I love learning how creative people work. Sometimes learning how others go about their process makes me rethink my own.
Mike Rooth is a friend and phenomenal illustrator who wrote on Facebook recently: “I’m way better at what I do at 3am than I am at 3pm. The Beast runs wild in my veins at this time, especially after drawing non stop all day and night…”
I’ve felt that. Anybody who’s hit a groove in their creative work has felt a surge of energy that just snowballs. I wanted to know more about what makes Mike’s illustrations better after working hours on end. So I asked him. Mike gave some great insights. He calls it the Hour of the Wolf. I’ll let Mike explain:
“When I’m on my second wind and pushing into the wee hours of the morning on a drawing I can feel those little electrical creative connections link up in my brain meat and send lighting bolts down my arm that blast out onto the page more fluidly and confidently than at 3pm, say. This is a very personal solitary business to work in, and usually at 3am there is no one around to bounce ideas off of or get feedback, so it’s all up to me.”
It’s clear Mike loves creating artwork, and submerging himself in solitude to work for hours on end provides an amazing opportunity to explore and innovate in his process. The freedom he feels to let loose empowers a creative drive within him that he calls ‘the beast’. Mike says it best:
“The Beast likes to run wild. I’m often surprised while working on something very specific – an image or composition that has been crystal clear in my mind from the get-go will often change or go in surprising directions whilst I’m working within the hour of the Beast – and it often does so with confidence, and so I just go where it takes me.”
There is an interesting flip-side to this. While working for dedicated hours without rest can lay the grounds for innovation, you might think that doing something completely unrelated for hours on end would kill innovation and weaken your skills. In fact the opposite is true. A few years ago, Mike took a job as a custodian/superintendent to help pay a few bills. He was not happy about it.
“I was worried that spending long periods of time out of the studio doing menial tasks would soften my drawing skills and syphon my creativity and motivation… but a surprising thing happened – my work got BETTER. While I’m outside cleaning up after filthy humans, sweeping up cigarette butts and trash, and scraping bubblegum off the sidewalk- my thoughts are already in the studio, and the Beast is sharpening it’s claws all day waiting for me to get back there… so the time I do get to spend drawing is much more impactful.”
Mike and I will be at the Comic Expo at Humber College this week at two campuses. The event will run Wednesday March 19th at Humber Lakeshore (3199 Lake Shore Blvd W, Toronto), and Thursday March 20th at Humber North (205 Humber College Blvd, Toronto), from 11am-3pm both days. I will have books and merchandise for sale.
Connect with Mike Rooth and see more of his work: