On Family, Work, AND Being an Artist: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

September 24, 2016By jayart, Blog

Hey Everyone, welcome to the weekend!

How has your week been? No, really, how has it been? Tell me about it in the comments.

For me, it’s been the kind of week where I’m getting some traction and it feels good. Many of you know my family and I made an out-of-state move, job change, etc. at the beginning of the summer.

There’s eight of us but we don’t go in eight different directions at one time, as often as we can help it. We’ve made it an aim to build deep instead of wide. However, when you go through as much upheaval as a big move and the subsequent changes it brings, sometimes all you can do is hang-on while you find the new rhythms that work for everyone.

Larissa Howell, our family’s good friend, and talented mama of five young’n’s of her own, recently asked my thoughts on, “How to live the artist’s life with family and work. How to keep disciplined in the midst of all that?”.

Craftsman
Craftsman

As a dad to six, and not working as a full-time illustrator, I get the quandary and have definitely experienced the conflict.

One of the bigger watershed moments in my own journey, thus far, occurred once I decided — I’M AN ARTIST. If we aren’t decided on that point, that we ARE ARTISTS, our family, friends, and co-workers won’t decide we are either. Additionally, they won’t know how to support us because we are sending mixed messages.

It seems to me this is the norm, although, I have to say; sometimes you meet someone who can see in you what you cannot see in yourself, and if possible, that is a friend to keep. That is the friend who will help you decide, but in the end, it is a decision we must own.

Discipline follows decision. If you are unsure, there’s no reason to be disciplined in it. 

Once you are firm there, here’s some tips that have helped me:

ON FAMILY
-Make sure they are ON BOARD with you being an artist. Talk about it, let them be a part of you making that decision. Best case scenario — make it together.

-Show an interest in THEIR art. Look at it, talk about it, display it. I know that’s not always easy, this summer every single one of my six children created their own board game! Awesome, right? It was, however being honest, it’s a bit challenging to sit down and play every single one and work through their rules, etc. Worth it, but intense.

 

-Do art TOGETHER. When they’re doing art, sit down with them and do art too. I think this makes a connection for them; I think, that’s where they begin to understand that you love to do what you do as much as they love theirs.

-If your family is NOT on board and maybe even hate that you do art, that’s a family problem, not an art problem. Don’t be afraid of  finding out why. Don’t be intimidated from dealing with that head on, it’s the best thing you can do — not only for your family, but believe it or not, for your art as well. Art tells a story, the one underneath — that’s your story.

-Maybe you’re thinking, “my kids aren’t artists or interested in their own art“. I believe every person is born creative, it just works itself out in our own unique ways. Illustrating is a norm, but maybe your kid cooks, gardens, acts, sings, builds, talks, sees. If the creativity is undiscovered, then your opportunity here is really great.

Got Readers? Read a book on your craft, while they read their fiction, etc? Talk about it a little afterwards.

Family Outings? This one takes wisdom. There are times to leave the supplies home, but also there are times that it’s perfectly fine to bring them, and maybe even be a conversation starter, a way to spend quality time together, and a way to bond.

Did this in parts while attending a civil war reinactment this weekend with the family. Got the bones down while watching, then found some shady spots along the way to finish it up and sit awhile.
Did this in parts while attending a civil war reinactment this weekend with the family. Got the bones down while watching, then found some shady spots along the way to finish it up and sit awhile.

Keep your supplies mobile. If you want to be a family person and an artist, this is important, and completely do-able. Just be ready to create anywhere.

ON WORK

-Since family comes first, work has to take precedence over art, so we can take care of our family. This shouldn’t, however, be seen as a death sentence to art. We have to find (or make) any opportunities around work, that we can, and make the most of it.

I mentioned this example a couple weeks ago, but this small decision is a big part of the progress I’ve made: my job gave everyone three 5 minute smoking breaks — I turned those into “draw breaks” and challenged myself to complete a drawing in that time. I believed I could improve if I used the time I had. I believed it was enough and poured as much of myself into it as I could.

-If allowed, sketch during meetings. For many of us, this doesn’t take away from work or our attentiveness in meetings, it helps. I process and think while I draw (probably not a good idea if you’re one to get enraptured in your thoughts while drawing).

