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Pickin' paths and work addictions

2017-06-24 04:22:47 by Emrox

Scott McCloud has a lot of great books on art theories and deconstruction and shit, but one of my favorite works by him is his pre-webcomics web-comic about the role of chess in his life: http://scottmccloud.com/1-webcomics/chess/chess.html

It hits me real deep because I totally know what it's like to spend years and years at something just to come to the conclusion that you really know very little about the thing you've spent forever thinking about. But it also hits hard because I know what it's like to love more than one thing.

Some context - I've spent about 11 years of my life making animated cartoons. I'm currently going to college for game design, where I discovered that I actually really like programming, as well as the asset production and deep exploratory-design thinking, which is what I initially signed up for. I also have a bit of a thing for writing, which I guess is why I do so many of these posts, but is also why I care so much about stuff like comedy. Fortunately a lot of these things are tangential to eachother, but each individual path goes so infinitely deep that I really could just do one thing my whole life and never stop learning new stuff about it.

When I was a little younger I was worried that chasing many rabbits would leave me without a job, okay at a whole bunch of stuff without being industry-level good at anything and I would end up homeless or something, but I'm doing pretty okay for myself so I don't really worry about that anymore. What I do worry about, though, is how satisfied I'll be when I'm 74 and I still don't know as much about animation as I COULD if I had just had the foreseight to focus exclusively on that. It's a really weird fear, but I feel like if I have any potential to make an impact on the world, every day I spend playing chess is a little step backward from the full potential of something else.

It doesn't help that most of the guys in the art programs here are of the mentality that if you aren't drawing 15 hours a day you're FUCKED because everyone else is working twice as hard and were twice as talented to begin with. I think those guys are a little lost too though (I like to call it the "asian work addiction") - the real fallacy there is that if you spend 24 hours a day thinking about drawing, sure you'll have immense technical skill, but you won't have a single interesting thing to say, unless it's ABOUT drawing or is somehow challenging to the form, which won't really connect with anyone other than other artists. I got similarly lost when pursuing comedy - there's a point where you're so deep in technicalities and weird artsy shit that you really can't connect with regular people anymore. It's a little fucked up - the whole point of getting good at art is to get better at communicating the stuff in your head, but a lot of the "best" artists can't actually connect to anyone who hasn't also had 20 years of training.

This is gonna sound totally out of left field, but I actually spent a couple months writing a BOOK on art theories and stuff that helped me learn better. One of my odder ideas was that spending time in multiple disciplines can actually make you a better artist at all of them. The thinking was that concepts you learn from one art form will better inform your understanding of art as a whole - much like how great painters don't just paint the same sunset over and over, they paint a whole bunch of different subjects because the variety teaches you more about fundamental concepts, and not just specific insight into rendering pretty clouds. I'm not 100% sure if I believe it's the best course of action to pick up 20 different crafts, but I could still make a pretty good argument for it. (fyi, I gave up on the book, but I still really like a lot of the ideas. I can upload what I finished of it if anyone's interested.)

So the case for multiple career goals actually isn't so bad, but the prospect that I'm wasting my life still bothers me from time to time. To recap, doing only one thing your whole life might ensure you reach your full potential in that one thing, but your work might be totally devoid of content, impossibly inacessible (and therefore not actually successful as self-expression), or if my rationalizations are right, you actually won't even be as good as you could have been had you spent more time doing lots of stuff, triangulating the possibilities of ALL art. On that third point I'd like to hear what some of you guys have to say - do you guys see a lot of overlap in your different interests? Have you ever learned something about painting by playing guitar?

Then there's also the angle of "holy shit marty why do you care about ANY of this" to which I can only say jeez I don't know. I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff that doesn't really matter, except in the "big picture" which is usually just all in my head anyway. Come on give me a break! at least I don't go to church.


Some other updates:

I'm living on freelance work right now, so personal stuff is going slow. Peck 3 in the works. Also a game. Currently finishing my 3rd year of game school, which I made a really cool project for in the last week. Maybe we'll work out the bugs and upload it somewhere! Sorry my main output is PARAGRAPHS right now but I'm very busy okay!




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