How do you motivate yourself?

WipEout
polycounter lvl 9
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WipEout polycounter lvl 9
If this isn't Technical enough, feel free to move it to the appropriate section. I just figured it's more work-related than a general discussion usually is.


So anyway, a short back story: I have a 3D art job. it took two years out of college, numerous shoot-downs (or more so, just plain being ignored by the same recruiters that praised my work in person), and battling loans and bills with side jobs outside of the games industry, but I finally landed a full-time gig.

Now the problem is, I lack the drive to work on my own stuff. While it is very satisfying to work on a team and create a final product out of our ideas and art, I'm not always making things I'd absolutely love to make, nor am I always able to focus on aspects of my art that I'd like to focus on. I keep telling myself and my wife that I'll start a side project at home, and while I have a number of projects planned, I can never seem to motivate myself to start them (although I'm hoping the upcoming Dominance War will give me the swift kick that I need). By the time I get home I have chores to take care of, and after that I feel like I'll be damned if I'm going to "work" more after an 8-10 hour day of sitting at the computer working.

So I ask the PC hivemind:

Of those artists that have jobs in the industry-- be they entry level or veteran-- how do you motivate yourself to work on personal art outside of work?

Replies

  • r_fletch_r
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    r_fletch_r polycounter lvl 7
    I know how you feel. After a million hours of overtime you just want to vedge out.
    These days I try and only create things that really interest me. I've found doing stuff for the sake of 'doing my own personal work' is a total waste of time.

    Also big projects are a no no for me.
  • Sean VanGorder
    I'm also in the same boat. After getting a job doing 3D at military sim company, and then also doing game art at school full time, the last thing I want to do at home is sit down at a computer.
  • Mark Dygert
    I don't know I still have a deep desire to create when I get home. Normally that ends up being something creative I do with my wife and daughter. Build a ghost house for Halloween, carve and sculpt pumpkins, make decorations, make big valentines day cards, draw treasure maps and make props for my daughter to play with or just doodle and play around with her drawing stuff.

    Over the last 4-5 years I've gotten up early and will work on 3D stuff before I head off to work. After doing it for so long its just become habit. The limited time and the deadline of I've got to shower and get to work, helps me focus. I've had to scale back the scope of the projects I work on now that I have a daughter but I think wanting to work on stuff and having other stuff that is more important, is pretty big motivation to sit down and crank stuff out.

    You might be suffering from blank canvas syndrome, where if you have all the time in the world and no place to start you end up not wanting to work on anything. I know when I was single would stare at a computer instead of doing something else it would be hard to get motivated, but once I started something that creative rush would kick in and everything else would fall away. Leaning to balance that out has been... well hard but I think I might be getting it under control.

    So my advice, take up other activities, fill up your time and get away from your computer =P
  • Richard Kain
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    Richard Kain polycounter lvl 12
    I stopped working on my personal art a while ago, and focused instead on learning programming. Now I will occasionally take a break from coding to work on a 3D model or 2D sketch.

    Sometimes it simply isn't possible to maintain constant motivation. Let's face it, if you can hold down a 9-5 job, you're already ahead of the curve as far as motivation is concerned. A lot of people don't even manage that. Trying to extend that motivation further into your free time is never easy.

    If you start to get burned out, then take a break. Read a book. Play a video game. Watch a movie. Take a walk or a jog around the neighborhood. Whatever project you've been working on will still be there later.

    I would also advise that you document your process. Write a journal about your project, or start a Wordpress blog to track your progress. This will help you keep track of how far you've come, and how much more you have ahead of you. It will also provide you with a mental incentive to return to your project, even if you are temporarily distracted.
  • WipEout
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    WipEout polycounter lvl 9
    Oh, I definitely try to stay away from the computer-- especially during the week-- after I've spent so much time in front of a monitor all day. But that usually ends up with me sitting on the couch with the wife watching Netflix, or playing 360. Then the weekend comes and while I keep telling myself "okay! Now I'm going to start this character I've had running around in my head," other stuff comes up and I lose track of time. I'm a cyclist in my spare time too, so that's a good way to avoid the computer when I want to. The weather's gotten better around here lately, so hopefully that will free up my time and energy to work on personal stuff, but I feel like there's more to it than that, at least for me.

