New SkyHeart Cover

I'm wrapping up the loose ends with my SkyHeart project before I send it off to the printers. This week I finished the cover!

I had already designed and illustrated a cover for the book. However, I did it BEFORE I ever drew the book. I created it for the Kickstarter to show people what the finished book might look like. I had just barely figured out the designs for most of my characters, and I hadn't finished the story yet.

After I had finished the book, I revisited the cover and realized the character designs were off, and there were elements on the cover that never ended upr in the book. I felt like the cover could do a better job at reflecting what was in the books pages. 

The original cover design was more of a mood piece than anything. It was meant to capture the feeling of what I wanted the book to be, and to try and sell that idea to potential backers. Now that the book was finished I realized I needed to redesign it. I really liked the vibe of the first cover so I pretty much stuck with the same composition and color palette.

Here's a comparison of the two:

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I think it definitely gets the designs for Wake and Mal Threck right. And I like what's going on with the tengru better in the background. Yahna's character pose better reflects her attitude in the book. And the ship at the bottom is the right color. There's some color stuff that I couldn't quite repolicate with the second one. Sometimes illustration is just alchemy and I have no idea how I get a certain effect. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the revised cover.

I'm launching a pre-order for the book on May 21. So if you want to get in on this print run be sure to pre-order then.

If you'd like to be notified when that pre-order launches, just click here to sign up for the list.

-Jake

Why I made a Podcast

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I've been an avid podcast listener for the last 10 years. I discovered podcasts around 2008 when I was working on my Missile Mouse graphic novel. Much of the work was tedious, often grueling.

I had a day job for an animation studio and then at nights and weekends I'd come home and work until about 1AM, alone, in the basement. I calculated that I spent about 12-14 hours per page. At 170+ pages you can start to see how much time this book took.

After the excitement of working on a graphic novel wore off (which was like 20 pages into it), one of the biggest battles was overcoming fatigue and giving myself an instant gratifying reason to sit in a cold dark leaky basement and ink a page.

What got me down there was podcasts. I knew that an exciting/interesting/engaging story was waiting for me if I sat down and got to work.

My first few podcasts that I listened to religiously were Hard Core HistoryRadio Lab, and Stuff You Should Know.

These podcasts saved me!

Over the years more and more podcasts became available and they niched down to pretty specific topics like comics and children's books. Pretty soon I found myself being invited to come on podcasts and talk about my work as an artist.

(Here's a few I've been on: Bancroft Brothers, All the Wonders, Art Side of Life, Your Creative Push, Dan Blank.)

But in all those years listening and participating with podcasts, what I never thought I'd do was start my own podcast.

You see, in my mind podcasts were something that (and this is going to sound stupid)...they were something that podcasters did. Somebody who has a great voice, an ability to talk interestingly about a topic, and they had the time and resources to record, edit, and publish online.

I am an illustrator. Illustrators illustrate. They don't podcast. (see, stupid. Right?)

Then this last year I was looking for podcasts specifically about illustration and all I could find were just a small handful, many of which had ended. (Bobby Chiu actually has a pretty good one, which you should listen to if you don't already).

That got the gears in my noggin rolling. I had an idea for a podcast where you get 3 illustrators (with different backgrounds and approaches to their art and careers) and you have them all discuss a single topic each episode.

Then I realized that if this was going to happen I'd have to start the podcast myself. Sometimes if you want to see a thing happen YOU have to be the one to do it.

And here I am, doing something I never thought I'd do, PODCASTING.

I'm really pumped for this new podcast. It's called:

3 Point Perspective: The Illustration Podcast

This is THE podcast about illustration: how to do it, how to make a living at it, and how to make an impact in the world with your art.

Each episode me and my two cohosts (Will terry and Lee White) tackle a subject related to illustration from 3 perspectives. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we argue, but everytime you learn something new.

All three of us are professional illustrators and for the last 25 years have worked with every major publisher and publication in the biz. We’ve published over 50 books, and have all taught illustration at different universities.

