This post has been inspired by a recent video that I watched on DeviantART. I am incredibly inspired by the artists in that video. They’re amazing at what they do. I encourage you to watch the video if you can. Now, I know a lot of people who would love to be amazing at whatever it is they’re passionate about. Drawing, painting, writing, stories. But these same people are afraid to start because they don’t want to suck at doing it. This is kind of the same idea that I presented in my blog about being bored and making things, but really, I feel like this doesn’t get addressed enough and I didn’t hammer it hard enough before. So here goes. These are some rules for getting better at what you do. Even though these are about art, these rules can be applied to anything you do. So if you’re not an artist or writer, read anyway!
1. Dare to Suck
Don’t be afraid to suck! Everybody sucks at what they do when they first start. You don’t have to be amazing to start, but you have to start to be amazing. Here’s an exercise for you: take something that inspires you personally (not something that everyone else thinks is amazing, but something that you find especially inspiring) from your favorite artist, and print it out. Hang it on your wall. If it’s a book, keep the book close to you. If it’s artwork, hang it up. If it’s poetry, hang it up. You get the idea. Then go and look for some of the oldest stuff they’ve ever done. Find it, and hang that up next to that piece you already have out. There’s a great example right here.
2. These Things Take Time
This artist drew the first picture when he was about fifteen years old. The second is almost two decades later. Two decades. Just take a minute and wrap your mind around that. This stuff takes time. A lot of it. And if you’re really passionate about something, you will take that time. If you feel like you slacked off recently, or even for the past ten years of your life, pick that thing back up that you loved doing so much and continue from where you left off. Learn. Create. Don’t quit just because someone disses you. Don’t quit because you see someone who’s better than you. There’s an incredibly inspiring quote in the artist’s comments on that picture I gave you earlier. It’s this:
“I strongly believe that this is the most inspirational deviation that I ever submitted. So print it out and hang it on your wall and scream ‘I can do it too!'” -Artgerm, on DeviantART
If this guy can do it, then you can do it too. Take the thing that inspires you, and keep it close by. Whatever makes you happy, whatever makes you create, just go do it. Take some time and realize that there’s nowhere to go but up. You never go backwards with your skills as long as you continue to develop them. Speaking of developing your skills….
3. Keep A Journal or Sketch Book
Something that might help is an art journal with ideas for what to draw, or a writing journal. Actually, if you’re aspiring to be an artist or a writer, then these things are essential. Not necessarily an art journal that tells you what to draw every day, but keep a sketch book, and then keep all of your ideas. Even the crappy ones. This goes for writing as well. Keep a journal, and look back on previous writings every once in a while. You’ll be amazed that, contrary to your own beliefs, you actually are making progress. It’s amazing. Get a DeviantART account, and use that to motivate you to put more of your stuff out there. It helped me to see progress, actually.
Here’s a picture from quite a few months ago (probably closer to a year and a half, but who’s counting?):
You see this? You see this picture? This is something that I personally drew and then never wanted anyone to ever see it. I never wanted it to see the light of day. Now I’m not trying to diss the level of skill, because I know that there are people who might look at this and think, “But that’s better than what I can do.” If you’re thinking that, then stop that right freaking now. That’s not my point at all. My point is that I thought that I sucked. I was firmly convinced that I was a sucky artist and that I should just give up.
But I didn’t give up. And here’s something that I drew a day or so ago:
If you want to, I give you permission to hang these two things up on your wall if that’s the inspiration you need. If you want my pictures, then by all means, use them. I would love to know that I’ve inspired someone to continue with that thing they’re passionate for. Personally, my thing that keeps me wanting to draw is Jerry Vanderstelt. Jerry is an amazing artist that you should totally check out. (So click the link. It opens in a new tab, so you won’t navigate away from this post. Do it!) He’s done tons of art for The Lord of the Rings as well as the upcoming movie, The Hobbit. (I just had a nerdgasm right there because I am so freaking super excited about The Hobbit!)
But that’s beside the point. So, the point of this was: don’t ever stop trying to be better at what you’re doing. Stop telling yourself that you suck and just tell yourself you need to develop skills. You’ll be amazed at what that can do for you. Oh, and if you need some extra inspiration because you’re stuck, check out my other blog, Art In My Life, where I share one of the things that I’m most passionate about with people who are also passionate about it.