One of the things I almost always do when I post drawings on here or on my DeviantART gallery is to write a short description of how the drawing came into being.
Although most of my descriptions (especially on DeviantART) are pretty boring and bland things like “this drawing evolved fairly randomly” or “this was going to be a drawing of something else, but it ended up turning into this picture instead” and I try not to be too autobiographical, I still usually add them to my drawings just because it’s always something that I’ve done.
I didn’t really think about this too much until I recently re-drew an old picture of mine from 2010 called “Awakening” . Even though my original description of the drawing in 2010 was fairly short, I still had extremely vivid memories of the time when I drew the original drawing and this made me think about why I always feel like I have to tell the story of how I made a drawing.
I’ve often found that whatever I create tends to be very attached to the time, place and context in which I made it. Whether it’s the mood I was in at the time, what music I was listening to when I drew or wrote it and what I was watching, reading or playing at the time. In other words, every one of my drawings has a story behind it. I’m sure that the same things are probably aldo true for every pretty much other person who has ever created anything.
Sometimes, this is nothing more than an interesting curiosity – a slightly oblique pictorial diary of sorts, but other times it cna have an effect on what I can and create. For example, although “Yametry Run” has a fairly open-ended ending with room for a sequel, but I probably won’t really be able to make any more of it properly (other than possibly re-drawing the original art if I ever wanted to do this) because I’m in a very different time, place and context to when I made the original comic.
Not only that, this probably also explains why I haven’t added anything to “Ambitus” in months either – since it was written when I was in a particular mood, it was written when I was fascinated by a particular type of sci-fi story/TV show and it was also written in the starkly bright heat of the height of summer (which is my least favourite time of the year for a whole host of reasons).
So why is this important?
By being aware of what inspired your art, the kinds of creative processes that went through your mind when you made it and how the general context you were making it in affected what you made, you’ll learn a lot more about your own imagination. Not only will this provide you with a few clues to what helps you to feel more creative, but it will also give you slightly more of a sense of ownership of your own art too.
Plus, for me at least, it’s fun to know these kind of things about other people’s creative works – to know the time, place, emotions and mindset which went into all of my favourite art, stories, comics and songs. I aboslutely love interviews with authors, “making of” features on DVDs, documentaries about artists, articles about my favourite musicians and things like that. I guess, on a subconscious level, this is why I always tell the story of my art – for the simple reason that someone might be curious about it one day.
Sometimes the story of how something is made is as fascinating or even more fascinating than the thing itself and I usually want to know what kinds of moods, what kinds of thought processes and what kinds of places lead to great stories and art for the simple reason that there may be something that is worth learning which I can apply to my own creativity.
Although, usually, there isn’t. Since different times and places mean entirely different things to different people, since different people handle different emotions in slightly different ways – what works for one person may not work for another. For example, a small town on the coast might be an almost magical haven of creativity to one person but, for another person, the same town might be a stultifyingly dull slice of purgatory which drains all of the creativity from their soul.
So, since there are no universal rules or even any rules which are ready-made for you, when it comes to what kind of places, emotions and contexts are best for your creativity. So, the only way you’re going to know this is to be very aware of everything that surrounds what you make and, at least occasionally, to write down the story of your own art or the real backstory to your own stories.
Once you’ve done that, study it and analyse it. Look for patterns and trends. This might be the key to making yourself even more creative than you already are.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