You can subscribe to it on iTunesGoogle Play, or listen on the website. (Spotify coming soon)

We've already got 7 episodes in the can. The First episode dropped Monday. It's called: My Art Is Great! Why Won't Anyone Hire Me?

That episode is well stocked with actionable advice on how to get your work seen by the right people and get hired. Other episodes get into all the other nitty gritty stuff about being a professional illustrator.

I think you'll like it. Please subscribe so that you don't miss our episodes!

My hope with this podcast is to:

a) give someone a reason to get down into their leaky basement and work on that project that seems too big to ever finish.

b) give actionable advice that could point someone in the right direction with their career in illustration.

You can use the image above so that if you wanted to share it online you'd have a picture to go with you post. I'd love it if you told at least one other artist in your life about this.

All right, thanks for reading all of this. I need to get back to work on this book cover I'm finishing up.

- Jake

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The Hero We Need Right Now.

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Superman turns 80 in a couple weeks, and I thought I'd share why I think Superman is not just the greatest superhero but the hero we need right now.

I understand why most people don’t get Superman. This is no fault of the character. I put the blame on most writers of Superman. I think the common mistake is to make him relatable by giving him weaknesses that he has to deal with. The writers of Superman give him kryptonite, or they give him a love interest, or a family, or an inescapable past. All of these are designed to be pressure points that a villain can manipulate him with.

Something like kryptonite makes him weak, but it isn't his weakness. This misses the mark, because Superman already has a built in weakness that should be exploited in every story.

 His true weakness is the fact that he can't be everywhere at the same time. He can't save everybody. A frustrating thing for someone who is a Christ figure, a savior of the world. He came from another realm not to rule the world, which he could so easily do, but to be one of us and to save us from ourselves.

How do you save a planet that’s hellbent on destroying itself from the inside out? And how do you approach a character that has already fulfilled the needs of safety, acceptance, self esteem, and self-actualization?

A Superman story shouldn’t be about super powers, or secret identities, or being the sole survivor of the planet krypton, they should be stories about him having more faith in us than we have in ourselves.

Every person Superman encounters in a Superman story should inherit his values of truth, liberty, justice, and life just by being in contact with him. A Superman story should be about how we can be better, how we can find safety, how we gain acceptance, how to build our self esteem, and how to achieve self-actualization. A Superman story isn’t about his character growth, it’s about our character growth.

That’s Superman’s true power. Not leaping over buildings, melting steel beams with eye lasers, or flying faster than a speeding bullet. His power is changing people. One man can’t save an entire world, but one man can inspire a world to save itself.

And that’s the story we need to hear right now.


If you're interested in reading a handful of really good comics, here’s four of THE BEST Superman stories. These are the ones I keep coming back to:

Superman Birthright: I actually bought this book for the art but stayed for the story. It's a great origin story of Clark Kent taking on the mantle of Superman. Maybe the first time I read a really good explanation of the "S" on his chest.

Superman for All Seasons: A quiet Superman story that narrated by those who knew Clark Kent the best and how they impacted his life, and in turn how he's impacted theirs.

All-Star Superman: My favorite of this bunch. This takes a bunch of the crazy Golden and Silver-Age Superman characters, experiences, and set pieces and weaves it into a serious story about the Man of Steel's last year on earth. It was heartfelt, engaging, and fun. Plus the art is incredible.

Superman Secret Identity: An alternate universe re-telling of the Superman origin story. I didn't know what to expect when I bought this, I just heard it was really good. Took me by surprise a little, but I enjoyed it. Also, really great art. 


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Roald Dahl, Double Barrel Cannons, Yaretas, and Breaking into Comics

I like keeping my creative bank account full and fresh, so I'm always on the look out for cool/interesting/thought provoking/inspiring stuff. To keep track of it, I'm posting it here on my blog, so that a) I can access it easily, and b) so you can benefit from it too. 

In that same spirit, if you run into anything you think I might like please share it with me, either in the comments or via my contact page. Thanks!

