Bad Tools Kill Your Art

Every time I stray into an art store, I’m drawn to the brushes and pencils and sketch pads. I can’t help it. They all look so delicious. I know I don’t need any more, that the tools I have are perfectly adequate, yet the sight of all those tools makes me giddy with creativity.

There is, however, a need to have decent equipment to work with. Nothing will kill your vibe more than struggling with shoddy paper or a pencil that keeps losing it’s lead. As a teacher, where attending to my class is sometimes measured in seconds, I invest in good pens. When I want to jot down a note, I can’t be struggling to get the ink to flow.

Art is no different. You don’t need to invest a fortune (or keep buying supplies over and over) but you do need to have equipment that functions properly.

Light and seating take precedence. If you have a workstation at home, get yourself a decent light so you won’t be squinting over your work. And the chair. This is the one place you may have to splurge. Trust me, my back and shoulders know what it’s like to sit in an uncomfortable position. The acupuncture treatments along could pay for a new chair each year, if needed.

As a writer, my number one tool is not the computer or even a pencil or pen. It’s a keyboard. A while ago, my wife gifted me a superb keyboard that looked like a typewriter. I adored the thing. Except, after a year, the Bluetooth connection to the computer began to break down. Letters would double or not type at all. A few times, random letters would type all on their own. Nothing frustrates you more than trying to get your creative juices going and having the keyboard decide to chime in with it’s own ideas.

Invest in a decent Bluetooth keyboard, or even get a wired one that won’t let you down. 

The final consideration is temperature — something most of us take for granted. The idea of the starving artist, toiling away in a cold attic, might look great on the screen. But let me tell you, trying to type or draw in a cold room makes your fingers ache. I’m not saying you need to invest in a new heating unit for your house or apartment. Even a sweater can help you out. It’s mostly a decision about time. You might need to shift when you create so that the temperature of the room doesn’t work against you.

The same goes for extreme heat. I remember reading Stephen King’s Bag of Bones, where the writer-protagonist types away while in his boxers, sweat dripping down his body. Again, this reads great on the page. But try it for yourself. You’ll be so sapped by the heat, all your creative juices will have evaporated. 

Think about the time you create so as to minimize the elements of distraction. 

Keep your body healthy and good art will follow.

Tim Kane

Leave a Reply