Monday, May 13, 2013

Create The Thing You Want To Exist In The World

So I've been working on my own project outside of Disney for quite a while. In July, I will have put three years into it already. I've been thinking a bit about personal projects and what I think are important considerations to think about before undertaking one. So this is the first in a series about things to consider when planning a personal project.

Every one of us is all too familiar with the life cycle of creative endeavors; countless personal projects are started with a ton of passion and the best of intentions, but are abandoned at some point along the way and never completed. Sometimes it's simply because the passion burns out. Passion is, by its very nature, a powerful but ultimately short-lived phenomenon. Sometimes other priorities take over your life and the project doesn't seem important anymore. Sometimes time just passes and you end up with a new perspective on your project, and what seemed like a great idea a while ago just seems silly now or not worth pursuing anymore.

I can't speak for how anyone else is able to maintain their passion and stamina while working on their own personal project, but the single biggest factor that's enabled me to stick with my project is a concept that I didn't invent, and I wasn't even aware of back when I started working on my endeavor. I've heard other people talk about this idea since I began my project, and once I heard people discussing this concept, I realized that I been following this principle all along.

Basically, the concept is: Create the thing you want to exist in the world.

This is also the reason that I started this blog. Back before I started this thing, I was constantly searching for a website where someone would talk about drawing, writing, film and storyboarding...all the stuff I was passionate about. I was searching and searching for a place where someone else was wrestling with all the stuff I struggle with and talking about it. And then I just started writing stuff down, mostly in the hope that it would inspire others to start doing the same.

Anyway, my personal project was a similar story. I began working on a graphic novel three years ago, and although I didn't realize it at the time, what initially got me going on the project was the desire to create something that I really wanted to exist in the world.

Here's the backstory: I've always really, really wanted to love comic books. Comic books are stories told with visuals, which is similar to storyboarding and film, and should be right up my alley. Many of the people I work with are big comic book fans, and they're all super smart and amazing artists, so naturally I figured I was just missing something. I didn't walk into comic book stores very often, but when I did, I always really wanted to buy something. But most times I'd look and look, and in the end nothing would really catch my imagination, and I'd leave empty handed and disappointed.

So over the years, I formed a foggy idea of what I wished comic books were...but weren't. And those things--and my burning desire to want to love comic books--eventually became so strong in my mind that it drove me to start on my journey to create the thing that I wanted to exist in the world.

So ask yourself what is missing in the world that you'd desperately like to see. What kind of movie do you wish was being made these days? What kind of book do you wish you could read? What kind of music do you wish you could listen to? If you feel that way, it's certain there are others out there that feel that way too. And by hanging onto that desire to see that element out in the world, you can sustain yourself through the tough times that come along with trying to create anything that's original, fresh and inspired.


Daniel Philip Robinson said...

This sentiment reminds me of something I heard very recently when watching Ken Burns' documentary about the Brooklyn Bridge. In it, an architectural critic is marveling about the bridge, and noted that:

"Great art doesn't fulfill a need, it CREATES a need. The world didn't need Beethoven's 9th Symphony... until it was brought into existence. And now we can't bear to imagine a world without it. Same for the Brooklyn Bridge."

When I think about my personal project, that's how I want people to react to it — they didn't even know they wanted it, but once they encounter it, they suddenly need it.

Aaron Ludwig said...

This is great advice-- and sadly, something I've never considered. Thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful advice, and it pinpoints the reason I got into making comics in the first place. Good to keep it in mind!

Purna said...

wonderful piece of advice... thanks for sharing. I thought i was the only one who is not that fond of comics..I find it difficult in concentrating both pictures and contents at the same time... and also i don't get breathing space.. at times feel lost.. and most of the times colors are too strong / aggressive which kills the emotion ... may be i am wrong because i have no expertise in that field and also i hardly read comics, but i remember from my childhood memory, i loved the comics of Henry, i find it very entertaining.. may be its an absurd concept if the story is action based.. But anyway, waiting eagerly for your style of comics and wish you good luck :)

ElliotRussell said...

