Creativity Under Pressure

Whether it’s a logo for a client, website copy, or an advertising campaign, those of us who work in creative pursuits are constantly looking for ways to harken our muse.

Last month, I participated (for the third time) in Inktober, one of my favorite ways to challenge myself creatively. The assignment: create an ink drawing related to the daily one-word prompt. Post it on social media. Repeat each day of October.

You can see all of my Inktober 2020 drawings on IG @andrewbartoncreative.

The prompts are pretty obscure (dig, dizzy, fancy), so it’s a good exercise for the right side of the brain. Some days are easy. Some days I’m crunched for time. Some days nothing comes to mind, or I just don’t feel creative. Those are the days when the magic happens.

You hear authors and comedians talk about their commitment to a daily writing practice. It’s the same principle. Starting around the second week of the challenge, I hit a wall. I have literally nothing interesting, original, creative, or not-boring to put down on the paper. That feeling means (at least for me) that I’ve used up all my old tricks. It’s time to get out of my comfort zone. The pressure of the deadline forces me to seek new sources of inspiration.

Inktober is as much about showing up as it is about coming up with a good drawing every single day.

I’m not exactly sure how inspiration works, but here are some things that help me come up with Inktober (or client work) ideas.

  • Keeping a sketchbook. My trusty sketchbook is my ever present companion. It’s my favorite tool for getting my ideas down on paper. 95% of what I put in there never sees the light of day.
  • Reference photos. When I see something interesting or creatively stimulating I snap a photo and put it in my folder of “inspiring images.” 

  • Distract myself. For example, the prompt on Oct. 16 was “rocket.” I didn’t want to do a cliche image of a rocket, but I was having trouble thinking of something interesting. In the middle of the day, I went to the grocery store, and the word “rocket” was on my mind. I spotted one of those carts for kids … with a spaceship theme. I took a picture and it turned into the drawing above. 
  • Keep it simple. When I can’t think of anything amusing, I’ll go for simple instead. Like the one above. The image itself isn’t all that original, but I tried to create it in a different way, such as adding elements of pointillism or trying a different pen or technique.
  • Experiment and fail. Be willing to try something entirely new and different. And be OK with the results — good or bad. Failing isn’t fun, but it’s how we learn and grow. I definitely missed the mark with several Inktober drawings when the ideas in my head didn’t quite materialize. I’ll let you decide which ones fall into that category. 🙂
  • Add a twist. Do something expected but add your own twist or an unexpected element. The Oct. 13 prompt was “dune.” I went expected (desert) but added something unexpected (a hobbit from one of my favorites, “Lord of the Rings”). 

Participating in Inktober is one of my favorite creative pursuits. I’m challenged daily, and I tend to discover something new. Above all, I like how deadlines produce results. 

Have a great week,

sig

Pandemic Pivot

Three New Services I’m Offering

What’s the business buzzword of 2020? Pivot. Many of us started the year with grand plans and lofty goals. By mid-March, those were tossed aside and lay smouldering in the corner. Business owners were making a collective shift to find new ways to survive (and maybe even thrive) during a pandemic. 

I, for one, was planning to launch my second Heyward the Horse children’s picture book. I shelved the book for the time being and began to look for new ways to help my clients and bolster my revenue stream. 

Over the last few weeks, I’ve developed three new “pivot projects” that are gaining traction in the marketplace. 

1. Monthly Photo Subscription. Just about every business is generating content for their website, social media channels or email campaigns. One of the challenges is finding and creating great images. Stock photos can look like, well, stock photos. Plus, you don’t want to use all the same stock images everyone else in your industry is using. 

For this client, I created a mix of photos, sketches and typographic images.

To solve that creative conundrum, I’ve launched a monthly photo subscription. You receive 10 custom images each month. These might be graphics with nice typography, hand-drawn sketches, or free (to you) curated stock photos. See the thumbnails above for examples. We’ll work together to determine what you need for your brand. You’ll stand out in your marketing with unique, customized images.

