Smoke ’em, if you got ’em…
Last time, I wrote about assessing your weak spots and working to make them assets instead of liabilities. Later in the post, I had plugged a couple of people and resources that I admire. Of course I let those people know and, I had a wonderful surprise and learning opportunity come from it.
Jon Schindehette, Art Director for Dungeons & Dragons (Wizards of the coast; Hasbro), took some of his scant free-time to read my blog and offered me a counterpoint, in a personal message:
…very often we spend a lot of time identifying what we “don’t do well”, and spend all kinds of energy and time dedicated to shoring up our weakness…only to make them “less weak”. Where as, as a counter to that, we could exert the same amount of energy and time and work on the skills that we do well, and work at turning those skills to a level of “mastery”. This is even more relevant when folks spend a lot of time building up skills that are weak because someone else thinks that they should – rather than us taking on building up those skills because we choose to.
just something to think about…
After reading this I couldn’t help but see the logic in Jon’s words and his point stuck in my head and the more I thought about it, the less I find fault in it. Jon and I exchanged messages a couple more times, and eventually the conversation turned into the idea for this blog post; working toward mastery.
My last post focused on damage control within your skill-set. Today I want to touch on going all out with what you’re already good at.
What good is it to be a “good” landscape artist if you want to create paintings of robots? Sure, there are universal and adaptable skills there and learning to interpret and translate what you see in 3-D into a 2-D format in any form is great practice for an artist, but what if your were already one of the “up-and-coming” robot artists? What purpose would there be in forcing yourself to become a better landscape painter, if you only wanted a career in robot art? Likely, almost none, if any. We have to decide what we want to do with our creative efforts and then go headlong at becoming the best at what we do.
Previously, I talked about looking at your work as whole. Doing this teaches you about your skills. Last time it was to find your weakness, this time I want you to focus on what you do best, and what you might not be the best at, but want to be. Those skills/elements are what we need to focus on; the skills that really light our fire. By investing our time working at these skills we can further advance our apt for them, and eventually become masters of them. So, what do we do now that we’ve decided to dedicate ourselves to a particular skill?
You work it. You take what you know and you build on it. Learn from other in your field, get critiques, read books, research it etc. You might be thinking, “Wait, that sounds nearly the same as what we would do to better our weaknesses…” you’re right! Creativity is about learning, and expanding our understanding of the world around us, and then learning how we translate that to the canvas, page or other medium.
The point isn’t simply to create, but to create what makes us awe. Create that which we can be proud of and then learn where we can make our strengths even better. So yes, in many ways this is similar to building up weaknesses, but it’s investing the time in a different way. Only you can decide what is best for you. You have to decide what you want to do with your creative efforts, and then work toward those goals.
What do you consider your strengths? How do you plan to make them stronger? What is your ultimate creative goal?