PK 017: Will Terrell on Putting The Fun Back Into Your Art

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One of Will Terrell’s Cute Illustrations

“Basically, I want to make the world a better place and I want to use my artistic talent to do that”

Ever hit a roadblock in your art? Ever got caught up in insecurities about your talent? Perhaps you’ve even wondered why you even make art in the first place? Will Terrell knows exactly where you’re coming from. Over the years, he’s helped countless aspiring artists conquer their fears, overcome negativity, and – most importantly – put the fun back into their art!

His journey as an artist is an unconventional one. For starters, Will didn’t even have any aspirations of becoming an artist when he was growing up – he wanted to write comic books and only turned to illustration when he couldn’t find any suitable artists to finish his stories.

Although he’s always enjoyed drawing, it wasn’t until the age of 19 that Will started taking art seriously. However, rather than it coming naturally, Will soon learned that he had to work on his talent in order to get anywhere.

“I didn’t realize how bad I really was until I started going to comic cons and showing my work to other people,” he laughs. “In fact, many people told me that a career in art probably wasn’t the right one for me!”

At this stage, most of us would have given up. But not Will. Armed with a stubborn streak and an irrepressible sense of humor, he hunkered down and learned the skills he needed, such as anatomy and concept design. As he developed his skills, something happened that would change the course of his art career for good. Will discovered that he wanted to pass these skills on to others through teaching.

Sketch Groups And Socializing

Having decided he wanted to teach, Will decided to set up a sketch group locally. He organized several ‘drink and draw’ events, where aspiring artists would meet up in a bar, have a few drinks, and draw comic book characters. However, these weren’t quite as successful as he’d initially hoped – partly down to people enjoying a few drinks too many! “It’s not a good way to learn, but it’s a great way to socialize”, he laughs.

It was only when he moved to San Diego, California in 2005 that he really started to understand what goes into creating a great sketch group. Having joined a local sketch group, he got to sit with other professional artists and was amazed at first by what he saw. “I didn’t realize just how much work goes into getting good”, he explains. “And, once I’d seen what that looked like, I was able to apply it to my own mind when teaching others. A good sketch group needs a professional artist without a large ego leading it. As a teacher, you need to understand that everyone matters – even if they can only draw stickmen!”

Having learned from his experiences, Will began putting this new approach into practice. The results were a whole lot better this time round, with his sketch group growing from three people to almost 100 in the space of three years. Other doors opened too, with Will’s group attending the famous San Diego Comic Con and being offered discounts on supplies from local art stores. Through teaching at his sketch group, Will helped many people connect with like-minded artists and many new friendships were made. In fact, it was through just such an event that Will met his future wife!

Conquering Roadblocks And Putting The Fun Back Into Making Art

All artists run into creative roadblocks from time to time, and Will has met plenty of them at his sketch groups. He says: “I can always tell when someone has hit one of these. When showing you their sketchbook, they say things like ‘Oh, these are all old’ or ‘These aren’t very good’. What this actually means is that they’ve lost their joy.”

To help artists put the fun back into their work, Will likes to create games to play, such as where each artist draws a panel of a comic book story before passing it onto the next person. “Many people lose touch with why they became an artist,” he says. “I often get people saying ‘My stuff just doesn’t look like the good stuff I see’, but they’ve got it the wrong way round. Don’t try and compare your work to others all the time – you should do it because you want to do it!”

He’s also encountered many people who have hoped to make a living from their art, but get frustrated when this doesn’t happen. “They start to resent making art because it hasn’t given them what they want. They’re doing it for the wrong reasons! You’ve got to learn how to do the drawings you love to do – not simply to please clients. Don’t fill your portfolio with stuff you don’t actually like doing!”

As well as hosting hugely popular sketch groups, Will had also found another great outlet for teaching others. At first, he didn’t know whether his YouTube channel would work or not, but he’s recently hit 60,000 subscribers. You can check out one of his hugely popular videos below:

What’s his recipe for success? “If you can do the thing you’re really good at, do the thing you’re really passionate about, and do the thing that people respond to, you’ll be successful. It’s all about getting those three elements aligned. You need to think about where you want to be in 20 or 30 years’ time and start making those changes now.”

Moving to LA And Becoming a Storyboard Artist

Talking of making changes, Will is about to make one hugely exciting change in his life. He plans to move to LA and pursue his dream of becoming a storyboard artist, saying he loves the fun element of storyboarding and making himself and other people laugh. “There are lots more opportunities in LA, and I’m looking forward to bouncing ideas off other artists”, he explains.

It’s another example of Will’s determination and crystal-clear vision of how he wants his life to pan out. “Basically, I want to make the world a better place and I want to use my artistic talent to do that”, he says. We’d find it very hard to disagree.

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • Why you should always make the art you love
  • Why joining your local sketch group is a great idea
  • How to put the fun back into your art

People on this Episode:

Mitch
Will

Mentioned in the episode:

Will’s Website
Will on Youtube
Will on Facebook
Will on Twitter
Will on Tumblr
Will on Deviant Art

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Wednesday morning 8AM EST.

Cheers,

Mitch

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