Carl Rustung

Getting inspired, learning and making stuff.


Character Jam à la Barry

Was trying to pull off one of Lynda Barry’s class exercises on my own, but it was tricky. Spent an evening hacking together a substitute for friends so I could do a solo “Character Jam”.

Friday links: Creativity and boredom

Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson, man!) on creativity as a design for life, a mini-documentary about MYST, how “The Lighthouse” was filmed and how the ways we deal with boredom has changed over the last couple of centuries.

I ate’nt dead

Making excuses for not having updated this thing since August and rambling about creative cycles in the process.


No new drawings this week either, but all the more bugs, crows and comic books.


What It Is

Book cover for What It Is
Written byLynda Barry
Publish date2007
PublisherDrawn & Quarterly


Book cover for Syllabus
Written byLynda Barry
Publish date2013
PublisherDrawn & Quarterly

Show Your Work!

Book cover for Show Your Work!
Written byAustin Kleon
Publish date2013
PublisherWorkman Publishing


Consume less, create more

Inspiring article by Tom Cleveland about the effect of plugging away at creative endeavors, one small bit at a time, and how it adds up.

1 quote

Look at me creating

My essay was garbage. But it was my garbage.

So I kept at it, day after day. I once again started feeling smugly superior to my fellow bus riders. Look at me creating, I thought. Look at me contributing to the world, while these reptiles just distract themselves with their phones until they die.

This arrogance lasts for a few seconds until I re-read the stream-of-consciousness dogshit I’m typing into my phone.

Tom Cleveland
August 21, 2019


Ordinary superpower

Draw ten five minute cats. Use a timer. Don’t stop. In less than an hour you will get to know some cat that starts showing up under your brush. No by willful effort, but by some sort of being together over a period of time. A drawing of a cat can be that, a being together with the image you make of the cat and then five minutes later you can draw the same cat to see what it is up to. Maybe it’s in the same position, maybe it has gone to sleep. But I like to imagine this place where the cat is being itself and I can somehow pull up pictures from that place onto the paper. It becomes a kind of conjuring. And ordinary superpower.

Creative spark

David [OReilly] spoke of the mysterious nature of the creative spark, the fire which makes human beings want to make things, and how taking that fire for granted is dangerous. Without feeding the fire through freely expressing yourself and challenging yourself [...], it will be extinguished.

Book cover design

As with writing, I try to fill the daunting white rectangle as quickly as possible, throwing the necessary text on there and pushing it around just to get rid of the void. Getting an idea of the shapes the words make – sometimes the titles can be rather cumbersome – then suggests certain compositions, which I’ll then sketch out on paper. Just lots of rough little thumbnails filled with scribbles.

Anything with a historical slant to it, I’ll get searching for images – ideally creative commons ones – in the hope that there’s something relevant or striking that can be used. Between the words and images and sketching, it’s then just a case of churning stuff in my head and on paper until things start to stick together. Which is possibly the dumbest description of the design process imaginable. For me, it’s all about finding the sweet spot between rational and instinctive.

Daniel Benneworth-Gray
In written conversation with Nick Asbury

Bored and lonely

Unfilled moments, moments where you don’t have entertainment, or moments where you don’t have companionship, may actually spawn creativity. Certainly a lot of 19th-century romantics thought that.

Being still with yourself can give access to all sorts of ideas and musings that wouldn’t otherwise occur. So perhaps in our quest to end boredom our creativity is being stunted, and we’re actually becoming more boring.

Tawdry subjects

These illustrations aren’t the Mona Lisa, but they have a style to them that Künstler’s historical work completely lacks. They feel so much more human, so much less weighted down. It’s as if the artist was liberated by the fact that his subjects were so thoroughly tawdry — as if, without the burden of depicting Great Personages, he could just let his imagination run wild.

Imposing structure on art

If I pay attention to what occurs to me as my drawings appear on the page, however, it will all eventually connect in ways that would otherwise be impossible to predict or control. I believe it’s the role of the artist not to impose a structure on one’s art but to let the structure build itself – and it always will, if you let it.

Sister Corita’s Tree

After being a nun in Los Angeles for thirty years, Corita Kent moved across the country to Boston so she could live quietly and make her art. Her apartment had a big bay window and a maple tree out front, and she liked to sit there and observe the tree changing throughout the seasons.


For Kent, the tree came to represent creativity itself. Like a tree, creative work has seasons. Part of the work is to know which season you’re in, and act accordingly. In winter, “the tree looks dead, but we know it’s beginning a very deep process, out of which will come spring and summer.”