General Wisdom for Artists No.4

4. Don’t let “better artists” depress you

A common occurrence for any creative (especially when we first start out) is the feeling of profound and debilitating inadequacy when comparing our work to other “superior” artists. Don’t think this ever stops, it becomes less common as you advance your skills and increase in confidence but ultimately, it never really goes away. Someone always has some edge that you don’t.

Consequently we as artists and creatives have to find a way to deal with it.

The pursuit of skill is a matter simply of sustained and quality practice- and I’m sorry to say that because it’s so incredibly boring isn’t it? We’ve all heard it before and we didn’t like the sound of it then. That inane old adage is almost true “practice makes perfect”. Of course it never quite does make perfect, where would the fun in that be?

Ask yourself this question: If you could instantly learn everything there was to know about your discipline, skip all the years of slow improvement to become the very best creative you had the potential to be, knowing that you were at the top and had nowhere left to go, would you?

I wouldn’t. Personally, looking back at my sketchbooks from just a year ago it gives me great pleasure to see how much I’ve improved and how much I’ve learnt in just that time. The idea that every year I continue I stand to improve even more fills me with great excitement. More importantly, it gives meaning to my life and my decision to be artist, despite the challenges, deadlines and somewhat limiting financial prospects.

Take pleasure in your own small achievements, be inspired by others, not intimidated. If there is one thing in life that you care enough about to persevere with it, to keep climbing and to keep trying no matter how far behind the people above you are, then rest assured that you can only improve and that therefore if you keep going long enough you will one day be as good as those you admire.

There will always be people better than you, the trick is to shorten that list.

Now, because I’m so confident in the validity of my argument, here is an artist better than you to be inspired by 🙂

General wisdom for artists No.1

Lately I’ve been trying to think of ways that I can improve how I work as an artist. There’s a lot of specific tips and techniques out there for all sorts of different disciplines and media and with the internet to help it’s never too hard to find out how to do some specific technique or learn a new skill, but of late I’ve been more interested in ways to improve at being an artist in a more general sense

You know, ways to get better at actually making yourself sit there all day continually pumping out brilliance like some sort of tireless art robot? My main interest in this stems from the fact that I spend an embarrassing amount of time scratching myself and wondering where all the time went.

So, I’ve decided to create a series of extremely wise wisdom for any artist or creative looking to improve at being an artist in a more general way. I shall add new tips over time as they occur to me.

1. Put your glass of water where you can’t see it.

No really. You may be surprised at just how suggestible you are, but if you’re anything like me (I’ve been told I’m suggestible, so I must be.) you may feel the need to compulsively sip any refreshment or beverage within visual range simply because it’s there. Also, if you’re anything like me you’ll always have a glass of water on hand to sip incessantly.

Being adequately hydrated is of course highly important for optimal brain functionality, but constantly needing a wazz will only ruin your concentration and increase the chances that you’ll wander away from your work and completely forget about it. It essentially comes down to limiting distractions but it’s not quite as obvious as “turn off your email” and “close facebook” though it always helps to do those things too.

Tip No.2 coming soon.

Also, observe this thing I painted recently:

I think it needs no explanation.