Skillshare Audio: Rich Armstrong Answers Your Questions | Rich Armstrong | Skillshare

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Skillshare Audio: Rich Armstrong Answers Your Questions

teacher avatar Rich Armstrong, Multi-hyphenate Artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Rich Answers Your Questions


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About This Class

This class is audio-only, so you won’t see any active video on your screen. Plug in your headphones, take a listen, and let us know what you think!

Join Rich Armstrong for an all-new, audio-only class! You’ll find out his off-the-cuff answers to Skillshare students’ burning questions in this quick, fun class.

Listen along as Rich answers student questions all about Rich’s path, navigating the creative industry, and making great art, including:

  • How do you stay motivated and not give up halfway through a project?
  • How do you maintain your creative spark over a course of years?
  • Can you learn to be more creative over time?
  • How do you let go of perfectionism in your work?
  • And more!

Whether you’re on your iPad making your next piece of art, listening as you work in Photoshop, or on a walk around the neighborhood, join Rich to hear his unfiltered answers to real questions from this community — before joining the Discussion tab to ask your own! 


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Meet Your Teacher

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Rich Armstrong

Multi-hyphenate Artist

Top Teacher

Hey! I'm a multi-hyphenate artist who's authored books, spoken at conferences, and taught thousands of students online. I simply love creating--no mater if it's painting murals, illustrating NFTs on Adobe Live, coding websites, or designing merch. My art is bold and colourful and draws inspiration from childhood fantasies. I have ADHD but am not defined by it, dance terribly, and can touch my nose with my tongue.


I've studied multimedia design and graphic design. I've taught myself how to code. I've freelanced, worked for agencies and startups, and run my own product design studio. I'm a published author and a full-time artist. I used to go by the name TapTapKaboom--that's now a separate thing teaching people how to make w... See full profile

