Tips for Artists from a Runner

This past 9/11 I ran in the Chicago Half Marathon. It’s been a while since I’ve been active in the running community. When I switched gears from design to illustration I had to devote a lot more time to skill building so I didn’t have the time I used to for the endurance sports I loved to participate in.

This past season I’ve felt more confident in my skills and have been itching to run more. It’s a great stress reliever as well, that never fails. So, while running those 13.1 miles (not counting the few miles of walking to and from the car.) I started thinking about all the training lessons to keep me going. Then I started to realize how many of those things really applied to so many of things I do in the studio.

Here are a few things that are meaningful in the studio and afoot!

1. Good form will carry you through.

This tip is from an awesome coach, Coach Brendan Courane. It’s his mantra. And boy does it ever carry through to the studio. It seems so simple yet at those peak miles when you’re starting to unravel concentration can be key.

2. Get plenty of rest before race day.

If you’re coming up against a hard deadline and you just know an all-nighter might be in the cards get some rest, maybe even try to plan out some 15 minute power naps. When you’re beat down your skills will suffer. It’s weird to think you need to “think” about running while your running but the truth is you do. And if you’re exhausted you’re going to make bad decisions or just ignore things that need attention. In the studio this could be rushing things and never coming close to “going the extra mile” if you don’t have enough in the tank to make it past the finish line to begin with.  Jon Schindehette address this as well in a recent post on ArtOrder.

3. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

When you’re running, biking, swimming or just plain being active you sweat. After a while you keep sweating, your clothing is now soaked, your hair is dripping, salty sweat is getting in your eyes, there’s a pebble in your shoe, you’re chaffing in spots you didn’t know where there, and it’s only been 15 minutes. The finish line is another 2 hours away. Well, you learn from your mistakes and do things to prevent chaffing, pebbles, etc. but the fact remains it’s not going to be a comfortable journey to reach the finish line of a marathon. More so for a triathlon.

So, in the studio it’s time to buck up and get out of the comfort zone. Maybe this means really tackling a perspective problem. Going outside to get some reference. Talking to another person to pose for you, maybe even a stranger! Erasing and starting over. Trying a new technique or medium (though I don’t recommend this for a current client – read the next tip.) It doesn’t have to actually hurt, the idea is to get the brain expanding your ideas and skills. It also means not giving up. I will be so worth it to get something you know is wrong right.

4. Don’t try anything new on race day.

I really had to think about this as an artist and with my previous tip to boot! Ok, how can this be the next tip? Well, it has more to do with the professional angle. It’s pretty simple, art directors don’t like surprises from their talent. If you paint it’s not time to try out this digital thing all the kids are doing. It’s not time to see if encaustic wax and macaroni will be your new tools of choice. make sure your client gets what they hired you for. Now, the one surprise they do like is for the work to be better than they expected.

I hope these few tips help. now I gotta go for a run.


Coach Brendan
Chicago Endurance Sports

I’ve kept every bib number from every event I’ve ever done.


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