Monday, August 17, 2015

Artistic Woes

In today's social media driven world, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. We are bombarded by images, tweets, and posts about all the awesome things going on in other people's lives, and more often than not we feel left out or inadequate as a result. But something I read that stuck with me is that this comparison is severely skewed: we're comparing our behind-the-scenes to others' highlight reel. It's so easy to get caught in a downward spiral, comparing our failures and mishaps to the continuous stream of the apparent happiness all around us.

Not only is this applicable to boyfriends/girlfriends, engagements, babies, vacations, etc., but also the art world. It's natural to beat ourselves up, pitting our struggles and hardships against those who are having "heaps of success." We forget how carefully curated social media is; we don't see the blood, sweat, and tears happening behind each post.

Above is a sketch for a Doctor Who illustration I'd like to do. It's rough, and I'm struggling with many things: the consistency of style, compositional balance, the shape of the scarf, and so on. I can see a blurry vision of where I'd like to take this, but at the moment it's just that: blurry. I'm floundering, and that's okay. It's frustrating, yes. But half the battle in any illustration is problem solving, and moving forward.

Not every drawing you produce needs to end up on Instagram or Facebook. It's perfectly normal for your thumbnails to be incoherent scribbles, or to have paintings you spent hours on never see the light of day. Walt Stanchfield once said, "We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out, the better."

The next time you feel you're stagnant, inadequate, or a failure... don't. Each time you pick up a pencil or stylus is a success. I know it's easier said than done, but rather than comparing yourself to others, take a peek back at your sketchbook or blog from several months or years ago. I promise you'll see improvement. You're taking strides to be a better artists with each effort, and that's what counts.


  1. What a great post. Thank you for sharing. I will admit, I do get a bit wobbly from time to time when I see just how amazing other people are.

    However, I am always amazed just how encouraging and thoughtful people are when you talk to them about their work, LIKE a post or RT their work.

    It is a wonderful community of people to be around, even when at times you do doubt you own contributions from time to time.

    Kaye x

    PS - Sooo want to see that DW sketch art worked up! Love the energy in it. x

  2. Thank you for your kind comment, Kaye! I am by no means an expert, but I definitely know what it's like to feel down regarding one's artistic ability. I think it's only human nature to compare ourself to others, harmful as it may be to our emotional wellbeing.

    But you are so right: more often than not, artists are incredibly kind, humble people who are appreciative of every like and RT. The artistic community on Twitter especially is, in my opinion, a nurturing and inspiring place.