Create like you’re eight

Remember when I wrote about how to raise an artist? Not too long ago, my son started taking his art very seriously. He was shutting himself in his room all of the time. On weekends, when he’s able to use his computer, he was watching YouTube video after YouTube video underneath his loft bed, littering his floor with crumpled printer paper with half-done drawings, and aside from the occasional whir from his automatic pencil sharpener, there was hardly a trace of him.

On school nights, after homework, the sight was similar, but minus the screens. Door shut and increased interest on his art. This even showed up.

please knock

I respected his newfound assertion of privacy, but at the same time, I was a bit worried.

Eventually, we decided that if he was going to spend that much time watching YouTubers, he should contribute. After some encouragement from my sister, we made his first YouTube video to share the art he had been working on.

He got such a great response, and he’s kept up making the videos week after week.

I’m new to video, it’s something I’ve never experimented with before. I already have a subscription to the Adobe products on the creative cloud to edit photos, but these videos have been the first things I’ve ever used Premier Pro to create.

It’s funny, because with writing, drawing, painting, designing/decorating a room, or anything else creative, I’m so slow to finish. It can be a brief blog post, but it gets drawn out to days or weeks of labor. It can take me six months to buy the materials for a project I’ve been dreaming of making.

But with these videos, it’s different.

I’m okay with not knowing what I’m doing and with being kind of bad at editing the videos, for a change. He’s eight and I’m twenty-eight, but as creators, we’re so both so intolerant of imperfections. We have these creative ideas and want everything to look like it was when we first imagined it. He has his floor littered with drawings that missed the mark. My abandoned ideas are more hidden: half written essays, twenty-two unfinished posts in my drafts folder on wordpress, a collection of supplies from craft mishaps.

During the first video, if he was worried about mistakes, I’d just keep reminding him: “You’re eight! No one expects you to be perfect!” And as I edit them, he has to remind me the same.

If only I could take that stance for the other things I do, if I could take the pressure off and recognize that I’m not expected to do anything just right, right away. The pressure is self-imposed, but it’s been hardwired after years of good taste but not-quite-there-yet levels of skill. It’s so challenging to be a beginner and an amateur that few ever get to be where they want without giving up.

My hope, for my son, for me, and for you, if you’re afraid to start or afraid to share your work, is that you’ll do it anyway. And that when you see people proudly share their work, you’ll remember the bravery that it takes to do so. That you’ll always keep in mind that to share something created is exposing the most vulnerable parts and that it’s scary as all get out to do.

Take it from one of the greatest:

finish it

How’s he doing now?

Now that I found a way to get more involved by sharing of what he makes, he’s more open to sharing during the process. He’s not hiding in his room the same way. As you can see above, we’ve been doing weekly videos for six weeks now, without fail. It’s something we can do together, and I’m showing him how to work the programs as I’m learning.

It’s hard, because bullies from school go to his channel and ridicule him. One even insulted his artwork. While my heart is breaking, he is still confident: “Well, where’s his videos? Where’s his art?” The bravery that he exudes in the face of adversity is admirable.

Create like you’re eight

  1. Create because it’s fun. Not to be the best.
  2. Allow yourself be a beginner.
  3. Share fearlessly, so that others know it’s okay to be a beginner. Your progress will show over time.
  4. Be consistent.
  5. Notice who throws insults, and don’t take it personally.
  6. Never stop having fun!

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