    I feel like my main problem lately, is more that when I do have time and do sit down to work on something, I'll have an idea what it is I want to do (sketch, model, sculpt, whatever), but then I sit down and just... don't. I know what I want to do, but for some reason I just can't bring myself to do it. I feel like if I could figure out what it is that's blocking me, I could get past it and just work.

    I wonder sometimes if the lack of motivation is brought about by not having superiors to impress. When I was in school, all I wanted to do was make the coolest shit I could think of, and make it as badass as possible to impress my teachers/directors/peers/whoever. I feel like now, without someone to answer to, I just can't get myself to bother, even when I feel like I want to.

    Sorry for the psychology dump, but I'm hoping others' insight might help me get over this somehow.
  • Farfarer
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    Farfarer Polycount Sponsor
    The amount of personal work I do is always a barometer of how satisfied I am with what I'm doing at for my job.

    I hate feeling that I might end the day without at least making progress on something that's personally satisfying, so the less satisfied I am with what I do at my job, the more work I tend to do in my spare time afterwards.
  • haikai
    There are a few things that come to mind for me:

    Wanting to improve in ways you might not have opportunities for at your day job, and creating work that is your own that you are more interested in. Of course if you're already doing exactly what you like at your job then maybe this doesn't apply.

    Keeping a competitive edge and staying on top of what's new because it's not good to become complacent with such tough competition out there. Seeing younger talent storm their way in the industry can be kind of scary.

    Salary and prestige is not something I had ever thought was important, but things change. After a while you learn a few things about how the industry works, what your worth is, and think about your long term future goals. For those of us who aren't social engineering masters that sometimes means working harder and being better at what you do.
  • Richard Kain
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    Richard Kain polycounter lvl 12
    WipEout wrote: »
    I wonder sometimes if the lack of motivation is brought about by not having superiors to impress. When I was in school, all I wanted to do was make the coolest shit I could think of, and make it as badass as possible to impress my teachers/directors/peers/whoever. I feel like now, without someone to answer to, I just can't get myself to bother, even when I feel like I want to.

    Actually, I know exactly where you're coming from. I felt the same way when I was in school. Having friends and/or colleagues to measure up to seems to naturally boost your motivation. Evaluating each other's work gives you something to shoot for, and encourages you to further your craft.

    This has also been a problem with me as of late. My day job is unrelated to my hobby, and I have very few friends who are also interested in game development. So most of the time, I'm kind of working in a vacuum. I don't have many people that I can talk to about my personal projects.

    One thing that has always helped me to get over this particular hurdle is the idea of impressing myself. Whenever there is some doubt in my mind as to whether or not I can achieve something, that seems to provide me with motivation. I feel compelled to prove to myself that I am capable of achieving that goal. This has actually led to some of my biggest and best projects. The downside is that it can also lead to a bit of obsession, and it is very tiring. So I try to hold off on that sort of motivation until I feel its really necessary.
  • Hazardous
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    Hazardous polycounter lvl 9
    WipEout wrote: »
    I'll be damned if I'm going to "work" more after an 8-10 hour day of sitting at the computer working.

    There's your problem.

    If making art isnt fun enough to consider NOT work, then I would say do what you want to do :) Like others suggested, get away from it etc, take a break.

    But to me, the key to your question is, finding a way to make it fun enough FOR YOU to be making out outside of your normal day job. Im not saying you should, do this, but i guess the question is do you want to do that ?
  • Mark Dygert
    WipEout wrote: »
    Oh, I definitely try to stay away from the computer-- especially during the week-- after I've spent so much time in front of a monitor all day. But that usually ends up with me sitting on the couch with the wife watching Netflix, or playing 360.
    Yea for me sedentary activities definitely don't cut it I have to get up and get moving and get my hands dirty.

    I also agree with Talon, I animate all day and while that is creative most of the time I'm not making something like I would if I was creating a model. I'm putting another persons words in the mouth of a character I didn't create.

    I have a heart for environment art so most of what I create in my personal time is environment art. It would probably flip flop if I was doing environment art full time.
  • Nexinumbra
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    Nexinumbra polycounter lvl 7
    To the OP, let me say that I am in exactly the same boat as you, literally. I work at a game company, I don't always get to make what it is I want to make at work, yet when I get home I just don't have the desire to do anything more than vegging out. I'm trying to actually get together with one of the artists at work to do a small collaborative project outside of work since they feel the same way that I do about being stagnant.

