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Love and art: two things that keep you awake at night, provide endless inspiration and beauty, and confuse your parents when you try to explain yourself during the holidays (go easy- they just want what’s best for you). More often than not, it’s a calling rather than a decision that drives you towards certain people and passions.

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Student Paul Jay Nicholson

If you’re head-over-heels, whether it’s a person or a CGMA course about 2D Character Design, you’ll recognize these five ways being an artist is like being in a relationship.

1. Your Mom Disapproves

Parents’ disapproval of art careers is a time-honored tradition. Even the father of Renaissance master Michelangelo thought art was beneath the family’s social status and discouraged him from drawing. With all the apprehension and questioning, telling your family about your work is very similar to bringing home a partner for the first time.

Luckily, it gets easier over time. Though your family may never grasp your job title, how you make money, or how you get away with such casual clothing at work, it’s hard to root against someone in love.

2. You’re Blinded By Rose-Colored Glasses

Rose-colored glasses play a roll in many aspects of your life. In relationships, the tinted glasses prolong and feed the ‘honeymoon’ phase, where everything seems perfect. For artists, these glasses can provide inspiration and passion over a new project. As Animator, Graphic Novelist and CGMA instructor Jason Brubaker accurately sums up, “Your art, and the projects you’re working on, it’s a relationship. You’re madly in love…” And this love can be extremely beneficial! Studies show that passion is a key driver of long-term success. But at what point do the rose-colored glasses hinder your progress?

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Student Kimi Lee

There’s a reason the phrase “kill your darlings” is such a famous piece of advice. For artists, it can be incredibly difficult to edit or remove elements they care about. Student Calvin Verhoolen stressed the importance of this phrase in his breakdown “How to Create Game Character Hair: Medieval Braid.”

No matter how vital this stage is, the rose colored glasses can prevent artists from seeing issues in their work. “You’re just so in love with what you’re making, that it’s sometimes hard to see it from the outside perspective. It’s just like relationship problems. Everyone can see a relationship problem within a couple but the couple can’t see it,” Jason continued.

So how do you get around the honeymoon phase? According to Jason, feedback from an outside perspective is absolutely essential. It prevents tunnel vision and highlights issues that the artist can’t see.

3. You’re Infamously Low on Cash

While the stereotypes about starving creatives aren’t necessarily true, it’s good for artists to maximize monetization in as many areas as possible.

Earning money from your work can take time. Jason Brubanker said he drew obsessively for eight years before he got paid for his art, and it wasn’t much to start with. As he explained, it’s a process of building not only skills, but trust among employers.

“I have a huge binder of rejection letters that I was very proud of,” Jason laughed, “and on the cover, it says ‘Jason’s Brubaker’s rejection letters before getting one single cent from any comic book publisher.’ And it’s completely full.”

Still, it’s important to get imaginative about finances so you can continue to create happily and healthily. Crowdfunding on sites like Indiegogo or Kickstarter is a popular method to afford project expenses. Selling digital products on Gumroad is a great way to make money within the craft.

Jason also suggests researching passive income. He says many people don’t realize the number of ways to make money from intellectual property.

It’s true: committing to art is an investment. But then again, so is everything worthwhile. Repeat that to yourself next time you pick up the bill for date night.

4. Obstacles Are Inevitable, Yet Ultimately Help You

Sometimes, it’s easy to feel inspired and excited about your art. There are days when the ideas flow naturally and the execution aligns exactly with your vision. Other times, not so much. Every artist has spent hours staring at a blank piece of paper or an empty screen, frustrated by a creative block.

These lapses in inspiration should really be considered an occupational hazard for artists. A creative block can come out of nowhere, caused by either external or internal factors. People have cited financial stress, self-doubt, illnesses or colds, anxiety over rejection, and every other reason imaginable for their creative blocks.

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Student Alexa Elizalde

As infuriating as this obstacle is, it’s entirely unavoidable. Just like a relationship, being an artist isn’t always smooth sailing. But overcoming problems, whether it’s a creative block or forgetting an anniversary, can lead to long-term benefits like resiliency and adaptability.

It could be a matter of seeking out new means of inspiration, like adding to your visual library or taking an online art course. Or, it’s time to adjust your approach. Creative blocks can be a sign that something about your routine is not working properly. Take your obstacles as an opportunity to examine and adjust the way you operate. Your art (and partner) will appreciate it.

5. Friends Complain They Never See You

It’s not unusual to disappear into your creative work for hours, or even days at a time. Similar to dating someone new, your friends might question where you’ve gone and why you never join Trivia Night anymore. But they don’t understand. You’re in love…with your job.

Whether it’s a personal project or a freelance gig that pays the bills, managing deadlines and quality of work can be all-consuming. Even if your day job isn’t the most inspiring position, it requires time to deliver top-quality products. Building trust by delivering consistent work is vital for artists.

Most often, the time commitment on a project increases because the artist genuinely wants to create the best final product possible. For example, Vitaly Zhdanov spent two months creating a Soviet Warehouse in CGMA’s UE4 Modular Environments course. The warehouse is amazing, perhaps because Vitaly dedicated time outside of working hours, including weekends, to make this scene.

Vitaly is not alone in his decision to work overtime to deliver the product he wants. Many artists sacrifice their personal time to develop work they are passionate about and proud of. When it comes to something meaningful to you, it’s always worth skipping Karaoke Night.

RELATED LINKS

This CGMA course about 2D Character Design is romance worthy.

Student Calvin Verhoolen stressed the importance of editing in his breakdown “How to Create Game Character Hair: Medieval Braid.”

Vitaly Zhdanov spent two months creating a Soviet Warehouse in CGMA’s UE4 Modular Environments course.


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CGMA provides comprehensive instruction for art, games, and visual effects industries in a variety of courses for a range of students, from 2D and 3D artists looking to supplement their college studies to industry professionals looking to stay up to date on emerging trends and techniques in the field.