Category: Opinion

You Are The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn | Motivational Speaker

Hamburger Cat Average

The Average of Hamburger Cat

I want you to think about this quote. Who are the five people you spend the most time with? And more importantly…

Are you the average of those five?


Why This Is Important

I personally agree with this quote and I find that it’s something that most people don’t ever take into consideration.

We become like those around us. Be it family, friends,  etc. We pick up things from them that you might have noticed such as mannerisms and slang, but it goes much further than that.

With that in mind, think of what type of person you want to be.

Do you want to be rich? Fit? Hard working? Disciplined?

Whatever it is you want to be, are the people you spend the most time with those things?

If you want to be hard working and disciplined for example and aren’t, are the people you’re around also not those things?

This can be a very difficult thing. We like our friends and families (usually). We spend so much time with these people but sometimes if we want to change, we have to stop spending so much time with them.

It’s no coincidence that successful talented people are surrounded by other successful talented people!

For example, if you wanted to go the gym every day, wouldn’t it be easier if you were friends with people who went to the gym every day?

If the people you currently spend most of your time with aren’t the right people for who you want to be, you’ll have to find new people.


Find New People If You Have Too

Everyone’s circumstances are different so I can’t tell you exactly how to find these new people, but I will tell you ways that I found some.

  1. Online – Probably the most obvious one. For me some of the friends I’ve had the longest I met online. Through making art and flash animations back in the day I found other people that were doing the same thing and formed friendships with them that have lasted for more than a decade.
  2. Conventions – You could probably do this by going and walking around at a convention. However, I did it by actually having a table at comic conventions. Something about being behind the table selling your work changes peoples perception of you. You come across as another professional that is motivated and hard working. I’d recommend having something to sell be it prints, commissions, or whatever it is that you do. But starting out don’t be too concerned with it being about making money, but making connections. Share your table with a friend or family that can watch it for you so you can go look around a little bit. Strike up conversations with people that also have tables that work interests you. They’ll see your exhibitor badge. If you make a good impression, maybe they’ll ask where your table is and they’ll come by. A lot of pros don’t get tables though and just attend to look around and visit friends. But if your work is good they might end up coming and talking to you! I’ve made quite a few close friends this way.
  3. College – If you go to college or art school, there’s going to be at least a few people who want to do the same things as you. You just have to find the ones that are going to make you better by being with them. I got very lucky and made a lot of talented hard working friends in the short time that I attended.
  4. Randomly – Some times you just find the right people in weird places. My brother wanted me to play a game called League of Legends with him. Back when the game was more relaxed and you could really just do whatever you wanted, I met a guy while playing. Turned out he was a talent manager for musicians that used to own his own studio that made films. One of the smartest and coolest people I’ve met. He gave me a lot of advice while starting out and even got me work a few times, and I never would have met him if it wasn’t for that awful game!

Making Real Friends Is Hard

I know having to find new friends to replace old ones sounds awful.

It isn’t easy to find new ones.

It isn’t easy to spend less time with current ones.

Feelings could get hurt. But it’s wrong to allow friends to be lobsters that drag you down to their level with their big meaty claws.

Friends can come and go, it’s important that you focus on YOU. Because people that are your friend now might not be later. And then you’re left with you.

Find the right friends. Friends that are what you want to be. By spending time with them, you’ll increase your average.

Recommended Reading: The Practice & Science of Drawing

Today I’m going to recommend a book about drawing that I found very insightful years ago that I don’t see mentioned very often.

The Practice & Science of Drawing

The Practice & Science of Drawing

The Practice & Science of Drawing

This book isn’t particularly an instructional book that walks you through step by step. But more of an explanation of the order of learning  to draw and why.

It was written by an English painter named Harold Speed and I originally came across it many years ago at a thrift store and I’m very glad I bought it. It’s the type of book that gives a lot of, “oh, so that’s why!” moments.

I’d say that anyone that’s serious about drawing, I would fully recommend giving this book a read through. Best of all, you can read it for free thanks to Project Gutenberg!

