Matt Lichtenwalner

Mobile mapper for TomTom - roaming the US and Canada constantly. Maybe a bit of art and/or writing here and there to spice things up.

  • Followed
  • Follows you

Edit biography

So a friend sent me a link to The Toolbox Fallacy (the video above).

He sent it saying: "If you're pushing yourself to do Inktoberfest, I figure there's a chance that you aren't where you wanted to be with your art, by this point in your life.

The following 7 minute vid is a potentially impactful one, about how too many of us wait too long and have too many excuses for not taking more action sooner, toward becoming who we want to be."

First, I thought it was very nice of him to try to give me a gentle prod in the right direction.

The tl;dr of the video is "Don't wait until you have the right tools or environment or... whatever. Just do the thing that you love to do." In my case - make art.

I learned something, but it's not what you might think it would be.

I've been aware of what this person calls the Toolbox Fallacy for many years. For me, it's pretty much never about "I have to have X to make Y." In fact, to the contrary, I've spent a non insubstancial amount of time cheerleading others to 'just get started' with whatever they have on hand. Or, at worst, finding something (anything) to 'make it happen'.

It's true that I'm not where I want to be with my art. To grossly oversimplify, where I would like to be is: "Making a significant portion of my income (or possibly all of it) via the sale of art I've enjoyed making."

The reason I'm pushing myself to do Inktober (think NaNoWriMo but art using ink) is because I want to break from my normal digital production. I'm using Inktober to force myself into a 90 degree turn. Okay, so it's maybe more like a 45 degree turn. The point is that it's a different medium, there's a timer running, and it's an intense 'workout' of sorts that I don't normally do. Something like using (as I recently mentioned to Lindsay Harris-Friel ) a reduced color pallet to force yourself to think differently. These sorts of workouts often lead me to some of my best breakthroughs.

"Okay, okay. We get it. You've told us what you didn't learn. Can you get to what you did learn already?"

Fine. Be that way. I'll get to it.

Essentially, I learned two things watching that video:

  1. I'm giving folx the wrong impression about the art side of my life. I suspect this is primarilly because right now the majority of the art I'm doing is hidden from most of the world. I'm doing this on purpose (to create a 'big reveal' when our game Conquest! goes live. Still, I need to find a way to share more of what I'm doing. Part of this feels like a social media thing, and I need to do some thinking about it. More to come.
  2. It's probably time for a change. I've been doing effectively the same thing with my illustration for... well, probably about 4 decades now. Sure, I've gotten better at the thing I do, but if it hasn't brought me to where I want to be after four frickin decades then maybe I need to change the process / model / product. I'm pretty attached to the (art) process and the product, so maybe it's time to focus on the model. I've spent a lot of time working on character drawings, saying "See what I made? Don't you want me to draw your D&D character for $0.50?!" Just like the guy on the street corner who's asking for a buck, most folks just mumble some excuse and scurry away. The two people a year who actually drop a buck in my offered cap aren't enough to pay the bills. So I need to figure out something to get more work coming in the front door. Here again, I need to do some thinking about this, and I'll post more when I've figured something out.

Stay tuned, True Believers.

A quick (and terrible) collection of the images I've done for Inktober so far.

Top row is the 'standard' Inktober themes. Day 1 was "ring" and Day 9 was 'swing'.

Bottom row is the 'whimsical' list starting with Day 1 "fairy" and Day 8 'sorcery'. I haven't finished Day 9 for the whimsical list. (I'm posting this 10/8 so I'm a day ahead on the 'normal list'.)

Thank you for sharing this.

At work, I’m focusing on similar topics. Some of this is customer retention, ie., “if you’re having trouble with x, have you tried our course about xy yet?” and general Cheerleading.

Meanwhile I’m not working on my own art, so... PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF!
I loved the video. I sent it to Rog's nephew and he went nuts for it. I got some things done today after watching it. Thanks!
Karen 10/9edited
This video is life changing.
Thank you, dear friend.
uh... is the video gone? NEVER MIND. Found it. Thank you. I needed that.

I had the good fortune to have brunch with the lovely Miss Knapp this morning. As is often the case after spending time with creative people, this has me on a bit of a high and feeling very creative / inspired / wanting to be productive.

So that’s the mood I was in when I hopped in my car and started heading back down to Maryland.

All of that is backstory to explain where I got the idea to create a Knappucino’s for Illustrators.

So here’s some thoughts I’m working through to see if this would be a worthwhile venture:

  1. Would it be worth it for me? What’s my objective here? I mean, the arts are generally not a side hack you want to start if you’re looking to get paid. You either go all in, or you go home. There just isn’t room for ‘half way’. But maybe money isn’t the point. It’s certainly not what triggered the idea. The idea was feedback from the audience to the artists. Much like the original Knappucino’s wasn’t so local unknowns could get paid, but rather that they could try things out with an attentive audience who cared about such things. It’s a different starting point than most gallery showings I’ve come across.
  2. Do artists want feedback? I know that I want feedback, but maybe I’m an oddball? Maybe it’s more of an illustrator thing. Since we tend to be more mercenary about our work than fine artists, the audience opinion matters more. Or at least, their feedback should. 
  3. Do I want to invest this kind of time and effort? I know that Jill put a lot into the original. Perhaps much of this was emotional effort (I don’t want to presume to speak for her) but I have a pretty simple live right now. Chop wood, carry water. Repeat. More possessions and more activities create more stress. This is something I have to pay attention to.
  4. Would I want to do this as a ‘pop up’ concept? A long time ago, I came up with an idea (I wasn’t the first) to do pop up galleries utilizing unused strip mall space. Getting folks to come through would potentially lead to business for the mall property owners, and it would provide me with free (too much to hope for?) space for the shows. This seems like an obvious extension to that idea. Would that just be making things overly complicated though?
  5. How would it work? Simple is obviously the name of the game. At least to start with. So here’s my rough idea:

5a. I would try to control the flow of the audience through the space. Nothing super rigid, but creating a ‘direction of travel’ will help with some of the other elements we’ll find below.

5b. No artist’s statement. Start with the art.

5c. At the end of each artist’s section, there are printed forms for the audience to fill out. The forms are crazy simple: 3 questions to direct the flow of the feedback (see also: the Start with This episode dealing with Feedback - AND a space for people to write in their email address if they want to join the artist’s email list.

5d. Rinse, repeat for each artist in the show. (Initial shows would be kept to something like 3 or 4 at most - because KISS.)

Anywho - that’s what my brain is chewing on right now. Oh, that and the charity illustration I’m doing. Speaking of which - I should really get back to that now.

Isn't that Dr. Sketchy's?
Good point. I would say that it’s not quite, but in that direction. There’s less... interaction between artists. I mean it IS social, and there IS adult beverages, and a more relaxed setting, so one COULD do what I’m talking about there, I suppose.

It also doesn’t have the gallery aspect. I mean sure, we all review the artwork and pick a favorite, but I’m thinking more specifically about the “After I hung it on the wall, someone asked to buy it from me.” thing.

Hmm. Perhaps I should just push that agenda at a Sketchy’s. It certainly wouldn’t require as much effort on my part.

I recently mentioned that I'm working on my plans for my illustration work. Well, I've put up a pretty big (for me anyway) post over on my site. If you're interested in such things, I welcome any thoughts you have on the subject.

How much you you charge for a 11 x 14 custom color painting (kinda like the one in your post, but with a girlchild, and visions of roblox, quidditch, cats, minecraft . . .) I'm <redacted> if you wanna talk directly.
Ursula Sadiq 1/24edited
I've copied the email and will send you something shortly. Since I now have it, you may want to edit it out since this is a public post.

Or not. I'm not the boss of you. :) (Just being a touch paranoid on your behalf.)