Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pierre Speaks: Inspiration!

One question that often comes back is;

Where do you get your inspiration?

Once you become a professional... there is one thing you learn.... if you need to wait for inspiration... go find another job.

Once you start working on a project.... there is no room for waiting around for the Muses to come and visit you.

You usually have some pretty tight deadlines that must be done “yesterday”.... so the last thing you can do is wait for some sort of inspiration.

Inspiration is for amateurs.

It may seem harsh, but it’s the truth.

Under a tight deadline, there is only one thing you can do.

You sit down at your desk/drawing table/computer and you get started, and you work, work, and work. You work until you are done... or until you hit your deadline.

As an artist, you have no choice... you must be able to sit down and be able to draw whatever the client needs on demand.

Sure some research will be needed, and some of that research might be more “inspiring” then some others. Or some projects might be more inspiring to work on then others. But in the end, you have to be able to sit down and just produce the work.

Sure sometimes you will be happy with the result, some other times you will not. But you cannot afford to wait around. You HAVE to get the work done.

John Romita JR has a great name for this. He calls it the “deadline style”.

Essentially, when you must pay the bills and the deadline for the project you are working on is just around the corner.... there is no two ways about it... you sit down at your work station and you produce the work.

There is no miracle or magic formula.
You sit down and do the work.

I know that I am somewhat repeating myself over and over.... but I often hear the same thing from aspiring creators.

Once in a while, when people find out that I draw for a living, aspiring artists will want to know how to become a professional artist, or aspiring writers will want me to draw their “great idea” of a project that they have come up with.

When I ask them to show me their portfolio or some script samples.... often the answer is the same...

“I have nothing to show, I am not really inspired right now.”

Usually, if I did not know it already, that confirms to me that what I am dealing with is an amateur... in the worst sense of the term. Depending on how well I know the person, I may just tell them that that was a very amateurish answer.

Too often, what that means is that they are just waiting for someone to take them by the hand and “help them” produce the actual work.

By “help them” what I really mean is doing the actual work for them.

Amateurs will sometimes get the germ of an idea, and stop there thinking that someone else can do the rest of the work.

They think that now that they did the hard part, they think that now that they have “created” the idea... they can let someone else put together their “brilliant idea”.

Coming up with the idea is just the tip of the iceberg. After that... the REAL work actually starts.

You sit down and you work.... work and work.

That is how you provoke inspiration.

By working.

Not by waiting around for the work to create itself out of thin air.... or by waiting for someone else to do the work for you.

Not that you cannot have a partner with whom you are creating the work. Heck Flashback universe was done from Jim and I collaborating with each other.

But what I am talking about is when someone just waits around for “divine providence” to do the work for them somehow.

It can take just a few minutes to come up with an idea. But putting that idea together (doing the research, writing various drafts of the script, designing the characters/props/locations) that can take weeks and weeks. Heck that can take months and months.

And sadly there is no time to just wait around.

I know that some will also use the white page syndrome as an excuse... but that is pretty much the same excuse as “I am not really inspired right now”.

Once as I tried to explain to someone that, you do not wait for inspiration, you provoke it. I was told by that person that she did not what to do like Van Gogh and cut off her hear in other to kick-start the creation process.

No need to go that far or to be that drastic.

A very simple trick... make a mark... any mark on your white page. A circle, an “X” or a triangle. Anything. And once you have done that... you have no more excuses. You are no longer facing a white page and can get to work.

The same thing for someone who is facing a blank Word document on the computer screen. Write something.


And then keep on writing. And once you have done so, you are no longer facing the blank Word document and you can go back and edit what you did write.

Now if you will forgive me, I will go back and edit what I wrote for this Blog. ;)

Until next time.


Crize2foi said...

Ecellent post Pierre! Echoes similar statements by C.S.Lewis concerning the quest for originality.

And it's a friendly kick up the back-side for those of us who waste too much time waiting the muse!

Thanks ;-)

Pierre Villeneuve said...


(Crise de foi??)


This is something that I encounter a little too often... I had to talk about it at some point.

I guess "some point" was wednesday. ;)


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