Artist Productivity and Improvement Tips-Barbelling

It’s quite simple this one. It’s only two things you have to manage and that is all.

The so-called complexity or other factors what have you is like this.

The difference is the pace of each thing you want to do. Let alone it’s intensity and level of work that is put in.

For Example,

a series of small sketches for practice and visual catalogue to get a hang of a thing you had in mind. Compared to chipping away at a large project you work on for a few days. Such as comics or Canvas.

Barbell Effect goes along the lines that, Micro Actions with Macro Effects. It’s almost like the compound effect too but not exactly. It’s the Two extremes that Buildup the whole but, the middle are is well, mute.

Think Grinding vs Batching.

  • Work on a small or medium thing daily
  • Working on a bunch of small things at once to make a process easier

Or Active vs Passive Work.

  • Active work is akin to work that needs to be done within a day or week so it’s usually urgent and gets immediate results
  • Passive work is well chipping away at something much larger, think week or month’s scale here so the results aren’t immediate nor noticeable until a few weeks months later.

The variations and dichotomy of what kind of work can be achieved with this approach is well seemingly endless….

Apply in a few other ways to.

  • Day Job to Side Hustle
  • Original Works to Fanarts
  • Dabble on a few mediums on the cheap to Grinding on your Forte
  • Brushing up on a few practice pieces to prep for a larger scale one
  • Work on a few client’s small tasks while building up your own large thing
  • the list of duos goes on here…

So, the takeaway is this. You do a series of small manageable works while developing a larger project.

*concept was a take away I got from Nassim Nicholas Taleb Author of Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder

it discussed how to do multiple things to full effect.

Why draw by hand?-A case for why we haven’t gone full digital.

Well, there is this longing of sort in society, especially with the newer and grand-generations.
A type of what is best called nostalgic.

‘See, it’s not just a draw by hand thing, but this culture of yearning of the people over there to go back to simpler and more familiar grounds. With the advent of technology moving forwards much faster than one can handle on their own, it’s a case of where to go in a world where options seems…

But let’s be focused on the main topic, why many still draw by hand.

Well, the answer was simple.
Price, Ease of entry, and all that fun stuff.

A simple paper and pencil even with the inflation of today’s economy is well still subsidiarity lower than a software for digital art and the tablet needed to integrate with it correctly.
For like about $2-$4 range one can simply get started on the craft with dirt cheap methods.

It’s perhaps, the fidelity, yes, a term that is also used in the musical instrument fields, ranging from electric guitars to brass acoustics. It’s that tactical feedback if you will that people even in this digital age and rising economy that people still prefer the “real” if you will.

Like, there is nothing more satisfying than the surefire feeling of the pen hitting the paper

“just right. ”

it’s a reason why some stupids like Ghibli especially the man in charge, Hayaoe still uses well, paper and watercolors to sort out his storyboards, in fact, it’s a standard thing still in the Japanese animation industry to use pencil and paper.

It’s just the integration and usage of it is so deep in some cultures of society that it’s well….
just hard to shake it off. With a long history of people using tools for labor to precision, compared to a couple decades long digital and the tablets only finally getting “good enough” it’s hard for people to be well convinced.

Simple put it, it’s so much more satisfying to use the pen and paper than tablet and stylus since it’s been there for a long time. The feedback and fidelity is just leagues apart.

Artist Productivity and Improvement Tips-Batching

So, as prolific or working artists, we all want to save time right?

Well, there is one thing we can do to ease off the burden of work.

It’s called batching. And we do this in our daily life too.

Laundry to Cooking, it’s way of doing a bunch of things in one go and make the rest of the day or week easier.

Like, for artist they can do it like this.

Creating a Series of work to be scanned and processed once a week. Or answering client’s calls once a day or few days only. As you see the effect of well, doing the whole process for small mundane tasks are well, a waste of time really. It’s the concept of rounding up those small mundane seemingly unimportant granted tasks that makes thing more effective and efficient.

For example. If one have a bunch of rough sketches, they simply scan them all in one go and have it all done.

Maybe there is a production of comics going on. Do the steps on all pages phase by phase.

Pencils for day 1-3, Inking for Day 4-7, and colors for Day 8-10. And that is how batching can make process and production of things better.