It Can Be Downloaded For Free, HERE.

Normally when reviewing a book I would be inclined to talk a lot more about it. However, you can read it for free! That being so, if you’re interested in having a stronger understanding of art, I’d say go download it right now.

If like me you prefer to read physical copies, it’s fairly inexpensive and you can get it below.

 

How to Critique Young Artists

For many artists, the only people they can go to to have their work critiqued is by friends or family.

Therefore they must journey to the wild west that is the internet. A place where anyone can give their opinion.

For better or worse.

Time and time again, I see people post their art online and ask for critiques. But there’s a very specific critique I see that always baffles me.

“If You Want to Draw THAT, You Need to Learn How to Draw THIS First”

MUSCLES

Just call him, Muscles!

The person looking to be critiqued will have posted their work online and it will usually be stylized. Be it cartoony or some variant of anime.

They will have posted a little chibi character and the critique they receive will be along the lines of, “If you want to draw chibis, first you have to learn perspective.” Or some other aspect that hardly applies to what they drew.

And they’ll always point to either the work of Scott Robertson, who is a fantastic artist. Or they’ll show work by people such as Kim Jung Gi, and other artists that are insanely skilled.

It’s this inability to critique the picture with who drew it in mind rather than with their own personal taste that drives me crazy. If someone posts art that looks like Fairly Odd Parents, then it should be obvious that they aren’t aiming to draw fighter jets from every conceivable angle nor intend to draw anything that will require a real understanding of anatomy.

Your Critique Should be Tailored to the Individual

I say this because, if it isn’t tailored to them, they’re not going to take the advice.

Pay close attention to how the person asks for a critique. How specific are they getting? If they’re asking what you think then they’re probably looking for praise.

If they ask you  how they could draw the eyes better? Or perhaps how to study rendering hair? What they need to do to learn drapery? Or even what book will help them with anatomy?

These are the types of questions that people ask that are really looking for answers.

Your answer does have to fit with what they want out of their art, however.

If they’re trying to draw tanks or perspective heavy things. Point them to someone like Scott Robertson.

If they’re trying to draw Looney Tunes and other classic cartoons, link them to Preston Blair’s Cartoon Animation. Etc.

They don’t have to be, and probably never will be the next Kim Jung Gi. You just have to point them in the right direction to be better than they are now.

A Thing to Remember About Non-Artists

People who aren’t artists, in most cases, lack any ability to differentiate the quality of artwork. If it’s better than they can draw, “it’s good.”

Which is good to know. Create the projects that you want to create and put them out there. Only other artists will judge the quality of the work. That’s a very small percentage of the audience.

If you don’t believe me, look at Rob Liefeld’s work from the 90s, it’s super mangled and messed up looking. However, he was extremely successful and that’s because the majority of people aren’t artists! Don’t let your current skill level keep you from creating the things that you want to create.

This is a part of why friends and family that aren’t artists almost always either say “it’s great!” or “it’s awful because it’s not as good as (insert thing).”

In Conclusion…

Critique is an important part of learning for multiple reasons. When you work on a piece of art for so long two things can happen. Either your eyes stop seeing certain mistakes, or you’re so intimate with the piece that you know every single error and you can’t NOT see them; skewing how you view the piece objectively.

Having someone critique your work not only allows someone to point out something that you may have missed, but you’ll also be able to see what mistakes they don’t notice. If you trust this person’s critique and they don’t notice it, most other people won’t either.

I hope that this has gave you a better understanding of how to critique someone’s work and point them not in the “right direction”, but the right direction for them.

Do You Have Artistic Talent? The 10,000 Hour Rule and Accumulated Advantage

“I wish I had talent.”

Who hasn’t said, or at least thought that before?

While innate ability does play a role, it plays a much smaller role than most people believe. This leads us to–

The 10,000 Hour Rule

What's that guy doing here??

Well, poop.

You may have heard of it, the 10,000 Hour Rule is the average amount of time it takes someone to become a master at something through deliberate practice.

