Principle vs. Process

August 27, 2011

Hey friends, I’m glad you’re here!

I’m interested in hearing your feedback. This is not a 10-steps-to-greatness-self-help blog. This blog will merely be about what I’ve learned so far. If you’ve got something good to share, or a better way to do things, please let me know in the comments!

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75 Responses to Principle vs. Process

  1. Adam on October 17, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Love how you did it in pictures (very nice art, the simple look fits the purpose just right). Interesting idea.

  2. Noel Arthur on October 17, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    This is an absolutely awesome idea! In my recent journey as an artist, I have also come to see that learning about “the hands that made it” is super useful, interesting, and helpful!

    The fact that this post was done as a comic rather than a lengthy text post only furthers my excitement. It’s visually stimulating as well as easy to read and understand. Can’t wait to see more!

    • stephen on October 18, 2011 at 4:26 am

      Thanks Noel! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks about these kinds of things!

  3. New Blog! | on October 17, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    [...] The cool thing about this site is that all the essays are told in comics form. There is now one entry up which tries to answer the question: Which is more important, an artistic process, or the [...]

  4. Sarah on October 17, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I am excited to follow this blog and learn from your ideas and practices.

    • stephen on October 18, 2011 at 4:25 am

      Thanks Sarah! It’s good to have you here!

  5. Papa Phil on October 17, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    The student is becoming the teacher; the apprentice is becoming the master.

  6. Kevo on October 18, 2011 at 3:39 am

    What a fantastic and creative (!) idea.

    • stephen on October 18, 2011 at 4:06 am

      Thanks Kevo!

  7. Rosemry Morgan on October 18, 2011 at 4:02 am

    Heh, I like how the character looks like you.

  8. hilscreate on November 4, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Brilliant idea for articulating these crucial differences. Its really inspiring and can’t wait to see more.

    • stephen on November 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      Thanks hilscreate! Welcome!

  9. Stephanie L. on November 15, 2011 at 4:52 am

    Oh gosh, so I meet you at one con and now it seems I’m stalking you all over the net, but I’m so glad to have followed the trail to this blog. Thanks so much for sharing this info. This artwork is really nice. I love the colors and the general feel of it all. Very nice!

    • stephen on November 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks Stephanie! So nice to meet you guys!

  10. VickyBit on November 30, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Oooh, this seems like an interesting blog! I too am really interested in the thoughts that go into creative work as much as the work itself, so I’ll be lookin’ forward to seeing what you’ll be puttin’ up here! :D

    • stephen on November 30, 2011 at 8:49 pm

      Thank you! Welcome!

  11. MrLich on November 30, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    First: This looks beautiful, and I love the idea you’re working with. I’ll be watching closely and contributing when/where I can.

    Thanks for sharing your work and the things you’ve learned with all of us. :)

    • stephen on December 1, 2011 at 4:14 am

      Please do, I’m interested in hearing you thoughts! Thanks!

  12. Jonathan on December 1, 2011 at 1:28 am

    This is, I think, exactly what I hoped to see every time I opened an art book.

  13. Emanuel on December 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Interesting idea. I never looked at the process that way.

  14. Bill Gough on December 14, 2011 at 1:32 am

    Very good points. Helps remove the idea that our job is about rendering ‘objects’ This is a quest without a goal – and, in many ways, it’s about a relationship between space and what appears to fill space. The panels themselves reflect this – the space between is filled with what we do. There’s a reason that people may draw with closed eyes, or sing so deep in the lungs that not a sound emerges. Comix are the art form of the culture, and there is an automatic kinship amongst those who understand that those who draw on story also draw on life. I’m enjoying your essays. And a most excellent topic :)

    • stephen on December 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm

      Interesting analysis. Thanks for reading!

  15. Donnie Pletado on September 1, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    It helped me a lot. :)) Nice catch for fishing attention especially to studs like me who likes artistic reading rather than long stories.. Your cartoon made me eager to read more :) Hope to meet someone like you :)

    • stephen on September 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      That’s great to hear– my goal is to use comics to make helpful truths and good material really easy to consume.

