005: Know thyself
Starting off with some gratitude. I’ve been having so many great conversations through this newsletter, DMs and through the “Defeat the Funk” free course. I never really thought it would take off so quickly. Or that it might help so many fellow creators so deeply. That is incredibly humbling, and I am truly grateful to be speaking to you. I try to get back to everyone as quickly as I can.
When I say “we’re all in this together”, I mean it.
Art communities and groups have a way of eating their own, or it can become very cut throat. Too many rules. Too much pressure. I wanted to build this little community as something you can choose to engage when you need it the most. And it seems I’ve hit on something here that many feel.
Onto this week’s topic…
Do you know who YOU really are?
I had a conversation with an artist from the “Defeat the Funk” course last week tell me they just felt adrift, or kind of lost. They asked how they could be more like me, because I seem like I have it all together. I’m hyper focused and producing a ton of stuff. I’m humbled to be seen as some kind of role model, but the truth is, I don’t have it all together.
I get down sometimes too. Sometimes I feel lost. Even when things are going tremendously well, I can still feel like an abject failure inside. You have to learn not to listen to that voice when it creeps in. I think everyone hears it from time to time, and more so, artists like us.
So my answer to anyone feeling like that, is to know thyself.
Here’s what I did to right my own ship
Develop your personal pillars. I had heard of this concept before, but never actually did the work to physically write it down and look at it often. People pay thousands of dollars to attend seminars and workshops to learn this simple thing I’m about to show you here for free, and it will help you too.
And listen, no cheating! It won’t work for you unless you write it down. Take a piece of paper and actually draw this out. Thank me later.
Step one: Draw 4 columns on a paper. Thats easy enough!
Step two: Think deeply about what you care about or what moves you in life. A fun trick here is that even if you think you don’t know, your inner self-conscious will start popping words up. And usually the first 4 words are already your personal pillars.
This may not come instantly to you. It can take time to develop these pillars. What was once important to you 10 years ago may not be the same today.
This exercise will help you begin to see, or remember, who you really are deep down inside. In a world full of noise, it’s easy to sometimes forget, or wander away from the original path you wanted to be on.
I’ve never shared mine with anyone before, but here they are.
Here’s a breakdown of my personal pillars:
Creating Comics: The words “the craft” jumped out to me when I was thinking. This was the first thing that popped out when I did this exercise. You may notice, it’s not about “making money” or bring a famous comic artist. It’s the true love of the magic of sequential art. I could talk about that for hours and days with other artists.
Helping Others: I generally love to share what I know or have learned. I get some sort of positive energy from helping others when they are down and pulling them back up. When I say “we’re all in this together”, I really mean it.
Stoicism: I was introduced to stoicism by way of Ryan Holiday and “the daily stoic.” I credit stoicism for helping me get through a really hard time in my life, and help me calm the waters and remove drama from my life. Also, it’s just super cool. The idea that when we read ancient philosophy we are “speaking with the dead”, was just rad to me. Also the core idea of “the obstacle is the way”, helped me move many mountains around in my life. It made me want to be a better person and serve a greater good anyway I can, in the very short time I’m on this earth. One of my everyday carries is Ryan’s coin that says “memento mori”.
Innovation: I have always loved trying new things and thinking about what’s next. Especially for artists. I studied disruptive strategy through Harvard, and this is another topic I could yammer on about all day if you let me. Watching what has happened to Netflix this past week and why has been fascinating. Unfortunately, the entire animation division got wiped out first. Artists and creatives, the first to go! - You want to know where the future lies? We have some clues already, and animator Rad Sechrist breaks it down here. Spoiler alert, it’s TikTok.
I know my own pillars very well. I go back and review them often.
And once you know yours, you can use them to define what you say yes and no to. If something doesn’t “fit” your pillars, toss it out! Even when you just take a look through mine, and see what I’ve been up to the past quarter, you can see that all of my content, even this newsletter, all align with my pillars. I don’t feel lost anymore. My pillars keep me focused and driven.
Recently I turned down some pretty big jobs, only because it just didn’t align with me or where I want to go. It was scary to turn things down, but then such a huge feeling of relief set in.
That’s when you know you’re on the right path.
What Are Your Personal Pillars?
Yours will not be the same as mine. Everyone is different, and that’s the beauty of this. If you want to share yours with me or talk it through, drop me a line.
To give you a quick example, here are some sets from other art friends of mine:
Faith, Family, Fun, Adventure.
Animal Friend, Mental Health, Drawing, Writing
Tattoo Culture, Entrepreneurship, Localism, Music
Digital Art, Outdoors, Brewing, Pop-Culture
Don’t skimp, write it down! It matters. There’s something magical about writing it down on paper.
It could be that you might only have one or two figured out right now, and that’s okay. I suggest 4, because then you can really have some fun as you bounce ideas off each pillar. Maybe something aligns with all 4 pillars for you. For me, I kind of feel like I’m bringing all 4 pillars to this very newsletter.
This week’s prompt is SELF-PORTRAIT. Draw yourself in any style you wish. As an alternative you could just draw something that symbolizes who you are or how you visualize who you are. Maybe it’s a burrito? I dunno. 😂
I’m still sending some surprise things in the mail to those who take part in the drawing prompts. To be eligible post your drawing to Instagram, tag it #drawordiechallenge, and DM me there to make sure I see it! If you’re not feeling brave enough to post it or want to remain private, you can just e-mail me your drawing and your physical mailing address. Sound good?
Okay, I have some comics to draw and they aren’t going to draw themselves! Back to the drawing board for me.