24 July 2006

How I Got Sore Hands

This is why my hands hurt:

Why I Have Sore Hands

In the course of my work as an illustrator, I create somewhere between 35 and 50 maps like this per year, and I've been doing this type of detailed digital work since 1986. No wonder my hands hurt! In addition, I often forget to take breaks and I tend to press fairly hard on the keys and mouse. Oh yeah, and I draw with a mouse, which is like drawing with a bar of soap, but now I'm used to it and have had to retrain myself just to use a pencil.

Sad. But I'm very stubborn and I want to do moku hanga, so I will not allow sore hands to deter me. Got a good tip from Tom K. the other day about using a large clearing chisel and mallet instead of my smaller hand tools, so I've ordered one.

Clearing Gouges clearing chisels

I heard a great interview with John Maeda on Voice America's Design Matters last week. John Maeda is a well-known graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist at the MIT Media Lab and he talked about his own repetitive stress injury and the effect it's had on his work. He says that he's basically in pain all day long now, and as a result he tries to put no more than 3 hours of construction time into the majority of the pieces he creates. I don't say much about it, but a lot of my "laziness" around woodblock -- my not wanting to carve anything with painstaking detail -- is because of the pain in my hands. Fortunately for me, the pain isn't constant the way it is for Maeda.

Maeda also said, "I've gotten tired of computers. They're too complex. Computers don't operate in a humane, cooperative way." This from a guy at MIT Lab! I completely agree, even as I live a life that only computers can afford me -- self-employed with the luxury of being able to live anywhere I want to live as long as there's electricity and Internet.

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