The Courage to Be an Imperfect Artist or How Not to Get Stuck on Your Way to Perfection
This is a very complicated and controversial topic – an ability to be imperfect but to consistently strive to become better. I think there are many of us who experienced the dark side of chasing perfection: dissatisfaction with yourself, which sometimes is getting really painful, paralyzing doubts and fears, and of course procrastination. Being an artist is a thorny path per se.
So, dear artists and I-just-draw people (I know at least one of them, wink-wink), here are some tips from me how to draw more without getting stuck, based on my humble experience (and believe me, I am a master of being stuck).
Share your art
To some extent, sharing is an act of trust. It may be challenging, especially at first. But it will definitely bear a fruit.
I remember myself sketching all my life, but there was a particular point in time when I started consciously drawing and thinking of stories behind and all the scope visual images could affect. The year 2015. It was the year when I got into an Instagram-community of artists, and step-by-step was getting familiar with other people styles and stories. The huge and unlimited universe of human creativeness from all over the world has opened up to me. Should I say that I was overwhelmed and so much impressed?
During that period, I “met” on Instagram a person who made an indelible impression on me and turned my world upside down. An incredibly deep, mysterious, smart and talented artist whose personality, I believe, profoundly altered the whole course of my artistic life. His approach to the process of creation was an example of responsibility and borderless fantasy. His style inspired me a lot and had a great influence on shaping my own (which I merely had until then).
Share your art, and maybe the story behind your work will change someone’s world or inspire and help rediscover their own style. Isn’t it a privilege?
Be less serious about yourself and more self-ironic. No drama here.
Being less serious about yourself doesn’t mean being irresponsible. It rather means considering neither failures, nor successes too seriously. These are transient things. Winning almost never provides eternal peace, and failure is hardly ever fatal.
Just go with the flow and don’t stop. Let the river of creativity carry you! Focus on the process and consider this a journey in all its beauty and danger, and not a list of your failures and achievements or a success rate indicator.
Fail. Don’t be afraid to be judged
If you are afraid of failing, then you probably will never get too far (unless you are an enormously lucky human). You cannot get better and stronger by avoiding difficulties and putting up with mediocrity.
Listen, you don’t draw this particular picture for centuries, but if you stop procrastinating and thinking about perfection, you really have a chance to leave something of yourself behind (because you will at least do something). Constant concern about not doing something well may be paralyzing. Overstep your fears. Make it a habit. I don’t mean becoming blindly or recklessly fearless. I just mean it is not a fear of real things (like a train rushing right at you or poisonous spider under your shirt). Maybe you remember something from your childhood: like a big dog, madly running after you and yourself – escaping like it is the last moment of your life (in my case it was a cow). Real gangster danger, huh? So, if you have this moment already behind your closed eyes, you can now realize how absurd the fear of someone not appreciating your work is.
People love stories.
I think in our century we’re all starving for authenticity and honest simple stories of simple people, who live just as we do. We need it more than ever.
What do I mean here? You don’t have to be a genius to tell the story (here, by story I mean a drawing or whatever you create – photography, music, dance or cookies eventually) or a superhero to catch people’s feelings.
And this is one of good work criterium, I think – it is hitting a nerve. It excites and makes you feel. I would say this is the main point.
And to make it work – you have to be involved, to start off with. You have to be in a relationship with your creation. If something you share is not that important to you and you feel indifferent about it – be ready for others to pass over it. I am convinced that nobody is truly interested in something superficial.
Being frank and sincere and putting personal intimate details into your work can be very risky, but this is where the real art starts. Be in close proximity to what truly matters to you. If needed – get deeper under your skin.
Art from deep feelings. If not this, maybe we would never know the inconceivably vivid van Gogh’s colors and fancy brushstrokes, astoundingly expressive eyes of people on portraits by Rembrandt, tense piercing faces of Greco’s figures or that unfathomable feeling which paintings by Claude Monet give you…
So, it depends on you.
I think there is enough plastic items and simulation on this planet. Let’s be brave creators and produce something truly pure and naturally imperfect.
Take a risk and draw something inconsistent with your style
I don’t want to duplicate the well-known, cheesy expression: “get out of your comfort zone” (because you see, we [a-bit-neurotic-artists] almost never know where to even find it!). But generally, yes, it is… or it might be the case of that so-called “comfort zone”.
I remember how radical and significant it seemed to me to just add color to my works… God, in the scale of my life it felt like a revolutionary point.
There is an unlimited world of details and features. Investigate, mix, experiment, be spontaneous and enjoy it. Because this is why you are doing it, right?
And to be “easier” with experimenting, we all definitely should follow the next advice…
Learn (watch) more
It is not necessarily about being aware of every piece of art ever created and knowing biographies of the world’s renowned artists. It is just about paying close attention to different approaches to art – from past centuries to the present day. Thank God, there were and still are so many wonderful creative people all over the world. We just have to always seek them out, investigate, observe, contemplate… And, of course, we need to constantly learn and improve ourselves. Not for someone’s approval and appreciation, but for expansion of our own boundaries and enrichment from the inside, for the sake of the most precise expression of things that we consider important.
Great things never come from a combination of self-righteousness and ignorance.
All in all, I would like to share the inspiring phrase belonging to an Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson which I accidentally ran into recently. It really amazed me.
Things go wrong and we celebrate it.
Everyone may interpret it in their own way, but this precisely sums up what I really wanted to say. Do not hesitate to step into the dark and meet the unknown. It will not always be something pleasant or great or worthwhile. It will not always work in terms of how we expect it to work. Things may go “right” and go “wrong” (in fact, we could barely name the defining edge) … But at least things go, not stagnate. It’s worth celebrating.
Presentation Designer at Admind based in Odessa. She is gradually evolving and constantly searching for new shades of inspiration in different fields: illustration, graphic design, psychology, music, literature and theater. Currently works on illustrations for poetry book as freelance illustrator. You can see more of Olga’s work and illustration here.
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