Batching is all about the ease of either.




or Planning

either way, if an artist batches their work in series or processing a bunch of small works for scanning. It’s the most effective and efficient way to free up time.

Like, let’s be honest, we all have better things to do right??

As Tim Ferris puts it.


A thing for Divers, Robots, Machines, and Monsters-When Nerd and Geek culture was my sole friend.

How do I put it?
This concept of me having a thing for robots, divers, kaijus, and other scifi and fantasy elements must have come from somewhere right? well, hopefully that is the case. Truth be told, there is little recorded evidence of why I have a thing for it.

Some say that I was raised by that type of thing and media growing up, the other generation of well, kids that unlike the 80s where they fed on Transformers, and Voltron.

Mine was a long term exposure to many many things.

Ranging from Miyazaki Hayaoe films, Gundam Franchise, to even the infamous Gainax’s Evangelion. The list of these nerd/geek things are really extensive and well, trivial but that is the point.

It’s the sheer exposure to it that made my works reflect it.

Perhaps it’s from a lot of starcrafting, watching seemingly thousands of hours of media since childhood and working up to obscure and specialized stuff by the year 2012s-2013s.

Either way, the influence are no foot note for sure. Given it’s a decades long exposure.

well, to make the post short, it’s because I grew up on it and still think about it in my own little ways up to today. Like, it’s still a background interest and most likely will be relevant to my personal life since there isn’t much else to do.

As the Youtuber, Nake Jake would say-When Bioshock was my only friend.
Or in my Case, when Anime, Films, and Games, where my only real loyal friends.

Artist Productivity and Improvement Tips-FRESH

So, this has been a recurring issue within the art circle. Sustaining creativity.

The main problem with creativity is this. It’s not consistent and that is the reason why many in the profession of doing creative work tend to struggle with, especially with the conceptual department.

But there is a simple strategy that can be used to alleviate the issues that is to be discussed with it.


It’s abbreviated as

  • Focus
  • Relationships
  • Energy 
  • Stimuli  
  • Hours

they are the building blocks to help you sustain your not creative juices but rather flow.

(creative juice is a lie by the way, it’s mostly about observing and looking at ways things around you can be made different, and build something not new but fresh or not really developed before to solve problems.)


There are usually big 3 things you want to work out on. It’s the case of using the 3 major things that bother you, always at the back of your mind. And tend to be the biggest challenges with the situation.

Use them as filter to seek out, and get insights in regards to these big 3 issues….

like common artists problem that could be part of the Big 3.

  • New Direction their art can go in.
  • Wondering if they should continue to invest in their current projects
  • Finding new clients that might like your portfolios.
  • The list can go on and is often dependent on the artist’s situation in mind, let alone if they are aware of what’s actually bothering them…


So, this is were who you know really helps…

like, think of your peers, clients, friends, etc. They might give you insights from their perspective if you ask them one of the Big 3.

  • So, seek out people who are on the higher level, mentors, and ask them. So that way you get a faster lead and result on what needs to be done.
  • Perhaps, ask your art peer on how to find a client who will look at your portfolio…
  • Or the customer on your online store, ask them what new series would they like to see…

Remember, Questions are your Pickaxes…


This is more on health but, the rundown is simple.

  • Eat
  • Sleep
  • Exercise

They will be the groundwork for you body and brain to work at an optimal level.

It’s underrated, and if your body doesn’t work at the optimal level, it won’t deliver as well. Remember, creative work is energy draining especially if you intend to do this almost daily. You’ll thank me later for this one. There are more resources in the back but keep to the 3 big basics.

Because, you simply can’t beat the basics.


So, people think that inspiration is all random and luck based. Let’s challenge that.

Be aware of what you’re taking in mentally.

Use the media, search engines, and books. Looking to seek what the new trends of art in 2020s will be like? Or How to make your portfolio noticed? Search and read them up. Write down the Big three and use them as a checklist when looking out there.

Let me repeat that. Be conscious of what you take in, so it will reflect what you will take out. Use the Focus section to filter out what you want to look for. Use your brain. You want to solve the problem on time and with ease here. So, stop being so distracted and get those 3 things done.


If you managed to use the calendar properly and with intent. You may well get somewhere.

But, to emphasize. Make time to work on the Big 3 throughout the week. Use them as your priority or the biggest grind per day. 2-3 of these should take your daily slot. And to add to the daily grind.

