On creativity

Lately I've been thinking a lot about creativity. I spent the last 2 years or so in a creative desert, with no will to write or draw or build anything, and then suddenly, a few weeks ago:  bam! Inspiration hit. I wanted to blog again, I wanted to write a story, I'm even posting quasi-professional things on LinkedIn.

(That means I leave out the swear words.)

There's always lots of blah blah blah about how creativity is "1% inspiration and 99% perspiration", implying that if you just do the work you'll eventually be a Artist with a capital A. But without that 1%, that muse, you're barely a lower case 'a' if you're lucky. At least in my experience.

And yet I have no idea what planets need to align for the muse to start talking. I have no idea what happened a few weeks ago - nothing had changed, not even my brand of deodorant. So where does it come from? Where does it go?

(Where does it come from, Cotton Eyed Joe?)

(YOU'RE WELCOME.)

It's easy to think of creativity like a finite vessel, with only a certain amount of emotional energy that can be expended. If you waste it on your job or your kid, you have nothing left over. But that doesn't always track; creative energy begets creative energy, after all. Surrounding yourself with artist types might make your vessel bigger, your flashes of inspiration happen more often.

I'm somewhat reluctant to overanalyze, in case I scare it off. I don't want it to go skittering away for another two years. But when I'm not paying attention I find myself wondering about the particular blend of physical, emotional, and social situations that must have to happen for me to feel "inspired". My brain tries to dissect that, to slice it up and put it back together in a jar on the shelf, so next time I can just add a generous helping to my lunch.

Yeah, I'm totally going to scare it off.

Nerdy Bits

I stumbled across this post over at The Park Bench the other day, and it really made me feel like maybe my nerd-girl credentials are a little dusty. Mostly because I don't know who the fuck Liz Lemon is. But I have been slacking off a little lately in the nerd department. I mean - what if I got all NORMAL? The shame.

So, here's what's going on in my Nerd World lately.

Champions Online, the next big superhero MMO, is now in open beta (that means anyone can give it a go)(if they're willing to sit through a several-hour download, that is). So far, I give it a resounding 'meh'. I really, reeeeaaallly wanted to love this game, because superheros and MMOs are my 'thing', and I'm getting a tad jaded about my beloved City of Heroes, after a mere 4 years of playing it.

I know! I'm so fickle. Anyway, there are lots of clever things you can do in Champions (burrowing under the earth as a travel power? Okay, that's pretty cool), but most of the missions seem like a grind (kill X amount of X) and my artsy brain just can't get past the fact that it requires some video-card-on-steroids to render a game that's essentially in 2D. We get that it's a comic book game, you don't have to put a thick black line around everything. Honest.

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Season 3 of The Guild came out on Tuesday. For XBox Live subscribers, anyway. Which I am not. So if you ARE, please shutthefuckup until it's available to the rest of us, m'kay?

(If you're unaware, which I was until recently, The Guild is a web-based series about a group of MMO players. Each episode is 3-5 minutes long. Even if you don't play MMOs, it's a freakin' hilarious look at the weirdness that has evolved out of relationships over the internet. Like, say, BLOGGERS. Ahem.)

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Dollhouse, Season 1. Yeah, I know it came out on DVD a little while ago, but I just got around to watching it now. I wasn't super pumped about it. The plot sounded like an excuse for a lot of scantily clad women, and I always considered Eliza Dushku to be one of the few weak links in the Buffy series. I mean, anyone can play "bad girl with a vulnerable side", and she didn't even do the 'vulnerable' part that well in my opinion. But Dollhouse? Rocks. Eliza Dushku has totally upped her game, and the storyline so far is fan-fucking-tastic.

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Faunasphere, that strangely addictive little web-based gem of a game that I wrote about a while back, is now live. Anybody can sign up and play for free, and they've added a spooky new world: The Swamp.

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The first in Kevin Smith's new Batman series, The Widening Gyre, came out on Wednesday. The story has definite potential, though not so much the art.

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Apparently Frank Cho and Doug Murray want ME to draw their upcoming comic, 50 Girls 50. ME! Well, okay, not me specifically. If you're a comic book artist, they want you to take a shot at illustrating the first 6 pages of the script, and they'll pick a winner.

Hey, I draw comics.

Fancy that.

I think I'm actually nervous about it

For Christmas, my parents gave me this cute little handmade gift certificate that entitled the bearer (me, duh) to one day's babysitting each month, provided I used that day to do something creative. In other words, I can't use it to nap or clean the house or watch the second season of Battlestar Galactica. I have to Be An Artist.

It's August, and I've only managed to claim 2 of those days so far (Apparently they don't stack. I should have read the fine print, I was totally psyched for dropping my kid off for a week). So, riding the wave of creative mental energy from my holiday, I corralled my father into supervising my spawn tomorrow while I Draw Some Comics. I'm just going to sit, and draw.

Now...if only I had any idea what to draw.

Lighting the Proverbial Fire

So I think I mentioned that lately I've been in a bit of a creative funk. Luckily for me, my mom reminded my sorry ass that she had signed us both up for a weekend workshop on bookmaking. I got to leave the spawn with Grandpa (Grandpa, nervously watching X waddle around with precarious balance: "He's not going to fall and land on his head or anything, is he?" Me: "Um...yeah, pretty much constantly. Just keep him away from sharp objects, you'll be fine.") and spend a glorious 6-1/2 hours at a fun workshop hosted by Martha Cole. There's nothing quite like spending the day surrounded by enthusiastic little old ladies women of vintage to get your creative juices flowing.

(My mother probably just wrote me out of the will there).


Plus, I finally have something to post for Maternal Spark's Monday Muse! Yeah!

