Saturday, August 16, 2008

Creativity Exercise, or What Was I Thinking?

I'd been planning to launch a Web comic for a while, and after a long period of planning, character design, and writing, I did so on January 1 of this year. But as an afterthought, I also decided to launch another project that had been in my mind. For that, I would create a new dog every day: drawings, photos, animations, writing, or any other creative exercise. The idea was that it would keep my creativity sharp, and force me to draw very regularly. But, I told myself, it would be secondary to the Web comic.

What was I thinking?

There is a quote about never working with children or dogs. They take over. And my dogs took over. When my teaching schedule looked heavy this summer, it was the Web comic that took a hiatus. I haven't missed a dog yet. And I believe that I haven't taken the easy way out by repeating myself or using the same style day in and day out.

I made a commitment to draw a dog every day, January 1 to December 31. Three hundred and sixty-six dogs (I forgot it was a leap year when I made the commitment). I take that commitment very seriously. It may not matter to anyone else, but it means a lot to me. And I've experienced some real artistic growth because of it.

Which is why I now extend a challenge to any creative types reading this. I challenge you to find a similar project, something that forces you to keep a commitment to regularly create. As stressful as it's been at times, realizing that I have to get to work on a dog when I simply wish to drop onto the couch after a hard day, I don't regret it.

I've posted it on the Web every day, to keep me honest. And I've developed a small following. Sold some t-shirts. Made some interesting contacts with people who've written to me about the project and shared their dog photos and drawings with me. I've watched my creativity grow, my drawing skills improve and my confidence as an artist grow. And when the year is over, I will continue to draw dogs regularly. Not every day, and not on a proscribed schedule. But I hope to post at least weekly, to keep my regular visitors coming back for more.

Now it's your turn.

Oh, by the way, you can find my Web comic, Hex Libris, right here.


Heather said...

Your Dog a Day is really inspiring. I think for now I will stick to an IF a week... (Some days I can't even find the computer...)

Sarah Ackerley said...

wow, way to go. That's dedication. I checked your site out--very cool. I love the logo. I'm currently drawing 1 animal butt per day, but that's only for 26 days as I'm making an animal butt alphabet :) 366 dogs is some real dedication!

Erik K said...

Dedication, yes, but I'm looking forward to not having to do this daily. But it's a good sign for me that I care this much about keeping this commitment. And I've seen improvements in my work from this.