Joana and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week


Have you ever had one of those weeks when everything you make is just, well, shit?

This has been one of those weeks for me. Dear Joana: happy new year, now all your work is a big fat turd.

As a result, my wastepaper bin is literally overflowing with the torn-up pages of my shitty attempts at drawings and paintings. The 100-sheet sketchbook I bought a month or so ago is down to its last few pages; the sad void between its covers emblematic of my complete and utter inadequacy.

To be fair, I've never completed a piece and thought, 'This is so great, I rule!'. But there is usually at least a small sense of accomplishment, or somewhat not hating the result, or feeling like I'm on the right track.

Not this week. It doesn't matter if I'm sketching for fun, working on a commission or illustrating for a personal project, every piece I've produced this week has left me with an overwhelming sense of doubt and defeat.

I've tried taking breaks. I've tried pushing through. I've distracted myself with snacks (#nevernotsnacking). I've gone to the gym, watered the plants, scrolled through my phone ad infinitum. I've looked through old work I like. I've tried taking the pressure off by drawing something super simple and low-risk and for my eyes only. Nothing has worked.

Instead, I've been walking around this week with a pit in my stomach; this nauseous, anxious feeling that stems directly from my failed attempts and the subsequent belief that I absolutely suck and why the hell am I even doing this. It's a horrible feeling that has filtered into everything else in my life. I've spent this week in an angry haze. And I know how completely ridiculous and frivolous and stupid that sounds. There are real problems in this world and I'm wringing my hands over some not-quite-perfect scribbles of my travels or meals I've eaten or whatever the hell else I usually draw. And that compounds the feeling that I am a shit person who should just fucking give up.

I've always been a person who creates things, even when I didn't really create that many things. But I didn't know that choosing to really throw myself into creating consistently and for a li'l bit o' money would be so. damn. painful. I know it's because I'm super green and that once I establish a foothold of some sort I might feel a bit more self-assured, but then again, is it? Does that pain ever really go away? That pain of knowing that in this exact moment, you are worse at your craft than you will ever be in the future? That in order to get to the less-shit work, you have to keep pushing through and producing the shit work?

Even if no one sees my shit work (and god knows the shit in my wastepaper bin will never see the light of day), I know it's there. I know I made it, that I'm capable of producing it. And that's ... gahhhhhhhh. That's hard.

And yet. I received an email the other day from someone who literally just felt compelled to tell me that they recently found my work, they loved it, and they hope I continue with it and find success. They thanked me for my work. I'm struggling to even find the words right now to express how that makes me feel. Like, wow. It's amazing how you can feel like a fraudulent piece of shit and then someone else can be so moved by your work that they email you about it—which, I don't know about you, but I think is a pretty huge deal because I can't tell you how few times (zero) I've emailed someone just to tell them I love their work. Also, note to self: start telling people I love their work just because.

I don't mention this email as a humblebrag AT ALL BECAUSE I SUCK. I just find it funny that I can be having the worst week I've had in a while and then this email just arrives in my inbox out of the blue. It hasn't fixed my bad week—I probably ripped up a dozen different attempts this morning alone—but at least I can kind of see things from a different perspective and remember that maybe I'm not that bad and maybe there is hope for me after all? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

TELL ME: Do you ever have bad hours/days/weeks where nothing seems to go right in your work? How do you deal? I need to know!



Gif the shoe fits


If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you'll have noticed I'm posting a lot of hand-drawn animated gifs lately. I can't seem to stop making them. I haven't illustrated anything destined to just be static since last week when I made my first gif. It's become an obsession.

I first took the plunge into animation a few months ago, via my accidental Skillshare subscription (note to self: remember to cancel free trials before they end and you're automatically billed for a whole year in USD. Before). I took a class in animation using After Effects, except I didn't really take the class properly because I'm impatient and skipped over important information and then got so frustrated with my terrible animation that would. not. work. that I just abandoned the idea of ever getting a handle on it.

Since then, I always kind of figured animation was beyond my reach. And though I love the appearance of scrappy hand-drawn animations, I found the idea of actually making them a little unappealing, since you have to manually draw each frame. From the outside looking in, it seemed like an insurmountable mountain of work to draw frame after frame after frame of identical but slightly different content. Which is why I thought I'd start with After Effects, to just manipulate an existing illustration with anchor points. Which was a terrible idea.

But the other day I saw a simple hand-drawn animation on Instagram and decided to give it another go, this time using Photoshop. I thought I'd keep it super low pressure with something really simple, so that I didn't waste hours of drawing frames if it didn't work, because when I'm burnt by something it's difficult for me to come back to it #notveryresilient, and I didn't want to destroy my interest in animation before it even started.

So I started with a simple gif of my dog, using a clip from my phone that I took of him running in our front yard. I drew 12 simple, scribbly frames that took me about 10 minutes all up. It was a low-risk gamble that paid off, because as soon as I saw the motion worked I was hooked. Though I did accidentally animate the sequence in reverse and posted it on Instagram before I noticed the error. The one below is looped in the correct order.

Gif of Wally running.

Gif of Wally running.

This one was my second ever animation, which was a little harder because I only had a couple of reference images rather than a video to work off. So had to kind of fill the gaps in the movement by making up a couple of the frames. It's a bit jumpy but I'm pretty happy with it!

Daisy Watt at her loom, for  Outlier.

Daisy Watt at her loom, for Outlier.

Last weekend I saw Paul Kelly play live at Kings Park, and it was so excellent it inspired me to create this gif of PK playing the guitar, using a YouTube video as a reference. This one consists of seven individual illustrations, some of which are repeated within the animation to create a total of 10 frames.


My longest gif so far! This one's a whole 51 frames and five seconds, as opposed to the other looping ones which have from around seven to 12 frames and run for less than a sec. Admittedly, I only drew the hoop eight times, so they loop over and over, while the girl is an original drawing in each frame. I added colour to this one and experimented with drawing a background, which I didn't end up using #toomuchwork. Baby steps!

Nothin' But Net.

Nothin' But Net.

And the walking animation at the top is one I just made now, a kind of lame attempt at a gif to go with the lame title of this blog post (puns are not my strong suit). It's extremely scrappy and the painted colour didn't scan very well, but I really wanted to make an animation with a background and with more colour. It took much longer to make than I thought it would, and while it's really rough and rushed with obvious blurring from my dodgy Photoshop work, I'm mostly happy with it. Though I suspect I will look back on this entire blog post in a few months/years and shudder at my shitty work ¯\_(ツ)_/¯