Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Ask Alicia: Beginning and learning

Email from a friend of Apeksha asked....

- She said she is very good at copying things and improvising. She faces it hard to imagine something from scratch and give it a shape. Can this be learnt? If yes, how? If no, how can it be bypassed to still produce meaningful work and add value to customers? 

- How to identify customers and build network? Is it very necessary to get a formal apprenticeship experience on her resume? It is a chicken and egg problem - she needs some project to start building a portfolio and she needs a portfolio to get good projects. 

- She understands the potential of digitalization and animation of art work would be a good chunk of customer requirements. She wants to pursue a masters degree which has the perfect blend of technology and fine arts curriculum. She is at a loss on this account, as she doesn't know anyone who has done something similar. 

- What are the best learning resources till the time she joins an institute? Learning by doing is one. She needs to find people who would give her some projects to experiment with. But more than that, I feel she will need to benchmark herself, draw inspiration and learn from the best existing practises. 

Hello Apeksha, 
Thank you so much for mailing:) 

I’ll reply to your queries in points, as you’ve asked them like that so it’s easy to reference. 

1) There is a fine line between copying and inspiration. I think this is where the line ‘Good artists steal’ comes from but it’s always a responsibility of an artist to take inspiration one step further or use it in a different sort of way so as to make it unique. (I can go on about this topic for a while, on copyright infringement etc but I think everyone knows when they are stealing and when it’s inspiration, so I’ll refrain) 
I like to think of imagining as a habit. It gets better over time and after a while, it’s not much of an effort to imagine new scenes or things to draw. I think a good exercise to try is to just take a paper without really a reference at hand and start drawing. It may be hard at first but slowly and steadily, imagining new ideas and things to draw will come more easily. This may take a few days, or weeks or maybe even a month but trust me, you’ll notice your imagination skyrocket over time. 

2) You’re right. This is a rather questionable debate and to be honest, there is no right answer. I usually suggest people try getting an internship just to know what the industry is like and if they even like working in the field. A lot of times, it seems like drawing is one’s biggest love but the minute that there’s a brief at hand, it becomes a chore. An internship will settle that matter and will basically make you understand a lot about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses and also a lot about clients, projects and briefs, without having to worry about actually getting them. Having said that, I started in the deep end, without knowing a lot of people in the field, and of course, it was hard work and a lot of persistence, but I knew my strengths was in delivering on time, and my knowledge in print was substantial. I think this is another thing to consider. If you’re absolutely new to the field, you would need to know a bit about how to deliver print-ready files and though that’s something you can even learn online, it’s a little easier when you have other knowledgeable people at hand. 

3) I think it all depends on you, really. Fine arts is different from animation is different from illustration is different from communication design. Though they have a thread running through them of being in the same area, deliveries for clients from each field is very different. I’m purely an illustrator but sometimes take up illustrative design work. I would definitely suggest looking into each of these, reading up and seeing which one pulls your heartstring and going from there. 

4) There a thousands of learning resources online. I think going step by step rather than an overall learning makes more sense. For instance, learning ONE tool on photoshop is easier to master than just generally ‘learning photoshop’. That way you can target what you are learning and move slowly from there. This is how I try and learn new subjects.
If you know any acquaintances who need work done, that’s a great place to start. Or just doing some personal projects, like a Diwali card for the family or your sister’s wedding etc is a lot of fun without a lot of restrictions that a client may have. 

I hope this helps! 
All the best and much love, 



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