PK 073: Mitch Bowler on How to Finish What You Started as an Artist in 2016

PK 073: Mitch Bowler on How to Finish What You Started as an Artist in 2016 2 073 How to finish what you start in 2016 pencil kings

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Is 2016 the year you actually become the artist you really want to be? 

“This year, we’re going to encourage you to stop being an army of one…and start being an army of everyone.”

~ Mitch Bowler

Is this the year you learn how to finish what you started as an artist?

As we look forward to what 2016 will bring, it’s time to start realizing your true potential as an artist and moving forward.

So, if your sketchbooks are full of creative projects that started out with great ideas and good intentions – but just fizzled out to nothing – then get ready…

Because Mitch Bowler and the team at Pencil Kings are on a mission to help you take the first step. And this new podcast begins with looking at the 4 critical areas of artistic development and how you can start taking action right now…

The First Step in Learning How to Finish What You Started

When you look back at last year, ask yourself what you set out to achieve…and whether you were successful in doing this.

Because we’re all exactly the same when we start a project. We’re super-excited, we’re pumped up, and we’re ready for action. We’ll call this level 1.

But then something happens…

The honeymoon period ends and you realize you’ve got to put a whole lot more work in than you thought to achieve your goals and learn how to finish what you started.

We’ll call this level 2, and it’s the critical moment in a project where you might start to feel disheartened and even disillusioned. As an artist, your drawings might not be turning out how you wanted them to, or you may find yourself struggling with some technical aspects.

It’s the part where procrastination can set in. When you’re unsure of how to proceed, or what you need to do to get the results you’re looking for.

So where do you go from here? How do you let go of the fear that’s stopping you?

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • How to make the leap from level 2 to level 3
  • How to take control of your art career and develop as an artist
  • Why reaching out to other artists will help your creativity flourish

Has this podcast helped you take action with your art in 2016? Check out this blog post for even more great tips on how to start making art again.

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18 thoughts on “PK 073: Mitch Bowler on How to Finish What You Started as an Artist in 2016”

  1. Hey Mitch! Here’s to a year of shaking off the rust. I have about a dozen projects I’ve been avoiding, the main one being comics. Right about now I’m circling in stage 2, it seems to be an issue of not feeling skilled enough to take on the big bad world of comic writing / illustrating. How do people do both? I know drawing a comic will naturally make me better over time but I just can’t seem to start!

    This year it’s definitely going to happen. Even if it feels like running backwards up an escalator!

    1. Hay Blue C,
      I totally understand what you’re saying! I think the biggest barrier is simply the start. If you have once figured out how to start, continuing will be far less hard. I sadly can’t give you tips on creating better art or comics, because I simply don’t know a lot about it myself, but I think I can understand your struggle. Try to have a mindset of action and not reaction. If you think you should do it, do it and don’t let yourself be stopped by circumstances. Have a mindset of “This is gonna happen tomorrow”, and not “this year” 😉
      Hope I could help you, and good luck on your journey,

    2. Hi Blue 🙂
      I think what Simon said is right on the money – but you can go even further. How about if instead of a comic BOOK, you chose a short story – 5 illustrated pages long.

      For what it’s worth a quick google search on ‘average number of words on a comic book page’ came up with 164 for Spiderman and 150 for Batman (source:

      So if you constrain your vision and make it smaller – that means 5 pages of illustrations, and approximately 150 words per page which is 750 words.

      Thank that’s too long? Go to 3 pages.

      Now stop reading and get working and shoot us an update when you get your first page done 🙂

  2. Hey Mitch, great Podcast. Boy shaking off the rust or dust for me. Level one lasted 3 months after I retired then level 2 when I realized how much I didn’t know!! Then procrastination or just reading and listening might be the words. I loved seeing how to but just found it difficult to do. I joined PK and it was a new boost, then the 21 day challenge, then that old procrastination came back at day 22. I definitely need it to happen. I’m glad someone else is going to shake with me. I’ll be watching and if you post I’ll be sure to comment.

    1. Hi Karen, I definitely was in that zone for quite a while. Actually this month or two are the first ones I would consider myself to be fully out of it. I did it by finding my love for art. It sounds very cheesy but let me explain 😉 I always had the thought that I “should” draw right now, but instead I am binge watching Stephen Colbert videos on YouTube. This though always was a huge pressure for me, and it really took away the fun. I got out of it, just by doing stuff. Tom Frank, a blogger about college, calls it decision fatigue, where you have such a hard time deciding in the first place you don’t do it at all. By just drawing every single day you get out of this. Create a habit of drawing. If you don’t have an idea what to draw copy some anatomy stuff from Andrew Loomis, or other stuff that you think is helpful, but do something. I hope I could help you, even if my writing was all over the place 😀
      Have a great day, full of inspiration,

    2. Hi Karen – thanks for commenting.

      How about with that 21 day challenge – you just repeat it, but this time set a clear intention for yourself for the direction that you want to go in the next 21 days. Perhaps there’s a certain area of study that interests you most, or a particular fundamental that you want to go deep with? Or maybe… it’s just that you want to have the most fun 🙂 I’d love to see the results of that… 21 days of ‘The most fun things I could think of to draw’

  3. Hey I loved the podcast. So much that I wanted to write a comment about my goals 😀 So I have the ambiguous goal of having a Portfolio set up on a personal website. And honestly this goal is scaring the heck out of me, because if I look at my art right now it is so far away of being presentable to a professional community. Although I think having a portfolio to present is the first step into an art career, and it might be the first step for me into it.

