The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Andy Musser: Andy Musser, 28, Animator & Illustrator, Self/Freelance
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
AM: Most of my hobbies center around making art, I’m usually drawing and writing stories with any unscheduled time I have. To get inspired, I like to go on hikes and walks; nature offers a never ending supply of color combinations and patterns. People-watching during a walk is always a bonus, useful for gathering ideas for new characters and stories. Other activities I do to stay motivated include: reading books, visiting museums, listening to music, and exercising. Also, I mediate every morning for ten minutes, to help quiet my mind and prepare to think creatively.
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
AM: Yes, it’s a big challenge for me. My work in animation often takes me in a more commercial direction than my illustration projects, and staying current with both fields can feel like two full-time jobs. On a regular basis, I try to block out time to play in my sketchbook; that’s where a lot of interesting things happen for me. Lately, I’ve been focusing on making my final illustrations feel more personal, trying to capture the same playful quality that’s present in my sketchbook.
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
AM: I feel most productive in the morning and most creative in the evening. I try to tackle the biggest mental challenges at the beginning of the day, such as organizing projects or handling business tasks. Drawing and painting often come easier at the end of the day, after all of the big concerns have been checked off my list. I find the part of my brain that overthinks is tired by this time and interferes less, allowing me to create more intuitively.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
AM: I love making images and telling stories, and I want to continue to do so in a variety of mediums. I think picture books are a wonderful format; it’s one of my dreams to write and illustrate my own stories, as well as illustrate stories by other authors. Making another short film is on my list, I have a plan to combine my more painterly illustrations with animation. For a while now, I’ve been thinking about creating a series of large scale paintings, using them to explore new storytelling ideas and painting methods.
TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
AM: I’m working on several picture book ideas, with an eclectic mix of topics and characters. I’m hesitant to talk about my stories, because they evolve so much during development, and usually end up being something else entirely when they’re finished. My process starts with brainstorming in my sketchbook, both writing and drawing. Once the story has solidified, I type up a manuscript, draw more sketches, do research, get feedback, and then revise. When the story feels ready, I create a “dummy,” a full size sketch version of the book similar to storyboards for films. For final illustrations, I like working with a variety of mediums and use whichever feels right for the project. Lately, I’ve been using gouache and color pencil, with a little bit of Photoshop for color correction and cleanup.
I’ve also started a series of paintings of gardens in my neighborhood as a way to experiment with different painting techniques. It’s fascinating to watch gardens grow and a fun challenge try to capture the shapes, color combinations, and compositions they create.
TCU: What scares you?
AM: The process of trying to generate art that’s new and interesting can make me feel pretty vulnerable, and I often wrestle with my fears: rejection, criticism, self doubt, and financial instability. I’d have to say my biggest fear is not achieving my goals, and that thought is vastly more scary than any of the others, which helps me to keep pushing forward. But I think facing fear is an important part of making art. When I finally set all those worries aside and get back to work, I’m reminded how rewarding it feels and how lucky I am to be able to make art.
TCU: What does success mean to you?
AM: Creating honest art that enriches viewers’ lives in some way. Being surrounded by kind and inspiring people. Having the means to continue to learn, grow, and create more art.
If you want to check out more of Andy's rad illustration work or learn more about him, head over to www.andymusser.com.