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Restarting the Art Engine 3/3
20th Aug, 2020

I was holding off on writing this, the last part of the series, until I had heard back from the Mental Health Team, as I figure it would be prudent to include their input in sorting myself out. After speaking with them, three months later, they confirmed the other day (2020-07-24) that the team had accepted my referral. Unfortunately, there is a 40-month waiting list, so I will not know if I have ADHD or not for 3.3 years! It’s kind of ironic asking a possible ADHD suffer, not know for our patience, to wait so long. It made me laugh when I read the letter, so I’ll look on the funny side. I’d imagine they have bigger fish to dry with Covid-19. Anyway, this puts a bit of a kibosh on my whole plan to include the professionals. I cannot wait around for three years twiddling my thumbs. I cannot afford to go private, as I’m on universal credit, and getting a regular job is hampered by my ADHD (that I don’t know if I have or not). So any solution is going to be all down to me (there again when isn’t it?). I have to dig myself out of the hole I find myself in and pull myself up by the bootstraps.

So, time to yank on those bootstraps and see what happens. If what I have figured out in these blog posts is true, then I have three areas I need to sum up and get clear in my head; why I failed, the type of job I really want, and what is my mission?

Unwitting Self-betrayal

Without knowing it, I had betrayed myself by becoming an illustrator. I wanted to have free reign to create 40K art, massive posters, epic 40K murals like the Sistine Chapel for your bedroom (and games room when you are older and have your own house). I also wanted to be able to make changes to the design of the background and invent my own characters. I was all for being an illustrator when I thought it was a stepping stone, but as time dragged on, I realised that it was not a stepping stone. I didn’t understand at the time, but I ‘failed’ as I was off the path I wanted to be on, and why would you continue down a path as soon as you figure out it’s the wrong one? Life is a journey made of paths, told to ourselves through stories, but if your aim is off, you are all over the place. All I know for sure is that I’m not an illustrator.

So, I know what I am not, but that doesn’t help with what I should be. This revelation puts a little spanner in the works as it goes against what I think is the right way to move forward. Working for someone else makes a lot of sense. An arty day job pays the bills, gets my name out their again, and gives me space to work on my own projects in my free time. Also, I get to use all the skills, and mentorship, I gain from this imagined day job. My logical side is all of this, and I berate myself for not pulling it together and cracking on, but as soon as I ‘pull it together’, my creative side shuts down. This undoes any pulling together I may have done, which leads to more self-criticism. My inner critic is a right little bastard!

Usually, my inner-drive, lead by this jumped up little tyrant works for me, but this time around it’s causing problems, as it’s running into my creative side, and my creative side has rebelled (damned Commie has seized the means of production!). The proletariat has one demand; no working for others.

Great, now I’m dealing with a Utopiaist, and we all know how that turns out; stagnation and millions of dead brain cells. I’m going to have to broker a deal with these two nutters. (Hang on, if both halves are nutters, does that make me a nutter? And who’s brokering the deal? How many sides are in here!!!) There seems to be two reasons for my creative side to go on strike; working for someone else, and dreaming of 40K. Working for someone else I’ve covered pretty well in the previous parts of articles, but I have to address the invasive thoughts of 40K. Thinking of 40K leads me to think of working for Games Workshop, and working for Games Workshop is working for someone else, and that means instant strike. My thoughts of 40K are a subset of the ‘not working for anyone else’ demand of my creative side. No working for GW.

Not working for GW directly

I thought of creating a workaround, of creating fan Philhammer project and raising funding for that, but GW could shut me down as soon as a made any money, and even if a ‘parody’ it’s too risky. I then thought of a licence, but the same issues apply, GW could shut me down on a whim. If they did that, then any work I did for my own project is no longer an asset, it’s dead in the water. While it’s great for fan art, not so great for a carer. I have to get it through my thick head that I cannot betray myself again, as there is only so many times you can do that before you can never recover. The problem is, I think I’ve used up all the goodwill my other creative side had, and now it doesn’t believe me. Now I have to prove to myself I have listened to that little voice inside. I’m not going back, and there is no real option for me to do 40K. I have to accept that 40K if off the table.