This is often seen when one attends art school, there’s always some students far ahead of the others. The “talented” students.

Rarely does anyone stop to ask what that person’s experience prior to art school was. Perhaps they started drawing since they were very young?

Maybe they had a parent or sibling that did art that helped them to progress. Their parents might have gotten them art lessons or sent them to art camp during the summers.

But most people don’t think about these things playing a role. They figure that said person is, just better.

If you practiced drawing for one hour a day, it would take over 27 years to reach 10,000 hours.

If you practiced for 40 hours a week, like a typical job, it would be slightly under 5 years.

The practice of course has to be deliberate practice. Talent isn’t developed through half-assed work.

But most often it takes one about 10 years to reach mastery over whatever they pursue.

That being said, let’s go over–

Accumulated Advantage

So what is accumulated advantage? Accumulated advantage starts when we’re very young and is based on our surrounding circumstances.

For example, someone born in September and someone born in July the year following. That’s 9 months difference. But they will very often be in the same grade going into school.

It doesn’t seem like a lot, but 9 months difference as a child is a lot. It starts as a very small advantage. That being the case, chances are however that they’ll be a little bit better at things like writing and math. Therefore, by being better it’s very likely they’ll be placed into harder math and english classes than the person born later. Harder classes with better teachers… you learn more. This continues through the years and by the time they reach high school, the person that originally had a small advantage has accumulated a large advantage over their younger peer. Giving the illusion that the person who was born earlier was simply more intelligent and talented from the start. Of course, other outside influences such as parents play a role as well, not everyone born earlier in the school year go off to be “geniuses”, but the cards are unfairly stacked in their favor.

Think about this in regards of being right out of high school.

You’ll see all these people that appear to have been blessed with OBSCENE ARTISTIC TALENT. It might even be you that comes across to all the others as the talented one.

But either you or they more than likely just have thousands more hours of experience and are that much closer to mastering your craft.

Artistic Talent

So, do you have “artistic talent?” Think about it realistically. How much time have you put deliberate practice into art?

I don’t mean just drawing for fun, I mean deliberate practice. Construction, perspective, proportions, anatomy, drapery, etc.

Studying other artists, from books, tutorials. How much time? If you have less than a thousand hours. I would say, not yet.

But you can. 

It’s just a matter of how soon you want it.

1 hour a day = 27.4 years

2 hours a day = 13.7 years

4 hours a day = 6.8 years

8 hours a day = 3.4 years

We’ve all seen those people who go from awful to incredible in a incredibly short period of time. Now you know part of how they do it.

DELIBERATE PRACTICE FOR MANY HOURS– EVERY DAY.


Not everyone can put in 8 hours a day though. Becoming a great artist isn’t a race and certainly don’t torture yourself if it means reaching mastery sooner.

You’ll be good far before you reach mastery.

But this should give you a good idea of how much time you need to put in so that you can make time to become as good as you want to be.

Now quit dillydallying and go make some art!


If you’d like to learn more about the 10,000 Hour Rule, Accumulated Advantage, etc. I would HIGHLY recommend reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers.” I personally found it very entertaining and enlightening on the subject of talent. Be warned though, it’s about 300 pages long. It however, didn’t feel like a 300 page book if that says anything about how good a read it was.

How To Find Your Art Style!

I’ve heard a lot of young artists say that they don’t have an art style.

Hamburger Cat Style

Now THAT’S style!

They treat it as if it’s this THING. This thing that constantly eludes their grasp.

So I’ll let you in on the secret to finding your art style.

How You Draw Right Now IS Your Art Style

Long ago I heard a quote saying, “What you draw wrong, is your style.”

That’s what an art style is, drawing something “wrong” but it looks good.

Your style will always be changing.

As you get stronger at the fundamentals. When you find new artists that you like and get influenced by. As you find shortcuts to get similar results faster.

That being said, however.

You Can DEVELOP Your Style

So how does one do that?

