The blank page

by Silver on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Posted in: writing
2 Comments on The blank page
Dinosaur drawing, because dinosaurs.

Even sketch-t-rex fears it.

There’s this discussion I constantly get into with my friends and peers. It’s this discussion that everyone I work with can relate to, be they artists, directors or writers. I have it with old time veterans as well with new out of the school beginners. It’s this discussion that no matter how many times I have it, I never get tired of it, for I think its somehow rooted to the very core of what makes us human; It’s an insecurity that rears its ugly, shit-stained, throat grabbing head again and again no matter how you push it down. And even if you beat it, it’ll always be there in the back of your mind, waiting to strike its fangs again.

It’s the fear of the blank paper.

Or vacansopapurosophobia, as some people call it. I don’t, but I thought you might. It’s cool if you don’t either.

I fear the blank paper too, I’m petrified by it most times. I’ve come to learn how to beat it sufficiently enough as a professional concept artist; the turn-around rate is so fast in my line of work that you sometimes have to face the blank page multiple times a day. Now as a writer, that’s where things get tricky for me, but I’m trying to face it the same way I approach concept art; get the point down fast, worry how good it is later and try not to stress about it.

I’m still working on that stress part.

I’ve done enough projects, paintings and story drafts by now to know how daunting it can be to get caught in the web of self-doubt. You know the feeling, the “I have no clue what I’m doing, and I don’t think that I ever will”-feeling. And most times you don’t know what you’re doing, I don’t think anyone does. I believe the key to defeating that is pretending that you do.

There’s a saying that fear is a mind killer; It takes over you with stress, downbeat thoughts and frustration. In reality, there’s nothing to be afraid, especially if your fear is something so silly as being bad at art or not knowing how to write one interesting sentence. No one will come and beat you up for it, you won’t go to jail and you won’t get neutered. What’s the worst that can happen? You spend a few hours drawing badly and if you repeat, you’ll do it a little less worse, until one day you’ll do it alright, and then maybe, if you’ve failed enough, you’ll do it good.

There’s this illustrator and a concept artist called Bobby Chiu, in one of his lectures he once said that if it’s easy, then you’re not really learning anymore. I mostly agree with him. I believe we learn from our mistakes, and not only in creative fields but in all aspects of life.

Just think of those moments when you’ve messed up so badly and so embarrassingly, and you’ve wished you could just turn back the time and undo it. I bet you don’t repeat those mistakes again. Ever. Seek professional help if you do.

This whole learning thing is hard, it takes a lot of guts, and arrogance and especially focus to get it right. You need guts to have that stamina when you’d rather just sleep and give up. With guts, you will never give up no matter how you’ve lost your confidence. You need arrogance to blindly believe that all this work will matter some day and that you’ll make it somehow while the rest of the world disagrees. Well screw them, you don’t need them anyways. Instead, what you need is focus, because no matter how many hours you put into it, if you concentrate on the wrong things or do it half-heartedly, then you’re just learning the wrong things.

I could argue that having the right focus will take you a long way, but I believe that having arrogance is the most important factor of ever making it whilst still learning.

They say that the best artists are the most humble ones, but I think that it’s a bullshit phrase that someone once invented to masturbate with their own mediocrity. Take Picasso, Rembrandt or Warhol. Those were very arrogant people, and they changed the world with it.

Sure, there’s humble great masters too, but they’re humble because they can afford to be humble. No one becomes great by being humble, you get humble after becoming great. These humble masters have already done all the hard work; they’ve climbed all necessary steps while getting slowly better, and now that they’ve done it, they’ve reached the point where they can only learn more by teaching to others. It’s really selfishness disguised as humility.

So, what I’m trying to say is, that I’m advocating and encouraging you to be selfish, workaholic and passionate artists, in case you want to be really good. It will sometimes be lonely, there’s not many people who are understanding of a life this hardcore. Sometimes you will be criticized for not playing along or for not being more considerate of others. Fuck them, remember arrogance. And most importantly, you will never know how much longer your journey will last, only that it will be long. And sometimes you won’t even make it.


With lots of love and plenty of arrogance,