Brick by Brick

October 19, 2011

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82 Responses to Brick by Brick

  1. Sarah on October 31, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    That’s great, Stephen! Very encouraging and a good reminder to focus on the small steps. I think we all make the mistake sometimes of looking at other people’s super cool accomplishments and assuming it all happened overnight. :)

    • stephen on October 31, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      Ha ha, I think I’ve looked at your work like that before Sarah– it’s cool to know you struggle with the same thing.

  2. michael regina on October 31, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    greta article Stephen! And reminded me of the things we’ve been talking about.

  3. Shaun McMillan on October 31, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Awesomeness. This principle is crucial.

    • stephen on October 31, 2011 at 6:41 pm

      Thanks shaun! Good hearing from you.

    • Muhamad on July 25, 2015 at 12:46 am

      Aha, so ask and ye shall receive only goes so far, hunh? Ah well. I’ll be oerrding a copy anyway, but I’m in germany, so maybe I can get a Spiekermann signature.

  4. Kev Brett on October 31, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    awesome stuff. these are so cool and so inspiring. Appreciate it!!!

  5. Liloo on November 10, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Hi, thank you for clarify this whit a comic stripe… now im in this strange path to descover what I really want to do…and is taking me a year of time to start to know that…

  6. Anne on November 10, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    This was so encouraging to me. I frequently come back to trying to draw and get disheartened quickly from comparing my efforts to work I admire. Then I give up for a while and tell myself maybe I just don’t have the right skills for drawing or designing. This is a great reminder to just keep at it and even if the “bricks” are a bit crumbly and rubbish to start with, they’re still bricks and can only get better. Thanks for giving me a bit of motivation, I really enjoyed reading these comics so far, keep it up! Thank you, Anne :)

    • stephen on November 11, 2011 at 5:23 am

      I’m really glad! Thanks for the nice comment.

      It’s like when a baby learns how to walk– the truth is, it really sucks at walking. But we don’t make fun of the baby for falling so much. We don’t compare the baby to kids who can walk. It’s just a baby! And so are we, when we first try something. It is a very natural thing to “fall” and to fail when we first try to do something.

      Keep it up!

  7. Alison on December 7, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Thanks so much for this comic Steve! This is so relevant for so many things. I’m working on my Master’s Thesis right now, and I’m working in an area that has relatively little scholarship so that my idea is new and interesting, but there is just enough scholarship that I frequently end up comparing myself to these Herculean academics who are “so much more brilliant than me and I’ll never be that smart and know that much and make such clever arguments!” when really they’ve just been working in their fields for 20 years longer than I have. It’s nice to be reminded of this every so often, so that I can now continue laying the bricks :)

    • stephen on December 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm

      I’m glad! Thanks for being here!

  8. Rachelle on January 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I’ve been on a real downer with my art lately- I’d love to be concept artist but couldn’t ever see myself being employed as one.
    This comic has really given me some hope and motivation back. And if ever I feel discouraged again, you can be sure I’ll be back to read through this for inspiration.
    Thanks very much for the encouragement and the motivation!

    • stephen on January 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      Aw– thanks for letting me know that– I with you the best in you pursuits!

  9. Johanan on January 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Hey Stephen, thanks so much for your art! It really means a lot to me, this concept about building something brick by brick.
    I have many large goals which I really want to accomplish, but I often look towards the immediate results(which discourages me), and forget this crucial principle about building things a little bit at a time.
    So I guess I would say it again, thanks for the reminder!
    I really do love your art and the message it conveys, so keep the good work up!

  10. Ben Kreis on January 19, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Awesome! David Ramsey’s recent book Entreleadership goes over this in his chapter on Goals. It was a paradigm shift for me.

    Your cartoon illustrates it nicely.

  11. Sara-Jeanne on January 21, 2012 at 6:33 am

    I didn’t think I’d stumble upon such an inspiring message today. And yet, it speaks only the truth.

    It reminds me that I spend more time on my project. I’m already proud of my work ’til now, but I’ll be even more once I’m done and get to share it.

    Thank you! :)

  12. Joe Cab on February 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Really inspiring stuff. I love your perspective. This article really increased my hope and confidence towards achieving BIG DREAMS or GOALS! Thanks for taking the time to share your wisdom, its much appreciated.

  13. KirinCartoon on February 29, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Your picture blog here is very inspiring and this one in particular has put a great big smile on my face, I’m sure whenever I’m feeling down about my artwork or any big goal for that matter I will most definitely look back on this blog and regain some of my enthusiasm! Thanks a bunch keep up the great work here and in your comic career doing Mal&Chad! :)

    • stephen on February 29, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad.

