Finding Inspiration from Boredom with Syd Weiler

HOW International Design Awards

Syd Weiler is someone that I’d like to be friends with. She’s wildly creative and can find inspiration pretty much anywhere. She was one of the Adobe Creative Residents for the 2016-2017 year where she spent time building a creative community through streaming on Twitch.

Oh yeah, she also created Trash Dove.

trash dove artist syd weiler

Twitch is typically a service for gamers. The site boasts roughly 10 million active users every day and more than 2.2 million unique content creators each month. People gather in a chat room to watch as a creator streams their video game experience. Some of those creators even make a living from their Twitch channels.

“I found it because I was really, really obsessed with a couple video games to the point where I wasn’t getting any work done,” explains Weiler. “I just wanted to play these games so badly. I was behind on my deadlines and it was like, I don’t know what to do. I can’t stop playing these games. It was obsessive.” To try and ease the obsession, Weiler decided to start watching people play the video games she loved so much while she worked. It helped. A lot.

[related: The Adobe Creative Residency: A Designer’s FairytaleThe Perks of Being an Adobe Creative Resident: Part 1 with Becky SimpsonThe Perks of Being an Adobe Creative Resident: Part 2 with Kelli Anderson]

“I got bored of the games after a while, and I noticed people I followed on Twitter were talking about painting on Twitch,” and that’s when she discovered an entire creative community that lives among the world of gamers. Around the same time, the creators of Twitch also discovered the blossoming group of artists that were using their service to stream painting tutorials, animation workshops and more. “Basically people were just kind of going live, sharing their Photoshop screen, their watercolor set ups—just sort of streaming whatever it was they were doing. And I thought that was fantastic.”

At the time, Weiler was living alone and working at home by herself. “Twitch kind of gave me the feeling of being a studio space with [other artists].” Not long after joining the Twitch creative community, she started streaming her own work process. “I built a community around the work on my channel. My channel is now partner, so I can receive monetary support from that.”


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Twitch isn’t the only unique resource the Ringling College of Art and Design graduate takes advantage of. In May of 2017, Weiler created a Patreon. I could tell you how it works, but Syd does a better job in the video she created to promote her page.

“I was working on some piece that were vehicles covered in plants, and I got really bored. I was doing a million little leaves and I was like, there has to be a smarter way to do this. I didn’t want to just draw tiny leaves for an hour. So I tried to make stamps out of them, and it ended up working really well. Within five minutes, I was done with all of the foliage in the drawing because I made a little tool in Photoshop,” she laughs. “I never realized Photoshop could do that. So from then, I started exploring using brushes and creating my own tools. And now I do it pretty much every day. Every piece that I’m working on, I try to see what I can do to be quicker and smarter and more efficient.”

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The majority of Weiler’s work is defined by what she calls “weekend projects.” (think bite-sized illustrations for social media). This was the case for Trash Dove.

A friend of hers was creating a sticker pack for Facebook when she messaged Weiler and told her it was something she might be interested in. After 24 hours of work, she had finished the Trash Dove sticker pack and released it into the wild. “It just kind of went viral,” she says with a little disbelief.

“I didn’t really consider them ‘work.’ I just thought that they were fun, and it was very indulgent for me. But now I really see the value in them. [The sticker packs] really got a huge response, and millions of people were using them. It’s just crazy! I can’t even comprehend it!”

The spontaneity of the Trash Dove project convinced Weiler that it was time to explore more impromptu projects. “Whenever I have an idea that I’m really excited about, I give myself time in my day or me week to explore that. Some of my best work has come from that.”

There’s a lot to be learned from Syd Weiler. Whether its finding new resources like Patreon or Twitch to take advantage of, creating your own workarounds to make your creative life a little easier, or finding inspiration in simple things like pigeons and sushi. Keep your eye out for her name. She’s going places.

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