J.K. Riki

Q&A: Creativity, Art, Fred the Monkey, and Negativity

Today we’ve got some questions and answers, so let’s jump right in!

“What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the creative process? Does each creative experience have moments that are predictably pleasant or unpleasant for you?”

My personal favorite part is definitely the beginning. When all ideas are still on the table, and the table doesn’t even exist in your mind yet, the possibilities are endless! The further down the brainstorming road, the more exciting it gets. Once you pass that mental block somewhere in the early going, ideas tend to flood out like… a… flood. Ahem.

As for the predictable bits of the creative process, I always look forward to that post-block flood, and also tend to dread the bit that comes once you’ve been working on an idea for a while and you start to get bored. At that point it’s all about willpower; forcing yourself to take a breath and push forward. As a fellow writer, I’m sure you know what I mean. Even when those great ideas happen, some days you have to put your butt in the chair and get back to work once the luster of “New Idea” has worn off. Finishing can be just as important as starting, after all. Sometimes more important!

“I want to be an artist but I am very bad at drawing. I look at all the amazing art online from people and it seems like I won’t ever catch up. Any suggestions? I know practice is important but I still don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere.”
-Om brom Toso

I understand where you’re coming from, Om brom. I think all artists go through that at some point, or even on a regular basis! I’ve heard from masterful artists that the feeling never quite goes away. But there’s hope!

The first thing I suggest is that you stop comparing yourself to the amazing artists out there. Their work is incredible, to be sure, but it is also THEIRS. Your work is your own, and it isn’t a competition. I know that can be a hard thing to do, but you want to be inspired by their work rather than crushed by it. Use it to fuel your own journey, but don’t let it hinder you. After all, once upon a time they were lousy at drawing too. Really! No one comes out of the womb as a great draftsman.

Some people will tell you art is a natural gift that some people have and some don’t, but I don’t buy that. Anyone and everyone, with few exceptions, can be trained to see subjects more clearly and transpose that into pencil lines on a paper. As you said, it’s about practice. (I wish there was an easier/faster way, but there isn’t!)

Do what is yours to do. Make a concentrated effort to keep trying, and celebrate the victories when they happen. A lot of the practice art I do is terrible, but sometimes I’ll do one I love. When that happens, I take an extra minute to stare at it and remind myself “You can do this. Look, that’s terrific. You have it in you, keep going.” So give that a try! And hold onto those piece as inspiration so when the inevitable bad drawings happen, you can remember there’s good in there too, waiting to come out.

“What is your favorite Fred cartoon that you ever made?”

First of all, are you related to Snipperclips? Big fan.

Anyway, picking a favorite Fred cartoon is tough for me! For starters, I’ve probably forgotten half of them, ha ha. Some days I go back and sift through old episodes and think “Oh right, I remember this!” Until that point, though, they have disappeared from my memory.

I think I will always hold a special place in my heart for 3-2-1 Relaunch! Part 5. It was one of the best “animated” Fred cartoons I ever made, and it featured jokes that still make me laugh, plus nearly every regular FtM character. It also set up future episodes like Operation Old School. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWzfWwARUoM

Besides that, I still adore Sweet Summer Break, even though the timing and voices make me cringe in places. That script needed some serious editing. Ah well. Fun fact, Sweet Summer Break was originally intended to set up the storyline to the puzzle game we released sometime around then. That puzzle game was crazy difficult to make. Even now, it remains unfinished, technically. Oh well, that happened a lot in the Fred days.

Also thanks for the question. I spent the last hour watching old Fred cartoons and it was a lot of fun. 🙂

“Hi J.K.! I really like how positive you are in your blog posts and Twitter. I don’t know how you keep it up, I get worn down lol. Anyway my question. I have a friend who I love alot but she is always super negative and it makes me feel bad to hang out with her or when she posts on FB. Since you are really positive do you have any ideas for how I can get her to stop complaining all the time? I don’t want to block her or anything but it seems like every time I log in or we go out all she does it make me feel in worse of a mood.”
-Ashley M. (via email)

First of all, Ashley, I get worn out constantly! I’m very fortunate to have people in my life that refuel me with positive energy so I can put it back out into the world here. And I hope that I can be part of the refueling for others. We can’t do it alone.

As far as your friend who is always complaining, I wish I had an easy answer for you. It’s something I’ve had to deal with in my life as well. Unfortunately “free will” means it’s always going to be our own choice whether to be positive or negative. And sometimes you get stuck in a negative cycle and it’s hard to get out (or you don’t even want to get out, because it’s comfortable staying where you are).

I’d suggest trying to be a light to that friend and keep putting the good things back in front of her when she starts to complain. Find those silver linings and put them in the spotlight. Be gentle about it, not to prove a point, but to try and help foster a positive outlook. Depending on how close you are, you might consider sitting down one on one (in person, that’s important) and saying “Hey, you seem really unhappy, and I want to help.” Then listen. It might be a lot of complaints, but you’ll find places where you can bring her back around to positive things and remind her that where we put our focus is a big part of who we become.

At the end of the day, it will be her decision. That’s hard to accept sometimes, but it’s the truth. We each get that choice to make, and some people don’t want to be happy for whatever reason. We can keep choosing to do good and lift people up, rather than tearing others down or dwelling on negative things. If you need a boost of positive energy, just let me know. I’m happy to cheer you on from this side of the computer screen!

Thanks to Adam, Om brom, clippertops, and Ashely for the questions! I hope my answers were useful to you in some way. If anyone else has anything they’d like to talk about, or you have answers to the above questions you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment or send an email.

Onward till next week!


  1. Adam

    You gave some really solid answers. Great post!

    1. JK Riki (Post author)

      Glad you enjoyed it! And thanks again for the question!

  2. Jimmy

    Good questions good answers! Sorry I missed this.

  3. Bo F.

    Great question and answer session. : )


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