  14. Elgin Subwaysurfer Bolling on May 10, 2012 at 5:46 am

    This story reminds me of the true story I heard actor Will Smith tell in an interview.
    Will’s father,wanting to teach his boys a tangible lesson about goal setting, took Will and his brother to a wall that he had demolished and ordered them to rebuild it. Will’s dad gave him and his brother no interactions on how to re build the wall, nor did he supply the materials. It was left to them to rebuild it on their took a year to complete the project, but the two brothers successfully completed the task alone, and as a result learned valuable lessons in resourcefulness, persistence, ingenuity, and working progressively towards a goal. Smith credits this as one of his greatest accomplishments.

  15. keijjo on August 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Art is not question of skill. It is the human way to do things with heart.

  16. Marimar Baticulon on September 1, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Aww. This is very inspiring! Thank you very much for this! And, nice art :)

    • stephen on September 12, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      Thank you!

  17. Miwa on September 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Ahh This is so true! Very encouraging, inspiring, and makes so much sense. Thank you for this!! ♥ I needed that :D

    • stephen on September 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      Yay! I’m glad!

  18. Bri on September 23, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    … I really needed to read this. Thank you.

  19. Mahogi on September 23, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you for this…
    You saw this sentence many times before, but this little story is VERY inspiring… When I usually just hide in the corner – there are SO much more greater people than I am, that can create WAY better things… I simply want to die sometimes, because I feel useless.
    But then I saw this. Simple little idea. Just small steps. We shouldn’t be afraid to make them… Because it’s PRECISELY it, what leads us to those greater people…
    Thank you again :) you made me to let myself try one more time :)

  20. bloodsong on September 24, 2012 at 2:19 am

    omg again! that’s me, looking at the picture that came out into the world, vs the one that was in my head. lol!

    have you seen… man, i can’t remember where i saw it, on someone’s blog… i can’t find it. it was a graph, showing how your visual acuity as an artist evolves vs how your manual skill in creating art progresses. and where the two lines overlap, that’s when you feel you are at the top of your game, and where the vision gets ahead of the skill, that’s the periods where you feel you suck. but the point of the graph is, it’s a cycle. so if you feel you suck now, it will get better.

    anyway, this one reminded me of that, too.

  21. Leirin on October 11, 2012 at 4:36 am

    Your comics are deeply inspiring and moving. Thank you so much for them!

    • stephen on October 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      You’re welcome!

  22. Henry on October 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    I’d love a print of this. I’m imagining it exactly as it’s laid out here—as vertical panels. Any chance of you selling those?

  23. J on November 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I would love for this to end with him making a second picture better than his first.

  24. Cadu Soares on November 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you for this! I’m just in the start point of that road and feeling very small. Now I have hope again. PS: Sorry for the english, not native language.

  25. [...] the roadblocks life — and your own brain — throw at you. I'm always looking for new ways to lifehack my own habits and ways of thinking to improve my art, and personal outlook on life, and this site looks like [...]

  26. Julien Brightside on January 22, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I must say these little comics are really inspirational.

  27. Mursa ArtDragon on March 11, 2013 at 4:56 am

    I feel like your in my head >< Its so hard not to put ourselves down at times. I'm well known for this. Thanks for the inspiring words. If only I can pain the walls over my art station with stuff like this.

  28. zb on June 6, 2013 at 6:02 am

    Thank you so much for this blog. Just an immense amount of gratitude here. Your comics have pulled me out of creative funks twice now, and always seem to be exactly what I need to hear to get going again. I want to say they’re inspiring, but I find a lot of things inspiring that don’t result in action. These are motivating, effective. And lovely to boot. So, thanks.

    • stephen on June 6, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      My pleasure! You’re quite welcome– thanks for the encouraging note!

  29. kbk on October 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    I loved this. Very inspiring.

    • stephen on October 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      Thank you!!

  30. [...] don’t consider themselves a creative person, but anyway. I immediately connected with this essay, Brick by Brick, and felt as if he was bringing to the page all sorts of things I’d thought and felt before [...]

  31. Kamie on November 4, 2013 at 7:01 am

    … I think there might be a typo on the fourth panel. Page? I keep coming back to this chapter because I think I’m still not ready to start setting goals. Hopefully one day soon!

    • stephen on November 4, 2013 at 5:54 pm

      I’d recommend making your goals as small as possible. Like, make a goal that you could accomplish in 25 minutes. Btw, what’s the typo?