Okay, here's 5 cool things that came across my screen recently:

1) Roald Dahl’s Letter of Advice to a Young Writer.

Always interesting to see what advice successful creative people have for amateurs. Lessons learned from this brief exchange:

1 - Don't ask too much of them. You should have already studied their work, and the work that they studied to get where they are. Once you've done that, if there's any gaps in your understanding you can ask for them to fill that for you.

2 - Do your homework on the person you're contacting so you don't ask them for information that is already readily available. When you only have one shot to talk to someone you look up to you don't want to waste it on something that you already had access to.

2) Double Barrel Cannon

I had no idea these things actually existed. What a brutal weapon! The ingenious part is connecting the cannon balls with a chain. Might be cool to put something like this in SkyHeart...I'm thinking on a bigger scale. Maybe the tengru use a massive version of this to level cities?

3) Yareta, the 3000 years old plant

Another thing I never knew existed! This was brought to my attention by Rebecca Dart who shared this on her twitter feed. Pretty cool to know that stuff like this grows on our planet. Might be good reference for an alien civilization. I can imagine tiny villages built on these plants, with little alien farmers harvesting them for food.

4) "I feared releasing something unimportant, so I didn’t release anything at all."

Short read about allowing your ego to get in the way of you putting something out into the world. I think they nail it. If you haven't created something and shared it with people in a long while, could this be the reason?

5) How to Work in Comics? The “Don’t Break In” Panel

I was a part of a panel at Emerald City and Comics Beat did a nice write up of it. In the panel we unpacked the idea of making comics on your own as a way to "break in" to the comic industry. Jason BrubakerLucy Bellwood, and I have all had success self publishing our comics. A great discussion, and really nice to hear three different perspectives on this topic.

That's it for this week. See you next time.

Jake


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Old art from my late teens and what I learned from it

Hello!

Hope you've had a great week.

Last week I took a trip down to Arizona to visited my mother, who isn't feeling very well. We got to catch up, and I took some time to clean up her shed. In it, I found a bunch of old artwork I had done in high school that I haven't seen since I packed up the box back in 2002.

I thought I'd share them with you and talk a little about what I was trying to learn with each piece.

This was one of many attempts to start a comic strip. There's a lot going on here. I was trying on a new style, and tried to learn what I could from the successful comic strips I followed in the 90's. I was figuring out how to do inking, panel structure, and storytelling.

I remember seeing an amazing ink drawing of Predator in a comic book I had. I wanted to ink like that so I came up with my own pose, but tried to copy the inking style. Not content enough to just draw a predator I had to mash it with Star Wars, so I gave him a light saber and some Mandalorian inspired armor. 

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One of my final projects senior art class was this inked Boba Fett with colored pencils. I felt like I had inking down at this point, but my coloring skills weren't there yet. I didn't know how to use Photoshop yet, otherwise I would've colored this digitally. Basically colored pencils were the best coloring option I had at the time.

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Another senior project was a cut out 3D paper assignment. I did Missile Mouse battling a space hydra over a barren moon. This monster was based on a bunch of Bill Watterson aliens. I remember I copied the pose of Missile Mouse from an X-Men comic drawn by Jim Lee. This was me putting a bunch of influences together to try and make something new. Skills that would become very valuable later on in my career.

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My friend came up with a character called Jet-Dog and this was my fan art of him. I was big into Appleseed and Superpatriot so I learned a lot about mechanics from those comics.

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I don't remember what this was for, but Hellboy had just came out and I was learning how to draw tentacles from those first few issues.

Here's some Star Wars letterhead I made when I was about 20 years old. This was in the late nineties when there wasn't as much Star Wars stuff all over the place. I saw a cool Spider-man letterhead that all these characters on it and I wanted something like that for Star Wars. So I drew my own! I made copies of this and wrote letters to people on them. (Also before email!) I learned a lot about graphic design and how to put a bunch of elements together. This would be soooo much easier with Photoshop now.