Let us go through all the ways that YOU, the beloved reader, CAN DEVELOP THEIR ART STYLE!


  1. Practice Using Construction – Construction is used to draw complex characters or objects, using simplified shapes like spheres and cylinders. This is an important skill in drawing as it trains your eyes and mind to break down things you see as simplified shapes that you can combine to recreate them from imagination from any angle.
  2. Understand Proportions – Knowing proportions is the skill to be able to know how big or small something should be in comparison and where it should be placed in relation to adjacent elements in the drawing. For example, knowing that the hand is as long as the face, etc.
  3. Learn Perspective – Learning perspective will help you to better understand foreshortening and to draw multiple characters in an environment in relation to each other much easier than having to trial and error until it looks right.
  4. Study Your Influences – Using construction, proportion, and perspective; study artwork by artists that you enjoy. Break down their figures into basic shapes, try to reverse engineer their process and try to figure out how they got from point A to point Z. Do gestures of the characters poses. Copy the characters using construction. Either by looking, or even by tracing, figure out where they placed the horizon and where the vanishing points are. If you’re studying their colors, try to eyeball making the same color (traditionally or digitally) and then compare (this is much easier to compare digitally).
  5. Learn Anatomy This one doesn’t apply to all styles. Super stylized and cartoony art may simply not require any anatomy knowledge to draw. But if you want any semblance to real life, then it can be very useful to learn some anatomy. You don’t need to know all the muscles and their names. You don’t need to be able to draw every bone from every angle. Well, unless you’re drawing an anatomy book or drawing skeletons and cadavers. But, for everything else you mainly just need to know how the muscles push and pull each other and landmark details. Landmark details being things like the collar bone, shoulder blades, etc. You’ll also understand how your influences simplified the real thing into their own art.
  6. Apply What You Learn – This is probably the most important thing.  Studying without applying what you learn is a trap that I see a lot of young artists fall into. They’ll refuse to do original pieces of art because, “they don’t know anatomy” or “they don’t know perspective” or they “can’t draw X.” Don’t fall into this trap. Apply what you learn by drawing things from your imagination. If you study how to draw legs but can’t draw a character with legs afterwards, you’ll know you need to go back and work on legs more. Create a project of some sort for yourself. Be it creating new characters. Drawing a short comic. Something. Just make sure it has a definite end to it so that you can see it to completion. As you do this project you will find parts that you’re struggling with, let this inform you on what you need to practice. Hair coming out bad? Study hair. Having trouble thinking up clothes for the characters to wear? Study fashion. You’ll improve AND have stuff to show for it!

That being said, I also recommend you listen to this short clip by Ira Glass.

Now go create something original, and then make it better.

Should You Go to Art School? What You Must Consider!

If you’re considering art school, you’ve probably decided to pursue art as a career.

If you’re not sure if you want to pursue art as a career, I talk about it in the previous article, here.

Anyways.

Art School

ART SCHOOL!?

Should You Go to Art School?

The answer to this question is one that only you can answer. However, here are all the things in my experience that you must take into account.

Does the School Have a Good Reputation?

There’s a lot of art schools out there that aren’t worth the money. Schools like AI (Art Institute), Academy of Art University, etc in my opinion aren’t.

Art schools that aren’t part of a state university are for-profit institutions. A lot of them try to enroll as many students as possible. More students requires that they get more teachers.

They will tout that their teachers have industry experience, and they probably do! They’ll hire almost anyone that has industry experience. But just because someone is a great artist, that doesn’t make them a great teacher.

It’s a very expensive gamble whether or not you will get good teachers at these schools. Do a lot of research into specific schools, look for good reviews of them and more importantly bad reviews.

Read their website. Read the entire program that you’re interested in. What do they claim they’ll teach you?

Read the curriculum for the program, some schools even list what the assignments are in each course.

I’d take art schools that require a portfolio more seriously than those that don’t. Limited enrollment means a smaller more dedicated group of teachers. Much better odds of getting good ones!

Can You Afford It?

