Make Magic

The movements of our hands help build the Unseen. Hafiz

Make Magic is an illustration I drew recently. The idea actually came to me while working on designs for Soul Flower. But as soon as the sketch started taking form, I quickly realized that it wasn’t appropriate for SF and was more my style. So I scrapped it and expanded on the idea in a full-blown illustration instead.

Here was that original design that sparked it… a little bit spacey and mystical:

I wanted to capture that occult feel and also make something that would be inspirational to me personally.

First step in rehashing, I decided that the hand was too chubby. I wanted two hands, and I wanted them to look elegant and slightly feminine. I tried just doodling out some hands, but they looked like cartoons. And there’s no way I could have drawn two opposing hands and have them look nice and symmetrical. So I decided to use my own hand. First I traced my fingers, then refined the shape and cut it out of paper.

The hand template was full-size, and I wanted miniature hands in my 9x12 illustration. So I scanned in the piece of hand paper, outlined it, scaled it down, and printed out a couple different sizes on a piece of paper. I then traced one of those.

My process: make a thumbnail sketch, draw the full-size illustration with pencil on paper, ink everything with ink pens, erase pencil lines, scan it in, then paint in some colors in Photoshop. Voila!

Lately I’ve been thinking about how making art is magical. How amazing it is that we humans can turn a thought into something real. Create something from nothing. Paint what ain’t.

Painting is a magical process that I like, where you conjure something out of nothing…
Paul McCartney

If there is such thing as magic, how isn’t art magic? Creating something out of nothing really is an alchemical process. Making art combines intention, energy, experience, earthly materials, craft, and a bit of luck. Aren’t those the same ingredients to making magic?

All artists give birth. It’s alchemy and it’s really an amazing process.
Jewel, Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story

I’m not an artist who believes that all creativity comes from inspiration/above/the universe/a higher source. I’m not sure if I even believe that artists are simply conduits for channeling that higher inspiration. Being just a vessel for some other unknown energy doesn’t resonate with me. I see it more as a dance, a collaboration. And instead of artists channeling some goddess of artistic inspiration when making art, I think it’s more like we tap into our higher selves. That above our monkey minds, our ego, our day-to-day chattering minds, we have a higher mind. A piece of ourselves that doesn’t play in that place of earthly worries. She doesn’t go there. She doesn’t vibrate at such low frequencies. You have to transcend your default mindspace to access it. I see our higher selves as being an extension of our selves, but connected to something bigger. Your higher self is the truest version of you.

To me, making good art taps into your higher self. When you enter a flow state, your higher self is running things. When your art just feels “right” and you’ve surprised yourself with how it turned out, it’s because you’ve let a bit of your higher self shine through. And she fucking rocks.

Because the truth is, I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment– not entirely human in its origins.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

There’s a phrase: everything you need is already inside of you. I think creating takes these things we already have, and combines them together in a unique way to produce something new. It’s a special formula. A spell, if you will. Take some physical materials like graphite or ink, your past experiences, something you’ve noticed, your intentions to work, your openness to something new, your bodily energy at this moment, the dexterity of your fingers today, time, plus luck. Mix it together and something new arises. We all have the ability to make magic in this way.

Maybe it’s called flow, being in a meditative state, or maybe it’s just plain hard work that results in the magic. Maybe that’s all this magic of creation is. I don’t think it matters what we call it. As long as we enjoy the work and feel good about the process. And the more we practice, the easier it comes. The more often we channel our higher self, the quicker and easier it becomes to access that pathway. The more we practice this weird creation alchemy, the more we can rely on it and reap the rewards.

Something from nothing. That’s what we do as artists. We create. We bring into existence something that wasn’t there before. If that’s not magic, what is?

Make Magic ⇒ Creatively Operating,, @oleiah

Tags: magic   creation   art  

I’m an artist, illustrator, and graphic designer based in Washington, DC. Currently working as an in-house designer creating artwork for apparel, gifts, and paper products.

I love vegan pizza, autumn, high-up views of a city, sunsets that look like gradients, watching movies I’ve already seen, hand-drawn signage, and all-black outfits.


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