Grinding Gears

The problem is, it’s 40K! I keep thinking about 40K when I want to paint. Who wouldn’t, it’s so much fun, and such a rich background. 40K is the only ‘sci-fi’ background I really love. I suppose this is what happens when you’re so single-minded that you taught yourself to paint using 40K. It’s now hard for me to not think about 40K when I want to work, and trying not to think of 40K makes me think of 40K. It’s like saying “don’t think of a white elephant”, and now you have a white elephant running around in your head. Any thought or enjoyment of the setting, seems to trigger the idea that I’m back on the path to working for GW, which makes me recoil. As I said, I don’t want to work for someone else, and GW will never give me the job or freedom to do what I want to do. It seems I am now in the quandary of the thing that inspired me to paint is the exact same thing that is shutting me down. I get a flash of an idea, I quickly doddle a sketch to capture it, then I start working it up immediately, I get in the flow, I stop to consider it, and how to progress, then 40K pops into my head, I get angry and crash. 40K is so ingrained that it invades my thoughts. I want to create, but the act of creation prompts ideas of 40K. It feels like I’m grinding the gears of my art engine. A conflict between 40K and Sciror.

When I get it into gear, it does not stay in gear for long, and once it pops out of gear, it locks up, and stays out of gear on that artwork. Something about the artwork ‘repulses’ me (if repulse is the right word), the bit that made me think of 40K. I try to cut out the bits, but they are part of the art, and it doesn’t work. I have to look at something else, start another doodle. The process of working up art makes it more likely to think of 40K, which means a 40K induced shutdown. How do you become unobsessed with something? I’m not sure that is possible, so I have to make peace with visions of 40K. I have to stop 40K interfering with Sciror.

Transfigure

I have to take my love of 40K and twist it to Sciror, but it has to be deeper than the current setup of ‘my 40K ideas with the GW IP ripped out’. It sounds like a good idea, but that missing IP has to be replaced with something new, else it’s a hollow shell. 40K is still inspiring me, and simultaneously shutting me down. This effect is because the core of Sciror is not correct; it is hollow. Which, if I think about it, is correct. Sciror is a framework for creating stories. Unfortunately, creating a generic background as a placeholder is far too dull, uninspiring. I never thought for a second that creating the framework would be difficult without a story to tell, but it is. If 40K is my go-to, what is it about 40K I love so much, and can I create a new ‘vanilla timeline story’ that inspires and illustrates Sciror?

My 40K

I suppose, if I’m honest, modern 40K and Warhammer is not my cup of tea. A lot of it is nice to look at, but the lore is not what it used to be. Some may think that is for the better, but I feel it has lost something as GW became a corporate behemoth. My 40K has long gone, it was the ’87 Rogue Trader that I loved, that had a certain feeling about it. Perhaps I should be thinking of that, back then, and moving Sciror forward based on that. Back when Space Marines were remade hive-gang trash, long before the noble demi-gods of today. Growing up a run down South-East London, the idea that a gang member could be moulding into a hero had a certain appeal. That you didn’t have to be a hero to start with, the Imperium made you into a hero, and Space Marine chapters are no different from gang chapters, like those seen in the Hell’s Angels. What’s more, whole gangs were recruited, so all your friends came with you. It’s easy to forget the concerns, anxieties, and lack of vision you once had as you get old, except I remember it all too well. The idea of friends not breaking up, at a time of life when that is what happens, also spoke to dreams of adventure we’d never have. It really was an escape.

Perhaps that is the core of 40K I should hark back to, the young man, and his radical ideas and outspoken backchat? Instead of following in the footsteps of modern 40K, ignore the path they took, and perhaps return to their ‘fork in the road’ moment and wander down a different path. A new path that is more in keeping with 40K’s ’87 roots, more in keeping with my roots. Move away from the Germanic nihilism, and towards a grand narrative, adventure, humour in the face of overwhelming disaster, and a pluckiness all of its own. A more British sci-fi.

Mission

I can never work for a company unless I had full creative control, to be the art director, but I am never going to be able to endure the industry long enough to get the chops to be an art director. I have no choice, if I want to do art, I have to go my own way. This has some drawbacks, such as a lack of a mentor, or learning from others. In the past, this wouldn’t have been possible for me. However, with the internet; there are plenty of tutorials out there. There is a new path forward.

Once I figured all this out and started searching the internet with a new aim, I quickly found out what I am, already exists: I’m an “Independent Creator”, and it seems I have a terrible case of it. I am driven to create my own worlds, and looking back this seems true, the few times I have created art since leaving the Black Library was for Sciror, my Org and Legionary. It now seems obvious; I’m an Independent Creator.

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Hearing feedback is very important to me in developing my ideas. Much of my designs are inspired, and crafted, by chatting to fans on forums before snowballing into a full concepts posted on this website. I would like to thank all those who have contributed critiques and participated in discussions over the years. If you would like join in, you are most welcome!

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