    • stephen on November 4, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      Oh, wait, got it. Thanks!

  32. Brick by Brick | Scissors Paper Stone on December 2, 2013 at 11:45 am

    [...] Brick by Brick. Like this:Like Loading… Published: December 2, 2013 Filed Under: [...]

  33. María Carrillo León on December 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    ¡So true! Every big thing needs time to buid, fail, learn, grow in the meantime…

  34. Mini on December 7, 2013 at 12:47 am

    What I love about what you post is that it can be applied to so many things in our lives. We seem to have this sad thing where our nature is to forget, we forget details, hows, whys, even the beauty around us. I’m glad there are people like you around who still notice and can remind others. So thanks, you made my day. <3

  35. Michele Brenton on December 30, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    This reminded me of a poem I wrote a number of years ago – I hope you don’t mind me sharing it here.

    The Great Wall of China.

    From space you can see it
    it’s really that huge,
    a structure of cosmic dimensions,
    and yet it was built long before JCB
    or other earth moving pretensions.

    These days we may feel
    we cannot make change
    with mankind pitted brother’gainst brother.
    But the Great Wall of China
    shows what we can do
    by just putting one brick on another.

    Michele Brenton

    • stephen on January 8, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      Neat, thanks for sharing!

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      EtradeZeccoAmeritradeScottstradeTake your pick. Just sign up for an online tnidarg account and let them drag the news to you from multiple sources.While you are at it, you can watch the markets yourself.

  36. Vishal on January 21, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    I loved your idea of expression with lucid pictures. The principle of ‘brick by brick’ needs a clear idea of their placement too. Doing small bits every day add up only if they are placed in an order. I believe master artists know where to place their bricks :)
    Thanks for sharing, I am subscribing to your website right away.

    • stephen on January 31, 2014 at 12:55 am

      That’s a really key distinction! I’ve been thinking about that too lately as I try to figure out the best way to practice drawing.

  37. Michael Dambold on January 24, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    This is incredibly encouraging. Thank you!

    • stephen on January 31, 2014 at 12:55 am

      You’re welcome!

  38. [...] Yep, I'm going to second Ne's comments- sharing our rough times and being raw and personal and honest, that's what these forums are for. If you can't do it here, where can you? This is an online support community– that's what it's for, Accel! So, I'd say there is a difference between sharing raw, tough stuff and "whining like a pansy". Put those thoughts out of your mind. As drunks, we've all got enough shame and guilt in our lives (often, far too much of it) and there's no reason to feel it over sharing stuff here. Furthermoe, talking about moments, days, thoughts of weakness is actually a sign of strength and confidence, yes for us men too. I firmly believe that shit. Also, Accel, I'd say you're right, that it is difficult for you, (or anyone in similar new-sobriety, new-bac) to see things clearly as they are, because things can be so tinted grey. Yes, have trust and faith that if this process is working for others a little farther along, it will work for you too. Just hold on for a while, friend, and rock those AF days as much as you can. I ran across this very cool expression of artistic endeavors, and it can be very applied to what we're trying to do here- the "masterwork of art" could be seen as the end result we're looking for, to not be slaves to alcohol. And the "brick by brick" is each day we live AF and healthier than the day before. Read it with that perspective- Brick by Brick | Doodle Alley [...]

  39. Mae on January 26, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Thank you: this was what I was needing today! :)
    Have a good day,

  40. Sober February! - Page 4 - My Way Out Forums on February 8, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    […] could be seen as our end goal of not being slave to alcohol- read it with that perspective… Brick by Brick | Doodle Alley Thanks to everyone for the kind supportive words over the last couple days! Hitting triple digits […]

  41. […] could be seen as our end goal of not being slave to alcohol- read it with that perspective… Brick by Brick | Doodle Alley Thanks to everyone for the kind supportive words over the last couple days! Hitting triple digits […]

  42. Newbies Nest - Page 4664 - My Way Out Forums on February 9, 2014 at 1:42 am

    […] I wanted to share what Skull wrote in the sober February thread on the occasion of his 100th day sober. The comic is great: This would seem overwhelming to me but it really is a matter of baby steps. One foot in front of the other. I found this cool comic strip that reminds me of the journey well- I like to re-read it when I need reminding of this. The "artistic mastery" could be seen as our end goal of not being slave to alcohol- read it with that perspective… Brick by Brick | Doodle Alley […]

  43. 21 Artists to Watch in 2013 - Skinny Artist on February 10, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    […] often talk about here on Skinny Artist.  Things like dealing with creative failure, not getting overly discouraged, and the importance of separating your personal identity from your creative work.  Perhaps […]

  44. Uni on March 10, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    How do you know your tower of accomplishment is made out of the kinda bricks you can make? Iffy way to follow the analogy I know but what do you do when you don’t know the path you need to reach your goals? Or any milestone on the way? All you do is the end goal but nothing in between and nobody you ask from knows any better either?

