Craig's Sketchbook
damn, I think I'm gonna get diabetes, cuz this sketchbook is sweeeet!

I have just gone through this really, for the last month or so I would feel like utter shit, get motivated ever so slightly, then hit another wall and drop lower. It happened every 5 or so days.

Two things you could try, which may or may not make sense to you. But they worked for me in the past.
First is scrap your to do list (if you have one, if you don't, then try making one?) after you have a blank to do list, and I mean seriously blank, those ideas for drawings you had? Scrap 'em. That IP you wanted to develop? Scrap it. That study plan you never quite implemented. Yep, that too. Start from ground zero. Don't worry that you will loose all these, if they are important you will remember them and can re-add them when you feel better. Take it one day at a time, if you get the sudden urge to draw something, start, when you get to the point where you feel frustrated walk away. If you don't have something specific to draw DO NOT DRAW. This was the most important thing, if I tried to just sketch shapes and see what jumped out at me, it just frustrated me.

The second is to realise that everyone goes through these slumps. Realised it? Doesn't help at all does it? I know, no matter how many times I thought it, it didn't make me feel like any less of a failure. However, something to also learn from this is that most people after being in a slump, jump up in skill level pretty soon after. So, instead of getting upset and frustrated that you are in a slump, get excited. It means you are going to get better really soon. Your string of bad luck will end, and then you will have a string of good luck. I have seen your progress, every dagger has, you are improving. You are getting better. You will be good. No, you will be GREAT. Just keep at it. I once did an exercise regime that you watch on the TV and follow along and the thing the guy kept saying was; Its okay to get tired, its okay that you couldnt do as many reps as you wanted, the weight wasnt as high as you thought, it doesnt matter just keep pressing play. Just keep pressing play.

Some things just need to roll around in your head a while, then the can finally get out. Don't worry too much, go climb a mountain, go to a coffee shop, go to a bar with your friends (assuming you are over 18, and if not, try and sneak into a bar), go make a new friend, and then one moment the inspiration will hit you and you will practically run back to your chair (don't do it in the middle of a sentence or anything, your new friend may not appreciate that).

Sorry for the wall of text, its just something so fresh for me I hoped I could help.

Just remember to keep pressing play.

Appreciate the responses guys, many thanks.

I was saying on Facebook earlier, that sometimes just getting a response from people when venting frustrations can be enough to get back on track. It's good to know that my situation is not unique to me, and is more like a common rite of passage for most artists.

Taking a break and just trying to relax for a bit is probably a good idea. Doing some comfort zone stuff for a while might be a fun way of getting back into things again, cheers for that suggestion Anna. :)

It feels like i'm late to the show as there are already a bunch of great comments. Your post resoundingly hits home with me too though so I'll post my two cents. When those anxious moments hit me like an oncoming freight train and decimate my confidence and I just want to find a way out of the misery of not knowing what I don't know and not knowing how I'll improve.. I make a plan. Sometimes it takes a while to remember to do that. Having those near goals to reach is vital to achieving the big ones, and since they are often moving targets it's important to reorganize frequently.

One thing that reminds me of the importance of near goals is the practical example when I'm getting out of the subway station in Seoul. There are almost always escalators going up, and people stand next to each other in two lines. The right line is for standing still, and the left line is for walking up. It's kind of an unspoken social norm. If the escalator is short or medium, people on the left walk all the way up. If the escalator is gigantic, 95% of the time people on the left don't walk up at all. Not halfway, not a quarter, nothing. It seems like it's just the way people approach work..

Happy working~

There's some awesome comments in here already, thought I'd add some stuff though. I think part of the problem (for me anyway) is that we get so saturated with art... Here, on facebook, cghub, deviantart, wherever. You see so much ridiculously good art, but without any of the journey that went into it. Going back and looking at some of the old old CA thread sometimes helps put it in perspective (Always good to see that some of your favourite artists sucked in the beginning lol).

The other thing is that people don't tend to post the things that they get wrong. If someone posts a new image somewhere, it's because they're proud of it. I don't know who said this, but looking at facebook or DA is like comparing the worst bits of your life, to everyone else's highlight reel. It just makes everything seem so much harder in comparison.

As for getting back to it, I don't really have a fix for it. I've been through a few periods where I've abandoned piece after piece halfway through because it's not MTG standard or whatever. Which is stupid, and I know it's stupid, but at the time, it's just frustrating. Maybe just saying that you're going to finish something, by a deadline, might help. Do something super comfort zone-y and just noodle away at it? I dunno.

Also, I've found recently I get more inspired by other disciplines than by great art (goes back to being saturated with it I guess). I'm a big fan of Tim Minchin, and I remember watching his orchestra show on tv the other day, and just getting so pumped to work on art. Think it's something about seeing someone who's in such control, and has got so good in their own field, that makes me want to try and achieve that in mine. And maybe it's removed from art just enough that I'm not also competing/comparing myself to them. There's a few things that have the same kinda effect on me, I've been listening to a lot of 'This American Life' as a podcast (I think you're in the UK, but disregard the name, it's not super America patriotic whatever) and they seem to have totally nailed it. Great storytelling, interviewing, awesome writers. David Rakoff and David Sedaris are two humour writers I've been listening to/reading a ton of. Reading those really well crafted sentences that just make you smile always gets me pumped for some reason. Stand up as well, I guess for the same sorts of reasons. Watching a great stand up set is just super inspiring.

I dunno... I think about halfway through this I got a bit rambly. Maybe their's something in there somewhere though? Take it easy man :)

Oh and as an aside - that zombie painting kicks ass. Love it :D

Ooo, I had an idea. You said you're frustrated with not seeing improvement? Maybe it'd help to do the complete opposite of comfort zone work. Change your workflow completely, and try and learn a new way of working. So if you start with linework atm, just paint everything. If you normally keep stuff kinda brushy, try doing soft brushes, really realistic, and using textures.