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And lastly, here's a Batman drawing I did when I was about 5. I was a BIG fan of the Adam West Batman series. I remember drawing this from a batmobile toy I had. What's cool is to see how my 5 year old brain simplified the shapes and only drew what was necessary to get the point across.

It's been fun to go through these, I haven't looked at this art in 16 years!

There's THREE take-aways from all of this:

1) Learning happens from experimentation. I did a lot of experimentation in my early years. I experimented with style, tools, subject matter, techniques, etc. This is how you find out how you make your own work. You take pieces of all of these and find what works for you.

2) Learning also happens from just A LOT of copying. I found pieces that really spoke to me and copied what I could from them to make my own pieces. Copying helps you close the gap between idea and execution.

3) Use each piece you do to focus on one skill. Even though your piece might be pushing you abilities in a bunch of different skill sets, have the main thrust of the piece be about learning one particular skill.

Alright, that's it for this blogpost. Thanks for reading!

-Jake


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On Doing Commissions

At the beginning of the month I tabled at Emerald City Comic Con, my favorite con to attend btw.

I don't normally take on commissions because my day-to-day is pretty packed with projects and jobs. However, when I'm at a con I use it as an opportunity to take on around 10 commissions. This is because I'm away from my family working all weekend anyway, I might as well fill the in the time gaps with drawing something. Not only does this make the con a better financial return on my time out of the studio, but I get to make something cool for someone.

This is also someone's chance to play art director. They get to be a part of the creative experience by imparting their imagination on my drawing skills. And together we come up with something wholly unique: an artifact that acts as the ultimate memento of that event and that particular thing of which the commissioner is a fan of.

With that, I thought I’d share some recent commissions I did for fans at Emerald City Comic Con.

 Robo-pug

Robo-pug

 Mech-Hulk dropped his coffee

Mech-Hulk dropped his coffee

 Kikaider, from an old seventies Japanese show that I was not aware of until a fan asked me to do my take on it.

Kikaider, from an old seventies Japanese show that I was not aware of until a fan asked me to do my take on it.

 Spent waaaay too much time on this one, but it was for a friend, and worth it.

Spent waaaay too much time on this one, but it was for a friend, and worth it.

 Miranda from Mass Effect. Thought it would be cool to do her in a more cartoony style since she's always portrayed pretty realistically.

Miranda from Mass Effect. Thought it would be cool to do her in a more cartoony style since she's always portrayed pretty realistically.

 Wake with the commissioner's dog Pip. (I actually did this on in my studio before Emerald City, as a special request)

Wake with the commissioner's dog Pip. (I actually did this on in my studio before Emerald City, as a special request)

 Sometimes you just want a picture of a raccoon with a remote controlled car.

Sometimes you just want a picture of a raccoon with a remote controlled car.

 Venom-Thor! I thought this was a pretty creative idea this guy had me do.

Venom-Thor! I thought this was a pretty creative idea this guy had me do.

This were a lot of fun. It had been over a year since I last did commissions like these.

If you're interested in getting an original pice of art from me, I post drawings in my shop from time to time. If you're wanting a commission, definitely hit me up at a con, (I'll be at Denver Comic Con in June) or shoot me an email. I'll let you know if I have the time in my schedule or not.

-Jake

To Art Students in Puerto Rico

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I met Samuel at the CTN Animation Expo last year. He’s an animation student from Puerto Rico. Last summer Puerto Rico was hit by a massive hurricane that destroyed a lot of the infrastructure of the country and, by extension, the infrastructure of the art school Samuel attends.

I’m trying to imagine the full extent of the damage this caused. Two months after the hurricane Samuel told me that there was still no power. A trip to the school that took 45 minutes took 2 hours. Instead of washing clothes in a washing machine, clothes are washed in the river.

I’m trying to imagine finishing school under these circumstances.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of news cycles, the situation in Puerto Rico has largely gone forgotten by the world. There are problems that can’t be fixed in six months and the effects of this hurricane will be felt for years to come. This leaves the people left cleaning up the mess to feel even more isolated and marginalized.

