There are some people who work from 9 to 5 but then there are also the 5 PM to 3 AM individuals; being a Visual Storyteller, I am one of those evening to early morning workers.
DISCLAIMER: I do somewhat conform to the usual 9 to 5 working hours because that is the norm and how most things are structured, but those are not the hours between which I produce my most creative work. This means that my mind is working for most of the 24 hours in a day which is something I have, and you probably should accept if you want to be above average in your chosen career path, have great aspirations and want to accomplish personal achievements. Talking from a creative’s perspective, one who is admittedly still in the early stages of their industry, these are some facts I have come to realise, learn and analyse.
Prepare yourself for an unconventional and unpredictable lifestyle. Yes this can be fun but it also has its hard moments. For me, sacrifices are made daily e.g. I may not have time to go out and socialise with friends because I need 10 hours of uninterrupted study time to illustrate. I find myself getting a task like that started in the evening when my surroundings are quiet hence the reason I normally finish around 3 AM.
No one can do precisely what you want to do but you. This sentence may sound confusing but break it down into 3 parts; NO ONE CAN DO PRECISELY WHAT YOU WANT TO DO BUT YOU. If you have ideas, amazing ideas even, but do not give yourself a chance to let them escape your mind, I believe that is a waste. Ideas are formulated for a reason and they might not all come into fruition, however getting them out can make room for more. It’s vital to explore, elaborate, store or just get rid of them. I like to carry a small note/sketchbook around with me as well as beside my bed that I can always come back to because 2 AM may not always be the best time to fully work on an idea.
I can honestly say that since about the age of 19, I have been unable to go more than hour without thinking in regards to my passion. From the smallest thought about editing an illustration to a large concept I managed to conjure in my head; it doesn’t stop. This means that if you are working or studying from 9 to 5, yes you need to rest at some point but make sure extra commitment after those hours is applied to your craft. I have comprehended that for me to be a director by the time I am 35, I can’t simply do a couple hours of work a day; in fact it is impossible. I found this out in University because there were students who did work within lecture or studios hours alone, and there were people like me who are at it 24/7 and unable to think of anything but creating and producing– it should consume you (in a healthy way).
‘Do your Googles!’ Once again, do not expect to get anywhere by strictly doing the minimum of what you can from 9 to 5 only; research is so important. Be aware and knowledgeable of what provisions that you will have to consider to work your way into the industry. It can start as early as during school nonetheless it is never too late. Preparations I had to make were having to take on a Diploma in Art & Design before starting my degree despite already doing my A Levels. If I had known in advance that it was the route I had to take, I would not have attended Sixth Form and instead attempted my Diploma straight away. Initially I was frustrated by this apparent hurdle however I enjoyed my A Level experience and it was not in vain. The time during my year long Diploma enabled me to start and figure out exactly what I wanted to do within my degree and how I was going to execute it.
Follow your favourite creative’s career path and study what they have done, are doing and what they have in production. Research their work and see what personal aspects of their journey you can apply to your own so you can learn from it. I want to work in Animation/Film and become a director but I know getting to that status is not straightforward as there are many stages that I am yet to reach in order to get to that level. Another important aspect of research and knowledge is money. Of course everyone needs it but depending on your circumstances and what type of creative you are, you should consider really trying to be fiscally responsible in order for your craft to be a priority. I needed constant funds for materials, software, hardware and a website both during and after University even though my institution had a lot of facilities. If you are not in education, I’m assuming you may not even have the luxury of easy access to any of this so it is advisable to be sensible with what money you do have and think about investing in your creative path early.
Get this into your head – inspiration might not always be there to hold your hand through the journey.
You often hear how people gain inspiration and what encourages them to create but it is not the same for everyone. You may actually think you know what inspires you but what if one day it doesn’t? – You shouldn’t rely on it. The problem is the creative field is set up in a slightly different way to others and a creative individual can work in an entirely diverse way to another. In general mathematics for example, there is always an answer; 7 x 7 = 49 but with creativity there isn’t. Work may have to be done straight away but sometimes you just really don’t have an idea or solution so work cannot be completed despite having a deadline. Therefore my advice is JUST START.
I am rarely in the mood to take on a big drawing task out of the blue because I have to mentally prepare myself but when I am stretched for time, I just start. It may sound obvious but start by setting up your work area and by doing simple things like sharpening a pencil but it’s like dipping your toes in the water; it works! Occasionally you might be tired and think you don’t want to do anything right now but once you start, the workflow can come so easily (like writing this blog post for example!) You cannot always wait for inspiration and perfect conditions unfortunately so I just take a quick mental break and then power through.
For anyone struggling, overwhelmed or just wants to be able talk to someone who actually understands, I am available and remember, appreciate every milestone.