Although this is an article designed to help you understand yourself as an artist and/or writer, I’ll have to start by talking about myself for a few paragraphs. Don’t worry, there’s a point to all of this.
A few weeks ago, when I was having a rather fun and completely unrealistic daydream about being the next E. L. James, I suddenly realised something interesting about both my art and my writing (well, back when I used to write fiction regularly anyway). I love creating intense stuff.
I love making art with vividly contrasting solid colours. I love making art quickly. I love making art which plays with glowing light and rich darkness in simple ways. I love making stylised art that really captures the essence of everything. In short, I love making art that looks a bit like this:
I also love using comics as both a storytelling medium and vehicle for cynical humour. I love expressing my opinions through the format of comics. I think that comics are a magical middle ground between literature and film, which is somehow greater than both things.
I love writing very visual poetry which moves at a very fast pace and which is almost always written in the present tense.
And, as for fiction, I love using a strong, vivid and distinctive narrative voice. I love writing laugh-out-loud dark comedy, I love writing gratuitously gruesome splatterpunk horror fiction and – of course – I love telling deliciously sensual and delightfully *ahem* gothic risque stories.
Yes, I don’t write that much these days and I’ve got into the annoyingly cowardly habit of self-censoring too much, but when I do write, it only really “flows” when I’m writing something that is intense in some way or another.
Anyway, why have I mentioned all of this stuff? What use is it to you?
Well, I think that every artist and writer has their own preferred level of “intensity” and that they work best when they make things that fit into this level of intensity – kind of like how some musicians thrive when they play quiet classical music and other musicians thrive when they’re playing loud classical-influenced heavy metal.
Of course, if you’ve been creative for quite a while, then you’ve probably already learnt what your preferred level of “intensity” is. In fact, it’s something that I’m guessing even new artists and writers probably know about themselves intuitively.
But if, for any reason, you don’t know what your ideal level of creative “intensity” is – then there’s a very easy way to find out. Just look at your favourite films, TV shows, paintings, stories, computer games, songs etc… and see how intense they are.
Generally speaking, your preferred level of intensity will be the same as most of your favourite things.
For example, if you like very traditional landscape paintings, very understated drama shows, cerebral puzzle games, literary novels about everyday life and listening to Classic FM on a regular basis – then it’s safe to say that you’ll probably work best producing more subtle fiction and art.
Likewise, if you love comic art, watch dramatic sci-fi shows almost religiously, play almost nothing but FPS games, love reading gruesome horror novels and don’t befoul your computer speakers with anything that isn’t heavy metal or punk, then it’s a safe bet that you’ll probably work best when you’re producing more intense stuff.
Ok, this test isn’t 100% reliable, but it’s a good starting point if you need to work out how intense your art or fiction should be.
Sorry that this article was so basic, but I hope it was useful 🙂