At CTN Samuel asked me if I had any words I could send along to his fellow classmates. Anything positive that might inspire them to keep going.

At Samuel’s request I’ve written this letter to offer a message of hope in the face of such hardship:

To the art students of Puerto Rico let me first say I’ve never had to face mountains like yours, but I’ve had my own mountains that have tested me. In those times I’ve had to remind myself this:

You need to create.

Your community needs you to create.

The world needs you to create.
 

There’s a reason you chose art as a career path. It is in your nature to create and share. That’s because you have stories, images, characters, and experiences inside of you that need to get out. Leaving those things to wither and die inside of you is not an option. The act of creation is also an act of healing. It requires your mind, your emotion, and your body to make something. Engaging all of those at once provides an outlet for your frustrations, but also elevates you out of your situation for a moment, and shows how things can be. For your own well being you need to create.

As your country rebuilds it needs healthy communities who live and work together peacefully. Your art can be a part of this by showing your community an ideal by which it can strive for. Your art can be the language in which your community uses to understand each other. As your community comes together there are experiences it might not necessarily fully understand or know how to express. You art can help share thoughts, ideas and a vision of your community that may not be able to be articulated any other way. In order to thrive your community needs you to create.

Lastly, artists are on the frontline of culture. They give us tools to understand our past, what we are dealing with now, and most importantly how things can be. Throughout history the world has been changed forever by small groups of artists who dared to create in the face of uncertainty and instability.

Think of Picasso’s Guernica which brought the horrors of the Spanish Civil War to the attention of the world. Or the impressionists which showed us that art shouldn’t just be a representation of what we see, but also of what we feel. Or Disney’s Snow White which showed that animation wasn’t just for gags and laughs, but could be used to tell meaningful, emotionally impactful stories. Your art could be just as provocative. What you create in this situation could just be what the world needs to see right now. The world needs you to create.

Now, telling someone to create, and actually creating are two different things. I understand that making a work of art falls to the bottom of the list of priorities when most of your energy is finding a way to feed yourself that day. Don’t let that stop you from doing these two small things:

  1. Make something every day.

  2. Be 1% better than you were yesterday.

It might be one drawing on one page in your sketchbook. Or a scribble on a napkin. Or a journal entry. Or a quick sketch you made on the bus. Whatever it is, make/draw/write something every day.

It might be that today you spent one more minute creating than you did yesterday. Or you started a second drawing and the day before you only did one. It might be that instead of having a moment of feeling sorry for yourself you took one moment to feel gratitude toward some thing. Whatever you’re doing, try to just be one percent better today than you were yesterday.

Both of these compound. They are small, but after weeks and months of doing these seemingly insignificant things you will see change happen. Something bigger will start to come from your small, consistent acts of creativity and self improvement.

First you will see change in yourself.

Then you’ll see it in others around you.

One day the effect will be noticeable in your community.

In time, it will be felt around the world.

And that’s something you, your community, and the world need right now.

-Jake

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Experimentation vs Execution

We are well into the 3rd month of the year here and I thought I'd share the drawings I've done for fun so far this year.

Been spending most of my time for the last 4 months on SkyHeart, so I haven't been drawing for fun as much as I have in past years. I think it's important to just sandbox draw because so many cool ideas come out of that. I get so busy with urgent work I sometimes forget to draw for fun. And by fun I mean exploration, play, and experimentation. 

I guess that's the way the pendulum swings. I used to draw an awful lot for fun and didn't making anything of lasting importance (like graphic novels or picture books). For several years I did a lot of exploration; trying to find new designs for characters and world building. I did a ton of exploration in my 20's and early 30's; figuring out what styles, mediums, and tools worked well for my goals. 

But now I'm in execution mode. Which means my last sketch book took a full 9 months to fill (I usually fill 4 in a year), but I've been able to sketch, pencil, and ink an entire graphic novel. 