“Andrew Barton’s work has definitely helped me raise engagement on LinkedIn. He has this incredible talent for making intangible concepts come to life in fresh ways.”

Dr. Laura Camacho, Mixonian Institute

Price: 10 images/month for $500 (with a 3-month contract)

2. Animated Upgrade. Why not spice up your social media posts and email campaigns with a short animated video or icon? For example, I created this icon for the Charleston Beer Fest. But, instead of a static image promoting the festival’s food trucks, I developed an animated image. The result is more eye-catching. 

Static Post: Plain and boring

Animated Post: Shiny!

PRICE: Varies depending on complexity of image and animation. Shoot me an email to discuss your project.

3. Live Zoom Doodles. Raise your hand if you’ve been living in a Zoom room lately. We’re all spending more time in video meetings, and most events and training have shifted to virtual gatherings. They can be SO painful and boring, am I right?

And if you’re hosting a webinar, conference, or lengthy staff meeting, it can be tough to keep everyone’s attention. Zoom doodles to the rescue! 

Sample of my zoom doodle style.

Here’s how it works: I attend your webinar and take notes in the form of doodles. You can switch from your screen to mine so attendees can watch me doodle live. Depending on your preference, I can doodle freely or stick to your notes. At the end of the webinar, I’ll send you the artwork for you to use in your marketing efforts. 

PRICE: $150 / hour. 

These are three ways I’ve pivoted during COVID-19. While none of us could have anticipated something like a global pandemic, it has forced us all to innovate.

Which one of my pivot products can help your business? Email me to get started at ab@andrewbartondesign.com.

Have a great week,

sig

Putting ink to paper to Instagram in October

People be lovin’ a time-limited challenge – whether it’s writing a novel, eating healthy or doing a plank every day for a month (nope). Artists are no different and – even though getting “excited” is out of my comfort zone – this month I’m excited to be participating in an annual creative challenge called Inktober.

What is Inktober?

Every October artists from all over the world commit to creating one ink drawing each day of the month. The rules are pretty simple: make an ink drawing and post it to social media using the hashtags #inktober and #inktober2019. Search those hashtags on Instagram and you’ll find millions of posts – of varying quality and subject.

The subject matter is up to the artist, although Inktober’s creator, Jake Parker, does provide an official list of interesting prompts. I did this challenge two years ago and did my own thing but this year, I’m traveling with the masses and sticking to Jake’s list.

Why do this?

Good question – I have three kids ages 5 and under. Where will I find the time and energy? The answer is simple: neglect. Neglect is the artist’s way! 😉

Why do it? It’s fun. And it’s about growing, improving and committing to doing something even when I don’t feel like it. I know I’ll run out of easy ideas (or steam) halfway through the month and that’s when I really have to stretch myself and get creative.

Another reason is the communal aspect of the challenge. Several other artists I know in real life are also participating: Tami Boyce, Morgan East, Abdul Shabazz, and Samantha Bell. And here’s some folks I don’t know IRL but I wish I did: This Northern Boy, Roxannimus, Ania Przybylko, and Ataliefite.

As for me, in addition to the official prompts, I have committed to including a person in each daily drawing. Drawing characters is an important skill for an illustrator and it’s an area in which I need improvement. The only way to get better at drawing people is by… drawing people. The timing is great because I’m working on the sequel to my children’s picture book Heyward the Horse and I’m at the people-adding-stage.

Slogging Through

By day 7, this challenge was definitely feeling like work. In life and art, I put a premium on being “clever” (I don’t recommend it) and when I can’t think of something clever with the daily prompt, I get nervous. But somehow, if I show up, ideas flow in from wherever ideas come from. For example, on this day, I was around people watching football.

On this day, I was reading a book about tigers.

Another example, on day 10, I had literally no ideas. I just started doodling a bunny and then – to meet my requirement – added a little boy doing a handstand. The daily prompt was “pattern” so I just decided to make a simple pattern. I let myself go and didn’t try to overthink it. You can see the finished product below. Turns out, this has been one of my favorites and has connected with other people. 

