Marilag Lubag's Blog

Starting Small

February 9, 2016
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As an artist, our vision often doesn’t match how our creation would come out. Often, our brains come up with visions of grandeur but the rest of our skills had not caught up.

In an episode of Super Girl, Kara’s boss Cat Grant told her that if Super Girl really wants to become a superhero of Superman’s quality, she needs to start small and work her way up. Her boss’ point was that Super Girl is making a lot of mistakes and the city was paying for it. Kara defended her tactics by saying that even Super Man did make his mistakes. Kara’s boss explained that starting small means that someone won’t cause a lot of damage while they improve their superhero skills.

Supergirl 021016 post

Even superheroes have to start small. Check out the show at CBS.

There was wisdom to Cat Grant’s words. After all, it would mean that if you are learning how to use a particular medium, it would mean that you would have a lot less materials to waste if you would start small. However, I myself am a very impatient person. I prefer to make a ton of mistakes, not caring if I waste a lot of materials or not, especially since my preferred medium costs me little. When it comes to yarn, all I needed to do was to unravel and I could reuse it again. When it comes to singing, I could sing all I want and only my entire family would hear if I’m singing out of tune. They’re used to hearing me sing that they don’t even care if I mess up. And writing? It doesn’t even cost anything so I write all I want even if it’s horrible.

Now, for those who had to use a more expensive medium, Cat Grant’s advice is essential. After all, oil paint costs hundreds of dollars. Playing with paint is even more costly on canvas than with strong white paper.

Nobody should bite on more than he or she could chew. For example, if one wants to write a novel, it requires determination and perseverance to finish one. It’s like making a crocheted blanket—a very daunting task. If you or someone you know plan to write a novel, you need to pace yourself and write even when you don’t feel like writing at all. Like blogging, it’s easier to fix words on a page than starting with an empty space.

It is your choice whether you prefer the Cat Grant method or the Superman method. Both would make you a hero but the damage would be very little if you do the Cat Grant method. Meanwhile, the Superman method meant that it would be a very expensive method in terms of time and money while you learn your skills.

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Practice

February 8, 2016
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Every single artist has a desire to be successful. Still, he or she needs to know about the learning curve.  People like Stephenie Meyer are more of the exception rather than the rule. More often, our path would be like that of Rick Riordan—teacher by day, author by night until we hit the bestseller list and write full time.

Just because you publish your first book, it doesn’t mean that it would be good enough that people would buy it. It would be hard work to learn the necessary skills and it could take years. Are you willing to put in the hours in order to succeed? To be adept at something, you need to practice.

If you want to be a successful artist, you need to learn two things: your craft and how to sell your products. While it was a noble thing to do to only improve your craft, not showing it to anyone wouldn’t help selling your work. After all, Van Gogh painted 900 paintings in his lifetime but only sold one.

Now, if you want to be actually successful while you’re still alive, you have to learn your craft and you have to learn how to sell. In order to do that, you have to give yourself permission to be bad at both. If you’re bad at something but keep on practicing, you would improve. If you don’t practice but dream of becoming a successful artist, this dream would remain what it is: a dream.

The time when someone isn’t famous is especially essential. This would be the perfect time to hone your skills. Whether it was with painting or with writing or with designing or with singing, a person who isn’t famous could make a ton of mistakes and nobody would care. But, if someone like Beyoncé or Kelly Clarkson hit the wrong note, everybody would judge them even though they did well the entire time.

The only way to get better is to practice. Every artist needs to put in the time in order to get better. Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of practice rule was popularized in his book, Outliers. The point was that it took the Beatles 10,000 hours of practice to become the world class band that they were. Whether or not the 10,000 hour rule is true remains to be proven but the idea still remains—we need to practice in order to get better.

Every artist must practice his or her craft. Though each one of us had a particular eye for what looks beautiful and what sounds wonderful and what doesn’t, practice helps us hone our skills so that when inspiration hits, we would know what to do with the materials we had been given.

 

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