Its funny when you mentioned you wanted to love comics, I have felt the exact same way! "create what you want to exist" is such a great way to put it. Thanks.

Applejinx said...

Exactly. EXACTLY. And it's true on so many levels. Thank you, and now I'm very curious to see the graphic novel you so wanted to exist!

Anonymous said...

There are many proverbs of this idea that come out of the Chinese Landscape Painting Tradition, like throwing pearls to swines...

O'seremi said...

You and famed comic artist, JOE MADUREIRA seem to be drinking the same creative juice!

(Even though it's on LeSean Thomas's deviantart, it is from Joe Madureira)

Sean Evans said...

That! Thank's for sharing Mark! I think there will always be a small clip of advice to push through any creative block or any artisitc wall that an artist may come upon, and this was just the sledgehammer to knock it down!

Alberto Gomez said...

Great way of looking at personal projects.

On a side note, and regarding your disappointment from not finding many comic books you really like, I'd like to name some artists that are probably not so well known in the US and may be of your taste: Cyril Pedrosa (Trois Ombres, Portugal), Nicolas de Crécy (Le Bibendum Céleste, Prosopopus), Jorge González (Fueye, Dear Patagonia) and Christophe Blain (Isaac le Pirate, Gus). These are some of my favorites, and most of them have or had bonds with animation.

Heather said...

This is great, thank you!

Also, glad to hear that someone else wanted to like comics, but had trouble finding ones that they liked. This has always been true for me.

I'm looking forward to reading your graphic novel.

Timothy said...

An excellent attitude, and a great mantra for those days when things don't just seem to be working.

I have to wonder, though, what is it that you've found lacking in comics. I too have felt a certain lack, but haven't been able to put my finger on it with any sort of explicitness. Is it something to do with the content? Setting, style, characters? Or possibly a lack on the storytelling side of things?

What is it that you looked for and couldn't find?

mark kennedy said...

Daniel-great addition. Thanks for taking the time to post a comment!

Aaron-no problem, glad you found it helpful.


Purna-thanks, glad you enjoyed the post!

Elliot-it seems like a common feeling!

Apple-glad you're interested. It's coming someday...


o-thanks for the link!

Sean-great, glad it helped!

Alberto-thanks for the tips, I'll check them out.

Heather-thanks for the comment!

Timothy-good question...I thought about articulating all the things I find lacking, but I don't want to offend comic book fans. It's an entirely subjective list of my tastes, and I don't want to get into an argument about whether I'm right or's just my personal opinions.

Anonymous said...

Your comments are very close to my own feelings about sustaining enthusiasm for a personal project. A philosophy that has taken me years to form.

Thank you very much for your well thought out posts.

David Balan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Balan said...

Mark, thanks for this post, it came at a great time for me. I'm about to graduate with a degree in Sequential Art from SCAD, and I'm going through a lot of soul searching about what I want to do now that I've got my piece of paper.

I know exactly how you feel about comics - I wanted to do them to unite my loves of drawing and writing, but I didn't really read that many when I got into school. I've since picked up a lot, and I've studied the masters, and learned tons - but to be frank, there's still not that many that I actually enjoy READING. Which is puzzling to me, cause it just seems like it could be something so amazing.

And I'd almost forgotten that I need to follow that buzz in my gut about what I want to see and what I want to read.

Thanks so much.

~ David Balan

K.B. said...

Wonderful advice ! Thank you.

chris said...

You want to like comics?

Try reading Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy.

It totally kicks ass!

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katie smith said...

This is a wonderful read, thank you so much for sharing. I live in a studio apartment and use bookshelves as a divider for my bed, and I made the backs of them into a giant blackboard to remember deadlines & write inspirational quotes. 'Create the Thing You Want to Exist in the World' is absolutely going up there as a reminder to keep going during times when I'm feeling pooped.

Love your blog, and am looking forward to seeing your graphic novel!

Cory Kerr said...

Fantastic! I love comics (especially creator owned & indie comics) and I this why I'm making one. Put out something new and fresh.

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