Monthly Archives: September 2014

Shiny Object Syndrome and the challenge of finishing

Fantasy-Matte-LandscapeComing up with ideas has never been a problem. I have books of ideas. When I shower, go for a run, walk to work, hear an interesting conversation during the day, up pops another idea to add to the collection. I love it but there is a darker side. I often have Shiny Object Syndrome or “Squirrel” distraction which means a lot of half completed tasks and projects.

The illustration above I started over a year ago and for a long time it was left half finished. I had come to a challenging part of the illustration where the landscape wasn’t blending in smoothly with the girl and her horse and I didn’t have a clue how to finish the landscape. Along with drawing hands, feet, horses, I find it difficult to combine characters within backgrounds. I have to really work at it. Often the challenge turns into frustration which then turns into boredom and wanting to start another illustration (which equals Shiny Object Syndrome). This is what happened here.  I went back to the illustration a number of times during the year without success but finally yesterday I had an idea of creating a matte style illustration. I went through all my photos from New Zealand and played around with all the different trees, cutting and pasting here and there until I came up with this design.  I adjusted the hue and saturation on Photoshop and yep I finally completed it. I just wonder if I hadn’t come up with a new exciting style whether this illustration would have stayed in my photoshop in progress folder gathering dust forever.

I have a theory that ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’ in relation to not finishing tasks and going onto the next idea, has a lot to do with humans not liking to sit too long with feelings of discomfort. I know for me as soon as I become frustrated with a challenge because I can’t work it out, a new idea seems so much more appealing. I’ve recently heard this really interesting thinking process of allowing discomfort be your compass. If you can just sit with the discomfort, you’re likely to open yourself up to new learning and experiences compared to running towards comfort. It all makes a lot of sense, the hard part is the doing.

Now here comes the ironic part about “Shiny Object Syndrome”. When it comes to ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’ and consumerism, I think we are often distracted about buying the ‘new thing’ that is trendy or an upgrade because we get bored of the old, what is comfortable, predictable. There seems to be this competing force in life between a desire for comfort/safety and a desire for change/new experiences which can equal discomfort at first. Summing it all up humans sure are complex.