    I highly recommend the book "Art and Fear". It's a short book, only 122 pages, but it explains a lot about what artists fear when it comes to making their own stuff. I was told to read it for sculpture class in college and I found that 5 years later I still remember what was in the book and how it applies to me.

    [ame]http://www.amazon.com/Art-Fear-Observations-Rewards-Artmaking/dp/0961454733/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298052930&sr=1-1[/ame]
  • maze
    hello wipeout, I understand you, I also spent 2 full years learning 3D...spending an average of 10-14 hrs a day or more... trying to get better. I've always been a very sportive person though (surf, rock climb, snowboard, etc...) and those 2 years although they were incredibly satisfying for personal growth in the cg domain, they also ate my whole sport life, and I cant have one without the other.

    So I dont know what your interests are besides cg, but I will encourage you to do stuff completely unrelated to CG, or even that involves a screen, some days in a week.
    Remember you want to become a better artist, not a better production machine.

    If you tell me my life is going to be working 50-60 hours a week going back home and spending another 40 hours a week in front of a screen, I will become insane and be soulless. Give your brain some rest distract it, go out with people, workout, play an instrument, draw, whatever you like. I like a lot to do personal projects but I try to dose my time on them and not become obsessive. And ironically I feel more productive doing hell other stuff not screen related, than procrastinating in front of a screen for the sake of it, cause I know that when I want to produce I am clean and ready to go...

    Now thats my personal experience, I am not saying thats a fact but hope it helps!
  • tekmatic
    What everyone here suggested are right.....I am in the same dilemma lots of times. I don't work in the field and although I completed a certificate in 3D I feel that lots of other younger kids that are coming out of schools now are way ahead of me in the game and are pumping more and more art (don't forget they probably got lots of free time compared to someone like me who is married with a kid!)

    But to stay motivated (I have also stared at my monitors for long time completely blanked out) I often split my week such that 2 nights are dedicated to watching video tuts, 2 nights for modeling and 3 nights doing family activities. This way I get a fresh mind to think of a cool project.

    One thing I find helps me a lot is constantly looking at other peoples portfolios...it can give you lots of inspiration and also pushes me to perfect my techniques to match (and even surpass) their talent.
  • WipEout
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    WipEout polycounter lvl 9
    @Talon - I know what you mean, and I feel like the number of projects I want to work on at the moment are in direct response to what I'm (not) doing at work. Now I'm at a point of just getting myself to pick one and roll with it, and am finding that I'm hesitant and can't really put my finger on the reason.

    @haikai - Definitely good motivators, and a reason why I'm struggling with this slump. I want to boost my skillset, I want this job to be a stepping stone in my career path, but there just seems to be something mentally preventing me from knuckling down and doing it.

    @Richard Kain - I think we're scratching the surface-- and the more I think about it, the more I'm wondering if it's a fear of not impressing myself. Since I have no one else around outside of work to impress, I wonder if I'm just being too hard on myself after months of skating the edge financially, frantically trying to get a job and being shot down by developers-- I wonder if that rejection has f*cked up my self-esteem. Actually, I know it has. I need/want to remind myself that I am an awesome artist, I just need to apply myself to it.


    @Hazardous - I think that's a great point too. I chose this profession because I always enjoyed making art, and always enjoyed video games and have wanted to make them since my parents bought a NES and Mario Bros. in 1985. I think part of my problem with looking at personal projects as work, is that in general it's actually more an association of sitting at the computer at work and not wanting to continue that trend when I get home.

    @Vig (when did you change your forum name?) - I love character art. I'd be happy if I could make characters all day at work then go home and work on my own characters in my free time. However, like I was telling Hazardous, I think I'm associating my home computer with my work computer a little too much. I ride bikes a lot (used to be year-round when I was living in San Francisco), but with the Chicago weather, I've been more or less holed up for the last few months. I really hope that I can get this slump out of my system once I can get out of the house and zone out on a bike again, now that the snow is melting and the temperatures are not sub-zero. Now that I recall, I was doing a LOT of riding during my last two years of school, probably 75-100 miles a week (how the hell did I juggle school, a job, 3D characters , and a fiance?!) and that was when I produced my best art. I'm starting to really hate the Chicago weather...

