January is a time synonymous with resolutions and promises to become a better person. Whether it’s eating healthier, learning a new skill or finally signing up for a gym contract, people see a new year as an opportunity to improve on their lives.
In the spirit of new year resolutions I’ve summed up some of my key learnings to help you improve your skill set and ultimately become a better artist / designer. These can obviously be applied to a multitude of professions, but due to my personal experience I will be relating them to Cinema 4D.
One of the greatest ways to create an exponential learning curve is to dedicate yourself to an Everyday Project. Set aside 20 minutes to an hour every day (weekends included) to commit to creating / learning something. The most important thing here is don’t skip a day, so whether you’re committing a week, a month or even a year, make sure you create every day. Be very specific in setting your goal on what you what to achieve or learn and make sure that for that time every day you’re focused on that goal.
Something extraordinary happens when you do an Everyday Project, your mind starts to make new connections on how to solve problems and create new things. Your speed and efficiency in that craft improves and you start to develop your own artistic style. As that unique style grows you start to craft it and it develops to the point where it becomes your art.
The proof is truly in the pudding and if you look at the everyday projects of Beeple, Ata Albehany, DemaFleez and Beau Wright you’ll notice significant improvements overtime and an exponential learning curve where the initial work turns into passion.
I feel that many designers house themselves in silos, being afraid to ask questions in the fear that they might be judged. If there’s one thing the Cinema 4D community on twitter has taught me is that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. A solved problem, whether you spent hours hacking away or if someone guided you to the answer is a problem solved none the less and the quicker you can learn and move on from the problem the faster you’ll be able to accelerate your learning.
For me, mentoring is a vital part of any development – not only do you have direct access to a professional to help you along the way, but you also have someone who is making you accountable. It’s like starting a gym programme, if you know your gym partner is waiting for you at gym, you’re far more likely to go to gym and workout instead of skipping a leg day.
Mentors are crucial, and you’ll be surprised at how willing people are to help – so no matter what your stage of development of career is, find yourself a mentor who can help guide you, it’ll truly make the difference.
If you work in a particular software program, you need to start exploring more. People often learn a finite set of tools that they stick to and never really explore the rest of the program. You’ll be surprised at the new links and options that become available to you once you learn a new tool or new way of doing something in a program.
It might not provide an immediate solution to a problem you’re having, but in the near future when a problem arises, you’ll have the know-how on how to solve it because of your new found knowledge. So go out and open a new menu, click something new and see what it does.
RTFM (Read the freakin manual)
This might sound boring as anything for most people, but the manual is there for a reason. It’s filled with knowledge direct from the source and should cover everything you need to know.
It’s only once you gain full knowledge of your available tools that you can truly begin to create something meaningful so even if you’ve worked in a program for a while and sort of know your way around, open up the manual and I promise you’ll learning something new.
Take the “today” approach when deciding to improve yourself in anyway. And what I mean by that is, not waiting until January, not waiting until Monday to start, but starting today. In that moment of realisation that you need to do x, all the key components are there in order for you to make a successful change and instead of waiting until Monday to revisit those emotions and churn up your enthusiasm to begin your new project, make the decision to start immediately. No matter how big the step, the most important thing is that you take it now and move forward in the direction of your goal.
Becoming a better artist / designer should never be goal for the year but a goal you strive for everyday. It’s the consistent progression that will make your learning curve exponential. Create, ask, explore, read and start laying a solid foundation to fruitful career as a artist.
Be sure to catch up with me on twitter if you have any questions and lets make 2015 a year to remember.