How to Get Better Without Drawing

What makes an artist better without the daily practice of drawing or painting? Is this something you think about? As creators, we always try to find that new tutorial, article, book, or even a blog post that will help improve our work. In the digital age, opportunities are endless with search results at our fingertips.

In the following post, I’ll share what I have learned from asking artists inside and outside of Boneshaker Press with the end goal to teach and inspire fellow creators to try new tips and tricks to advance their work.

Get Focused.
Get Focused.

Focusing seemed to be a big topic. As creators we tend to overthink. We want the best for our work because our name is on it and creating stunning work is extremely important. It’s what attracts clients for freelance work and captures the attention of an art director.

Finding the right place to work  is crucial to you and your workflow. Some people work well in a public place such as a café or a park, but wherever you work, it’s necessary to be able to block out distractions.

Now, how do you train yourself to block out distractions? What works best for me is running, which has helped me tremendously to get in the habit of concentrating on one thing—breathing. Meditation, proper stretching, cycling or swimming seem to have the same effect. However, something else may work better for you. You don’t need to spend money on a gym membership. You can reach your cardio goals by getting the right shoes and proper motivation.

Water is Life!
Water is Life!

On the subject of a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a proper diet is vital as well. It may seem hard, but getting your daily value of vitamins and minerals is simpler than what you might have read. Also, you don’t have to buy into “the next big and powerful antioxidant.” Start by eating fresh fruit or vegetables everyday and you’ll already see a big difference in your will power.

One thing I like to do daily is drink a gallon (128 oz) of water. Again, I know it seems like a lot, but it’s really not. This is something you can start off slowly and get in the habit of doing. I carry a 34oz bottle throughout the day and only have to fill it up three times—then once to the 26oz mark.

The more you build this habit, the more you will notice a change, both physically and mentally. H2O is great for all living creatures. That is—unless your superpower involves fire or electricity.

Choose your surroundings.
Choose your surroundings.

Surrounding ourselves with supportive people is EXTREMELY important. When you’re uncomfortable at work because you feel that your colleagues don’t appreciate what you do, and then at home you’re getting steered away from your art at every occasion, believe me, it hurts.

As unfortunate as it is to experience something like this, we all go through tough times. However, it’s up to all of us to remain diligent and strong to make the right decisions for ourselves. Remember, finding the right support is necessary to maintain your motivation to reach your goals.

Mix Passions
Mix your passions.

Discovering another passion is an amazing feeling. It also opens your mind like a book and fills pages and pages with great information. Music, literature, sports—or even working on motorcycles—can be that new and exciting chapter in your life. Who knows? Maybe a special spot will grow in your heart for that new passion and doors will open for a career where you can utilize your art. My mother always said, “The older you get, the more you really start to appreciate things.” So explore new challenges and immerse yourself in new interests and communities.

Get reading about your field.
Get reading about your field.

We all know that the world is vast and changing everyday. That’s why it’s imperative to open up to what is going on—especially when it involves art and design. One thing that’s very good to do is to record the most relevant news you find every day by writing or drawing. Try to challenge yourself. Write a short essay or draw in your sketchbook about the article you just read. Most importantly, reading increases your brainpower.

Get out and meet people.
Get out and meet people.

My final piece of advice: don’t just read about the outside world, but get out there and explore those places we’ve all seen in National Geographic magazines. You don’t even need to go that far. Find out what’s hiding right where you live. Meeting new people and listening to their story, goals and what they’re doing could inspire you more than you think.

Taking risks isn’t just decisive for artists, but for anyone looking to grow. It’s inevitable to go through hard times in life, but it gets better the harder you work. It’s always good to consider the advice and opinions of others. However, decide what’s best for you and follow the most righteous path.

Matt Gilson

Illustrated by Magali Mebsout

One thought on “How to Get Better Without Drawing

  1. Magali Mebsout

    Aside from the fact that had much fun illustrating it, I really appreciate you taking the time to focus on this important points that are so easily disregarded. I use to feel bad about going for a run because it was time away from the pencil. But I totally see the impact on the productivity. I go run with a freer mind now 😀
    And Water !! Watering your body is a game changer. I actually use an app called “Water Drink Reminder” very simple and very helpful.


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