Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: The Paper Wings podcast

Paper Wings Podcast: the show for Visual Storytellers

Sometime in March, I was pointed to the Paper Wings Podcast. Hosted by Lora Innes and Chris Oatley, The podcast brands itself as “the show for visual storytellers” to “help [them] find the time and energy… to finish their personal project”. However, I didn’t think this was my kind of thing because, at the time, they were focusing on what people should do if they wanted to become full-time illustrators for a major corporation.

In June, I was pointed to it again, so I skeptically returned to the site. This time, their focus was on how to make time when you fell you had none. “This is exactly what I need!” I thought, so I downloaded the podcast. Ironically, I didn’t have time to listen to it until about three weeks later. See, I don’t have a portable mp3 player of any sort (that includes my cell phone, which won’t even let me download new ringtones to complement its default three horrible buzzings) so the only way I would be able to listen to it would be when I had my laptop out. Unfortunately, whenever I have my laptop out I’m writing in it, and I honestly can’t write and listen at the same time.

Image:A young man in a t-shirt and short-sleeved jacket is shown smiling uncomfortably at the camera, as he attempts to draw in a bus seat where everything bounces around exaggeratedly.

The time was created when I got on the bus on June 23, feeling too tired to read, or write, or draw, but not tired enough to take a nap. That was when I remembered the podcast. So I pulled out my laptop and earphones and pressed “play”.

At first I was like, “same old, same old,” but then came two recommendations that really changed my life: the first was to leave the shows you wanted to watch running while you drew (or rather, to draw while you were watching your shows). The second was to set aside the time for improving yourself: look up tutorial videos and tell yourself that they are important. See where I’m going with this?

The idea of making the time you watch TV be the time during which you draw, comes under the logic of making your wasted time count for something: this is time you’re going to use up anyway, and let’s face it: you don’t need your hands to watch TV, and you don’t need your ears to draw; and TV nowadays is so formulaic, that more-often-than-not you can tell what’s going on without having to watch the screen.

Except that I don’t watch TV.

Whenever I do end up watching TV, it’s because Sis has it on at a volume impossible to neglect, on a program that, while it may not be any good, is impossible to ignore.

As for the video tutorials, I didn’t have any to watch. They also recommended podcasts but, again because I don’t have an mp3 player, I had none to listen to. So what I did was I downloaded all the Paper Wings podcasts, and whenever I drew at home, I would pull out my laptop and leave it playing.

Lora and Chris truly did have many tips for me, even though I wasn’t looking to be hired as an artist by a major corporation. They made me think about things I had never thought about, and rethink things I thought I had decided clearly. One thing in particular I enjoyed doing was their ten questions to ask your characters, which I hope to share with you sometime.

I eventually realized I now had more time to listen to things than things to listene to! I started looking for more things I could play. I remembered I had never finished listening to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio play (which had been given to me as a gift), and interspersed episodes of that with the ones I had left of Paper Wings. Following that train of thought, I looked for other radio plays; unfortunately for me, The Hitchhiker’s Guide was so good, it spoiled me. Then it hit me: Lora and Chris had been talking about TV! So I looked for a couple of shows I had watched as a kid, but had never known how they ended (or they don’t show them here anymore even though they're still running!), and I guess you could say it got me back to my roots.

There’s something exhilarating in feeling like a little kid while creating art, and then, when the episode ends, have the playlist turn you to Lora and Chris who remind you it still is serious business.

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