right 2017 

I recreated this image on my iPad, using Procreate. I wanted the colours to be a bit more intense. I changed it from a portrait orientation to a landscape, which I think gave it a better balance. It also made more sense for the suns eye line. 

Left 2016, Right 2018 

So the new image is much bigger. The original was A5, and the newer one is A3. I was much cleaner with the ink this time, and I think the girl character has a better design. I also decided to use lines rather than dots to show the rain.

It makes me feel better to see that even a couple of years have made a difference to my creative skills. It’s a good reminder that even when I feel like I’m not good enough, I’ve come a long way. The best part is that I’ve still got a long way to go, and it’s an exciting journey to be on.

A couple of years ago I came across this quote from Ira Glass, which really rings true to me. I find it’s a good one to pull out when I’m feeling discouraged.

Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work … we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste — the thing that got you into the game — your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you, you know what I mean? 

A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people at that point, they quit. And the thing I would just like say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be — they knew it fell short, it didn’t have the special thing that we wanted it to have.

And the thing I would say to you is everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase — you gotta know it’s totally normal.

And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work — do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week, or every month, you know you’re going to finish one story. Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. It takes a while, it’s gonna take you a while — it’s normal to take a while. And you just have to fight your way through that, okay?

Okay :)


Happy Birthday to Me!

Last week was my birthday, and I turned 29! So I decided to treat myself to an artsy afternoon, visiting some exhibitions in the city. Arboria at Fed Square and the NGV Triennial. 

 I think installation art is really fantastic for public exhibitions. I feel like it has a lot more appeal to people who otherwise wouldn’t consider themselves to be artistic, or to have knowledge of art. Even if they’re not completely aware of the themes or ideas of the piece they can still experience it and engage with it. 

First I went to Arboria. It’s an inflatable structure, parked in the middle of Fed Square. It was created by Alan Parkinson, and is a series of connected rooms and spaces inspired by nature. The light from outside shines through the plastic walls, and creates the colourful environment inside. I loved this installation, there was such a sense of wonder. You almost felt completely transported into a fantastical world. Words don’t really do it justice. 

Then next was the NGV Triennial. It’s a huge exhibit across all four levels of NGV International. There are over 100 artists involved from all over the world, exploring different themes and ideas. There’s such large variety of artwork, and on such a big scale. I can’t believe that the NGV didn’t charge an entry fee. I thought it was brilliant that these artworks were available to be enjoyed and experienced by anyone and everyone. A lot of the works in this exhibit are interactive, and you’re able to fully immerse yourself in the experience.

By far my favourite part of these exhibits was how child friendly they both were. It was wonderful to see lots of kids experiencing the artworks. I like the idea of showing people that art is something to be enjoyed early in their lives. 

To finish up my birthday, I drew a few little pictures to give out to people on my Facebook page. I really didn’t expect anyone to want one, but they went so quickly! It always feels special to give artworks as gifts, and I’m grateful I have such lovely, supportive friends who like receiving them!

All We Can’t See

A couple of weeks ago I heard about the project ‘All We Can’t See’. 

It’s a not for profit project to raise awareness of the conditions of refugees detained in offshore processing facilities. In 2016 The Guardian published a series of leaked incident reports from Nauru. There are over 2000 files including cases of assault, abuse and self-harm. The aim of ‘All We Can’t See’ is to illustrate the Nauru files and use visual language to engage people in reading the files. 

I decided to illustrate two incidents. 

[redacted] was walking out of IHMS towards the bus stop. SCA case manager [redacted] witnessed [redacted] picked up two or three rocks from the decking and swallowed them. Whiskey1 and another officer restrained [redacted] to prevent him picking up any more rocks; [redacted] calmed once restrained. 

On morning bus run [redacted] showed me a heart he had sewn into his hand using a needle and thread. I asked why and he said “I don’t know”. I notified [redacted] as soon as I got off the bus at CPC1 and she proceeded to take [redacted] to IHMS. [redacted] is [redacted] years of age.  

I’m not the most vocally political person. I’m usually not confident expressing my opinion about certain issues because I don’t feel informed enough on the facts. 

I think Australia’s current policies toward asylum seekers who arrive by boat are awful. It’s terrible that people are held for years, and even if they are found to be genuine refugees are not resettled in Australia. Australia’s policies have been criticised by the United Nations numerous times, criticisms our politicians have ignored. The harmful impact of offshore processing on vulnerable people is shown time, and time again in the Nauru files. 

The use of images when we’re talking about issues like this can be incredibly important. Photographs, cartoons, and images, can add to our understanding of an event, and help us to empathise with other people. One of my favourite examples of this is the picture book ‘The Journey’ by Francesca Sanna.

It’s a story about the experience of a refugee family. I adore this book. She manages to tell a story with distressing subject matter, and presents it in a way simple enough for children to understand and empathise with. Her illustrations are gorgeous and add so much depth to the story. My favourite page shows the children’s impression of their mother while they’re hiding in the forest. The children feel safe enough to sleep because their mother is so brave, yet the illustration shows their mothers fear while they sleep.

If hearing about these experiences makes you want to help out, I’d suggest donating to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. They’re a support organisation and provide aid and legal assistance to refugees. 

There are lots of ways we can all contribute. Donating money, writing to your elected representative, and continuing to talk about these people and their experiences. Every little bit helps.

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