Challenge Yourself: The 40-Minute Illustrations

#23 Scale of Life

Art is a way of exploring your inner and outer life. At its best, making art helps people uncover and come to terms with problems in the way they’re approaching the world. Creating is, therefore, a deeply personal act, and this complicates the work of any professional creatives. How can I be expected to make good art consistently, regardless of other motivating (or demotivating) factors in my life?

We can’t always make artwork that’s up to our standards as artists, but this isn’t necessary when you’re working to meet the needs of others. One way to better meet their needs regardless of where you are personally is to develop a consistent style, or approach to making. With consistency, we make a sacrifice: we subdue our desire to experiment to any great degree (outside of personal work); but we balance our output, so there’s much less which is below our standards.

One of the best ways to develop your own style is to challenge yourself to make a huge bulk of work – go through your creative process so many times that you perfect it.

Half way through 2017, I wasn’t satisfied with my skill as an illustrator, so I made myself a challenge. I committed to making an illustration every day in just 40 minutes. The time cap was useful in improving my working speed, but essential in keeping the challenge light enough for me to want to do it every day.

Below are all the illustrations I made for this challenge. Many of them are so sub-standard that I’m embarrassed to share them, but I’m sharing them so you get a sense of how much you can grow when you challenge yourself.

Of course, I didn’t manage to stick to the challenge every day and part of my work was done outside the 40 minute window, daydreaming ideas on long bus rides; but I hope you can see how powerful an effect this challenge had on my illustrations.

If you want people to depend on you as a creative worker, make the right sacrifices: prove to them and yourself that you can be depended on.

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