Wednesday, September 8, 2010

10,000 Hours

Oh hey! The first installment of my webcomic is up. The second is written and thumbnailed and whatnot. I may be experimenting with markers this time around. I'd like to color it in photoshop, but I so hate my current desktop set-up that I know it won't get done. I've been making much more progress going to coffee shops to get work done. I can't get any work done in this house. But soon I will be moving... somewhere. Anyway.

So 10,000 hours! Have you heard this? 10,000 hours is the time it takes to master a skill. You don't have to have any particular talent, you just have to do your thing for 10,000 hours. There are a whole bunch of famous examples if you care to google it. The one that sticks best in my mind is the Beatles. Bands practice maybe a couple hours a day if they're really dedicated, they play a gig that's 2-3 hours? So these blokes from Liverpool are poking around doing their thing but then they get a job at (I'm pretty sure, but can't be arsed to double check) a strip club in Germany. Maybe just a club, but I'm pretty sure it was a strip club. They were doing background music for the whole time the club was open, so now they're doing 40 plus hours a week of nothing but music and they start wracking up the hours. Right around 10,000 is when suddenly they make it big and are hailed as gods.

Right when you reach 10,000 it suddenly becomes that moment in the Matrix where Neo becomes The One and suddenly the world isn't just in slow motion, he can stop time. (Or alternately, and what I actually picture, that moment in that episode of Futurama where Fry finally drinks his 100th cup of coffee, which is of course a parody of the Matrix scene but much closer to the sensation I'm imagining since I don't want to murder anyone).

I think a lot about logging 10,000 art hours. So I did some math.

Let's suppose that I averaged 1 hour of drawing time per week every year of my life for my first 18 years of life. Even considering that for probably my first 3 or so years I did not do much art I feel like this is a low ball estimate. 1 hour per week x 52 weeks per year x 18 years=936 hours.

Like I said though, I think it's way low ball, so lets say 2 hours per week until I was 18, but lets throw out the first 3 years where I was still developing the fine motor skills required to handle a crayon. So 2 hours per week x 52 weeks per year x 15 years=1560 hours. That's better. Still maybe a little low, but my recollection of before I was 10 is not good enough for me to guess accurately, and while I regularly spent well over 2 hours at a stretch, I'm sure there were also week long stretches where I spent less. I feel comfortable sticking with the 2 hours per week.

Then I went to college and got an art degree. I always took at least two studio art classes at a time and doodled consistently through my non-art classes (It helps me process. I actually have a hard time paying attention to lectures if I can't doodle. Weird). Then of course there's the old college estimate that for every hour you spend in class you're doing...oh god, like 12 or something out of class. It's total bullshit of course. I did the math in college and figured that counting the hours of the week I spent actually in class, as well as sleeping a regular amount and throwing in 2 hours a day for eating and bathing and walking back and forth to class, that there wasn't actually enough time in the week to spend on all that theoretical homework. But still I spent easily 1.5 to 2 hours outside of class on homework for the art classes (not the others).

So for the first two years of school that's two art classes a week, each an hour long and meeting three times a week (10 months a year counting winter and summer break)= 480 hours. If we add double that time in homework we get=960. My last two years of school were at least 3 art classes a semester with some insane over time in the ceramics and sculpture buildings. But I don't want to get crazy and over estimate here, so let's stick with the two hours of homework for every one of class. I'm happy with that formula. So 3 classes 3 times a week is 9 hours of class time per week times 2 years=720 hours. Plus the homework is 1,440 hours.

In my four year college career that's 480+960+720+1440=3,600 hours. Add 1,560 for the entire rest of my life and we come to 5,160.

Holy crap! That's half way there! Now I'm afraid I've over estimated but I really do think I'm low balling it. So then I spent my year at AIS. There I took 4 classes a quarter. They were all art classes but there was consistently one that was a giant worthless time sucking money pit. So three good classes a week each of which was 4 hours per week. So 12 hours of art per week times 11 weeks per quarter times 4 quarters= 528 hours. Home work here is tricky because some of the classes were so so good and some were so so bad. But I think the two hours of homework per class is probably still accurate. So that's 1,056 hours of homework plus the 528 of class= 1,584 hours in that one year.

So my grand total is now 6,744. That is less then 4000 hours left!! Because I am once again worried about over estimating, I'm not even going to try an tally the averages for the two year period from my graduation to my time at AIS and then from AIS to now. Some of that time was really productive and some of it was really not. So I'm gonna call it a wash and say I averaged zero for the whole time.

Still, 3,256 hours left. If I could buckle down to AIS levels of work that's just two years. Three years tops. Of course these figures count sculpture time as well as drawing time.

It's funny how you sort of reach milestones with art. Because you work and work and work and sometimes you just hate it all and feel like you're barely treading water and then sometimes stuff clicks and it's like you've jumped miles forward overnight. Lately I've found that for the first time I can make my drawing do mostly whatever I want. If it tapers off then I need to do a master copy or some life sketches or some other exercise and it snaps back.

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