#44: Self-help as creativity bible

Hello! It’s been two months or so since my last update—I went on vacation in LA for three weeks and have been enjoying leaving my apartment just a little bit more post-vaccine. Writing isn’t much of a priority to me anymore because I have been pouring my attention into art and illustration, but I’d still like to send you updates about my practice once a month or so 👋

The last two books I read are both self-development + creative inspiration books—Keep Going by Austin Kleon and Make Your Art No Matter What by Beth Pickens. I’ve read plenty more like these in the past, including The Artist’s Way (which kickstarted this newsletter), Find Your Artistic Voice, and Big Magic.

All of the books essentially repeat the same adages: work daily, practice being bored, prioritize longevity over fame, detach your self-worth from numbers, let go of the fear of making no money (or too much money). Of course, the magic is in the wonderfully sourced quotes from past authors, artists, and thinkers as well as neat anecdotes around each piece of advice. Like all things dealing in spirituality, lessons around creativity bear repeating. We return to the text over and over again to feel comforted, seen, and motivated to go on.

Still, I would not recommend reading multiple books like these in a row. It felt like binge drinking, rapidly immersed into a cocoon of feeling emboldened and confident but unlikely to remember anything about it the next day. I believe I’ve been relying too much on inspiration like these when what I really crave is to exchange ideas or these moments of self-doubt with other artists. The internet is a blessed place for wide-reaching connection, and it’s been wonderful to discover and connect with other artists and makers through Instagram, Discord, or Zoom classes. But I am really craving something more personal with more regularity, like an accountability check-in + creative group therapy session. If anyone’s also interested in this, please reply!

What I’ve been making:

Punch needle artwork! (L) Wall hanging that is a gift to new artist friend Yumi based on Korean folk art painting. (R) Chair pad as an homage to obangsaek, the five cardinal colors of Korea
Crane comics with a Greek mythology motif. (L) Sissy the crane, as in Sisyphus. Caption says “work hard!” in Korean, which is a common greeting. (R) Is it self-love or narcissism? Inspired by Narcissus.

A few weeks after my last newsletter, I kicked my art block to the curb and have been riding a really nice creative wave since then. Much of the past year has been dedicated to exploring different mediums and styles and trying all the things; while the allure of that won’t ever disappear, I’m starting to see some throughlines and thus picking areas to hone in on so I can build a body of work.

What I’ve been doing otherwise:

Thanks for reading and hope you haven’t been melting away in “the coldest summer of the rest of our lives”! Let me know what you’ve been inspired by lately and what summer fruits are your favorite 🍉

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