But maybe that's how it's supposed to work, you explore, play, and experiment, then find something you want to sink your teeth into and deploy, execute, and produce. I just wish I could figure out a way to not do one at the expense of the other. 

Hoping I find the balance between these two before my career is over! 

Anyway, here's my drawings. Commentary in the captions.

-Jake

 Only after I posted this on Instagram and someone mentioned the word "avocado" did I realize this looks like an AVOCADO BOT. Maybe I should do more food based robots. 

Only after I posted this on Instagram and someone mentioned the word "avocado" did I realize this looks like an AVOCADO BOT. Maybe I should do more food based robots. 

 An Emerald City Street Guard is startled by a rascal riding a kangaroo-rabbit. I colored this with my Winsor Newton watercolor set which I love.

An Emerald City Street Guard is startled by a rascal riding a kangaroo-rabbit.
I colored this with my Winsor Newton watercolor set which I love.

 he Emerald City Air Squadron defends the city from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I drew this in anticipation of Emerald City ComicCon. Every year before I go I do some kind of Emerald City themed drawing. 

he Emerald City Air Squadron defends the city from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I drew this in anticipation of Emerald City ComicCon. Every year before I go I do some kind of Emerald City themed drawing. 

 This is my go-to default subject matter when I don't know what to draw. Little bots with numbers on them. I did 200 of them several years ago. This drawing and the next are me toying with the idea of doing another hundred.

This is my go-to default subject matter when I don't know what to draw. Little bots with numbers on them. I did 200 of them several years ago. This drawing and the next are me toying with the idea of doing another hundred.

 Cooling off.  This was all digital from sketch to final. Took 2 hours. I drew it for an  svslearn  .com  live demo. You can order, download, and watch it  here . 

Cooling off.

This was all digital from sketch to final. Took 2 hours. I drew it for an svslearn.com live demo. You can order, download, and watch it here

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SkyHeart Colors

Hello! In keeping with the spirit of this blog as a place to post more longer form content and stuff I'm thinking about, I thought I'd also share some production updates for whatever it is I'm working on. In this case it's my all-ages graphic novel SkyHeart. 

Right now I'm neck deep in coloring SkyHeart.

I only have 36 pages left to finish coloring out of 126! Wanted to share a few of my favorite pages with you:

 Inside Mal Threck's skyship.

Inside Mal Threck's skyship.

 The back alley ways of Bridgeport are the perfect place for a stick fight.

The back alley ways of Bridgeport are the perfect place for a stick fight.

 Wake's mom has had to take on extra work since he went off to war. 

Wake's mom has had to take on extra work since he went off to war. 

 Mal Threck rides to find the Star Seed!

Mal Threck rides to find the Star Seed!

I've also updated the SkyHeart webpage with a ton of info, PLUS a preview of the first 10 pages of the book. So head over there to check it out. 

I had to pause production while I went to Emerald City Comic Con. This week and next has me tied up with accounting, taxes, and a bunch of loose ends on various projects. I'm hoping to get back to coloring by the end of the month. 

Lastly, a huge shout out to Ryan Nimtz, Rachel Everett, Cam Kendell, Dado, and Tanner Garlick for all their help in assisting me on this book so far. These guys are incredible to work with!

-Jake

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10,000 Minutes

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Been thinking about the 10,000 hour rule.

Malcolm Gladwell popularized it in his 2008 book Outliers. Based on studies of elite performers in a spectrum of disciplines Gladwell proposed that people aren't born geniuses, but arrive there through hours upon hours of practice and work.

He contends that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness."  He backs that up by giving examples of greatness, and how Bill Gates, Mozart, and the Beatles achieved mastery by combining their nascent talent with 10,000 hours of practice.

Whether you're learning to code, play piano, illustrate, or wrangle dinosaurs, Gladwell says it'll take 10,000 hours of practice to master it.

10,000 hours of hard learning is daunting. It can be insurmountable for anyone over 40, and it is crippling to a teen. How can you live a balanced life when 5 hours of free time a day for 8-9 years is spent holed up in your room practicing?

