Sunday, March 12, 2017

Defeating the Canvas

I've discovered a Japanese tv show called Urasawa Naoki no Manben in which the titular and excellent mangaka visits his comic making colleagues to discuss previously filmed footage of said colleagues doing their daily work. It's fascinating for anyone who is at all interested in art and comics. Among the many interesting things discussed by the stars of this show, one recurring concept is something I've also heard from many artists I've talked with over the years. That would be fear of the blank canvas.
When an artist stares into the blank stage upon which his work will later be revealed,  he can be struck with intimidation. The paper is meaningless, but has infinite potential for meaning. The variables that must be considered in filling that stage can be cosmicly astounding. It is Musashi's void, an emptiness where from answers may be drawn if only you resolutely dare to enter and begin searching. There is an unknown and possibly uncountable number of questions within yet to be answered. Not the least of which is this:
"Can I do this?"
Even these mangaka, some of which are possibly among the most prolific drawers to ever live, must still confront this question every time they sit down to do what they have done for years. I too, know this battle well.
I will offer you this advice in confronting the void in the canvas. First, obtain some direction in your mind, as clear as can be without wasting time. You merely need a direction to guide you and you can always decide to travel elsewhere once you are on the road.
After this, you should dive in.
Dive in boldly. Thrust about in the void, searching for answers. Embrace the emptiness and revel in the potential. If you are drawing, just start making marks. If you are writing, just start saying something. Even if you are utterly lost, just launch your attack. The only other options are to flee or delay the confrontation, the former being the better of alternatives. But, the most excellent way is to boldly cross the threshold and let yourself plummet freely into the abyss.

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