Just because when you do something new, you kinda suck in the beginning (on purpose) but because it's so new, you improve crazy fast. The learning curve at the beginning of a skill is always so much easier, and you improve so fast :).

I don't know if that's practical or not, but hey, might be worth a shot? You can always come back to your current workflow after a short period, but you'll have all these new bonus skills lol.

ya take the break man...take a week, take two. Paint nothing, Paint whenever and whatever the f#ck you feel like. feel no guilt about it. And most importantly play this on repeat until your mojo comes back

:) We all been there bud...You already have mad skills, just stick through it till you get the inspiration back.

 YouTube free learnin! | DeviantArt | Old Folio | Insta
keep it at man, the thing you go through .. every artist has that discoragement from themselfs, thinking they suck, im one of them every week there is one day which nothing works for me.. but lately im trying to ignore the bad days and look forward to the good days, if you are discoraged look at your old art and compare it with your new ones! youll see that youve become much better than before !!

good luck man!

Wow. Some great comments here. Really appreciate all the advice.

When you're feeling low about your work, it seems it's easy to fall into the impression that you're isolated and that your problems and trouble are unique to you only, but clearly that's not the case. Some of the advice given in here, it's almost as if you guys know the exact particulars of some of the art related difficulties, without me ever sharing them (especially Jaik's comment). So, it's comforting to understand that this one is not a solo journey.


So, taking on board you guys advice, I'm just turning my computer off for a few days and relaxing (or trying to relax), maybe catch up Breaking Bad and do some fun sketchbook doodling.

Hopefully be back in time with some new, and improved progress. :)

@JakeB - I'm a fan of Tim Minchin too, he's great. I saw him live in 2010 in a tiny theatre in Perth. Think that was just before he got really big.

@ Jaik - Cheers again, for your advice sir. You are spot on with a number of things in your comment, and I really appreciate your encouraging words.


It's been a while since my last update. Still working slowly working my way through my slump, building confidence and skills a day at a time. My own expectations of my work always rising faster than my ability to meet them.

Thanks again for all the advice and encouragement you guys have given me, you've been instrumental in my drive to not give up.

So here's a bunch of some of the more interesting stuff I've worked on since my last art update. A lot of my time has been spent working in pencil, in a sketchbook I plan to show to no-one until it is full, so hopefully I'll get that uploaded for you all to see at some point.

Self-portrait day self-portrait.
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More self-portraits.
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Castle guard character design for Charlie Bowater's Skillshre class.
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Some portraits.
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Master studies.
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Still Lives (rubbish at this)
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A little doodling.
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Figure study
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Whoa! Man! Wave after wave of improvement! It's so inspiring!

2013 perhaps wasn't the great year of artistic improvement I had hoped it would be, although the year did have some high points. I listed some of those high points in a recent blog I made.

Hopefully this year will be the one where I make the grand improvements I'm looking for, we shall see.

Here's some of my work and studies from 2014 so far.

A new cover illustration for David Moody, Straight to You.
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The usual figure studies and scribbles.
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Some material studies for Noah's Art Camp.
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Some discarded character concept wips.
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great stuff in here, nice improvement and i hope i can see much more improvement from your charlie bowater skillshare class. Keep pushing man.

Awesome man, the character sketches are great. And that book cover look so good. Love the lighting and the kinda dusty ground, really cool :) Keep it up :)

Edit: was just flicking through your blog as well. Really like all those recent covers, the 'Demise' one especially. Good job :)

I like how you say 2013 wasn't as good as expected yet there are plenty of highlights you managed to pick.
I'd just try and focus on working hard, without thinking about the improvement, and see how it pans out. Otherwise you might have this unconscious pressure about making big leaps forward.

Keep working hard!

Cheers guys.

Things have been going pretty well for me, career-wise, as of late. Even if my confidence in my work is not as high as it could be, I am busier and making much more money from my work than I ever have been. Which is encouraging.

Some quick updates.

New cover illustration for the March 2014 issue of Mensa Magazine, based on the theme of 'work place of the future'.

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Been doing a lot of pencil drawing in my sketchbook lately. I tend never to show stuff I do in my sketchbook, as knowing noone will see it tends to give me a feeling of freedom when drawing. Was quite happy with this sketch though, and figure I would share. It's a fanart of Rust Cohle from True Detective. (Photographed it with my iPad, as I like the grainy look it gets.)

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Some more of the usual figure studies and sketching.

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Woah, great stuff in here man. Loving the range of subjects you do, I am trying to do that myself, Also love the discussions that took place (they're old! lol), I've been struggling with the same things as JakeB said, saturation of works mostly. Keep posting!

whoa man, gorgeous stuff happening in here

Fantastic work! I love that Straight to You cover, it really sings. Congrats on getting that work and getting over that art slump (or at least keeping the beast at bay). Always encouraging to see some of that dagger love and pep talk, although I'm a little late to the party.

Love your studies.. Making a material sphere before the study seems like an awesome idea too :)

Hey guys,

First update in a while, sorry about that. Had a short contract job with a local games company, which kept me pretty busy (and highly stressed) for a while. Didn't have much time for studies and personal work during that time (and I can't share any of the work from the game until after it's released), but, I have been getting back into things since it finished.

Signed up for part 2 of Noah Bradley's Art Camp, and am already falling way behind. Here's some of my week 1 master study & drawing stuff.

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Recently finished this book cover work (not sure if I'm supposed to be sharing it yet), the sequel to the previous fantasy novel I illustrated, Feylander. Would be happy to have some feedback on this one, the wings were a bi of a nightmare to paint.

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