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Escape the Comfort Zone: Uncanny Creativity 41

Making art often means getting out of the comfort zone.

Alan Henry of Lifehacker explains the science of breaking out of your comfort zone:

Routine and patterns minimize risk. Making something scares us. Creating something inherently feels risky. Who knows if it’ll be good?

The comfort zone feels happy with low anxiety and low stress. This is why most people never make anything.

Optimal Anxiety

Slight anxiety helps us. “Optimal Anxiety” increases performance. Too much stress and we do poorly. Comfort is the opposite of productivity. Volunteering as a designer helps me escape my routine. It can feel stressful, yet also I’m helping people.

Regularly facing fear in controlled ways prepares you better for out of control problems according to researcher Brene Brown:

Try this: Venture a new medium, performance art, visual arts, practice new tips. Small tweaks to normal ways of producing art involve exploring your curiosity.

Productive Discomfort

It gets easier to push boundaries the more you do it. Alina Tugend describes this effect of “Productive Discomfort” for the New York Times.

It’s easier to brainstorm if you’re seeking new experiences, new skills. You get used to looking at the world in new ways and question confirmation bias. Old problems will seem new.

Try this: Do old things differently. New restaurants, drive a new route, switch out apps you normally use.

Take small steps

Avoid putting things off. Keep a list of “someday maybes”. Review it regularly to see if they match with your schedule. Always wanted to paint dogs or nudes? What’s the next small step to make that happen.

Take small steps. Set small actions. Weekly daily. Think big in the long-term and small in the short-term. If you want to have a huge gallery show, first you need to slowly make painting
Try this: find clarity through action.

Remember to return to your comfort zone. Have rituals that you return to for comfort.

Try this: Slow down or speed up on decisions that you have to make. Be more spontaneous in areas where you’re usually very planned. Try being more calculated in the parts where you usually are carefree

The Sweet Spot Between Overconfidence and Anxiety

Optimal levels of anxiety tested as middle range by scientist, Business Insider explains. If we’re overconfident, there may not exist enough anxiety to focus and perform the task at hand. With too much anxiety, we’ll have trouble performing even basics of tasks. Self-described worriers tended to have “high levels of brain activity when they made mistakes”. The test became difficult compared to those with less anxiety.

Try this: Actively Practice worrying less. Actively practice worrying less. Working out. Meditate. Question and answer the facts behind your worry. Practice optimism. Seek help – friends, family, therapy.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

When Creativity Feels Hard, Take Action

You might think being creative on demand is “hard”. Here’s what I’ve learned on the job.

I’m sad that society heavily sells this idea that creativity is “too hard” That we are constantly being indoctrinated into it. Adults spout tropes about the difficulty of creativity, sounding like children talking about monsters under their bed. No evidence of a monster, just fear. (See also: Face the Fear of Failure)

Hard is one of my least favorite words. Most of the time considering difficulty is impractical. When you catch yourself doing it, take it as a sign to practice. Pondering how easy or difficult a task manifests as a common procrastination habit. We place mental blocks in front of our own goals to protect us from imagined outcomes.

Anyone who got to the point where they could read this has already tackled countless difficult tasks.

Fairly early in my career, a more experienced designer told me starting with a blank page is the hardest part of the job.

So I’ve found to make it easy, at the beginning of a project I focus on the most practical parts of it. Break apart the project. Open a document. Get the size right. Put something on the page without judgment.

If it’s a particularly creatively challenge project, I name the file “Project Name Ideas”. Then it’s a super judgment-free space.

If you know any text or ideas for text, put it on the page. If it’s even more intimidating, scribble some messy thoughts on paper.

Sometimes just drawing boxes or grabbing a photo or texture works. Or make a list of steps.

Creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Look at inspiration and try using very specific parts of what you like in your own idea. Draw from a few inspirations and try getting them to mesh together

Try out the bad ideas too. Afraid of becoming unoriginal? Copy something and then try to fix it until it’s unique. Make something hideous and see if you can fix that too. Even at your worst, you’ll have some usable thoughts.

The important part I’ve found is to show your work. If someone could see you, could they describe an action? Thinking is not an action in itself.

Think through actions and through making.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Taking Photos in Low Light (Infographic)

This infographic on low light photography comes from Snapsort. It has a ton of great tips such as taking a ton of photos in succession, camera settings and lens selection.

You may also want to check out our past guest posts on photography: Film Photography vs. Digital Photography by Claire Jarrett of Marketing By Web and Finding Your Own Photography Style by Sarah Gonski of loveandpaella.com

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Drawing: A free book of 100 hands

Drawing the hands is one of the most difficult challenges faced by an artist when studying anatomy. They are as complex as the rest of the figure. Good reference material can help to simplify the task. Thankfully, the classic fully illustrated text of George B. Bridgman’s Book of a Hundred Hands is available free from Google Books. You can download a PDF, read it from your browser or view the book on any device that supports the Google Books app.

Bridgman details the hand in most imaginable positions, detailing fingers, the wrist. Most sections include simplified muscle groups with labels. Other details of interest are the veins, bones and, of course, short texts. The text quickly tells you information that’s key to an artistic understanding of anatomy.

If you love drawing books as much as I do, check out this extensive list even more free drawing books to download. Great to either load on your kindle or print out your favorite pages.

If you insist on print, you can also buy the published edition book on Amazon for under $20USD
. If you have any other resources, share them in the comments

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

The Internet Versus the Library (Infographic)

More people in the United States use libraries than the internet. While the web is commonly referred to as the repository of all human knowledge, most books have yet to be digitized. This infographic seemed like a great follow up to my “Is Print Dead” infographic. Not only do libraries provide access to tons of books that are out of print, hard to find, or out of your price range but they provide internet access to those who couldn’t afford it. They give computer access to students who need to type their papers but don’t have the means.

My local library allows me to browse and reserve books online. Then I can just go to the front desk, show my library card and walk out with a pile of free books. That always seemed pretty neat and convenient. It’s Netflix for books. If they delivered them to my door, that would be better. But that probably wouldn’t be free. Do you think libraries are important? How do you use the library? And what can we do to save them and make them more relevant?

Archives.com

Courtesy of Archives.com

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

The Journey to Freelance Graphic Design (Infographic)

Tired of your old day job? Even though you’re a designer doing pretty well, you could be more independent and have more control. This infographic by wix.com plots out the steps you need to take to build up your clientele and say goodbye to your boss. Have you made the journey or at least are thinking about it? Tell us your experiences in the comments


freelance to freedomd Graphic Designers Journey: Freelance to Freedom (Infographic)

Courtesy of wix.com

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.