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Character Design: The Inner Critic

My Secret Country, the film, is all about world building, because we believe that if you can build alternate worlds, you’re that much closer to innovating in this world. And more than ever, we need innovators to bring solutions to life, for the problems we face. Mark Lewis Wagner is an artist-innovator, writer, graphic designer and teacher. Through his non-profit, Drawing on Earth, he brings art and creativity to youth around the world. He believes that “kids who are nurtured creatively, grow up ready and able to more effectively interact with the world, connect to the environment, integrate with technology, and understand the bigger picture.” In the film, we follow him through the course of bringing to life one of the largest paintings he’s ever produced, 6 x 12 ft! While painting “Making Whole” he shares some of the internal process that goes into bringing an artwork to life.

“What I like to do is let the piece meet me half way so it’s just not me imposing my will on it. Kind of like, there’s an old, Eskimo, shamanic, Inuit thing where the sculptors carving and he’s singing a song and he’s saying, who’s in there, AH a seal, and he gets it.”He goes on to explain, “My job is to get out of the way and see what shows up, to pay attention to the process and mistakes, and to ask, what wants to happen here?“Another part of the creative process Mark brings to light, is the challenge of overcoming resistance, or the inner critic. If you’ve ever worked on a creative project, eventually you’ll run into some form of resistance. It often comes from within. "You can’t do this. You’re not good enough. Just quit, no one is going to like this. You need to get a real job. Go take a nap, etc…”Mark describes his inner critic as “an authoritarian like the way a parent nags at our kids.” And he says, that he’s learned to move into what he calls “‘Counsel,’ where there’s more wisdom. There’s less me and more we.”Dealing with the inner critic, can be a real odyssey in itself, and because it’s such a part of creative production, we bring that to life in the film. The inner critic becomes a personified animated character. We asked Mark to sketch what an inner critic might look like, and he made this:

You’ll learn more about Mark and meet the Inner Critic in My Secret Country. In the meantime, check out Mark’s work at his personal website, and his non-profit, Drawing on Earth.

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