You only need to do 2-3 big things really. The rest is like trivial and has little actual effect on the big 3.

have time to do all the above.

  • From checking the Big 3 on Monday.
  • Asking People in your circle about Finding new Clients for portfolio showing on Tuesday
  • Take your basic essentials to get your mind and body moving to reset Wednesday
  • Use the search Engines with intent to seek more leads and results one of the Big 3. Thursday
  •  and the week is focused on finding ways to tackle the Big 3.

The Final take is this.

If you managed to leverage this weekly mindset to figure out what needs to be done.

Your creative work will be better managed and your life will get that 3x results.

I give the courtesy of this tactic and strategy to the one and only Todd Henry (author of The Accidental Creative) and the Productivity Game for the video links.

Roughs Works-stuff that didn’t make it

Well, this is a thing where not too many people actually are aware off.

But, I have made a lot more art than people think.

Maybe about 2.5 times more than they think actually.

So, this goes into the world of rough sketches.

So, with the line of works like designers, character development, etc.

It’s key to well, having a place to start from.

Rough work is well, like the foundational, it’s so raw, that not many people will get it.

Unless the rough sketches are more or less done in a way that isn’t so abstract.

So, it’s the concept of drawing so raw that people can’t help it but notice it. Often with both

good and bad reception in mind.

It’s mostly catered towards the concept of filling in the blanks and see what direction or branch and idea can go.

Mind you ideas is the key, but designs and refinement makes it a reality.

It always starts off with ideas and well, that is how inventions, concepts, books, etc are all made.

With ideas, it’s thanks to the creative process of the modern era that these ideas can be realized in either psychical form or digital. And that’s what counts.

But, the rough ideas are still needed to make it.

So, in defense of the rough loose squiggly, they will be key to making a solid cool thing one day.

The freedom of rough sketches.

Well, it’s a type of thinning that comes with experience and trying to recapture that carefree attitude.

Like since it’s just copy paper with ballpoint, there is very little at stake here, the worst you can do is make a thousand mistakes and get the last few right.

If anything, roughs are great for practice and exploration of designs. Like, the possibilities are only limited to the type of tool, techniques, and ideas and visual pool you have at your disposal.

Artist Productivity and Improvement Tips-Deep Work

So, Most artists tend to be these kinds of people who are all like, wishy- washy and easily

distracted. As a result their work’s quality and ability to turn out in decent numbers tend to diminish because of well, their stereotypes they tend to have nowadays.

DeepWork isn’t really a true cure but can be integrated in a way that allows them to at least get the actually important stuff done.

Working and Hardcore Hobbyist tend to have this trait already, after a certain level they get to, they have this knack to just grind down on the piece or project for hours on end, and ends up pulling off a fast too along the way.

But there are a few factors at play that makes this DeepWork actually possible.

First. Let’s start with the fundamentals.

  • Less Distractions
  • Music/Track-list
  • A suitable working area.
  • A set time and phase.

These things tend to be really critical to get the heavy stuff done and if the artist can leverage these starting points off right, it’s much easier to pull off the deep work state.

Some things are obvious.

Just turn off the phone, not just social media, but the phone. people. Like, it will save you hours if you turn it off and stack that by like the rest of the year. The data shows it.

Your Music or Track-list. Make it either minimal and have it ready to go for hours on ends.

Podcasts works too if one knows that it’s not too engaging. So, avoid that infamous Joe Rogans, because it will take you off course and next thing you know, you’ll want to listen to his crazy guests instead of drawing or painting.

A nice cool area. This case is more personal but a slightly cool quiet working area is best for me.

That is just my peak operating temperature actually.

A Good spot. Could be in the private room or studio, or if one is really rich. A Villa or Cottage somewhere Bob Ross must have painted with a bunch of Happy trees.

So, after Setting up the foundations and starting. Assuming you actually did all those things and not check you phone for the tenth time this day.

You’ll enter a state that is trying to do more stuff. Instead do this. Concentrate. Be disciplined and make it through the 20-30 min mark called the concentration threshold. It’s like a barrier of where one is too distracted and doing stuff, and the other is well just them and the work in front of them.

