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  1. #1
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    Icon How to be a more productive artist thread?

    Edit** Sorry for the length of this post. I'm still working on how to get my point across with shorter paragraphs.

    Hey everyone. I've been curious lately, and possibly a bit obsessive, about how to organize my time and becoming a more productive artist/student/person overall. I've looked into many articles and pieces of advice which I will post at the bottom. The problem I'm having is not getting too involved/obsessive compulsive, planning out every hour of my day. It just doesnt go over well with who I am. Instead for every day, week, month, and year I decided to create hit lists (to do lists), but with only what has to be done within that amount of time. Basically what I mean is if I take one day, instead of holding myself against getting something done at a specific time, I would just put down what needs to get done as a list, and go about my day getting these things done however I want. In some odd way it helps me feel better about not getting everything done at an exact all or nothing time each day, but as long as I get it done that exact day, monthe, or year.

    My way has some holes I'm sure, but I'm curious if anyone has any advice they could give (especially professionals) about getting more done in less time? How are some good ways to still be an artist and getting artwork done on time, but still maintaining your sanity a bit when it comes to being busy.

    Personally, before I decided to ask about all this, everything I did felt like I was trying to break a brick wall with a hammer. Instead of stepping back and thinking about how I could go out about this project more effeciently, buying some dynamite and blowing the wall to hell(I'm not good with analogies). I've also gotten curious about how studios manage projects and pipelines. With so many tasks involved in getting a project done, I'm wondering how all that is able to be managed. I just want to hear more from others aside from just being told to "work your ass off". Working hard is important, but it's not about how many hours a person puts into a project who should be acknowldged, but those who can take their 8 hours and produce results without having to spend so much overtime.

    I just noticed this phenomenon when I was going to college. I see a lot of people stay at the school until 2 am after their class at 1 pm was already over. They say they are staying so long so that they could get their projects done for the class. They proclaim how hard they've been working, but when it comes to turn in their project it seems as if they barely worked on it at all. Some of them say they arent talented, others are dilusional and complain to the teacher about how long they worked on it for. Comes time for me to work a late night at the school, and all I see them doing is bullshitting around fiddling with their projects, and all of a sudden smoeone wants to play WoW.

    Then you have the obsessive type of personality. They work long hours and produce mediocre stuff, as they get frustrated why all their hard work is not paying off. Thing is, they never THINK about what they are doing.


    Anyway, I'd really like this to be a useful thread for others, so if anyone could really take the time to chime in that would be great.


    The main things I have found to be more productive are a couple of websites and an interesting article. I also hear a lot of talk about GTD. It's a book called Getting Things Done that seems to be worshipped by a lot of people especially writers. (These people seem to love GTD, and Moleskine books. There's some good advice there about general productivity tips)

    Be A Productive Artist (An article at Game-Artist Forums that was really helpful for me. It also introduced me to a web app called todoist. The easiest schedualing program ever.) (This program I began using for organizing projects, dumping ideas, and keeping a digital sketchbook archive. You can throw anything into it for Ideas, Notes, Journals, Scheduals etc etc. I highly reccomend this)

    I also started reading Getting Things Done, but I'm starting to feel guilty because I feel I'm concentrating more on this than I am my art. So beware.

    Moderation in everything. Hope this comes in handy to some.

    Work Smart, And Hard.

    Last edited by Costau D; May 5th, 2009 at 10:31 PM.
    "Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work. " -Chuck Close

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  4. #2
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  6. #3
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    Feb 2007
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    If you doodle for hours with distracting elements around you, you´ll never progress. Art is the ultimate absorbing work. If you want to progress, you absolutely need to abandon yourself on the process.
    And for hours, long hours, and for days, long days.

    If you do, your skill level will skyrocket. ¿Is that what you want?
    Last edited by Ian Miles; May 6th, 2009 at 09:21 AM.
    Sketchbook is one click away:
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  7. #4
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    ooohh, I listen to the GTD audio books while I work. Theres a great one thats just his conference rather than a simple reading of the text. Applying everything from his seminar has helped me sort shit out quite a bit. Really helped me a lot in terms of... getting things done . I find that I work way faster now.

    I also liked 'the four hour work week' by timothy ferris. Theres a lot of good work habits in there that I try to adopt. Some of it seems like common sense til you realize that you've never really applied that common sense. Prettyyy awesome .

    I haven't really found any other ones that aren't overly cheesy or gimmicky. But yea, when you start work... Just shut off the internet and your phone .
    'If you don't make mistakes, you're not working on hard enough problems.And that's a big mistake.' - Step by Steps, Videos, PSD Downloads, and tons of other crap
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  9. #5
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    Mar 2009
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    Let me share my thoughts on this one.

    Part of my job is managing projects or participating in them as professional.
    When I manage I don't get involved in the 'production' part, I mainly keep track of the project and what resources I need to get the task done.
    I talk a lot to the people involved to make sure the requirements to get things done are there. I keep track of dependencies and if those deliverables can be delivered in time. If not I'm pushing or readjusting the schedule.

    On the other side, when I participate I tell my project manager what I need to get things done and how long this will take me. I tell him (or her) what other parts of the project I depend on. And I tell him what obstacles I see from past experience. But I assume my project manager will take care of the managing part.

    This should cover both things you should do.
    You have a total task to get done. Break that into smaller tasks. Set dependencies and make a guess about the time each stage would take.

    Let's say you want to have a painting ready after about 8 hours of work (to keep it simple).
    So we add three hours for linework, three hours for basic painting and two for finishing up. But, experience tells us that you probably need to study reference which takes up one hour and that you need to wait for the paint to dry.
    You need to make sure you have paint in all quantities and it's still good, you might need to buy new brushes, get new pencils. And hope you won't be disturbed.
    So this project will take several days, meaning you need to schedule two projects at once to be efficient.