If you found a school that you’re interested, look at the cost (tuition, housing, etc). Is it in your price range? If so, great! If not you will need to look into financial aid and scholarships.

Or find a cheaper school.

For example, check State Universities. Some have excellent programs. I’m always hearing great things about the animation program at San Jose State University and they cost far less than most art schools.

It’s a bad feeling to not be able to afford the school that you’re interested in. It’s a big part of why I never finished getting a degree.

I never attended my first choice, and I couldn’t afford to continue my second best choice. But even though the curriculum wasn’t great, the short time I spent in art school I did improve. But that’s because…

You Get Out of It, What You Put Into It!

If you go to art school or attend a college for art and don’t try, you’ll barely improve. The goal isn’t to barely pass your classes, and just attending doesn’t make you a great artist.

To do that, you have to try your hardest on your assignments.  You have to supplement your school work with other materials. Drawing books! Personal projects! Online tutorials! Whatever you can find.

You should surround yourself with students that are better than you and learn from them. Be willing to teach what you learn to less skilled artists, if you can’t teach someone else what you’ve learned then you don’t fully understand it yet.

However, you could always teach yourself with these supplemental materials at home for free instead! Really though, not all of us have the discipline to do it alone and NEED to be fully immersed in it. It can make learning art much easier, just as learning a language in a different country where it’s the national language is easier than at home.

Don’t Choose a School Because of Convenience!

This is a big mistake that I made starting out. Because I lived in the Bay Area,though it wasn’t my first, second, or even third choice, I attended the Academy of Art University. I did one semester there. One semester at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco cost over 10,000 dollars. Over 800 dollars per unit (3 units per class). This doesn’t even include housing.

INSANE. 

Hands down the biggest waste of money I have ever spent.

The teachers I had were good artists, but they weren’t good teachers. Even the teacher I liked, wasn’t a great teacher.

My entire experience there was bad. They had me and my classmates copying pages out of Andrew Loomis’s books that I had already copied in High School for free that can be downloaded here.

After the Academy of Art fiasco, I took some courses at my local community college, Las Positas.

In some states here in America, community college is expensive. Where I live it is not. It was about 80 dollars per class at the time if I remember correctly.

Right now it’s 138 dollars per class (46 per unit) which is still affordable. The community college courses were far more useful than the Academy of Art for a fraction of the cost.

However, I wanted to go to school for animation and that isn’t something my community college had.

Be Willing to Move If You Have Too

Afterwards, I went to Sheridan in Canada. I took their Art Fundamentals program with the goal of building a portfolio to get into their animation program.

The American dollar was weaker at the time, and they cost more for international students. But the cost of the entire one-year program ended up being about 25k.

This includes the courses, the art supplies, housing, food, etc. All together, 25k. For art school that’s cheap. It’s even cheaper if you’re a Canadian citizen.

Not all of the classes I took there were useful, and some teachers were certainly better than others. But the experience I had was great, and being surrounded by other students trying to get into the same program created a fantastic learning environment. Very competitive!

It was hard work getting the portfolio made in time, time management is a very useful skill that I didn’t get good at until recent years. But I got it done in time and scored high enough to get in!

Sorta…

I scored high enough to get in, but not enough Canadian students did. As such, they had to lower the score to get in as to accept more Canadian students and I along with other international students got put onto the waiting list

R.I.P.

Not that it mattered, I couldn’t afford to continue attending anyways. But the experience there was one of the best I have ever had. Plus, some of the people that I taught while I attended there, DID get in!

Through them I later found out that the first two years of the Animation program were quite useful! The last two years, not so much…

That was the last of my formal art education. Overall, I don’t believe I learned anything there that I wouldn’t have learned myself as I was very motivated to learn and studied drawing for hours on end every day all through High School AND through my college experience. But attending Sheridan in such a competitive environment certainly accelerated my progress in a way that on my own and community college did not.

The other students at the community college were mostly middle-aged housewives that spent most their time talking about drinking wine and senior citizens that had picked up art as a hobby.  It wasn’t competitive. The courses there were useful. but the actual art school experience, at a reputable art school, was a MUCH better experience.