    @Nexinumbra - I've added that book to my Amazon wishlist. I know I have self esteem issues when it comes to judging my own art, I hope that will give me some insight on getting over that. Thanks!

    @maze - good point. Like I wrote to Vig, I used to ride my bike a lot and produced some of my best work during that time. Once the weather clears up around here, hopefully I can get back on the bike and work some of this frustration out on the road, so I can get home and work on my own stuff.

    @tekmatic - I don't have a child yet, but sometimes I feel like my wife can be a full-time job in and of herself. I could definitely stand to budget my time better, too-- I think that'll help me a lot as well, since sometimes I'm just overwhelmed with the amount of work I know I need to put into a character model and the amount of time I actually leave myself to do it.



    Thanks all for the help! I started a blog this time last year to track my progress, I'm definitely going to be updating that more with my workflows and WIPs, like Richard Kain suggested. I think this'll help keep me motivated, if I know people are going to sort of see what I've been up to.

    Damn I wrote a lot! I wasn't expecting so many responses. Thanks again! Hopefully this thread will also stand to help others who are in the same boat as I am.
  • Autocon
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    Autocon polycounter lvl 9
    I dont consider what I do at work as "work". I fully enjoy all my time, crunching or not at work. I honestly couldnt look forward to coming in each day any more as I love what I do and couldn't imagine wanting to do anything else every day.

    When it comes to personal work at home generally when in the middle of a game production my personal work suffers. Not because I am unmotivated to do 3d at home but because actually not working on 3d at home and doing things unrelated to what I do at work I feel keeps things fresh and keeps me excited to actually do 3d at work. If i was working for 9+ hours a day on 3d at work and then coming home to work on more 3d work I feel it would burn me out faster.

    Honestly doing anything at home unrelated to 3d keeps it fresh for me weather its hanging out with friends, watching tv/movies, playing a couple of video games, chatting with friends, going out. But every now and then when I got that hankering to do some 3d at home I always jump at the chance, but I dont let it consume my life. Got to have a nice balance so I will continue to enjoy what I do everyday just as much as the first day I started :)
  • tristamus
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    tristamus polycounter lvl 9
    Autocon wrote: »
    I dont consider what I do at work as "work". I fully enjoy all my time, crunching or not at work. I honestly couldnt look forward to coming in each day any more as I love what I do and couldn't imagine wanting to do anything else every day.

    When it comes to personal work at home generally when in the middle of a game production my personal work suffers. Not because I am unmotivated to do 3d at home but because actually not working on 3d at home and doing things unrelated to what I do at work I feel keeps things fresh and keeps me excited to actually do 3d at work. If i was working for 9+ hours a day on 3d at work and then coming home to work on more 3d work I feel it would burn me out faster.

    Honestly doing anything at home unrelated to 3d keeps it fresh for me weather its hanging out with friends, watching tv/movies, playing a couple of video games, chatting with friends, going out. But every now and then when I got that hankering to do some 3d at home I always jump at the chance, but I dont let it consume my life. Got to have a nice balance so I will continue to enjoy what I do everyday just as much as the first day I started :)


    Well said man...well said.

    I have been trying to balance my life when it comes to being and living with a woman and being a 3d artist etc...she would goes insane when I just do 3d stuff all the time. In fact, I learned a big lesson and it broke us apart. Since then, I've definitely come to learn how to balance these things better, but it's still a challenge from day to day!
  • Kevin Johnstone
  • tekmatic
    Kevin: LOL you forgot the booze.:poly124:

    If I had discovered 3D before getting married, I would have probably stayed single.....too much to learn and do, so little time! :poly141:
  • Valandar
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    Valandar polycounter lvl 12
    All I know is after I watch Face Off, the SFX makeup "reality" show on Syfy every Wednesday, I have to fight the urge to open ZBrush, and instead get back to work on my paying work. :P
  • ceebee
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    ceebee polycounter lvl 8
    I just lurk these forums for a while until I get inspired by all the crazily talented people here. Sometimes I just love reading super helpful threads about 3D, it's pretty relaxing.
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