Florida’s regional chapter of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators conference held recently in Orlando was AWESOME! For all my aspiring authors and illustrators out there, this week’s posts are dedicated to dreaming, inspiring, perfecting and believing. In fact, you don’t have to be an artist or author to benefit. Inspiration is contagious. The wonderful lessons taught by acclaimed artists and illustrators could help you, too.
E. B. Lewis (2003 winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for Nikki Grimes’ Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, the 2003) and illustrator of over 70 books, used his passion for art and life to boost us toward our potential. Here are FIVE lessons I learned from Lewis about art and how to live my life. Remember, you don’t have to be an artist. Much of what he said can be applied to daily life.
- Stop looking for the one “right answer.” Instead, look for the NEXT right answer. We evaluate our work like we evaluate our lives—either wrong or right. There is more than one right answer. When it comes to your art, your writing or that little project you’ve been dying to finish, consider searching for several right answers. Then choose the one that makes you happiest. You deserve to be happy.
- Figure out how to turn problems into opportunities. When my father was dying of lung cancer, I was devastated. With my mom already gone, I knew my sense of family, of daughters and parents, was forever changing. However, in my despair I resolved to change my life by changing my view of what family meant. That was when I chose to adopt a child and continue the traditions of love and family that meant so much to me.
- Always work on your technique. If you’re an illustrator, that means spending time as often as possible working to make your lines better. For writers, it means spending time on the craft of storytelling BEFORE worrying about choosing an agent or becoming a bestseller. If you’re a cashier at K-mart, as my mother was almost my entire childhood, working on technique could just mean taking pride in your work and finding the strength to pass on a smile or kind word to some shopper who needs it.
- Be ready. Opportunity is a funny girl. She shows up, knocking, sometimes when we least expect it. Well, expect it. Hone your craft. Work hard. Learn from every situation. And when funny girl shows up with her basketful of chances, all you’ll need is one. Grab it!
- Be fearless. That little voice in the back of your mind telling your mind telling you that you’re not good enough to be an author, not talented enough to write a book, smart enough to be a manager at the corner market—well, that’s just the mean ol’ Devil. Tell the Devil he’s a lie. Even if you fail to sell your book or land the job as a manager it does not mean that ol’ Devil was right. It just means a better time is coming. If you stop trying, you’ll miss that opportunity. Stand up. Be bold. Be ready. Opportunity is on its way.