-Again, keep your supplies MOBILE. This has helped me so much. Many of the supplies on my tool list are easily portable for this reason.

After work, if the t.v. comes on, you can draw and still be around your family.

-Better yet, stick around the table after dinner, pull out your supplies and engage in conversation, or just be around, available, relax and create.

Meeting sketch from this week.

ON FOCUS
As much as all the things above and many other ideas can hugely help us meet our goals, there is also a time to stretch beyond the 5, 10, and 15 minute art sessions. If you’ve decided you are an artist, you’ll be able to find the time for this, especially with your loved ones help. Schedule it, protect it. As in, leave your phone/email/social media somewhere else. Often we can bring more quality to our responses and interaction if we’ll practice this.

It isn’t selfish. Done in the right balance and looking for the times of day when we are least needed by others, we’ll even set a good example for our kids and give them permission to work hard and find time to focus as well. An example is: rising early if needed (but get good sleep). There’s always going to be trade off but it is worth it. Welcome the challenge, face it, and enjoy.

I never used to be one who followed much of a schedule, mostly because I valued spontaneity. With so many responsibilities, though, my wife and I have found a schedule can be the best means to creating space for spontaneity and freedom from the stress of “when can I focus?”. I know when I can, and tucking the kids in bed at night comes first.

Speaking of night: this post is already too long, so I’ll keep this simple and expound more another time. But, REST. Get enough rest and you’ll accomplish way more with the time that’s left, trust me. You’ll be able to focus, not running on empty. Take care of yourself. Take the lead on this for your family.

SLEEP WELL.

EAT WELL, which includes regularly.

TAKE BREAKS.

EXERCISE, get active.

If we keep our priorities in order and use discipline in small opportunities, we’ll find bigger opportunities open up. I am still learning this, but I hope this resonates in one way or another or spurs new thoughts for you that the world is waiting for you to share. How do you find time for family, work and art?

 

 

A little bit more of this week’s art:

 

Current Good Read:

img_5700Framed Ink by Marcos Mateu-Mestre. This month I’m focusing on composition and clarity. This book has been an excellent help understanding framing and growing my storytelling ability. Marcos is a master. If you want to become better at composition and designing your view, this is the book.

(If you use the link above to purchase, it helps out my family, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for all your support.) 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend and keep creating,

Jay

Jay Myers: Curtesy of Raynna Myers

Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks! Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.
Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic: The Adventures of Tomy and JonOr buy your own copy here.
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On Obscurity: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

September 16, 2016By jayart, Blog

Hello All,

Welcome to Friday night. I hope it will be a creative weekend for you.

natecreekmore has asked for my feedback on how to get people to take a look at your work and how to make your way out of obscurity.

Thanks for asking Nate!

I was on Instagram for five years before I broke through 10K followers. That was last year.  I am not a famous, full-time, artist. That said, I am happy to share about some of the growth and changes I have experienced. Over the years, I’ve established new connections both professionally and relationally—most of that is thanks to the IG community.

For some the process of becoming known just goes a lot quicker than for others. I believe, to some degree, we can take personal responsibility for and investment in that process. (This could be book-length post but I’m going to try to keep this simple.)

Responsibility and Investment #1: Don’t be afraid.

Here's some inspiration from my kids. I love this pic of them!
Here’s some inspiration from my kids. I love this pic of them!

Fear will keep a lot of new connections from happening—as often as we’d like. I know it has for me.

Whether we don’t reach out or comment regularly, on other artist’s work who inspire us (because we decide for them, instead of letting them decide for themselves that they don’t have time for or interest in us). Or we choose not to “follow” someone because we might fear losing our own “style”.  Or we choose not to “follow” them because they intimidate our current abilities. Whatever we do these actions are fear based and keep us in from possible growth and lock us down in ourselves.

There are a lot of ways this plays out, a lot of ways fear keeps us from connecting. Probably the biggest of these is an underlying belief that “the world doesn’t need (or have room for) another artist, writer, etc.” Drop that kind of thinking. We may not be as good as someone else—yet. Keep pushing.

