Sunday, February 23, 2014

Getting Ready

This is not the final title screen.
How do you convince yourself you can do something you've never done before? Something that not too long ago seemed like something you never thought you had the capacity to do, but always appreciated. Do you just take a lesson from the story The Little Engine That Could and "think you can, think you can, think you can"? Or do you just dive right into the project and never look back? These are all questions I've been asking myself since I started thinking about the title screen for the game. I have to really get in the mindset of knowing I have come this far, what's pushing a little more going to hurt. No that's not a mistake, not a typo, it's not meant to be a question. I love the art that I do, and I love how it makes me feel. In the beginning of this project I was filled with self-doubt.

Was I really good enough? Could I really do this? Was I really an artist?
Now I know the answer to all of these questions are the same, and they're all a solid "Yes." It hasn't been the easiest road to get here, but nothing worth having is ever very easy. Starting from the time I was young, I knew that working for something is the way to get what you're after. My parents instilled that lesson into my sister and myself from a young age.

 As I was growing up, my parents did what they could to foster my creativity. My parents bought some polymer clay when I was a kid, and I loved making Pokemon, beads, food, and whatever else sprang to mind (my mom still has a little piece of cake I made her about 15 years ago, which makes me smile). They always made sure I had crayons, markers pencils, and paper, but I was never gifted at drawing. As I got older they would even let me have acrylic paint, as long as I was careful to not spill (I was/am clumsy). They really made sure I had art as an option to express myself, but none of this ever made me feel like an "artist".

In my teenage years, I had many people in my life who could draw and paint. To me at that time, that's what an artist was. Someone who could beautifully create something they had seen in their heads without ever doubting themselves. I remember seeing art that belonged to a friend of mine in the hall and thinking "She's such a brilliant artist, I wish I could draw like that."

No matter how I practiced, I could never quite get drawing down. I could paint a little, with watercolor and landscapes from pictures in magazines. I stopped painting in high school after my "Drawing and Painting 1" teacher told me to "never waste another art teacher's time by taking their class." This made me think I could never be what I then considered then to be an artist.

Throughout my teen years I continued to excel in work with clay, and found I had an affinity for photography. Clay and pictures still didn't make me feel like an artist though. I didn't feel like I fit in with the other kids I considered to be artists, they could draw anything at the drop of a hat, and I could barely manage to shade a circle properly. Despite my efforts, being considered an "artist" was something I never thought would be me.

Fast forward a few years, and a few life-lessons later. I've grown up, I hate to admit it, but I have. I became an adult. I go to bed at a reasonable time, I work full time, and I pay my bills on time. That's not to say I don't still have passion for the things I loved as a kid. As a kid I loved videogames, and I loved art. As an adult, I found a way to bring those two things together though a little push from Andrew. I have always said that making this game was his dream, but I share it, and I believe in it wholeheartedly.

When I began working on art I had so much doubt that I could actually do this. After all, I was never able to draw or paint well enough to make a decent portrait. Now it's something I look forward to coming home and working on. It's amazing to see how technology can be used to put my ideas to life though pixel art. It's been a learning experience, and I'm still learning, but I have more confidence now than ever.

Tile created while listening to "Discovery" by Daft Punk.
These days, I put my headphones on, and I get into the groove (pun kind of intended), I feel unstoppable. I can set the tone for whatever I want to make, and really put my brain to work on creating something that I am proud of. For me one of the biggest ways to motivate myself and push myself is music. It can change my mood entirely, and change the art I make along with it. Lately (with my new tablet), I've been doing some rough sketches of tiles based on the music I'm listening to. I usually only spend about 10-15 minutes on them. They're rough drafts of things that may or may not make it to the game, but I still love them. I feel proud of the art that I make, and I think that's what makes me feel like an artist. The things I make are mine, and I am fiercely proud of them. More than that though, I am proud of myself and how far I have come. Sometimes I thought it would be impossible to do the things I've done, to make what I have made now. Whenever I think what i make isn't good enough, I have to remind myself of the brilliant Vince Lombardi quote: "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

So here I am now getting ready to work on some promotional art for the game. I had been scared of this moment since I started making art. I kept my blinders on and just focused on the little bits of art here and there. This is bigger, and it feels bigger. So maybe I do just dive right into it. Maybe I will make mistakes. Maybe I will create something that changes how I ever felt about title screens. Okay maybe that's thinking too far, but who knows? I know that it's all up to me from here, and there's no more room for doubt.

Yet even with the uncertainty of what I'm about to start, I know that with hard work and determination I can manage anything with my amazing support system. I might still have moments that I feel shaky, but I know that I am on the right track and moving forward. Just yesterday in a moment of doubt (about something non game related), Andrew told me "We can make anything work." I have no doubts that we can.