Some tips to sustain the deep work may include, using 5-10 min breaks to have water or stretch. Avoid food. If so, make it light.

Use this strategy of using micro breaks and the deep work to get sections of the project or piece done in no time.

In this day and age, Deep work may well be a skillset on it’s own. So practice.

Like, this skill may well take weeks to get good enough to use often and learn to integrate parts of it in you life.

In my case. I tend to start in the morning and finish my projects or mini grinds by the lunch-o-clock mark. Perhaps 2-3 hrs isn’t enough but for my project’s case. Coupled that with 7 days. 14-21 hr on it would be more than enough from my understanding. If it was for large scale paintings with oils or acrylics maybe double or quad that.

Deep Work only works if one knows their effective range. So, use it not like a tool or technique but part of you life.

So, the final takeaway?

  • Have a Good Starting Point and State
  • Break the concentration threshold
  • Enter Deep work and use micro breaks to sustain it.

Eventually you will get good and get much done.

for the video essays here are a few.

*Deep Work was coined by the term Cal Newport, and the Author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Sketchbook works-it was a thing

So, before starting inks and drawings on lone papers and Bristol.

Well, there was a phase that was focused on sketchbooks more or less. And well, it’s a thing.

All started a few years ago and it’s run was well for a couple years before deciding that it’s enough.

So, the idea behind these sketchbooks is well simple. Freedom, Less Restraint, and just focused on being so-called creative. It’s a case of, me just seeing what I can see in the sea of squiggles and so forth.

Since it’s “just a sketchbook” that type of mindset allows me to work with less pressure in mind. And well, that’s the beauty of it actually. Sketchbooks are not only underrated nor misused. But can be pretty handy, especially for the traveling artist or for those who have too much ideas in mind per day.

On the bus? It’s fine, just draw,

In the food court? Draw while having your munchies.

Where else? Almost anywhere as long as it’s dry, clean, and has enough room to permit to use.

Like, Sketchbooks. It’s a good thing.

As for my end, well, it’s acting as a visual library of how it can hold in a few design sketches and concepts I’m rather fond of.

I can simple open up one, and see from years ago now, that I get to see what I was thinking of at that time.

So, it’s a case of me just brushing up what i know and adjust the issues.

Although nowadays, I simple resort to copy paper since I draw more simpler and focus purely on capturing the initial ideas more often before even considering a full on render or ink.

It’s all about intent really when working on your paper or surface, how far, or simple jolting down ideas.

Key word?

Freedom-anything goes….

Artist Productivity and Improvement Tips-The 5/25 Rule

Well, this is a recurring issue with almost all artists unless they really are deep into their career/projects.

They tend to all well…Dabble. And that is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Like projects, careers, pieces, and anything that needs a level of completion all needs this rule  and to make it better too.

It’s Called the 5/25.

Pick out the top 25 things you want to make, or advance on. And make it a thing that you can see in the foreseeable future.

Perhaps it’s the completion of you first artists website, or the creation of your next big series….

But, you have like, several other things in mind that you want to try out.

Well. First things first, write or type them out. 25 things you really want to do. Next number those things from 1-25.

the Next step is somewhat harder but, use the rule of the highest priority and wants to shift them out, if not the ease of completion.

Have like the top 5 things you have in mind.

They tend to be series that you are really stoked for, or the dreaded artist website, or even applying for a Grant, either way. Those top 5 are something you should have written on a note and taped unto your bedroom wall.

The rest of the 20 other things. You simply want to avoid at all costs, like, the plague keep those other distractions at bay.

That is the basics of it. Pick the top 5 things you want to work on, and Ditch the other 20. And grind down on the top 5 until completion.

This rule can be applied in other ways too. Like, the scale, or time. Think, getting the first 5 things down for the week? The tasks needs to be smaller and more manageable to offset it. It can be

  1. completion of a small-one off
  2. tend to a Workshop
  3. Chip away at a large work for 4-8 hr for the week
  4. Studying a technique
  5. or Posting the Complete work from last week

So, the final take away if this. List out 25 things you really want to achieve or complete.

Pick out the top 5, and Ditch the rest. You will get stuff done more efficiently and effectively this way, and get more clarity on what matters.

I give the courtesy of this tactic and strat to the one and only Warren Buffet (Billionaire Investor and author of The Snow Ball)