If you are ready to offer your genuine, original art to the world, no matter where you are at in the process of becoming, there is PLENTY of room for you, even a need for you. Do not be afraid.

Responsibility and Investment #2: Listen to the right voices.

If it wasn't for my beautiful bride, I likely would have given up long ago.
If it wasn’t for my beautiful bride, I likely would have given up long ago.

One of the best ways to overcome these fears is to listen to the people who are closest to you and have always been your biggest fans. Value those who see you while still in obscurity.

If you do not currently have a “cheering section”, do your best to be one for someone else and trust me, it will happen. Find other artists who seem to need support and be it. Comment. Like.  Also, start with yourself, be kind to yourself, don’t believe everything that goes through your head. Be a listener to the right voices. It’s true, we do what we think we can do.

Here’s a personal annoyance, I see in a lot of artists: when they comment and I go to check out their work, and right there in their bio it says, “I draw $h*?!”. Or they comment on their work and call it crap. It’s tiring. Listen, if you don’t believe in your work, it’s gonna be real hard for others to and I definitely won’t.

Get the voices right and you’ll be off to a good start.

A few more actions I think are worth taking:

Connect. Comment on, share, like, and get to know the other artists whom you admire. Doing so will help inspire you to push yourself to do better and increase your abilities continually.

Many of the artists whom I look up to and admire, who now also follow me (or even better I’ve been able to establish a friendship with in person) were artists I took time to connect with, and give sincere feedback to on their art.

When I say “comment”, I mean more than “wow” and “awesome” those aren’t bad, if you only have a few moments to comment, but if you have more then give more. It will set you apart.

Give them specific words, consistently, on what you appreciate about their work and inspiration they provide you. Let them know what you are noticing. Doing so, MIGHT, get your art noticed in return, but will definitely get you noticed. Stick around, stay, whether they follow you back or not. Be unique, be a bold giver.

I will also take time to explain, my take on “liking” or commenting: if I am learning anything from a post I see, I clickity-click that heart/star icon. Why? because if they weren’t sharing I would never have learned that thing. I treat the people I follow as teachers and the pay they receive from me is clicking/commenting. Why do I do that? Because when I like or comment, the media shares that with those who follow me. (This is specifically in IG and in Facebook—Twitter is its own weird animal.)

(Actually, cool news on that front came in just this week. Back story: My family attended a concert last year and left a gift of art to thank the artist—with no expectation for something to come out of it, but so much has. I just I was invited to a conference (I’ve been interested in for awhile) as an illustrator with a group of illustrators I totally admire.  I’m really looking forward to meeting them. You never know where it will lead, but connecting is good.)

Create fan art of artist’s work you admire.

Kubo final fanart.Kubo final fanart. You might catch their attention, you might not. If you don’t you will still have grown by stretching yourself, artistically, and inwardly. That’s one more defeat of fear down, it’ll make you stronger for the next time.

An example of this: after seeing the movie last week, I created some fan art of KUBO. I posted it and tagged Shannon Tindle (Kubo creator). He came by my IG page, liked it, commented, and liked another piece earlier this week as well. Felt good and we made a small connection. He doesn’t follow me, but I’m going to keep following him, because his work is going to grow me.

 

Keep pushing yourself to grow, be inspiring (not perfect).

Be yourself :)

In my last post I gave some advice on one way we can push ourselves forward while “measuring” our growth: decide on a specific focus, shoot for it within a specified period, then compare your previous work to your current in that specific area, not a vague, subjective comparison, rather a specific, objective analyzing of the skill you are currently working to improve, i.e. inking, coloring, storytelling, etc. See last post for more info.

This may seem obvious, but I want to encourage and affirm you in knowing that if other creatives see you doing something that they can learn from or be motivated by they will often follow you and share your work—even if they don’t “like” everything you do.

Remember too, we never know why others choose not to connect; their “connecting quota” may simply be full (I personally am following too many right now to actively be commenting and liking them all—though I try), or maybe they deal with their own fears. While you are growing just don’t quit —BEING YOURSELF. This is memorable and grabs the attention of the right people.