  16. bloodsong on September 24, 2012 at 2:11 am

    oh my god… this is such a brilliant idea! i’m looking forward to learning from you.

    i’ve been a creator all my life, but never ‘successful’ at it (monetarily). and i suffered a severe burnout a few years ago, that i’m barely just recovering from. and… i don’t expect your book to be a magic cure-all for any of that, but i’m hoping the insights can somehow help me with my journey.

    also, you scare me, typing on a laptop while driving. lol! (i know, you weren’t the driver, but what a strange juxtaposition!)

  17. Lucy on October 1, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Dear Stephen,

    I found your website the other day, after someone I follow posted the procrastination comic on tumblr. Fortunately, he gave you full credit and I’ve just spent my morning before class reading everything on here.

    I’m not an artist. Well, I draw as a hobby, but that’s not where my goals lie. I’m actually a biology student, and I want to be a professional academic when I grow up (I am currently 22). However, I struggle every day with the issues that you talk about in these comics. I recently found out that in order to get the PhD I’m applying for this year, I have a lot to learn outside of my course’s syllabus. I often see how far I am from being a real scientist, someone who makes actual discoveries about the world all the time, and, like you the master artists, get overwhelmed. Procrastination is my demon.

    I’d just like to say that your comics help. I think they’re good advice not just for people who want to be artists but for every person in the world who wants to be somewhere they aren’t yet. People miss the the fact that the scientific process is very much the same as the artistic process sometimes, but seeing this really makes it ring true for me.

    I’ve taken your advice about writing down a day’s achievements, and you’re right, it’s very motivating. So thanks, for that. I’m going to keep reading your comics and following your advice. You’re a very good artist, and a great thinker, and I wish you the very best of luck with your career.


    • stephen on October 2, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Lucy! I do think we have a lot in common as artists and scientists– mainly, that we’re both people. Rather than answer the question, how do you do well as an artist, my aim has been to answer the question, how do you do well as a person. In our society, what we do takes on far too much consequence in people’s perception– I disagree with the idea that our jobs are our identities. Our jobs are a very small part of ourselves, and should be treated that way. I’m glad that, because I’m writing this book for people and not just artists, it can spill over to others in fields as diverse and far ranging as science. I wish you the best of luck in pursuing your degree! Stay in touch!


      • Lucy on October 3, 2012 at 1:13 am

        I think you’re dead right, and the fact that you get that is probably why what you’re creating does ‘spill over’ so much. Thanks for the well wishes, and I will!


  18. albdelacruz on October 12, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Hello sir! I am really inspired by your creations in this blog! :) Thank you for creating these wonderful pieces.

    • stephen on October 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      You’re welcome!

  19. Sandra R on October 21, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Whenever this does become a book, I want to buy it and buy a copy for everyone I know. I’ve read through a couple posts just now and this really does fall true in so many professions.
    I’m trying to sculpt myself into a pastry chef but I noticed that I have a lot of the same difficulties I have with my drawing hobby. I’m sure if I follow your advice, I’ll be able to grow in the best direction possible. Thanks for helping us all!

    • stephen on October 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      You’re welcome! I’m working to make this a book someday— thanks for being here!

  20. Traci on October 28, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Yes! As a musician who studied in conservatory settings, working with my mentors and seeing how they lived their day to day lives (not just hearing their concerts!) made such a difference. I just left a comment on your failure post as well but will say again, these principles apply to basically every aspect of life. Life is art, and art is life. I look forward to diving into your archives and seeing what your other cartoons here are all about. Thank you for putting this out there in such a graceful way!

    • stephen on October 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      Wow! It’s neat to know that for an artists in such a diverse field feels the same way I do. Thanks for stopping by!

  21. Julien Brightside on January 22, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Ooh, I am liking this blog more and more.

  22. Mursa ArtDragon on March 11, 2013 at 4:41 am

    I like the idea of understanding artists more than a simple process of art. I Have shelves of how to books, and none ever actually helped me more than ideas and tips to go by for style. The worst part is I often forget that artists do fail. What we always see is their successful moment. I often beat myself up over any drawing or painting that doesn’t come out how I want it to. Hopefully this can help build up my confidence. Practice is easy to plan but often hard to do and stick with.

