Friday, July 20, 2012

I think the internet broke my brain.

I can't draw. 

That's a pretty big problem, because that's supposed to be my thing. I have all the technical knowledge and muscle memory, but as soon as pencil connects to paper it's a total system shut down. I can still create images at work at the quantity and quality to justify my salary, but my personal sketchbooks have been as dry as a bone for months. 

For all of that time I've been trying to find solutions. I've tried taking a break from it in the hope that I would feel recharged. Changing mediums is typically a great way to break out of a creative slump. I've also tried forcing it, pencilling a twenty five page comic of my own, hoping it would simply break the dam. Finally, I mentioned this issue to my wife and she handed me an epiphany in five minutes:

I am completely saturated by imagery. 

You see, when I try and fail to draw something, I don't just freeze up. A voice inside me screams "It's been done!". Every time I try to sketch out an idea, I see the ghosts of a dozen other iterations of the same thing. Ten thousand dragons have fought ten thousand knights in front of ten thousand castles. Why add yet one more voice to the chittering cacophony? 

knights knights knights knights knights knights

There was a great article at called "Why Hollywood sucks (And it's our fault)". Reason number one was that we're too media savvy. We've reached a saturation point where we have too much access to media. This was my favorite quote from the article:
If you've heard all of the songs a million times before, even the most talented musician in the world can only issue remixes.

Read more: 4 Reasons Hollywood Sucks (And It's All Our Fault) |
There are THOUSANDS of these zbrush aliens, each mushier than the last.

I comb the internet every single day, consuming images. I have countless folders, divided into thematic subsections, for saving the images I like (for example: Fantasy>Fantasy Characters>Protagonist>Heroic/Anti-Hero/Magic or SciFi>NearFuture>Tech>Robotic>Android/Cyborg/Exo). Each one is full. Dozens and dozens of images that all fit comfortably within specific genre/theme parameters. Why bother drawing a charming female rogue when I have a basket full of them? What's the point in designing a zombie when I could show you my storage facility full of every shade of zombie design imaginable?

Dragons dragons dragons dragons dragons dragons dragons

So, what does this mean? I'm still working that out. I told my wife that some day I'd love to take some carpentry courses, maybe start making tables and chairs. There's something appealing about the simplicity of carpentry. Building beautiful, useful objects with your own hands, just you and the smell of sawdust in your workshop. Until you start joining online carpentry forums...

Does the intense overload of imagery and information made possible by the internet make this a new problem? Did people struggle with this issue when the printing press hit its stride? Is there anyone out there who has moved through this problem to the other side? Because if so...I could use a hand over this wall.