Current Good Read:

I commend to you: Griz and Norm’s 100 Tuesday Tips not only because it’s awesome, but most of all due to it being a consistent resource that I go to foremost out of all the resources I have, and I have a lot.


It deals with principles and not just exact specifications. Check it out.

This Week’s Art:

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend and keep creating.

Jay

Jay Myers: Curtesy of Raynna Myers

Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks! Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.
Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic: The Adventures of Tomy and JonOr buy your own copy here.
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Grow on Purpose: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

September 12, 2016By jayart, Blog

Hey guys!

Welcome to Monday, I hope you had a refreshing weekend.

For me the break from the work week brought some needed rest and with it, renewed creativity. Last week was a hard one as far as drawing goes. Every time I go through one more day or week like that, I don’t like it, but there’s always something to gain from it.

Change and growth is on my mind a lot these days. We can change, it’s just really difficult to do—and takes time. We have to plan the changes we want to make. The plan does not have to be elaborate—but should be specific. The plan should more often, consist of what we need to remove than what we intend to add.

Decision is the stripping away of things less important: Do I get my style just right/perfected or go for finished and as good as I can get it now? If you decide on style, then finished isn’t most important. Either way you grow. But, deciding on finished allows you to have something to share with the world and have growth.

I’m still growing in my ability to plan (just ask my family), but it’s helpful to be at this long enough now to be able to look back and see changes, I aimed for, have taken root.

Question:

This week @Tylerhallstrom  asked me about seeing improvements from year to year:

Hey Tyler,  thanks for asking. Here’s my process/plan: for each period of time I want to focus on growing my skills, i.e. this year, the next six months, this month, etc. I define what I want to work on specifically.  Here’s what I mean,

This year, my goal = clean up my lines (simple plan, definable outcome).

The reason to be specific is to enable us to have an intentional “metric” to judge our progress by. If we make specific goals then we have those specific characteristics to look at in our art.  The question of whether I’ve progressed or not is not left to my subjective mood or opinion but rather an objective measuring of progress in specific areas. Make sense?

So, like I said, I wanted to be able to draw with cleaner lines when I wanted to. I’ve been studying other artists with clean lines in order to learn from them, so that I could bring more clarity to my drawing. I’ve accomplished that to a large degree, (along the way, I played with how far I could take my lines to be rough, as well as how simple I could get them) now I’m in a process of bringing what I’ve gained back into my own style.

This works for me. I gauge my progress this way. I studied color for a year, and once that time had passed, I compared how I colored the year before to how I am coloring now. I focused on perspective for a set time, and then compared my use of perspective from the prior year compared to the present.  The same with storytelling, inking, etc.

Throughout the process, I also consider and keep at the forefront my purpose for my goal. I shared in this post that I realized a lot of the reason behind my unclean lines was more about a lack of confidence than it was a style I 100% wanted. (Now, I LOVE rough lines over precise ones, but there is a difference between control and lack.) If you’re not sure about your purpose just give yourself some space to be quiet and ask yourself why, then ask why to your answer until you get to what you know is your bottom line “why”.

I hope that adds to your arsenal of growing and making the changes you want to make, on purpose. This really is within each of our grasp. It’s hard at times, but the payoff is worth it.


Recent Art:

 


One More Thing:

To wrap up, here’s a couple more thoughts, I’ve got words for this week. They may not all seem connected, in some ways they aren’t, but each one speaks to making decisions. Maybe they’ll hit home for you too?

*Trying other artist’s tools is a good thing, but being honest with yourself about what works best for you is a crucial part of that process.

*I like watercolor, a lot. I’m not great at it yet, but I think it will remain a primary tool.

*Art drops can be disheartening, but it’s still a good idea.  About 90% of the time I haven’t heard back from recipients, it stays in the back of my mind wondering if the wind blew it away or if someone found it and saw no worth and trashed it, etc. It’s still a good idea because it allows you to put yourself out there and get used to not having feedback—but still feeling good with what you do.

*You gotta have hope to draw well. Without it, you create a cycle of pain. e.g., Pain: this is terrible. I can’t draw. I might as well give up. Hope: this is terrible, I’m going to get this—keep pushing forward.