  23. C on April 17, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I’m so excited to have found this blog! I’m a first year art teacher, and I find myself trying to articulate these things to students all the time – the point about failure especially. Now, in addition to hearing me stumble through it, I can show them this. Thank you so much for sharing, and I will be sure to pass this on to my fellow art educators in the area. This makes perfect sense and I can’t believe I haven’t seen anything like it before.

  24. Steve Crespo on April 25, 2013 at 12:44 am

    Great stuff, and great site!

    Speaking of artist’s studios you may want to check this out-

  25. Al Tucker on September 1, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I teach commercial art and graphics and I just discovered this page and your work. I can’t wait to share this with my kids. This gets to the heart of being a creative. I just applied for the Skype session and I hope you’ll be able to do a virtual visit with my class at some time in the coming year. Thanks for a wonderful resource!

  26. Natalie on September 26, 2013 at 5:04 am

    STEPHEN! I just read this and just wanted to say that the part about knowing the artist totally reminded me about God. I don’t know if that was your intention or not but it is such a cool analogy of how we should study nature but God too! So awesome. I hope this gets published!

    • stephen on September 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      Thanks! Yeah, I live thinking about God as an artist. I’m going to be self publishing the book soon through kickstarter! Keep an eye out!

    • Kathleen on December 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      hey natalie. i totally thought the same thing…getting to know how GOD creates. show me the hands that made it. i want to know the principles that guide the artist. love it stephen.

  27. Kamie on October 16, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    I found this at just the right time in my life! I graduated over a year ago with my degree in architecture and have yet to begin a career or long-lasting job. I don’t think I want to be an architect, more of a designer in general, but I never do anything to work towards a goal. I sketch and craft a little sometimes to feed my creativity thinking one day I’ll just open a shop to sell things I make . . . But then a new episode of The Voice is on or perhaps I should make tortillas . . . and then another day is gone. I feel like so far this is exactly what I need to hear now. It’s not good enough to have a skill, it’s about being able to put in the time. Hopefully I’ll stop procrastinating soon…

    • stephen on October 16, 2013 at 9:43 pm

      You can do it! The key is to break things down– don’t ask yourself to launch a career in the moment or you’ll feel overwhelmed. Ask yourself to make one tiny sketch in the next five minutes. You can do that! Then, rinse and repeat.

  28. Fatima on October 23, 2013 at 2:59 am

    Hi! I like your motivational and inspirational insights on being an artist. I got here through Mr. Shaun McMillan’s post and I’m very thankful to the Lord that He led me here. I guess this website of yours would help me in my artistic problems ’cause I’m not that really inclined to art (I’m a Biotechnology Graduate) but my job says so, so I’m quite having a hard time really digging into my brain about the art in it. I’ll be looking forward to more things about being an artist and how to be an artist even though you/the person doesn’t believe he/she is an artist. Haha. Thanks by the way. :)

  29. FM on November 12, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Agreed my friend, I am curious to see what kind of answers you give to us, I will stay connected.

  30. Manu on November 20, 2013 at 6:58 pm


    I really enjoyed your whole blog. I discovered it a couple of hours ago, while trying to go out of my procastination. Paradoxically, I came here by following a facebook link of a friend of mine ^_^.

    I saw the pledge ended, but is there a way I could buy the book? I’d like the hardcopy, but the digital is also ok. I found it great.

    Thank you very much!!



    • stephen on November 25, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Yep! There will be a store up soon with a pre-order. Stay tuned!

  31. Suzette Herft on November 23, 2013 at 5:39 am

    What a fantastic idea, and what fantastic work. I have only just discovered this blog…I have to put it in my favourites, for further reading. Thank you!

  32. Suzette Herft on November 23, 2013 at 5:44 am

    Yes, and definitely will be interested in buying a book as well. You’re thoughts and words contain much wisdom. Thanks again.

  33. Schwabby on November 26, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Love your website! I love the fact that you have done this in comic form, it is so much easier on my artist brain! Lol! I plan to utilize the principles in this and read it from beginning to end. Thank you so much!

  34. skarabajo on December 2, 2013 at 2:24 am

    I am desperately trying to write my final papers for the semester… and I have been feeling super frustrated because the only thing I can think is that I do not how to write well… that I will fail…
    well… what a time to find this blog… I still do not know how I am going to change my mind… but at least I am kind of aware I have been going in the wrong direction…
    So… thanks!!!.. it is a really nice work…

    • stephen on December 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      Good luck! You can do it!