So you see, Inktober is a bit like running a race – ups and downs (and a finish line). Have you ever done anything like this in your business or personal life? Tell me about in the comments below or shoot me an email. And, if you like, follow me for the rest of my #inktober journey.

Have a great week,

sig

Fishy Field Trip

The other day, I couldn’t bare to look at my computer screen for one more second. Not one. I blame early spring. I was feeling burned out. So, reluctantly I gave myself permission to go on a field trip. It was 10AM on a Tuesday — very much out of the norm for ABD.

I grabbed my sketchbook and headed down to the local aquarium. It’s an amazing place and their slogan is “Cheaper than a therapist!” Okay it’s not, but it should be.

I lucked out — no screaming kids. For the next couple of hours, I roamed the exhibits, sketched out various creatures that caught my eye and generally tried not to look like the creepy bearded guy by himself. It was a great afternoon and very relaxing.

Here’s some scans from my sketchbook:

aquarium sketches

Fast forward: a few weeks later when I was looking back through my drawings all these ideas just started flowing. I scanned in my drawings and made a short illustrated series for fun.

colored sketches of fish and an eel

colored sketches of fish and a jellyfish

colored sketches of fish

Then a few days after that, I ran out of business cards. Time was short so I grabbed my fishy friends and turned them into some new business cards. Take a look:

andrew barton business card

blue fish with one red fish

side of card

The moral of the story: sometimes it’s okay to give yourself permission to do something out of the ordinary. You never know what kind of creative ideas a little “me time” will spark. Try that on your boss and let me know how it goes.

Have a great week,

sig

PS – I really want to do some creative work for the Aquarium so if you’re reading this, SC Aquarium, swipe right.

Hatman Direct Mailer

Every year I mail out a New Year’s Card. It’s one of my favorite annual projects. Check out previous year’s designs here and here.

For 2017, I wanted to take it to the next level. I also wanted to tie the theme back to Charleston history. At some point during the brainstorming process, my fascination with the lapel pin craze and the Charleston Hatman coalesced into an idea that I was really excited about.

I was riding high until the realization that this project would be double or triple my budget. By this time, I was emotionally attached to my hatman mailer so I reached out to some partners to collaborate. Kimberly Hopkins from RR Donnelly printed the mailer and Michelle Harris from Karst Promo handled the enamel lapel pin. We all serve similar customers and used this opportunity for cross promotion. It was a win win… win.

Here’s how the project turned out:

direct mail front

happy new year design

charleston hatman history

hat man lapel pin

hatman lapel pin

BONUS – Watch a time-lapse video of the making of the Hatman vector artwork:

I was super pleased with the final product.

To summarize – need something printed? Call Kim. Need a customized lapel pin (or anything promotional)? Tell Michelle. Need some graphic design love? Nothing rhymes with Andrew. ? But here’s my number – 843.882.7627.

Have a great week,

sig

 

 

Inktober 2016

This year, I participated in an art challenge called Inktober. What’s Inktober?

Inktober is a time when artists draw an image a day using traditional inking tools (biro, marker, ink wash, etc.) throughout the month of October.

For my theme, I chose isometric architectural and landscape drawings. For more information on what that means, check out isometric projection. That’s pretty boring stuff, but you may recognize the isometric perspective from video games like Simcity 2000.

sim city

In keeping with inktober, I stuck with black ink and gray markers. Here’s a few examples of what I drew everyday:

isometric house

isometric charleston houseisometric castle house isometric mushroom house isometric icecream truck  isometric indian camp

After a few days, I put 9 of these “tiles” together to form a little scene.

neighborhood isometric

As we approached October 31st, I even created a Halloween themed scene.

isometric haunted house

At the end of the month, I finished 31 isometric ink drawings. It was a great challenge. It was a great fun! You can see them all on my instagram feed. You may need to scroll down a bit. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #inktober2016 to find all the other great artwork that was being created too.

One last thing, if you’re interested to see how these were created, I recorded some of the process. Check it out here:

 

Have a great week,

sig