INKtober Day 5 – When the Exception Becomes the Rule

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inktober day five by jeffrey johnson of red herring illustrationI was talking to my friend Leighton (@johnnyampersand) at Archon while
he looked over my first INKtober entry and he commented that he liked that I lay
out clear goals. I like to go into big projects with a plan, I call it my project manifesto. INKtober, with it’s thirty-one drawings surely counts as a big project, right? The plan includes rules, and usually it also includes goals. I like to know WHY I do things, it makes it easier to keep going when I start to question myself later.  The rules for this year are pretty simple:

  1. Complete 100% of the thirty-one drawings.
  2. Use only Black felt-tip pins.
  3. Do a majority of the drawings from direct observation.

I try hard to stick to this so it all stays consistant. It’s easy to get distracted or to fall behind and quit. Especially towards the beginning of a project, I think about that show “Trading Spaces” when one of the couples would invariably question the designer because they couldn’t see in their mind the vision of the finished room. The plan gives me a net. It gives me something to trust that everything’s going to come out all right. It’s something to look back on and check to make sure I’m still on the right path.

The rules also help guard against exceptions that undermine the goals. One of my top goals for INKtober this year is to have 100% completion. After a busy day in the studio, I looked at the clock and realized that it was 11:00, and I’d put off my journal entry all day. I needed to get that drawing done, maybe I could use the page of dinosaur sketches I’d done in my work sketchbook. They were in ball point, but that is ink…that would count, wouldn’t it? This justification reminds me of when a dieter has their “first” desert in five days, or an ex-smoker has their “first” cigarette in a month. We often say it’s our first exception, unintentionally implying that there will be more.

While I could use those drawings and fulfill one goal, I’d be making an exception for another. If I make an exception once, then how easy will it be to make an exception again? So I started working on the drawing, falling asleep at my desk. I got up and finished it first thing this morning, but I’m glad I started on it last night.

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