So Should You Go?

I would say that if you find a reputable one. One that you can afford. If you’re willing to put in the work and make the most out of the experience.

Only Then, I would recommend trying it.

Even if you don’t get a degree out of it.

Being surrounded by other artists, better artists. In a highly competitive environment. It’s a taste of what you’d experience doing art for a living, and if you attend and complete a degree program, they have job fairs for the industry and most studios require that you’re enrolled in a 4-year program to get an internship. Both of which can open doors into the industry for you.

 

I hope that this article has helped you in making this decision, it’s a big decision when you’re young. But ultimately it’s just one experience of many that you’ll have.

You might not finish art school (like  me). But end up making some great friends by going (like me). And learn a lot (like you know who). And still do JUST FINE.

But there’s only one way to find out! So if you’re still thinking of attending of enrolling, get researching and good luck!

 

 

Is a Career in Art for You? Find Out Now!

Should you pursue art as a career?

This is possibly the most often asked question by those who take an interest in art, along with if they should attend art school.

It’s an even harder question to answer as it very much so depends on the person asking, and they usually ask someone that doesn’t know them well enough to judge!

But I feel there is a big misconception that a lot of people believe when they’re pursuing art, which is that they just have to work hard now and then it becomes easy.

 

Art never becomes easy. Especially as a career. It’s not easy, and it’s not supposed to be easy. But as an artist you do become better and as a career it can be very satisfying and fulfilling.

Art as a career is very much like going on a diet, you can’t go on and off of a diet. It just doesn’t work!

 

To keep the results it has to become a lifestyle!

Art as a career (if you choose to pursue it) will become your lifestyle, and the lifestyle of an artist is mostly sitting around and making art for hours and hours on end.

Your social life will mostly disappear and you end up with all your friends being other artists doing the same thing, art, art, and more art. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Playing games, going out, doing stuff… Those things can be too time consuming and will have to often be set aside because unlike a regular day job, the jobs not done until you finish your work. Even if you work at a studio, people end up having to work extra hours just to get projects out on time.

 

Being your own Boss

If you want to do art as your own boss, you have to have a lot of focus and self discipline.

Can you draw for a minimum of eight hours a day? It’s okay if you can’t yet. You can build up to being able to.

If you do want to be able to draw for that long or longer, work your way up to that. Don’t immediately start drawing for eight hours a day, and look up some wrist exercises so that your hands don’t explode.

That being said, one has to treat doing art as a business. Networking, marketing, finances… you have to wear a lot of hats to be your own boss!

Hamburger Cat with Hats!

That IS a lot of hats!

You could always outsource some of those roles to others, but that costs money. You would need to consider how much that would cost, as opposed to the time spent doing it yourself that you could spend on your art instead to make more money. Most people are not cut out to be their own bosses.

 

Working for a Studio

If you work at a studio instead, when a project or show ends you might be out of the job and have to get back to searching for another job.

You’ll need to be sure to save money in case nowhere is hiring and try to avoid living paycheck to paycheck. You might even have to work a different job that’s not art related at all until places start hiring again.

To be safe, you might (and should) want to build your audience and fan base online so that you can do commission work AFTER the day job just to make additional income for when a job does come to an end or should you make the leap to being your own boss.

 

That being said…

I love doing art, I love it. Even when it’s hard, even when it makes my hands hurt rendering tiny details with a pen. Even when I have to redraw the same picture ten times to get it to look DECENT. Not great, DECENT. Even if it means staying up all night to get it done on time! There’s a type of joy that comes from creating that isn’t quite satisfied in the same way by other things. If you’re thinking of pursuing this way of life, you have to know what you’re getting yourself into, and be ready to set your priorities to make it happen.

Everyone has different experiences with art. Your experience will be different than mine.

If you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it. The real question isn’t “Should you pursue art for a career?”, it’s “Will you pursue art for a career?”

 

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