The other day I heard the ever popular epitaph to "create more than you consume". It's an especially vague recommendation, but it got me thinking. Let's turn the phrase upside down - what happens if you consume what you create?
The unproductive kind of "grinding"
My free-time is dangerously threatened by video games. RPGs in particular serve as a recurring challenge to my forward progress as an artist. Do you ever find your good, productive, intentions thwarted by video games? Movies? I thought so. With a love of RPGs in mind, I've come up with a game to focus my productive energy: DRPG. (That's drawing RPG, in case you were wondering).
The DRPG blueprint
For the uninitiated, Japanese role playing games (JRPGs) are built on a simple formula. A band of adventurers goes off in search of a magical item which will save the world - usually crystals. Along the way they fight a horde of increasingly threatening monsters. By killing these monsters they learn new magic, wear ever more impressive armor, and get cool swords. What would happen if I made a personal project using these same guidelines? The bold words from the previous sentences provide plenty to start from.
My first drawing might be a character. Possibly the hero. But what should I draw next? Maybe the next painting is an establishing shot - setting the stage for my fantasy adventure. As a long-time RPG player, I know what happens next. The hero enters a cave, gets in over his head, and is then rescued by a more experienced hero. At this point you should see where I'm giong with this: Cave, monster encounter, and a new hero. Without any trouble, I've just created three more drawing assignments!
What I'm proposing is essentially fan-fiction. The only difference is that I can create my own world and characters - it doesn't need to start from an existing IP. Why it's interesting is that I care. I'm clearly excited about consuming JRPGS - but what if I could have just as much fun by creating my own? You might like sports games, sci-fi movies, or historical fiction. Anything works. The trick to improving at art is practice, and there aren't any shortcuts - so why not make it fun? Consume what you create.