A DRAWING A DAY: 1 YEAR ON.
Last Thursday I was discussing with my very good friend- and future ‘Hospice’ collaborator- Mr Neil Fox, the ‘10,000 Hour Rule’.
This is the notion that to be able to call yourself ’something’, you need to have been doing that ‘something’ for at least 10,000 hours throughout your life. So, for example, if you call yourself a writer, you need to be able to say that you have written for at least 10,000 hours. If you call yourself a painter you should have 10,000 hours of painting under your belt…and so forth.
The theory was developed by Malcom Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’ and basically it is suggesting that in order to achieve the right amount of confidence, skill and expertise in writing or painting (or indeed playing the piano, riding a bike, playing football, flying a plane, or anything at all) you need to have done it for at least 10,000 hours.
Anyway, the discussion with Neil made me think of my year long ‘Drawing A Day’ project (which finished exactly 1 year ago today) and why I did it. It also made me think about how much more I could be doing to improve.
In July 2010 when I started the project I had only recently realised that I wanted to be an illustrator. I loved drawing and had done since I was born, but suddenly calling myself an illustrator felt really false. I started the project as I knew I needed to get better and I needed to develop in order to be able to say with confidence that I am an ‘illustrator’.
Througout the project I gave myself 1 hour each morning (although sometimes this did stretch to 2 or maybe 3 hours if I didn’t have to get ready for work, but for the purpose of this blog we’ll say each drawing took an hour each) and each day I posted the finished image on Facebook and Tumblr for the world to see and to critique.
So, for 365 day’s I focussed on illustration for at least 1 hour a day. That’s 365 hours right there towards my ‘10,000’ hours.
Since ‘A Drawing A Day’ I do still draw every day and I have been lucky enough to gain more experience and opportunities. This has meant that I can focus more time on Illustration in my working week. So, lets say that on average, stretched out over the week, I draw for 4 hours a day (give or take). That’s 28 hours drawing per week. That means since ‘A Drawing A Day’ I have drawn for 1,460 hours.
Add this 1,460 hours to the 365 hours i got from A Drawing A Day and that means that I have just 1,825 hours of illustration under my belt. That’s a full 8,175 hours off the 10,000 hours that I need to be able to call myself a bona-fide ‘Illustrator’.
(Now, maybe I should count all of the drawing I did from age 0 to before ‘A Drawing A Day’ and add those to the grand total, but most of these drawings were not illustration, or at least not in any focused way were they illustration…….So, I wont).
The fact that I’m 8,175 hours away from being able to call myself a true ‘illustrator’ should be depressing. But it’s not. In fact, it’s liberating. I love the fact that I’m still learning, that I’m still developing and that I can still make mistakes.
‘A Drawing A Day’ finished 1 year ago today. The 365’th drawing was of a proud looking strong-man flexing his muscles and showing off his tattoo’s (which were the names of the people who had commented on the drawings throughout the project). The Tattooed Strongman’ was an apt image to finish on as it demonstrated how much I felt I had grown throughout the year. Contrast the ‘Strongman’ with the very first image from the project ‘Hobo’ and I don’t think there is any clearer example of how beneficial the project has been in my development as an illustrator (or at least a ‘work in progress’ illustrator).
Contrast ‘The Strongman’ (drawn 1 year ago today) with my latest completed drawing ‘Creature Tree’ (drawn last Sunday) and I hope that you would see a lot of development since the project ended too.
‘A Drawing A Day’ reassured me that I did have something to build on and could attempt to reach my goals. I think that I am on my way to being able to call myself an ‘Illustrator’ but I do have a lot to learn. The ‘10,000 Hour Rule’ is just a theory. Whether it is true or not is up for debate. However, I do know that I will continue to strive to develop and to improve and to learn even after I have accumulated the required 10,000 hours.
To see all 365 drawings from ‘A Drawing A Day’ which ended 1 year ago today, please visit: http://davidsdrawingaday.tumblr.com
To read press asscociated with the project please go here: http://www.davidlitchfieldillustration.com/press-exhibitions/