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Being Confident in Your Work

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Oct. 8, 2022

Hah. Easier said than done, right?

Ask any artist about how much they like the stuff they make, and chances are you'll get a mixed bag of answers where most will be saying how they wish they'd done the stuff better. The anatomy isn't quite right, the colors don't quite pop, the composition doesn't help the flow, the lettering covers all the art, the story is clunky, the characters are a little meh or too extra.

There's always something that could be done better- and they're right!

There's always room for improvement. Just by the sheer fact that practice makes perfect, it means that the more you create, the better the creations will be- and that means that if you make something again, it'll have a good chance of coming out better than it did the first time.

But that's beyond the point. Or at least, it should be beyond the point when it comes to loving the stuff you make, and being confident in the work you produce.

Loving your work doesn't mean putting it on a pedestal or call it the equivalent of the Sistine Chapel (especially when it isn't). Loving your work means taking pride and joy in the fact that you created something. Even if it's not exactly as it was in your mind or even if it's considerably worse than what you pictured in your mind, it's a start. A baseline. Somewhere to begin improving, or to get closer to what you want to achieve.

So the anatomy is wonky. It is great that you can see that the anatomy is wonky because by seeing it, you can get to correcting it. If you don't love your anatomically wonky work, then you won't find it easy to invest time in it to make the anatomy better.

When I was taking my first steps in creative stories, I wrote a bunch of them like the world was ending. They were all BAD. Like, real bad. From the plot construction to the characters to the writing and the dialogue, those stories were literally bottom. Because I couldn't fail harder. When I realized it, all my love for them turned into rage and I tossed them all in the fireplace, and watched them burn. I didn't touch a pen for a couple of years afterwards.

Now, I regret it. I really wish I had those stories stored somewhere, just like I have my first drawings. I'd probably find them worse now than I did back then, but I'm proud of them because they represent my starting point. And if I had the capacity to be in that headspace then, and kept working on them instead of burning them, I probably would have made faster progress in my writing overall.

So, what should we be confident about when it comes to our work?

I'd say that there's one thing for sure about it: that we can make it better when we don't quite like it, and we should be about to enjoy it when we do.

But that- enjoying our work- is a post for another day.

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bravo1102 at 3:58AM, Oct. 9, 2022

Some folks have actually been through therapy for this and have all of coping skills and strategies to deal with it. But I've found no one really bothers to listen and would all rather wallow in their own self disgust. I still have a portfolio full of my old drawings from when I was still able to without having to ice my right arm for a week afterwards. I wasn't just good, I was promising and skilled and full of potential once upon a time. Had to give it all up and developed my own niche medium that is barely tolerated ket alone understood or accepted. Just be the best you can be and that is often good enough to be very good indeed.

J_Scarbrough at 10:50PM, Oct. 8, 2022

This happens to me all the time, and what I find fascinating is that everytime I'm in the present and I look at some sort of project I recently finished, at the time I'll think I've really come a long way in improving my methods and techniques and such . . . then a few years down the road, I'll think the same thing about projects I just finished then, while looking back on the previously-mentioned projects and wondering how I even thought I had done any better, because in hindsight, it doesn't hold up as well as I thought.

dragonsong12 at 6:54PM, Oct. 8, 2022

It was a tough pill to swallow the day I realized that my ceiling was actually pretty low and I probably won't ever be "good" no matter how hard I try. ...but this is all still excellent advice for artists.

hushicho at 4:52PM, Oct. 8, 2022

Most of all, we shouldn't obsess over "fixing" things. I have known so many artists especially who become so hyperfocused on revising their work that they're just doing the same thing again and again, or at the least they aren't progressing or developing because they're only retreading exactly the same thing. Accept what you have created, but know how to move on and not be trapped in a cycle of constant "improvement" because you're overall not moving forward with that.

Jason Moon at 9:42AM, Oct. 8, 2022

When I was a little kid I would just draw random crazy stuff on computer paper that would be in stacks and sprawled all over my bedroom. Most of the drawings would eventually get put away in drawers for months or years at a time. A buddy would come over and discover the stuffed drawers and go through the art and sometimes I would come across an old drawing that was surprisingly good and would give me an idea for something else. My friends were always impressed by my kid art but they didn't draw themselves and like you guys have said, you're always your own worst critic because you know what you're capable of.

Ironscarf at 5:53AM, Oct. 8, 2022

Being your own critic is an important component for artistic progress, but it's not easy to strike the balance between self criticism and self destructive rage/disgust. I've gotten better at this but went through my own phase of discarding everything before it was finished. Torching it all on a creative funeral pyre sounds wonderfully dramatic though! I really wish I did that.

PaulEberhardt at 5:51AM, Oct. 8, 2022

My oldest drawings from childhood to about early twenties all fell victim to mice nesting in the box I stored them in. They were shite, but when I disposed of them I still felt they didn't deserve to end like that. - My advice to anyone who takes up drawing is radiate supreme confidence at all times, because there will always be something that could have been done better. That doesn't mean abolishing self-reflection! On the contrary, being good at self-reflection and acting on it is a vital prerequisite for this to work. Being able to accept constructive criticism with good grace is the other thing that separates the great artists from the arrogant crap ones; instead of being a sign of weakness it shows confidence. If you accept criticism you basically say that you know you're good enough not to have to be afraid of listening to feedback.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 1:18AM, Oct. 8, 2022

I too have some old works, written and drawn. Most of the written stuff dating back 10 years and forward I've erased from my digital folder because it ended up misdirecting and cluttering my current work. But most of the drawings, as well as printed documents dating prior to that, I still have. One of my oldest written - albeit unfinished - works I got printed and kept in a old folder is a high-fantasy story called Gudarnas Rike: Andarnas Drottning (Translation: Kingdom of the Gods, Queen of the Spirits) that is entirely written in swedish. And I laugh everytime I go back to read it because of how badly written it is. Some of the old stuff really is worth keeping around, because it shows you how much have changed since then.

Coydog at 12:53AM, Oct. 8, 2022

Once in a while I look at my old work and wince. "Jeez, I was crap back then." But it's evidence that I've improved since then.

bravo1102 at 12:47AM, Oct. 8, 2022

It may be crap, but it's all mine dammit.

davidxolukoga at 12:05AM, Oct. 8, 2022

Impostor syndrome 😭😭😭😭

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