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7 New Year’s Resolutions for the Artist


By Emre Ekmekci

Web: http://www.emrekmekci.com/ (will open in new window)

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Date Added: 1st January 2018
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With the new year comes a chance to kickstart your art – check out these resolutions that could be adopted to help you grow as an artist...


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Most of us as artists, whether we work in a digital or traditional medium, tend to get stuck in our habits, our comfort zones and even though we like to think that we are open for adaptation, sticking with our old habits sometimes prevent us from doing that. Some habits we have as artists are not necessarily bad per se, but there is always room for improvement and change.

Here's a list of 7 methods I suggest using for New Year's resolutions that will help to enhance your skills and efficiency in workflow. Feel free to adjust and apply these to your own methods and the medium you use.


1. Create a finished artwork every week/month

Try to create a new work from start to finish every week. It can be a study, or it can be a polished piece. It doesn't have to be a portfolio piece. You can make smaller pieces per week or a bigger piece per month. The goal is to have it completed. Most artists tend to start a new artwork and just end up leaving it unfinished for whatever reason. Gaining the habit of finishing a work from start to finish, even if it's not portfolio-piece quality, would get you used to the whole workflow, having a much better understanding about the bigger picture, and better manage your time. We all know practice makes perfect so creating artworks from start to finish every week would make you much more prepared for a real job where you will be tasked to do the same, and hit the bar both in terms of quality and time management. And even if you work as a part of a production pipeline and you don't do the whole artwork yourself, you will know exactly what the next person in the pipeline will expect of you since you have done it so many times on your own.

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Creature hands study
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Clothes and pose study

2. Get out of your comfort zone at least once

Although we all tend to create better work when we enjoy the subject we work on and we are used to it, that's not always the case on a real job. You may be asked to work on something completely different from what you are used to, and you will still be expected to deliver a good quality work on a deadline at the same. So, in order to be ready for those kind of surprises, it is best to have done it before and know what you are dealing with when the time comes. It also sets you in a different mindset from your usual one, which is challenging in a good way and very useful for creativity. Having a different piece in your portfolio also shows to the recruiters and your peers that you are flexible and open to changes.

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3. Learn a new software

Try to pick up a new program that would fit in with your usual workflow. In most cases there's more than one program that does the same job and often these programs have strengths and weaknesses over one another. Although programs usually work as expected, there are definitely some cases they do something unexpected or even wrong. It is great to have some back up program to trust to do the job as your tool. I even use three different software sometimes to do my normal map bakes just to compare the results and pick the best one possible, which is a great luxury to have.

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4. Take your time on a personal project

Personal artworks we do in our spare time are one of the best ways to improve our skills. They are great for portfolio purposes as well as for learning experience. Apart from your weekly studies and practices, work on a long-term project that would last a month to a few months. There are tons of tutorials out there and different ways to achieve similar results. Take your time to learn different methods and ways that you always wanted to learn but didn't for whatever reason. Get the best result regardless of time so that you learn that workflow and mindset, and after applying it once, you will be able to do it much faster the next time.

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5. Engage in outdoor activities and take reference photos

While this one may seem somewhat out of context, it is actually one of the most vital things that you need to keep in mind for the sake of your physical and mental health. Most artists sit all day long with occasional standing and walking which harms the muscles, body structure and mental health. Getting off of the computer or any other art related stuff that you deal with everyday and focusing on something entirely different, especially in outdoors , would prevent you from getting burned out and help better clear your mind about whatever you work on. Another great thing you can do while on an outdoor adventure is take reference photos from the nature. The shapes and colors of the nature is a big inspiration on many people's artworks and it's a great opportunity to expand your visual library.

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6. Organize an art event/workshop/study group

Instead of waiting for others to come up with art-related activities, you can be the one that actually sets it up. This would make you take it more seriously and also improve your communication and social skills while interacting with other artists, which is an important thing for the professional work environment. It doesn't have to be a contest or a workshop, it can be as small as a study group among friends where you gather once a week and just sketch or exchange ideas and methods.

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7. Participate in a course or workshop

Learning different things from other artists, whether they have more experience or not, is a good way to open yourself up to new information and skillsets. You can take online or onsite courses, watch tutorials, or go to workshops. Try to see how others utilize the same program you use. Different methods can let you learn new things about your skills, you don't necessarily have to follow the exact same teachings that you receive, you can adapt the methods and use them in you own workflow in order to be more efficient.

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Related links

Quick Tips to Paint Lighting Effects
Imagining Monsters: 5 Things to Remember
Creating quick and easy weather effects
Grab a copy of The Ultimate Concept Art Career Guide


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