Here’s a question: Maybe you don’t need to be a master in order to be successful?

Sometimes to be successful at something you just need to be above average. Maybe even just 1% better than the next guy. Mastery can come later if you want it. In fact, I think if you spend 10 years practicing at an above average level, mastery will be a nice side effect.

Let mastery happen on its own schedule, In the meantime just strive for being above average.

To get to above average you’ll need a lot less time than 10,000 hours. How about we see what you can learn in 10,000 minutes?

10,000 minutes as about 167 hours. If you attack this full time, and spend 8 hours a day, for 5 days a week, you’ll get your 10,000 minutes in a MONTH. I don’t think that’s healthy. Do not try it.

Let’s look at something a little more doable: 2 hours every week day (weekends off) gets you your 10,000 minutes in just 3 months.

That’s way more manageable. You can still have a life while doing this. Which is important for having a well stocked creative bank account.

But not all hours drawing are created equal. Just drawing for fun 2 hours a day isn’t going to get you to above average. You need to make those hours really count.

In order to make this the most effective use of your hours here’s FOUR things you need to do.

1) Define the micro skills

Being a great artist means mastering 40+ different micro-skills. These small skills are stacked on top of each other and make it look like the master artist doing magic, when really she is just doing 40+ small things all at the same time.

Some of these skills are:

Line weight
Tone
Proportion
Silhouette
Light
Shadow
Design
Concept
Form
Composition
Color
Value

That’s a good list to start with. If you want to know more, study up on some of your favorite artists. Perhaps ask them what skills they think are most important, then add those to your list of micro skills.

2) Deliberate Practice

Now that you’ve got the list of micro-skills you need to learn set out to learn each one individually. You do this through deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice is seen as one of the most effective ways to learn because it’s about narrowing in on specific sub skills and mastering those first.

For example, line weight is the first on the list there. What you might do is print out a line drawing that someone has already done, then you’ll trace over that drawing trying to copy the line weight exactly. Repeat this as many times as it takes so that you learn when to do thick heavy lines and when to do thin light lines.

Once you’ve gotten good at that, do the same with tone. Copy drawings that are excellent examples of tonal structure. And try to match that with your drawing.

Repeat this for all the micro-skills one-by-one.

Note: this is hard. Professionals who practice this way state that they can only concentrate for, at most, 4 hours every day on learning one specific micro-skill.

So don’t get frustrated if you can only do this for 30 minutes at a time at first.

3) Establish a feedback loop

One of the best ways to spot your problem areas and identify ways to improve is by creating a feedback loop for yourself. For some skills you’ll be able to track your performance by yourself. Just by comparing your line weight to the line weight of the drawing your learning from you should be able to see where you nailed it and where you need improvement.

But some skills are a little more subjective, or you haven’t learned enough yet to know what’s working and what isn’t in your studies. For that you’ll need to either find a mentor or find a community to show your work to. A place like the SVSlearn.com forums is a great place to share your progress and get feedback.

Showing a teacher or a professional is also a great way to get feedback.  Many online schools offer access to their teachers in live classes. Schoolism, CGMA, and SVSlearn.com all have great options. 

4) The 1% Rule

Just try to be one percent better today than you were yesterday. I learned about this from James Altucher who writes about this here.

Do this and you’ll see your expertise compound. Don’t worry about making giant strides every day. Just look at yesterday’s work and try to make it one percent better than it was yesterday.

Do this for 167 days and that 1% becomes… 167% better? I don’t know exactly. I’m not very good at percentages, but you get the point.

Get Started!

So that’s it, forget the 10,000 hour rule and see what you can accomplish in 10,000 minutes.

I’ve seen massive gains in my abilities by doing these four things. Check your own learning regiment and see if introducing micro-skill tracking, deliberate practice, feedback loops, and the 1% rule make any difference in the next 3 months.

I’d love to know how it goes for you.

Also, let me know what other learning techniques you do that have proven super effective. I’d love to try and apply those to my learning as well.

Thanks,
Jake

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