  35. Kathleen on December 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    i want to create as they do, but there is so far for me yet to go. i love this and it so speaks to how i feel…like climbing up a mountain and yet the excitement of it keeps me going because i know that one day i WILL get there…it has taken me 54 years to get where i am now, so why should i think this would be any different? perspective is everything.
    thanks for putting your heart out there.

    • stephen on December 2, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      My pleasure Kathleen!

  36. Montague on December 3, 2013 at 2:35 am

    Bookmarked, because this is worthy of study.

  37. Suneel Jain on December 3, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Good Efforts and results

  38. meonjeng on December 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

    For me, the best part of all about your idea is not the idea itself (though it is a freakingly huge and minutely close second). It’s the sharing of the idea.

    The fact that you share snippets of it in here, for free, for all that can access it; it does not just speak of good marketing, but good practices as well. And many do not understand that the former is almost always achieved when you practice the latter – in the long run.

    Whoever started sharing your links on FB did not just a favor for you, but for a lot of other people as well. Good luck in dealing with the traffic. And with the book as well. You deserve all that you get.

    • meonjeng on December 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

      Oh btw, the “..often shows you how to do, but not how to BE.” part is absolutely golden.

      You, sir, are an amazing “thief”. I wish I could steal half as well as you.
      And just in case anyone misconstrues, please read ‘Practice does not make perfect’.

    • Ilayda on July 25, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      Simply wish to say your post is as surprising. The cltraiy in your post is just nice and i can assume you are an specialist on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to use your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the great work.

  39. Creativity | The Daily Frail on December 20, 2013 at 5:01 am

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  40. Kat on December 21, 2013 at 3:28 am

    I think the site is cool are your words have something to offer. Thank you or posting them. I’m going to keep reading.

  41. Tisha Dolton on December 22, 2013 at 12:32 am

    I have always been interested in the artist & their process. Taking art history classes in college help open my mind. Luckily my daughter loves art museums so we search out & explore. Because she has no formal art history classes & I do, we come at viewing art from 2 very different places. Her love of contemporary, and non-representational art seems to be very organic to her personality. I have varied “taste” in art partially based on my own aesthetic ideas, my education (history, music), & my own artistic endeavors (music & embroidery). I love what you are doing here…

  42. cracko on December 24, 2013 at 6:02 am

    thanks alot for this… will be dropping more often to see you stuff… keep up the good work..

  43. hayley on February 16, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I’m so glad I found this blog this is the stuff I’ve been reading about for years and trying to sculpt a practice for myself. I haven’t seen it applied to art so brilliantly :) can’t wait to read my copy of the book!

    • stephen on February 21, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      Thanks Hayley! I’m good luck in your artistic practice!

  44. Avery on May 7, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Wanted to leave a quick comment as my friend just linked me to your page!

    I used to draw (like really simple stuff) and do loadsss of creative writing when I was a teenager. But somewhere down the line I let my negative feelings overwhelm me and I ended up stopping completely. Rather than enjoying the thing, I suffocated under pressure from myself to be perfect and excellent. Which makes me really sad to think about that now and all the time I lost.

    Me and my friends started up a Creative Day on Wednesdays though, to encourage us all to PRACTICE at least once a week on something, anything. To get used to being imperfect and to simply enjoy the thing. So your messages are very inspirational for me, in trying to push away those negative thoughts.

    • stephen on May 7, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      That’s cool! Community really helps– I know there’s stuff I could never do without some of my comics buds.

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  50. dream on April 28, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Hello. I am a fan of yours i have read all of Space Boy and I love the story. You have inspired me to keep working hard on my art work and I’ve gotten better but it is little by little. I just wanted to thank you for helping my see that I can’t give up. Your Art is amazing
    A Fan That is forever Thankful.

  51. Ken Hansen on February 4, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    Stephen I came across your blog today when I queried “Principle vs. Process”. I loved what I found. Great pearls to consider and stimulate deeper thought. Thank you for your time and approach. Keep up the good work.

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