*Inktober is coming. Gotta decide if I am going to do it.

How do you guys measure your progress from year to year? I’d love to hear what works for you.
Alright guys, have a great weekend and keep creating.

Jay

Jay Myers: Curtesy of Raynna Myers

Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks! Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.
Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic: The Adventures of Tomy and JonOr buy your own copy here.
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On Art Challenges: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

September 2, 2016By jayart, Blog, Encouragement, process

Hello all,

I’m running about a week and a half behind on this post, but I hope you’ll find it worth the wait. I won’t spend much time writing as I have a video post for you this week. The focus of this post is challenge.

Image disclaimer the featured image for this post is not the same as the one from the video. I did a second 15minartchallenge drawing later in the day, because I really didn’t like the face of the one from the video. 


On Tools:

This week’s tool is another art challenge. I recently discovered this one introduced by Jake Parker on his Youtube channel. I haven’t done this one yet, but it looks to be a great one that I plan on doing soon. Check out the video and you’ll understand why.


On Questions
dansbycomics asks:
“I was wondering how you got started in art, who your influences were/are, and what tips you would give to an aspiring artist.”

Hi Dansby, (I know that’s not your real name, but I liked responding to you by it. 😄 ) thanks for writing. I decided to answer you on my blog because this way others, who might have the same questions, will be able to read it as well.

How [I] got started in art:
Probably much the same way you did. Very early on I was doodling. I wasn’t totally serious about it until later in life. I’ve read stories about people who were making comics when they were four or five. I don’t remember ever making my own stories until I was 12 or 13. I remember my original dream was to do animation. I never pursued that. I didn’t want the debt. I remember later becoming very enamored with comics and picture books. I still am.

I did professional commercial illustration for several years and eventually gave it up. I became a web designer, Flash designer/developer, User Experience (UX) consultant, and a UX designer. About 10 years after quitting illustration, I bought some brush pens and sketchbooks and began teaching myself all over again. Six years later, I feel like I have a better understanding of art and am working on finding an agent so I can tell my stories.

Who your influences were/are:
My first inspiration was my older brother. Later it was Schulz, Sienkiewicz, Edlund, Waterson, then Kieth, Jae Lee, and Wiley.

The first time I remember really connecting with comics was Sienkiewicz’s New Mutants. That floored me. I didn’t want to be a traditional comic artist. Bill showed me I didn’t have to be. Later, I was inspired by The Tick and TNMT (specifically Michael Zulli’s take) basically put these together with Waterson, and Keith and you have my primary inspiration list. Nowadays, there are people like Parker, Archer, Galloway, Brown, and about 400 more amazing artists on my IG feed who amaze me on a daily basis.

What tips you would give to an aspiring artist:
Draw. Draw everywhere. Draw all the time. Draw everything. That’s number one.

Two: No one else will help you become good. You won’t just wake up one day and be good. You have to make yourself become good.

Also, remember, we have, no matter how good that “we” is, all been at the beginning. We have all come through the hobbyist phase and grown into the artist phase. We have all had our paths that look successful or not. No one was born good. It’s a fight for everyone—some just forget they were beginners so you will run into jerks—don’t let them dissuade you.

Three: be fearless. Don’t treasure your style or your current skill. Be thankful for them, honor them, but don’t treasure them or you’ll never grow.

And lastly, don’t be afraid to learn from others. Seeing how they draw, redrawing their work, tracing, etc isn’t bad. Just figure out what they are doing so you can build your art your way—not their way. Learn and they will help you understand art better. (One of the ways I do this is to IG surf and sketch gestures based on what other artists have drawn. I use those gestures to help expand my visual database.)

I hope this was helpful.


One Last Thing:
I was recently reviewed and thought that it was an extremely graceful review of my storytelling and artistic abilities. Plus, I was reviewed along side two other VERY talented artists. Check it out: http://computerpaperproject.weebly.com/blog/article-15-3-artists-you-need-to-follow

Alright guys, have a great week and keep creating.
Jay

Jay Myers: Curtesy of Raynna Myers

 

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks! Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.
Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook . Check out my free western fairytale webcomic: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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