I’ve been having the idea to write about it for a while. I don’t want to brag, I just want to say that some things, which may seem impossible, are quite real. Do I say that I’ve reached a level of perfection? Of course not. What I’m saying is that progress is possible. You can do so many amazing thing if you start today. And even in 7 days since that moment you’ll see the difference. And you will never be the person you started. And it’s something to live for.
I just want to mention from the very beginning that this post is not:
- A personal success story that will make you feel uncomfortable because you are so worthless.
- A magical example of skills appearing overnight.
- A tutorial on how to use Inkscape and draw there.
It may sound a little bit discouraging, I presume, especially the second point of the list. I wish it were true. I wish there were a magic trick you could cast on yourself and become the most skillful person on Earth. But there’s no one. At least I don’t know any so far. If you have one, feel free to share this with me in the comments.
So, what’s this post about, then?
Well, first of all, it’s purely personal. I usually avoid writing personal posts, but today I do really want to share my personal experience because I think what I learned about myself is important. At least for me. And, maybe, there’s a chance that it will help somebody else.
So here comes the narrative. Just a few months ago I had a major career twist and change, but I’m kind of used to that already. I already learned to be a product manager out of the blue in the early stage of my career, and I knew there’s something new for me to discover soon. How did I know that? Honestly, I didn’t. I didn’t know what was coming or anything. But there was an impression that it’s just the beginning of the changes.
Looking for a new freelance gig online, I found a nice one. The position offered some reasonable and interesting tasks to deal with and manage a group of designers in an agency. The position has a title of Design Project Manager (or/and Art Director), and I decided to give it a go.
I have to step aside for a moment here and say that I’ve been interested in design my whole life, but it’s not what you may think when somebody says this catchy phrase like “I’ve been doing this or liking that my whole life…”. What I mean by this was just observing cool people doing cool visual stuff and being great at it.
As a kid, I drew a bit, but not serious enough to consider myself as an artist or get a higher education in this field. After that, I started working with visuals and interfaces and software… But even though I could spend more hours thinking about UI for an app, or a banner for some concert and illustrations for web pages, I never thought that this’s actually something I can be serious about.
Why? Well, first of all, there are people who can already do this better than I. There’s no reason to compete when you have professionals. And you know how many designers we have today. It’s just stupid to get into the field, right?
And second of all, I thought I should have done something more practical. Something more real-world related, something that’s what makes business going. Not the fancy and rather useless stuff created solely for entertainment (duh).
Anyways, I applied for the position and got accepted. What I noticed in a while, that apart from being really flexible and nice for me and my schedule, I could do the best part of the process (as it turned out to be the best), I took part in designing apps, UI, think about concepts, explore ideas and much more! I wouldn’t expect to be so keen on visuals after all, even though I liked it.
This is where I realized that apart from this, I’d love to do something myself. I’d love to design and create something myself, and this’s where my sight falls on the Inkscape icon I have on my desktop.
I had this free and open source software for about a year here, and I never used it. I mean, I got it for creating a logo for my Estonian startup but didn’t go too far because after Photoshop and another raster graphic design software it was obviously unusable. I’m used to drawing by hand after all.
I remember how I first found a simple tutorial on YouTube on how to make a doughnut in Inkscape, and probably spend an hour and a half following the instructions and playing the video back. Because it was so confusing. So complicated. So not my cup of tea after all.
But here I’m again, starring at the white page hoping for some miracle to help me create all this fancy, cool and super popular flat illustrations that I have seen a lot while was working on the design projects. I saw how simple it looked like.
I saw the shapes. I know how to draw these shapes. But I had no idea what node to tilt for getting this shape out of the basic shapes Inkscape has at my service.
What changed this time? I don’t know. What I remember, that on my first day I created this wonderful character.
I honestly considered it as a success, even though I could see how awful it looks like. It’s difficult to see on the white background, but I tried applying a gradient to his pants and didn’t know how to make this tool working properly, do his legs are half-transparent. That’s why I’m not that judgmental about him. He’s handicapped and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. This is what happens when your creator is a bit unprofessional. Where a bit is not nearly is true. Just unprofessional.
I didn’t dare to make hands for him. I was too overwhelmed with the result I’ve already got so I just left him alone and decided not to open the program again.
But I was mistaken. The next day I opened it again and tried to avoid staring at what I did yesterday. I decided to try something else, something simple. Some shapes of animals or forms I could make something off. Like, food, apples, any sort of things I could really see I made right.
On my third day, I was really proud and surprised to make this thing. Remember that I told I love designing apps and especially game-like or just games? Here that was.
The day before that I spend creating some game idea I’ve been having in mind. Honestly, the game concept should have been more complicated that it’s on the main screen (I know, it’s an insult to call it “the main screen”, but I spend 4 hours on it, please, be lenient).
I was rather impressed by the difference. And although I spend almost a working day (8 hours at best) on this “food app” screen, I was really impressed with how easily and nicely I progressed.
It inspired me to practice and go on with my journey. On the fifth day, I made something I was not so satisfied. Almost a day and the result didn’t even nearly look like something I wanted to show to others.
However, I was surprised that despite everything, I kept clicking on the icon to “try something new”, or just “experiment with things”, and being caught up in hours and hours of the craft. Well, “craft” would not be the right word here, I think, but still. I feel like I was crafting something. Something real and something tangible.
And, here came the seventh day. I honestly didn’t count them. I just knew that I was making about one picture per day, and noticed that a week had passed since I last created this handicapped happy guy.
And I don’t know why, but that happens to me sometimes. I was going to just draw a fish. Because I really liked the transparent effect of the glass, I wanted to put her in the jar. Or an aquarium. Whatever. I was going to draw the most simple picture with no background story at all. But eventually, it turned out into something that I really like today.
Pet Shop Sale. I remember that I called it “friend for sale!” on Twitter. There’s an amazing story behind the picture. I can think of thousands of possibilities for how to develop it in different ways, but what I like about it is the progress. In just seven days, with just a little bit of dedication, and, honestly, a burning desire to do something I managed to create something I like myself.
It may be not a great achievement. It may be not an achievement at all. But I find it rather inspiring.
I find it rather inspiring that:
- I’ve always had something I like doing right in front of me and never gave it a go.
- I’m not that hopeless as I thought I was.
- I can do this stuff in seven days. I can come from a simple, awful, child-like drawing to a complete illustration within just seven days.
- And I’m sure you can do this, too.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to do art, business, math or anything. Career changed and turns can be unpredictable and sometimes unbelievable. But if there’s something in your life, that you have been walking around for many years, why not give it a go for just seven days?
We have 365 days every year. And this 7 days, this week, can a life-changing opportunity you have been waiting to make your life happier.
Probably not successful. But happier. And this, in a sense, is pretty much the same thing.
Don’t forget to share some wisdom with me in the comment section. I do love to hear your story, too!