Just do it!


I have many artist friends for whom drawing is a hobby, self-expression, fun but not a way to earn an income. They often feel melancholic in spring, depressed in autumn, dreamy in summer and cuddle themselves in a warm plaid and wait for a muse in winter. They draw little but they enjoy drawing. © Yevgeny Yakovlev

A freelance artist’s life is totally different. He has an order to fulfil and a deadline to meet. This is the last date by which the project has to be completed, and very often this deadline day is yesterday. Just like a miner is not asked whether he is in a mood to go underground, a freelancer cannot sit and wait for the muse to come. I have a goal, and I have to reach it as fast as possible and do everything well. As Shia Saide LaBeouf said in a popular video in YouTube, “Just do it!”*

A freelancer’s reality

I have been working as a freelancer for over five years, and I have not been seeking for inspiration for about the same time. Creating my comics, illustrations and scripts reminds me of the work of a mathematician. However, unlike the technical minds, I think not by figures but by images. At the very beginning, I have a vague goal — a blank figure gradually receiving details from me, which I search for in my brain. I evaluate the compatibility of all the ideas and details. And when I like the result, I transfer it on paper. My illustration is ready.

Everything that should inspire an artist is help for a freelancer or maybe motivation. Music and cinema are excellent support for me during long sedentary work at a computer. Sometimes, when my working day lasts 12 hours and longer, a good film series makes my day: I work and follow the events of the movie. The same can be said about music — music is an excellent ally. Work goes on, and time flies.

One can consider the works by other artists as motivation. When I see a really strong piece of art, I have such thoughts: “This is cool! I can do that, too! No, I can do even better!” This helps sometimes.

“I am tired of drawing: I will go now and relax, maybe, I will draw something”.

I consider the muse and inspiration as something abstract. During the years of my work as a freelancer, I haven’t drawn, maybe, a couple of days only. There is only small difference among my workdays. There are days when I draw with pleasure, and sometimes, to make myself draw, I have to combat my own laziness. This is it.

To those who romanticize the image of an artist, this may seem uninteresting and even dull. But this is practical, too. If you dream of creativity, try to combine the pleasant and the useful. Draw what you want in your free time. This may sound strange, like “I am tired of drawing: I will go now and relax, maybe, I will draw something”. Maybe, you cannot combine these things? There is an excellent alternative: let drawing remain your favorite hobby. If you choose the path of freelancing, you will have to learn to draw always, at any place, to learn to be tactical and to apply huge efforts for art not to turn into mass market production.

Secrets of success

“For dessert” I wish to give some advice to people who draw and, just like myself, have decided to give up waiting for the muse: © Yevgeny Yakovlev

1. Find yourself a new hobby, Your favorite occupation has turned into labor. Now drawing for you is not just a way of self-expression but everyday work. Some people start collecting postage stamps, and some people get themselves a dog and start walking with it several times a day. I started working out in a gym. This proved to be a right decision, because after a couple of years of “drawing for money”, I was seriously thinking of changing my activity. © Yevgeny Yakovlev

2. Try to accelerate your brain function. Keep searching for new ideas. Have you found some? Do not be in a hurry to implement them. Think about making them even better. Fill the ideas with details. © Yevgeny Yakovlev

3. Do not turn into a stamping machine for making illustrations. Be in constant search and look for new visual solutions and ways of implementing them. Short timelines will make you think and work faster, but there is a disadvantage of this: it will be easier for you to draw as you got accustomed to. And this is not allowed to do for an artist. Do not allow life to corner you: grow. © Yevgeny Yakovlev

4. And finally, the most important advice: do not forget to spend time with your family, eat well and have enough sleep.

*In 2015, actor Shia Saide LaBeouf, together with artists Luke Turner from Great Britain and Nastja Säde Rönkkö from Finland took part in a student project of Central St. Martin’s College of Arts and Design in London.

The students were offered to use LaBeouf’s performance as a preface for their works. The students wrote small monologues (not more than 100 words), each of which was performed by the actor in front of a camera. The final video, which lasted 31 minutes, was then posted in Vimeo.

User Mike Mohamed cut out a short fragment from the video, in which Shia Saide LaBeouf called up the viewer to action by shouting “Just do it!” and posted it in YouTube titled “Shia LaBeouf delivers the most intense motivational speech of all-time”.

Translated from the Russian by Tatyana Padve
© Yevgeny Yakovlev

Yevgeny Yakovlev

A freelance artist, illustrator, comic-book writer and script writer


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