Make It Work, Carry On

Amber Karnes

Tim Gunn Tribute Tattoos” by Amber Karnes is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. This post has nothing to do with tattoos, but I couldn’t resist sharing this beautiful image by Amber Karnes.

As I was watching the latest episode of Project Runway, it occurred to me that my post from yesterday was a little defeatist. I’ve always loved Tim Gunn’s critiques on Project Runway, especially his repeated advice to “Make it Work” and “Carry On.” So simple, but really that advice can be applied to so many situations in life, not just art. When you’re down you really only have two choices—give up or make it work.

Q: Where did the ever popular catchphrase, ‘make it work’ originate?
A: It originated in my classroom and was spoken to a student who wanted to throw out a project and start all over again. And I said no. You’re going to make it work. And what it means is: Offer up a diagnosis for what’s going wrong, and a prescription for how to make it right. And each time that we engage in that process, we move forward with more resources available to us. – Tim Gunn

So this is me, making it work. I decided to think critically about the situation. Why am I not making progress with my personal artwork? This is the list of excuses I came up with:

01. I don’t have time.
02. I’m not inspired/I don’t know what to make.
03. My workspace is too messy.
04. I’m too tired.
05. I don’t want to make terrible work and then have to share it.

I think those are all pretty standard excuses, and probably all of them originate from a fear or failure, but I’m going to make an attempt to address each individually.

01. I don’t have time. Even while I’m in school, I should be able to devote 10 minutes to sketchbook work. A lot of my work time is spent procrastinating. If I just got to work I’d be a lot better off. I’ve set an alarm on my phone to go off daily at the same time. That alarm means I need to drop everything and work in a sketchbook.

02. I’m not inspired/I don’t know what to make. I think this problem is coming from a lack of structure. When I tried to complete ICAD I didn’t give myself any parameters at all. I had too much freedom in subject matter and materials, and that felt overwhelming rather than freeing. My plan is to work through one tip a day in Freehand: Sketching Tips and Tricks Drawn from Art. I’ll share some photos and my thoughts about that book in a few days.

03. My workspace is too messy. When I’m in school (or if I’m being honest, anytime) my workspace can get chaotic pretty quickly. If I don’t have easy access to my supplies, that’s often enough to deter me from working. I’m going to put together a small box of supplies that I work with most often so that they are all in one place and always ready to use.

04. I’m too tired. This one happens when I stay up until 4:00 in the morning working on school projects. The next day I’m walking around like a zombie. I need to work on planning my projects better next quarter so this isn’t happening every week.

05. I don’t want to make terrible work and then have to share it. I think with all of the outlets for sharing work (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.) it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you have to share EVERYTHING you make. I need to switch my mindset and think that everything is practice for myself, and sharing is optional. I’ve been reading Austin Kleon’s book, Share Your Work, which has lots of good advice about this topic.

Okay, it’s go time with all of this! I’ll report back in a week with my progress.

p.s. If you are a Tim Gunn fan, you might enjoy this short interview.

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