By Colleen Clark
When it gets too difficult to make art, or do… you know… responsible stuff, I end up spending a lot of time watching Netflix. Or on Tumblr, or reading about what’s going on with celebrities I admire. It’s exciting, I know! Sometimes I don’t have an excuse for it because it’s just procrastination, but most of the time, the things I spend time doing when I need to relax end up being the things that motivate me to create.
If you’ve read any of my blog posts so far, you might notice that my little bio thing at the bottom of each post talks about Tina Fey, dogs, and Star Trek. These are literally the three things that fuel me and inspire my career most. You probably wouldn’t hear that from, like, a doctor or something.
That’s the best thing about being an artist: I get to create whatever crazy stuff I want, based on whatever I care about! So when I see a weird or hilarious picture of a puppy, you bet I’m gonna draw a picture of a weird puppy. And when I get teary-eyed and overcome with emotion because of the beautiful messages of diversity and love and family and acceptance in Star Trek… I should probably keep that to myself. And then draw some Star Trek stuff.
I know that female comedians are my biggest role models, but how can I show what I love about them in what I make? Can I take tips from their comedic timing or self-confident babe-power to add to my comics or other work? You bet I’ll try. Chances are if they resonate with me then they resonate with someone else too, so paying homage to them in my art can be a good idea.
I illustrated Amy Poehler’s quote “No one looks stupid when they’re having fun” because when I first heard it, something clicked in my brain: confident people embrace the things they enjoy. After being bullied my entire childhood for liking nerdy, uncool stuff (now everyone wears big glasses and sweaters with puppies on them, so really I was just ahead of the curve), hearing a smart, hilarious woman say this made me feel better about myself.
I watched 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and Saturday Night Live religiously in high school, because it was one of the only things that made me feel less alone. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (and Liz Lemon and Leslie Knope, their characters) represented women I could relate to, women who acted like me in all their nerdy ways, and they kickstarted the only self-confidence I’ve ever had.
My little painting started going around on Tumblr, and the official Tumblr for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party web-series ended up posting it. They even hinted that Amy herself saw it. This was probably the best thing that has ever happened to me and it made me very sweaty and I almost threw up. Truly, a religious experience. But this solidified something serious for me: even if it’s little doodles or fanart, it’s okay to make things inspired by what inspires you. Other people might even be inspired by it too.
The only way to make good art is to know what good art looks like. Whether that good art is in your medium or in a movie, a book, a favorite celebrity’s face, or your favorite TV show, there’s a reason you like it, and a way to channel it into what you make.
So watch TV. It’s good for your career.
Colleen Clark is a CCAD senior majoring in Illustration who wishes Star Trek was real. She loves comics, puppies, anything involving Tina Fey, and sharing her art and thoughts through her online blog
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