1. Who are you and how long have you been working as an artist?
I’m Rajeev (Raj) Nattam and I am a 3D artist for video games. I’ve worked in this field for 20 years. I’m also a hobbyist cartoonist and illustrator.
2. How do you personally define art block? How often do you get art block?
Art block to me is when you are trying to either create art or solve an art problem and are not only stuck/uninspired but can’t even see a way forward. This is different, for me, from having a vision in your mind’s eye that you are having a hard time “manifesting” into reality. At least in that instance, you have some kind of idea, good or bad. Art block is… ya got nothing.
3. What are some specific strategies you employ when dealing with art block?
My personal technique is to make sure “the pump is primed”. By that I mean, I am constantly creating something. I find that if I am constantly sketching, painting, modeling, I am keeping the creative energies moving. By doing this, for me, when I sit down to create something, I am not beginning from a cold start. My mind is already working and usually able to spin up some kind of idea. Not always good ideas, mind you, but at least there is something to work with. Think of it like maintaining regular exercise. You wouldn’t just start running a marathon out of the blue. You would build up to it through a daily regimen.
Early in my career I would hit art blocks and get incredibly, emotionally frustrated. After embracing a practice of constantly creating art, I found that I rarely, if ever, got stressed about the act of creation. Again, that doesn’t remotely mean I think everything I do is good. FAR from it. It means I simply don’t get stressed about the creative act. It also helps to “knock it out and move on”. Meaning, don’t dwell too long on art you’ve created. Even if it didn’t quite turn out how you wished, learn what you can from it and move on to the next. Keep that energy flowing!
4. Describe the biggest obstacle / challenge you’ve encountered working as an artist and how you overcame it.
Years ago I decided to start noodling with drawing again as a hobby after having put it off for most of my adult life. I was immediately frustrated by my inability to translate what was in my mind’s eye to paper. I was so frustrated in fact, that I set down the pen and decided I couldn’t draw. However, something in my brain refused to let it go. A few days later, I picked that pen up again and started again. I decided that what I needed to do was devote myself to as simple as a drawing a week, regardless of quality. Since I wasn’t creating regularly, commiting to this schedule was difficult, like starting a physical exercise regimen. But I stuck with it and before I knew it, a drawing a week became 2, became 3, soon was every day. Projects went from sketches in a sketchbook to bristol board, paintings, 3D, comics and even started landing commissions.
5. What’s your favorite, must-go-to online art resource that other artists may not be aware of? Why is it your favorite?
Honestly, I can’t say I have resources that are unusual at all. I primarily Google search terms or ideas (Safe Search filter!) and see where the image search takes me. If I find an artist whose work inspires, if they have one, I’ll root through their Art Station page.
6. Where can we see more of your work online?
My Art Station page is here: https://www.artstation.com/rajnattam
I’m very active on Instagram and constantly post art there. You can find it here: https://www.instagram.com/rajnattam/?hl=en
I also write and draw a space opera webcomic called Relic. You can find it on Webtoons here: https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/relic/list?title_no=269375