    1. “I think having a portfolio to present is the first step into an art career”

      You’re right… this is a pretty common first step. Have a look into what’s really holding you back here – because if this is a stretch it may be that there are some mental anchors that are rearing their heads and may continue to really slow progress if not addressed. It’s not that hard though, and the great news is that there are a lot of site builders out there now that can give you a completely awesome looking portfolio. I’ve seen a number of the artists on the podcast using squarespace – here’s a great example by past guest Josh Viers –

      All the heavy lifting of making a pro website is taken off your shoulders so you can focus on making the best art you can 🙂

    2. I know this may sound kind of ridiculous because almost everyone is doing it… but if yiu haven’t thought about it… post your art in social media first… (i.e. instagram) I find that when I post my art online and it gets like by strangers I feel a little better and it gives me the boost I need to make another piece of art… this might boost your confidence to get that Web page up because more people enjoy your art then you initially realized…. wishing you the best for 2016!

    3. It’s somewhat terrifying to me as well, have you looked into wordpress templates or square space? I would like to look into these more, as I feel being able to update the site myself would be ideal!

      That being said it sounds like you should just keep enjoying the process and getting to what you feel is more of a presentable portfolio that you would be proud of, and not worry too much about the website quite yet..?

  4. I have a couple of small art projects, some crafty, some writing, some illustration.

    The project that first came to mind though, is my book. Nothing big, I just wanted to have a few poems and a short story, illustrated in a handmade book. It will only be around 10-15 pages, and I’m perfectly capable, and yet… I dunno, it has come to a standstill. Almost a year, and I only got an advanced draft of the story, two poems, and a few concept illustrations done.

    Using your terminology, I’ve reached stage 2, which has been the death of 99% of my projects. Since my art is only a hobby, I’ve always been pretty nonchalant if my projects come to nothing, but I’m starting to get frustrated; I can’t let this one die, and preferably not my other projects from now on. I’m tired of sketches, I’m tired of great ideas fizzling away. I want to get things done, get artwork hung on my wall, maybe (dare I hope?) sell stuff at my local craft show this spring.

    I’m not sure anyone can help me, heheh, but I’m still glad I wrote this. I’m getting the urge to pull out that project again…

    1. Hi Andreisy – thanks for commenting! Do you think you could get at least one poem illustrated and get that hung on your wall somewhere you will see it each day, and where when your friends come over they can comment at what a lovely piece of art you have on your wall?

      I think this may be the nudge you need to see that it’s ok to keep going… and even if you choose not to – you’ll have one nice piece on your wall, and if you really wanted – you could take that single piece down to the craft show and hang it up in a friend’s booth and see what happens – you never know… the world is a magical place 🙂

      1. Hey, that’d be nice 🙂 I have been working on a piece specifically for hanging, a poem under it would add interest. I will certainly try it, thank you!

  5. Pingback: Here’s How to Start Making Art Again

  6. Hey Mitch! Great podcast that got me thinking… I’m very much stuck at level two…. which is how I ended up here with you… I have some big dreams but some I’d like to get going for this year are… a YouTube channel for speed paints and crafts and vlogs… selling my art… illustrating a children’s book…. and becoming a freelance artist… big goals right? Sigh… the thing holding me back… my art is NOT up to par, I even have a hard time showing it to my family let alone the world. I have a long road a head of me and I would love to improve and at least get one of my goals accomplished… so here is to 2016 and to keep moving forward!

    1. Hi Ashley – please connect with me. Let’s see if we can help each other out and start at least one of these goals on one of the coming weekends. I’m sure we can get some weekend warriors together inside the community and start making magic happen.

  7. Hi Mitch, loved the podcast so much as to come leave a comment about my goals! I wanted to make a book/catalogue of my paintings last year, including the cultural/travel stories that go along with each one. The stories are the main thing holding me back, finishing writing them and developing that cohesive collection of stories. I was considered a pretty good writer through school and college but I’ve gotten a bit rusty the last years. I do feel stuck around level two, struggling to get a website I can keep updated, and hardly selling any work despite positive feedback. (part of the problem is that I’m located in West Michigan!) Thanks so much for the thought-provoking and community building podcast! Even tho the theme is slightly different than my career path as a non digital painter I find it insightful and encouraging!

    1. Hi Loralee – thanks so much for the comment! I know that location can sometimes hold you back, but it can also be an opportunity in disguise… Are there any local stores/restaurants that would let you hang your work and sell it on consignment? I find in the smaller communities that people are more likely to support each other – so it could be that people just don’t know about your paintings 🙂

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