7 observations about the Neil Young concert the other night

1. Neil Young can still rock out for two solid hours, but apparently that's his limit, because after that he kinda phones it in (one song encore, Beatles cover. Because he's short on material?). But hey, he's 60, I hope I can rock out for two hours when I'm sixty. Hell, I'll be happy if I can stand for two hours when I'm sixty.

2. The median age at this concert made me feel an awful lot younger than at the Alice Cooper concert. Even though not nearly as many of them ducked out before the encore. Or maybe they did, they just couldn't move that fast.

3. Pot still smells good.

4. I know I'm not 'super cougar' status, because apparently there's a requisite uniform of entirely monochromatic clothing, some of which should be leather (but not all, because that would just be tacky). If I start dressing in shiny wine-coloured leggings, a wine leather jacket, wine-coloured boots, and a wine purse, I'll know I've Arrived.

5. There was an artist on stage, at the back, painting for almost the entire concert, completely oblivious to the raging rock concert going on around him. Nobody ever explained what the hell he was doing, but if he's getting paid? I want THAT gig.

(Okay, I just googled it. Apparently you have to be a roadie for 20 years first. I'm not so keen now).

6. You know it's an old-school crowd when they actually hold up lighters, not cel phones.

7. Even Neil knows most of Neil's songs sound the same.

For more lists head over to abdpbt...
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I'm not even going to tell you what I do for a living

Somewhere out there in the blogosphere, there is a post or a comment or something on a message board, in which I swear up and down and six ways from Sunday that I would never - ever! - blog about work.

So this isn't a rant about work.

What? It isn't.

This is a rant for all you other design-field type people out there, who will instantly recognize the person of whom I speak. Why, WHY, in the name of all that is sacred and true, do people hire ask you to design something for them, when clearly they are intent on designing it themselves?

You're the professional one who's good with that stuff, they say, I'll leave it up to you. Then they proceed to tell you "what they were thinking". And then they proceed to shoot down every. single. design you come up with unless it directly matches "what they were thinking". I just want to hand them a fucking Crayola and say HERE, have at 'er, it's gonna end up looking just as good, and then I won't have to put my friggin' name on it.

I finally figured out what they want. They just want you, the professional one who's good with that stuff, to validate them. They want you to exclaim, "Oh! Well what do you need ME for? You can obviously design like Michelangelo - this is just perfect the way it is!". What they DON'T want you to say is, "Oh, um, yeah, that's a good start but...".

(They also don't really like it when you file their sketches in the garbage can while they're still standing there.)

You'd think that after fifteen however many years in the business of being pretty good at that stuff, I would know how to deal with these people. But I don't. I'm also not a fan of the "well I don't know what I want, but I know what I hate, so can you just show me every conceivable design ever invented and I'll rule them out one by one?" people, but that's almost a whole other post.

So yeah. Designers? Feel your pain. People who ask designers to design stuff when they really want to design it themselves and have someone tell them it looks pretty? FEEL OUR PAIN.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm guilty of the above behaviour when hiring a designer myself. But that's different, because I'm a professional good with that stuff.

Also, see how this was posted on a Saturday? That's because it's NOT a work rant. It's not. Now stop looking at me, and go watch some cartoons or something.

Monday's Muse and Slackfest

Sometimes an artists inspiration is in the tools. This week my Monday Muse is the Bamboo Fun tablet I just bought. So. Cool.

Except it's also the reason my weekly superheroine is going to be a little late. Once you get going with the Bamboo, it's a whole lot faster to digitally ink & colour than with a mouse, but there's a bit of a learning curve. Hopefully she'll show her sassy self later on today.

Monday's Muse

Maternal Spark has created new meme where every Monday you post something that inspires you - a muse for the week.


So this week it's a two-tiered muse, a mug full of that always-inspiring wonder drug, CAFFEINE. It's also a mug that my good friend J gave me when Xander was born, and X is always inspiring (and ever-tiring). He inspires me to all kinds of creativity, but doesn't leave me enough time to do it. Ah, motherhood.

And yes, thats a sneak peek at next weeks super heroine in the background. Lucky you.

The breakup was mutual. Honest.

I decided to walk downtown yesterday in an effort to counteract the half a chocolate cake I had for breakfast (yes! you read that right. Now shut up). I can't just Go For A Walk, I have to have a destination. Which is silly, because I can just Go For A Run (although clearly, not often enough). I have to Walk Around The Lake, or Walk To The Library, or Walk To Dairy Queen.

Which is a bit counterproductive, but at least I'm getting out of the house. Right? Right?

Anyway. Yesterday I Walked Downtown, to take a look at an outside art exhibition that was going on. It was a one-day thing; a city block had been cordoned off, and all the artists had taken a parking space and turned it into an installation. You got a little booklet with 'parking tickets' that described each artwork, and the artist was on hand to 'validate' your parking with their own stamp. It was pretty clever. But on the way there I started thinking...I found out about this exhibit from some friends who are not artists. There was an invitation on Facebook, and I was not invited. Hello? I used to be an art student. I know people who are actually still artists. How did I not know about this??

Art World, why have you forsaken me??

Okay, so I don't come round as often as I should. And for quite a while there I was busy with a much younger man. And frankly, Art World, sometimes you're just full of shit. I became disenchanted.

But to totally reject me like this...

I know, I know, it's a two-way street. I have to put in some effort too. And I know you find it hard to live in this town. But, c'mon! You couldn't even send me a Facebook invite?? How much effort would that have cost you?

I don't know if we can heal this. To be honest I feel like I'm a better matchup with your younger brother, Craft Community. I know, he's not as 'wordly', but at least he's honest about who he is.

Maybe we should take a time-out. That's more or less what we've been doing anyway. But, y'know...I'll call you.