Hammers and Nails

I’ve been drawing a lot less lately, preferring to go directly to digital for some product designs. It might sound like it would be a little slower, but the results are more conclusive.

That’s not to devalue a drawing, but when you want to manufacture a shape and not just make an accurate drawing, sometimes the digital approach is faster.

Here’s the thing I think some people, who are still romantic about drawing, don’t realize – it has some cognitive and physiological costs.

Say you draw something, you go through a dozen sketches, maybe spend an hour doodling and then hit the CAD program and realize “Hey this wouldn’t work in the real world.”

Going back to drawing can sometimes makes sense, but if you saw something that didn’t work in CAD, why leave your CAD program? It used to make sense when CAD programs were run on giant workstations, heating the very rooms they occupied.

You used to need to highly skilled and rare operators for those workstations, spending time translating your doodles into recognizable and annotated diagrams for someone else to interpret.

Now you can download apps, use in browser CAD programs, or highly accurate off the shelf vfx apps to do your CAD. If you have the skill level, there is no speed benefit to switching cognitively between the two processes. Unless you have highly internalized skills in sketching as well as computer aided design, then you have the trifecta when added to 3d printing knowldge. I’ve been developing those matched skills my whole life and having spent 3 years in additive manufacturing things are really coming together.

I’m just nagging and bragging now. After all, if you love your process, if you think it works for you, fine. But not questioning your process now and then is surefire stagnation fuel.

A line I read in a book pairs well with another popular aphorism. First, “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Add that to “When you believe in the problem more than the solution, which do you think will ultimately prevail?”

Altered just slightly, sometimes we can believe in a process more than the product, and you can tell when that happens. It’s when you get emotionally attached to the work done BEFORE the product than the product itself. Were you sad that the final product didn’t capture your sketches? You missed the point.

Were you disappointed that the spontaneity in your drawings didn’t translate to the printed or manufactured part? You missed something for sure.

That last quote comes from Ryan Holiday’s book “The Obstacle is the Way,” which became popular for sports teams, business leaders etc. in the last few years. It’s quickly become one of my favorite books.

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Pages of Eight Number 3

I admittedly worked harder, faster and better on this one comic than most things in my life. And oddly I did it on a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 which I didn’t even think I would even own were it not for the fact I needed a larger tax deductible tech expense for 2016.

I find myself touting more brand names these days because it honestly seems like more of them have been meeting my needs unexpectedly than ever before. I didn’t really NEED the Surface, I had a Wacom Cintiq – the smaller 12ux – and it still worked, still performed well aside from oft driver hangup weirdness.

I committed to doing two things in my process for making comics which were both based on being more mobile. I wanted to work more in different environments – to join that coffee brew house regular crowd of screenwriter wannabes wasn’t as a attractive as the ambient noise and air conditioning. But I wanted to be more mobile as well as more social when it came to my comics this year.

Like most projects, I solicited input from a trusted circle of friends. But from a list of a dozen or so chosen I managed to get one full list of notes. That 80-20 rule – 80 percent of your results comes from 20 percent of your efforts – now looked more 92-8. Still, not bad odds considering the list I sent to were all professional. chronically busy people.

I had the opportunity to sit in and sketch for Brave New World in Newhall, CA for Free Comic Book Day and managed to give a few people my latest book. To most of the people I handed it to, I prefaced it with a qualifying statement – “This is my best book to date.”

Saying that really doesn’t mean much if you consider that if you are an artist who constantly seeks to improve, EVERY book you do should upon release should be the best book you’ve ever done. Hard to manage. But I internalized the cliche, stoic ethos that everything should become an opportunity to practice some key virtue. I used the word ethos, even for me, that’s pretty snooty.

So turning the somewhat lukewarm copout of “well at least it’s a tax write off”, into “I made the best book of my life” was a nice byproduct of that ethos.

The last, and for many comics creators these days, most difficult aspect of authoring something you feel is the best you can do is the acceptance of that creation’s ultimate faults and failures. It’s going into the world with a huge handicap, bustling against the noisy summer releases from the media giants, and being buried by its own platform’s wasteland of underappreciated books.

The stoics call that last step “willing acceptance” – specifically, it’s what too many winners call the Loser’s prayer – the strength to accept the things one cannot change, the courage to change what can be changed and wisdom to know the difference. That bit never gets old. Those mocking winners end up in the loser’s circle on a long enough timeline, and under their breath, they all start praying. Haha!

Pages of Eight 3 goes live on Comixology tomorrow. I hope you can take a look.

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