Russell Dickerson is an artist who focuses on horror and speculative genre. Zombies, dead people–living or not, pistol-wielding shouting women, Southern Gothic ghosts, space troopers, space trooper ghosts, skellington cowboys, these are all subjects for Dickerson. He does pen-and-ink, book covers, design of logos, film posters, website layout and design and on and on. His art struck me, and typical me, I have trouble telling you *why*, I just like what he does, enough to have purchased two of his pen-and-ink orginals.
This one now resides in the home of a geologist.
His website is www.darkstormcreative.com. His twitter feed is @rdickerson, and his tumblr thingbob is http://rdickerson.tumblr.com.
He writes about how it is to be an artist, the work involved with art and creativity, and how he views the world and the art that he sees, as well as information about artwork and artists. I have learned quite a bit from his writings, most of which can be found at his blog, www.darkstormcreative.com, and monthly at the Apex blog.
I was gobsmacked when he agreed to spend time writing a guest post for this little blog of not-much. Here, he participates in the Darkcargo discussion of failure. This is wild, guys, check it out:
Fear can be the beginning and the end
by Russell Dickerson
Over the years, I’ve run into plenty of situations where fear is the prevalent feeling. Now, I’m a horror artist most of the time, so that makes sense. But I’m not talking about the creation of fear, or making something creepy or scary. I’m talking about a definition of fear that is much more personal.
That fear can be realized in many ways. It could be a fear of failure at a creative piece that I’m working on, or a fear that no one will like my art overall. It can be a fear of showing a personal idea of art to someone, hoping they don’t hate it. It can even be the fear of being ridiculed for what I’ve created.
Fear can put a halt to everything and everything I create. I might stop working on a piece because I think it’s failed. I might skip over a good idea that just needs a little work, simply because I’ve reached a stage where it could go either right or wrong.
Career-wise too, I’ve considered quitting a number of times. I fear that, with only a handful of followers and little in the way of sales, I may have already failed. Perhaps I’m just fading away, not willing to realize that no one is interested in the things I create.
Maybe it’s time to let that failure win, and crawl off into the sunset, never to be heard from again.
It’s at these times, when things are at the breaking point of failure, that often the real creation begins. When you’ve reached that failure point, that place where many great things go to die, you realize that all of the fighting you’ve had so far has reached the apex.
At those points, I try to stand up, get away from the situation completely, and look at it objectively (if possible). There are times when what you’re working on isn’t right. It’s not that the original idea wasn’t sound, but somewhere along the line it went off the rails. By stepping back and looking at it differently, or even just an hour later, you might see how best to continue.
I’ve also, plenty of times, just let go of the original idea. I’ll be working on a project that seems to have stalled, and, in the case of my digital art, I’ll go grab some odd texture from my files and apply it to the art I’m working on. I’ll push it left or right, delete or clone parts of it, and even change the color. Most of the time, something clicks in my brain and I get a newfound love of what I’m working on.
Does it work all the time? Of course not.
Just try following my Twitter feed, you’ll see many 140-characters-or-less whinings from me where I’ve given up, thrown in the towel, kicked the idea to the curb, and so on. I may even use a naughty word here and there. But, just as often, you might see another tweet a bit later, where I show off what I was working on. I also tend to show how I fixed it.
At the end of the day, fear and failure are about being honest with yourself. Is it time to end what isn’t working, or is it time to step back, look at again, and push on towards greatness?
For me, that’s a call I consider every day. Some days I win, and get moving. Other days, not so much. But it’s the war to be won, not each battle, and so far I’m at least holding my own.