    • stephen on March 29, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      I’m not sure if I can answer that unfortunately. There are some dreams and desires we have that we don’t have the power to make happen– it’s entirely at the whim of random forces or other people. It’s hard to have those kind of desires– but, I don’t know– it’s not wrong to have them. Hopes are good, as long as they don’t become a burden.

  45. Lidija on March 12, 2014 at 11:47 am

    I keep referring back to this and quoting and forwarding it to anyone and everyone!! Really one of the best messages for artists ever. We all struggle to really live it, but by golly I do try every day.

    It also reminds me of my favorite quote by Samuel Beckett ‘No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ I think ‘failing better’ or ‘failing up’, as some people call it, is the key to any long-term success. Also reminiscent of Ira Glass and his wonderful talk on the subject – “Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

    • stephen on March 29, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      Great quote! I also love the phrase “failing up.” That’s really helpful!

  46. Sholah Ayub on March 31, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    can i translate this into my leanguage, because some of my friend can’t understand english, even my grammar is still terible -_- right?, but still i wanna show them your comics

    • stephen on April 19, 2014 at 4:45 am

      You can translate it, as long as you send me a link when you post it!

  47. […] Jane- I relate to this in a big way. Learning to grow up and act like an adult is really challenging sometimes, and I often am struck by just how much I was in a state of arrested development all through my alcoholic life. The upside is that, as we take tasks on, get our life in order in a responsible way, it starts to feel good. Accomplishments begin to accumulate and it feels good to see the "finished" column on our To Do lists begin to get fuller. It comes with a sense of pride and self-sufficiency that feels really good. Not that every moment of every day goes in the "win" column, that's for sure, but baby steps accumulate over time, which is nice. I always like to refer back to this comic, which illustrates it nicely. It can apply to really any goal- getting sober, taking responsibility, getting our lives together. Brick by Brick | Doodle Alley […]

  48. […] 1. Everyone fails. Those who are currently at the top have failed more times than you have even tried. […]

  49. Hm on July 31, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    I’m not an artist, I’m a writer. I’ve always wanted to be an artist, so instead I’ve always painted my pictures with words. What I love about your work is that it can be applied to so many parts of life. Not just art, or something creative. It can be applied to anything really. You have such a wide range of people you can reach. It’s really fantastic. :) I love your work, it’s always the pick me up I need.

    • stephen on August 5, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Thanks! Nice to hear from you!

  50. Becca on November 3, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    I stumbled across your site almost by accident today and I LOVE IT. Seriously, I could genuinely be called “adoring, slavering groupie #215″, after only one day.

    Your work is so applicable across so many areas of life – and not just for artists, but whatever area anyone is in. I’m trying to figure out how best to share this site, and with whom.

    Thank you. I hope you continue to make new doodles for a long time to come. Now, off to read some more of your work.

    • stephen on December 3, 2014 at 1:33 am

      You’re welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Gustavo on July 25, 2015 at 11:08 am

      Kim and Kenny thank you both so much for these gorgeous prceuits we had so much fun sharing our day with the two of you. You two are really amazing photographers and artists. Again thank both so much it was such a fun (HOT) day.

  51. - Unjapanologist/非実在日本学者 on May 9, 2015 at 6:56 am

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  52. Brick by Brick - StoryboardArt - on June 17, 2015 at 10:10 pm

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  53. Izad on December 7, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Just subscribed to ur newsletter n purchased the brick by brick…what i can say is:
    As a malay moslem, living in a diff cultural milieu, hailing from halfway across the blue sphere, i think ur works transcend cultural boundaries.
    And more: i find it applicable in my role as a sports coach.. n in my other life projects.
    And as cliche as it sounds..they say brevity is the soul of wit..that genius lies in simplicity. Sir.. i think ur works represent that.
    Made me realise the poetic-like effects of graphic novels n cartoons: choice words as a concentrated form of communication..n when those deep words and penetrating insights are coupled to elegant visuals…the effects are staggering. They move you like no other things.
    Thank you sir, for the gift.
    Will definitely follow u elsewhere.

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