    In basic, this is what you could do. Know what you need to do for a specific project, know the steps you need to take, know what you need and know how long stuff takes. Know where you have gaps that you need to fill with something else because you can't work or gaps for rest (also important). Know what you need.
    You will have the possibility to plan your day, as long as you keep in mind on which things you need to spend time and how long that will take.

    However, and this is a huge however, you need a lot of discipline for this, even more when scheduling the entire day.
    Because you don't want to find out in the late afternoon that you still have about 5 hours of work lying around to get done before 8PM. Usually I would surgest to break the day in at least three pieces, morning, afternoon and evening. Schedule things you should do in that time.
    And when you don't feel like doing it, force yourself. Else you won't get a working habbit and it will hinder you a lot.

    My days are mainly a mix of knowing what I have to do and roughly scheduled things.
    But the moment I feel I'm easing out on myself I will schedule things by the hour to make sure I keep moving.

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  11. #6
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    If I've got the paints out, or if I'm rendering a line drawing I can work all day. Things seem to hold my attention pretty well, even for the crazy long sessions. The same is true, I think, if I'm working from reference.

    It's the opposite when I'm trying to do active expressive characters from imagination. On that one I will tip my hat to Kev, 'cause that stuff is hard. I have a difficult time spending long hours at that. It helps to have a movie on in the background. Not a new one that's distracting, but Star Wars or something I've seen a million times. Talk Radio helps also.

    For years I had a long drive to a factory job. I'd have almost 60 hours a week (drive included) to plan the maybe 10 weekend hours I'd spend sketching at the book store. Those 10 hours were usually pretty productive. Right now I have unlimited time and in spots I bog down just trying to decide what to work on next.

    I guess my thought for productivity would be to maybe steer your creative goals in the direction of what type of work holds your attention, and to think about what you want to accomplish with your drawing time before you get to it.

  12. #7
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    I can understand all the concepts described so far by everyone, but I feel that there is something extra to think of, and that is quality.

    Sure you can draw or practice during any time of the day for 20 hours a day, but it is all better when you are in the mood. Information get's in your brain easier, you see things better and faster, your work is faster, more precise and when you make your final self critic you can spot bad elements easier, figure out the solutions and will remember them for next time. Also, having good ideas of what to draw/paint is easier, and execution a lot faster and better.

    Now before some one says 'Thanks alot wise guy, tell us something we didn't know' and you guys are right to think this, my point is that I have found that for me, there are particular hours of the day during which everything comes together. For instance, when it comes to producing stuff for a job, I find the night hours (especially if I'm a little sleepy) to be the best. Also the hours between 12:00 and 16:00 are the best for training. This just comes from personal experience.

    Also, I have found that other activities help. Working out, eating well, getting enough sleep, spending some quality time with friends all contribute to being more productive. When I am having a perfect day, things seem to fit together and my art, either training or for work, goes fanastically well. And anything gained during such days is absorbed. I remember the lessons, what the teacher might have advised, what I was thinking when I made a particular stroke on the paper.

    So, what I try to do is make everything fall in place as often as possible. It doesn't happen all the time, but I aim for it. Because I firmly believe in the bodybuilding saying "More isn't better, better is better", so programming to get the best hours in training and work, instead of more hours is better for me I guess.

  13. #8
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    I agree with you Line. Especially talking about taking care of your well being. I never understood the whole put 20 hours in to work hard philosophy some people seem to have. I've always figured it's how much hard/smart work you put into the hour than how many. Of course, when it comes to personal work spend as many hours as you want on something, everybody loses track of time when they get into it.

    I also feel that when a person doesn't feel inspired they shouldn't sit around and just wait for a "muse". The best way to get that inspiration back is to force yourself into drawing or modeling etc and that will allow you to let it come back. It's not something you wait for. If you wanted to find a diamond you wouldn't sit around waiting for one to show up on your lap, instead you would go out there and get your hands dirty.

    Managing your time and knowing when to work is strictly based on what you know of yourself and experience. Which is why GTD seems to be so good for me. Many pieces of advice about how to manage things you want to do, and still stay sane without putting too much on the plate. My problem still is being consistent in studies and projects. I change my mind constantly, what software I should use, what should I model or draw first, what studies should i start out with. I plan and re-plan, so that's my downfall. I guess that's where maturity and discipline comes. I feel like a kid in the candy store but i can't choose one. If anyone has advice on managing that feeling I'm all ears cause I have hard time with priorities!

    I think where my problem comes in, now that I reread what I wrote, is that I concentrate more on what others say I should be doing instead of what I want to be doing. It's like advice overload. I tend to get obsessed with reading advice on this forum and others that they all tend to contradict themselves or I accumulate too much and can't make up my mind.

    I've always been told I think too much.
    Last edited by Costau D; May 14th, 2009 at 03:41 PM.
    "Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work. " -Chuck Close

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  14. #9
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  15. #10
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    I'm the only one that I know of. I made this avatar a while back.

    Back on topic please.
    "Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work. " -Chuck Close

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  16. #11
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    I used to struggle with motivation/productivity, too, but I realized that it isn't difficult at all to want to draw every hour of the day.

    Draw what you want.
    Sure, there's always times to draw what you aren't 100% enthusiastic about for learning purposes, but if you are doing those kinds of studies, you probably aren't stuck at the low-productivity stage.

    Just draw what you want, man.
    Make yourself a whole world/universe and start populating with things that YOU want to see in it. I have my serious stuff and I have my completely retarded little world of dumb characters that no one cares about but me and I find that I draw in that world more than anything.

    Once you draw what you want and aren't worried about "what will advance your career" or "what will make you better" or "what needs to be done for this project" or'll find that you draw all the time.


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