Stop treating your art as a gift to the world
And start treating it as evidence of who you are
👋 Good morning from Los Angeles! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is Plan Your Next—a Sunday newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.
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💵 I recently turned on payments for this newsletter, but don’t worry, nothing changes other than your support. I’ll still be sending along the newsletter in its fully crafted form, but with the optionally and highly touted (by me) benefit of doing open drawing sessions, AMAs, and other office hour sessions.
What’s probably most interesting to me is the PYN OG membership where you’ll get every product I create (by myself) plus extended 1:1 calls. So far I have two products that would be included, and anything else I create in the next 12 months.
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Stop treating your art as a gift to the world
I've heard the phrase that you should look at your art as a gift to the world. But I think that's giving any individual piece of art too much credit and not enough to what is a lagging indicator of the greatness that lies ahead.
Treating anything like a gift sets the bar too high. Even the most famous painting (Yes that’s the Mona Lisa) is mocked and ridiculed by many. Our creativity is not always viewed as a gift anyways, so when it’s inevitably rejected by some, it cuts deep.
Our creative process isn’t built to withstand repeated rejection. And if you’re like me, my so-called gifts feel more like a combination of six different lego sets mixed together in an unwrapped Amazon box shipped on a rainy day.
I've snapped tens of thousands of pictures, typed out hundreds of essays, designed hundreds of websites, and nothing has felt ready to gift to the world.
I've spent hours tweaking a photo in Adobe Lightroom to get a slightly desaturated but film-like grain, adding a foundational crunchy texture like a slice of dutch crunch bread beneath a layer of warm pastrami.
In Figma, I'll push pixels around the infinite canvas, wondering if the font Domaine Display showcases my personality enough or if I should go with something more modern.
While Hemingway said the first draft of anything is shit, what if we spend hours on a creative project that still ends up like shit? Endless tinkering increases the likelihood that you'll be more cautious about what you end up shipping, because of how much devotion you've given to your art.
This is the ultimate paradox: the more you care, the more difficult it is to admit, "I'm ready to publish.”
So what if we cared less about our art? Does it make us less than an artist? Does your art not deserve to see the light of day?
I struggle with this idea often, as if spending more time on our projects somehow makes us better artists or creators. That process should be as disheartening as the idea that working in a cubicle makes you a better employee.
Leonardo Da Vinci made more scribbles in his sketchbook than Steve Jobs sent emails, and even he said, "Art is never finished, only abandoned."
There's a certain beauty to the imperfection of something that is finished and released into the world. It shows that you are brave enough to accept your work as it is and let it live on its own.
The beauty of deadlines
What’s more important than any single piece of art is the trail of evidence you leave as you continue to create. And creating needs deadlines so we don’t devote too much of ourselves in a way that leaves us too fragile to publish.
This is why I believe in having a finish line. Create constraints for yourself, even if it's a weekly newsletter forcing you to ship on Sundays while wondering if
my gift writing will resonate with anyone.
Releasing art into the world regularly has a more important role than any one individual thing you create. It establishes a family tree of work that can be found and traced back to its origin. You.
Don’t treat your creativity or art as a sacred gift, but as evidence of what you’re interested in so you can pull people into your world.
⚡️ Your next creative hits
🌈 99% of color palette generators work and look like trash, and you’re left not knowing how to use color anyways. Poline won’t teach you anything except about how it works, but it sure does do a better job of combining colors.
👨💻 Try browsing the web in a different way. It took me months to get the courage (and time) to try out the Arc browser, but it’s one of the few products that balance form and function well. Check out this incredibly well-edited video between the Head of Design and the CEO. (It’s based on Chrome so all your extensions will still work) 👉 Here are five invites
👋 See you next Sunday
My calendar is always open to chat about your next adventure, crazy idea, or if you’re feeling creatively stuck.
My goal is to help more people give a damn about what they’re creating next, through my writing, teaching, and design. If you want to support my journey, the best ways are to learn to draw, make better design decisions, communicate stories with better slide decks, or discover your visual style in my live workshops.
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Have a great week,
p.s. Words are just words, but if these words made you feel something, would you let me know by tapping on the heart below?