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1. Introduction: How do I choose a career? Do I need a master's degree in illustration? How do we even get started? Where can I find inspiration? Will I ever make money doing this? How do I find clients? What does it take to be creative? How do I manage my classes? Is there a trip to productivity? How you say gif? Is it gif? How you say G-I-F? Is it gif? Welcome to Skill Share Audio. I'm Rich Armstrong, a product designer based in Amsterdam. I grew up in the suburbs of a place called Durban in South Africa. Our Durban is like a really cool place. It is a surf Mecca of South Africa. There are always waves. The water is always warm. Even in winter, it's like 20 degrees. It's this tropical paradise. When people ask me, "Where are you from?" I say "Durban in South Africa," They're like, "Why did you move to Amsterdam? That doesn't make any sense?" I find inspiration in almost anything. I'm probably guilty of taking photos when I shouldn't be taking photos with my phone. I'm listening to weird sounds. What does inspire me is mostly getting outside in the real world. If I could spend or have a perfect day, it would be in Amsterdam. There would be coffee. There would be bookstores and magazine stores, little alleyways, second-hand bookstores, interior design stores. The whole thing that immersive reality just inspires me, using my five senses, not intentionally, but just walking around a city. That inspires me more than anything else. What we're doing today is answering students questions. I have been asked a bunch of questions over the last couple of weeks and I picked a couple of them out to answer, the interesting ones, the big ones. It doesn't mean that your question wasn't valid or awesome if I didn't pick it. But here are just a few that I'm like, "Yes, let's answer these ones." I'm pumped to give you my opinion, my answer, my ideas around these questions. 2. Rich Answers Your Questions: Question number 1, any advice for people who start well in learning a new skill but give up midway? How do you stay motivated? So this applies to almost all of us. It's not just some of us who have this amazing skill to just carry on learning a new skill and to keep up the motivation, there's a lot of things in my life and other people's lives that they've started and then just stopped. The biggest reason why we give up midway or perhaps after a few days, is because we don't know the why. We don't know the reason why we're doing this. We just do it because it seems like a good thing to do. We do it because other people are doing at all, because it's the way to be successful. So here I would just suggest finding that underlying reason and emotion behind why you wanted to learn it in the first place. Like, why did you want to learn how to model 3D stuff, or animate in 3D, or figure out why you wanted to do it. Because sometimes, when we start, we're looking at things from a pretty high up perspective. We have perspective, we see things really clearly, but then when we're in the maze, when we're in the trenches, we forget why or sometimes we forget why we're doing things. Then we're like, "This is pointless. I don't want to learn how to play piano for the next five years. I don't want to learn all about lighting and stuff in the blender. I don't want to learn how to rate characters in 3D or how to learn how to water paint." But, if you understand why, if you understand the reason behind why you chose to do that thing in the first place, it makes sense and link it to an emotion. Sometimes it's because you're frustrated or angry about something and other times it's because that thing fills you with delight. Sometimes when you go through this exercise, you've actually realize that there are reasons, but those reasons don't match who you are or who you want to be. In those cases, I would say that's okay, just let it go. You don't have to learn that new skill. Question number 2, How do you maintain that creative spark over a long period of time? So it's interesting that creativity is seen as a spark and as a flame, because creativity is this flame you've got to nurture. So sometimes you get really excited about something and the flame like, it's huge, it's massive, it's awesome, and you're burning bright and people are like, "Wow, you just seem so energized." You're like, "Yeah, this is awesome." Is a big project. You're trying to take care of the world and then when it stops, well, then your flame just goes away. You wake up one morning and you're like, "Where's my creative spark?" It is gone. This is one of the big things that prevents us from keeping our creative spark going forever or for a crazy long pair of time. We binge work. We get super excited about something and then, uh, there's nothing. It's almost like going and jimming for the very first time. You get really excited and pumps and you're pushing on, you're doing push-ups, you're doing all of these weird kind of new exercises, and then two days later, your arm locks up and your back is sour and then you just can't go to the gym anymore because it's just too much. Whereas if you just did a little bit every single day, that would keep you motivated, that would keep your spark alive. So if you can do something that you love for just five or 10 minutes every single day, your life is just phenomenally better. Your creativity is way better. I know that when I doodled for the first time in a bunch of years, for one day, just for five or 10 minutes, man, my UX UI stuff was off the charts that day. My mind kept running and I was just after one day, I did the next day for 100 days. So that's what I would recommend. Is just doing something that you love every single day and not making it this big thing. Make it something small, make it something approachable, make it something accessible, keep your pen art, keep your camera art. The other thing that I would suggest doing is putting interesting stuff in. Read really good books, go to interesting places, talk to people. Talking to strangers, and shop owners, and people in your neighborhood, that is just like super inspiring. Sometimes this requires you learning new things like ceramics, or screen printing, or taking photos and developing them in the darkroom, or just going walking out in your city or your neighborhood. There are these things that they are new, they're awesome, they're different. That fuels the creative spark as well. Question number 3, can you learn to be more creative and what exercises can I do to get there? Yes, of course, you can learn to be more creative. One of the biggest fallacies or the biggest false ideas that people think of is that they either are or are not creative, or they're born creative, or they're born uncreative. I'm just like, "Man, this is a lot of pollocks." Guys, creativity is a muscle. You can become creative. Of course, you are creative. You're born creative. Just think about life as a kid. You probably had an imaginary friend, you probably played with boxes and thought they were cars and spaceships. You were awesome. Your creativity was this big raging muscle when you were a kid. Now as an adult, you're probably like, "Oh yeah, I'm not creative." But creativity can be learned, it can be practiced, it can be built up. One of the best ways to do this is to not do it in high pressure situations. You're not going to be like, "Hey boss, I decided today that I'm going to be creative, so look at my new presentation." Yeah, you've put in all of these slides, and affects, and sound effects into your slideshow presentation. No, you don't want to do that. You want to do something and be creative in an area that there's not so much pressure involved. Dueling, writing, coming up with ideas, these are things that if you get a wrong, people won't die. Money won't be lost, people won't get frustrated at you. So one of the best ways to do this is to pick a random word or a couple of random words and then doodle them, draw them, write about them, create a story with all of those words on the page in them. Why do you do this? Is because you don't have to come up with those words, you're just using your brain to take what currently exists and make something difference, make something better. When you start doing this in these non pressured environments, even for five or 10 minutes, then when you get to your presentation, your brain, your creativity, it's both up a bit so you can take on this task and be like, "Okay, I'm going to design something that's awesome, that's creative." But it's also going to meet some business goals. Another way to build your creativity is to give yourself constraints and boundaries. When you do link random words, for example, doing a doodle in 10 minutes, burn your brains under pressure, it starts to sweat and it gets bigger, it builds up. When you're learning something new as well, like if you're in Illustrator and you're wanting to learn a new style, just have a few colors to choose from. Limit your time, limit the amounts of shapes, limit the amounts of points in a particular shape. In Adobe Fresco, what I do is I'm like, okay, I'll only use three brushes or two brushes or I'll only use two layers, or I'll only use this pen and just go round and round and round and I'm not allowed to lift the pen from the piece of paper or from the iPad. This starts to just give you more ideas around how to be creative, what to create with. If you think about the Mario theme song, it's like what? It's eight music. It's rarely easy weird music, but it's so catchy. That's what they had to work with and they made this amazing soundtrack for the game. Limit your options, give yourself boundaries, whether it's time, whether it's your tools that are decreased, whatever it may be. The fourth question, or maybe it's a bit of a confession, is I struggle with perfectionism and letting go of control when it comes to drawing and creating. How can I relax and let go of that need to be perfect? I would say a lot of us struggle with this. A lot of us struggle with letting go of control when it comes to creating. Now, when it comes to drawing, it's even more frustrating because, man, there's always going to be someone that's going to be a better drawer than you, someone who's a better artist, someone who can render something better than you. Somebody who struggles with this, I would say there's two options. There's the to do something else that makes you feel in control, do something else that you can be perfect about. Numbers, for example, coding your website is great for being perfect, because if you're not perfect it breaks. Things do not work if you leave out one little bracket or if you're writing some program and you leave out an equals sign or a little curly brace, your whole program breaks, things stop working. Perfection is really good there. This way you can be in control the whole time, you can say to the computer exactly what to do. The other one is practice being imperfect. Give yourself crazy tight deadlines to create something. Draw with your left hand. Hey, just get a piece of paper and get a twig and draw some ketchup or tomato sauce, have some fun there. Then when you're thinking about that, maybe just crunch up the piece of paper and throw it away. Just realize that you can keep on creating. You don't have to create perfect stuff the whole time, you don't have to share it all with people. One of the most fun things I've ever done is to go into a mall and lie down in a crowded pack mall for 30 seconds. I think this is actually something that Tim Ferriss suggests in his book, The 4-Hour Workweek. You just go lie down for 30 seconds, and it goes against absolutely everything in your body to do something stupid like this. But once you've done it, you feel like, "Okay, I can do more imperfect stupid things." Everything is okay. In that situation, I lasted like 20 seconds before people were crowding around me, asked me, "Are you okay. Sir, are you okay? Is everything okay?" I'm like, "Yeah, just give me 10 more seconds, I just need to do this for 30 seconds. I'm okay." Fighting that desire for perfection, for control, man, it's a big thing, but it's empowering when you do it. Question number 5, what is the best advice you've ever been given? Something my dad always said to me, and this is the thing, he said, "Rich, always be your own boss." Now, you maybe thinking, does that mean I should just quit my job and become a freelancer, or an entrepreneur, or start my own business? On the surface level, that may sound like what my dad is saying. What I want to impress upon you is that, are you in control of what you decide to do? Are you choosing who to hang out with? Are you choosing where to spend your time? I mean, when it comes to what we spend our time on, like are you actually designing that or are you going for something because everybody else is going for that? Have you given control of your work life or your personal life over to somebody else? Whether it's a job, whether you're in a weird relationship with somebody, whether you're learning 3D or whatever. You've got to be in control, you've got to be your own boss, and whatever that looks like, I think it is the most, I don't know, fundamental advice that I've ever been given. All right guys, that is it for today. Thank you so much for sending in your questions. They have been amazing. You guys are amazing. You rock. I'm Rich Armstrong, and thank you for listening to Skillshare Audio. If you enjoyed this lesson, make sure to check out my other classes on my scholarship page, I have stuff on animating, iPad stuff, procreate stuff, Adobe Fresco, creativity, making your first website. It's all approachable and it's all built in a way that I wish people had told me. Finally, this is a new format for me, so I'd love your thoughts and feedback. Feel free to share comments in the class discussion section. Don't stop asking questions. I'll keep answering them, it inspires me and I love inspiring you. All right, bye. My superpower, I would say, is a couple of things. On a non serious note, I have the ability to touch my nose with my tongue. That's one of my superpowers. The other superpower is that I can speak like Smeagol or Gollum from Lord of the Rings. That's a little bit funny at times. I don't if you want me to give an example of that. I might need some time to get into it. Yes, hello my friend [inaudible] this is a lovely godish person. That's a party trick. Some people get really freaked out by it. I would say that those are my superpowers.