It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
OPTIONAL QUESTION: Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?
MY ANSWER: I don’t always answer the optional IWSG questions, but this one struck me as extremely relevant. Most artistic people I know have more than one creative outlet. It is as if the creativity bubbles inside them and wouldn’t be consigned to one single stream. As I discovered recently, I’m no different.
I’ve always made up stories, since I was a little kid, so it was a logical progression for me to start writing down my stories. But I haven’t ever considered myself an artist, couldn’t draw a straight line to save my life. Surprisingly, few years ago, I started designing book covers from the existing free images available on the internet, and I found it such a satisfying activity, I can’t stop.
Most of my pre-made book covers are in the genres of science fiction and fantasy. Each one is almost a visual story in itself, with a protagonist and her complex milieu. Sometimes it is a witch with her pixie helpers. Sometimes it is a princess who befriended a dragon. I use people 3D rendering made by other artists in DAZ studio or Poser and backgrounds offered by wonderful photographers and artists on Pixabay and other similar free websites.
My pre-made book covers are like an assembly line, with 2 to 20 different elements in every cover. The sample cover below includes 9 elements. You can see all my pre-made book covers on my DeviantArt page, and I often add new ones. I would be very happy if someone liked my covers and used one of them for their book.
The book covers I made for wattpad, for all my stories and for other writers’ stories as well, are a bit different. For them, I used predominantly photographs as the basic images, not DAZ renders. You could see the examples on my wattpad page. It is not my favorite approach; too many cover artists use realistic photographs these days, and the images seem to blend into each other, with nothing to distinguish one author from the next, on Amazon or any other book retail site. At least, my DAZ and Poser based covers are unique.
I also make badges for the WEP challenges, have been making them since 2016. It started with a casual request from Denise Covey, the WEP founder, and it is very different from my book covers endeavor. With the book covers, I make them mostly for myself, to satisfy my artistic itch. With the badges, it starts with a theme.
After I find an appropriate image for the theme, I design a badge and ask the other WEP team members for their feedback. Sometimes, my first attempt is approved right away; everyone likes it. Other times, I don’t get so lucky. I might go through a half-dozen or more different images for one challenge, before it is accepted by all the hosts of WEP. We swap ideas and discuss possibilities. I found it especially hard with challenges leaning towards abstract concepts, but so far, I’ve always come out the winner with a final badge everyone likes. And it’s such a giddy feeling, when I finally get an ‘okay’ for a badge from everyone, I always feel like celebrating.
Perversely, until I do get an ‘okay’, I feel like I’m an imposter, a failure. Like I’d never get another badge right in my life. Like many artistic personalities, I’m very sensitive to my friends’ critique, and each time they dislike my first draft, I would sulk and think something along the lines of “oh, they don’t understand…” But then, I would search again, listen to their suggestions, find a better image or a better composition, and the final badge is always, without exceptions, the best of all my attempts. Obviously, my friends do understand.
One of the examples of my hard-won badges is the one for the upcoming WEP challenge in February, 28 DAYS. I went through several different images before I found this one, the one everyone approved. The process wasn’t easy, but the result was all the more satisfying because of it. Come and join us in this challenge. What could you write about 28 days?
What other creative outlets do you have, in addition to writing? Tell me in the comments.