Keeping Up Appearances
Keeping Up Appearances
BY NATHAN HACKETT
Back when living in quintessential suburbia, with my family amongst all the other suburbanites in the neighbourhood, I had a vague awareness on the importance of ‘keeping up appearances' all the adults had. They were preoccupied with, dutiful waving, re-polishing cars and trimming the hedges again. I understand the subdued aspirations more now. The finale song in the Kinks concept album 'Arthur', Arthur finally settles in his modest 'Shangri-La' after a life of toil and hard work: 'Put on your slippers and sit by the fire, you've reached your top and you just cannot get any higher'. I wanted to reflect the complications in suburban life, of hyper class-sensitivity and the typical, heroic British every-person who tend to their Eden.
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I have about 9kg of skin. That's not particularly peculiar about me. It's attached, and I mean we all typically do statistically. Perhaps I have slightly more than average as I do not moisturise.
Telegraph, Marie Curie, Olympus
I love drawing and I can't help myself really so I don't have much of a choice. I did a drawing when I was very young, somebody said it was good and then I got hooked to the affirmation. Perhaps I was a young sycophant.
At 10 my teacher told me about the drummer in his Beatles tribute band who was an illustrator, and said I should do that. I took it he meant a drummer in a Beatles tribute band but I figured it out eventually.
Pencil and ink for scribbling and composing then I put everything together on screen in photoshop typically. It's healthy to separate the two for me.
Eddie the Eagle Edwards, Wild E. Coyote and George Orwell, Buckminster Fuller and Georges Perec I think are hands down the most inspirational people/coyote's I can think of.
Relating to my work it's difficult to pin down. I think I am most stimulated by how people are equations of their environment or architectural surroundings and I like to try and relate to infra-ordinary things in a tangentially surreal way. That's a big pool to dip a toe into. I like comics. I am a big fan of Chris Ware, Will Eisner and Frans Masereel.
I don't go anywhere really but I want to comply with the question. I think reronaut.com and their picture time machine is great if you've decided you are going to go procrastinate. That and archive.org. It's a literal archive.
A cartoon in the New Yorker is on every illustrators bucket list I think? Maybe something substantial like illustrating the Sherlock Holmes series or designing a colony on Mars.
I'm not sure what to say. I have a coffee and then I go to my desk. You should ask me about the untypical days: they are very interesting.
Shrug it off.
I know writers and artists who recommend taking a break and walking away. Inspiration strikes in the shower, I think, because the pressure is off and you're not being bogged down by worry or frustration. If i'm stuck, maybe I'll go make a coffee and play with my ukulele a little but if you start diagnosing yourself with creative block too often it becomes problematic. There's no guarantee for when creativity will start flowing again by waiting to be caught off guard for an idea to strike so it doesn't sound like a reasonable solution all the time.
I've seen too many talented people unable to make the first mark on paper because they've become too anxious and too intimidated by worrying it won't be any good, and you shouldn't be that precious if your goal is to get better. It's a waste of your talent. The anxiety of good is really getting in the way of anything good happening.
So, as somebody who is more neurotic and more critical than most, at a hurdle there probably is an elegant way over it, but run through it if you have to. It's heroic to even start so make that a measurable goal and progress happens because there is nothing to be nervous about: it doesn't matter if it's good yet because the victory is that it is anything at all. I try to work away at it until something clicks and most of the invigorating breakthroughs I've had have been by accident. I'm simply trying to increase the likelihood of something good happening. It's a reworking of the monkey at a typewriter analogy.
Get lucky. Being tenacious makes luck more probable.
Any advice I have I'm not always particularly great at following myself, so forgive my hypocrisies but have you ever thought about all the self help and 'how to be successful' books that fail to find a publisher?
I can think of two ways of increasing your luck. I guess the first would be to share your work to get it in-front of the right people at the right time to get you the right job. This is how chance works.
The second, and this trumps the first, is to work hard at getting good and confident in your work. I do worry that the culture of illustration forces early creatives into sharing into a medium that doesn't give the due attention an image deserves because of the demand for instantaneity and convenience. I think it gives some creatives too much pressure to overshare, take shortcuts and discourages allowing yourself room to percolate and mature on longer projects until it is ready to share. Please feel free to drop me an email for any help or questions but working hard is what I hope will eventually get you there.
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