For the last year I’ve been on what I’d like to think of as an artistic journey. While there have been improvements to my art over the decade that I have been creating on Shamoozal, the improvement has been very slight. I need to push myself. One thing that I’ve also started doing on this journey is finding particular artists to learn from and be inspired by. The problem here is that the very people you are inspired by can also be your temporary downfall.
We all get jealous. We all envy things that people can do or have. There are times when I go sit down to do work, I load up Twitter, see some incredible pictures and it cripples me creatively. I think “I’ll never be as good as this person” and IF I move onto actually drawing from that point, I’m harsh to judge what I put down. From there I usually go further down the rabbit hole of looking more into the amazing work of said person and feeling not inspired, but horrible about my current ability by the end.
Sometimes we need to step back and begin to filter the noise. The downside to having so much available to us is that there is simply TOO much available to us at any given time. If you’re ever feeling down about your own art after looking at great art, then that is your hint to take a break from looking at art. Choose not to look at great art for a day or more. Don’t allow yourself to get consumed by it. If that means temporarily muting an artist you admire on Twitter or another social platform, then do it. Once you feel better, allow yourself to become inspired by great art again. I’d also suggest not looking at art moments before you saw something that inspired you. Chances are you won’t be able to draw or paint what you just saw as good as the piece that inspired you in the first place. This will also cause you to fall into that pit of despair.
I see this happen even with my own daughter who (as of this writing) is five years old. When drawing with her she might request something in particular, and I’ll draw it fairly well. For a moment she will feel inspired, attempt to draw what I just drew, become frustrated and have a complete melt down. Me explaining “I have been doing this my entire life” means nothing to her. She wants to see the results right now. To deal with this situation in particular, I will intentionally draw not as great pictures in an effort to kind of push her into a direction for creativity. Sometimes I’ll even draw a bunch of shapes and say to her “Figure out what to do with these.” These sessions are often fun and have less tears.
As artists that want to continue to grow, we will always want to be better. Likely, we will always fall into this trap. It is a never ending cycle. I don’t think there is a way around it, and I’m actually glad there is no way around it. If we didn’t feel the need to push ourselves then we never would. We would be satisfied with where we currently are. We need to feel inspired and we need to want to do better work. However I also understand that there are breaking points where we feel overwhelmed to the point of being derailing completely on our journey for growth. We must do our best to recognize and know how to deal with these feelings when they arise.
Like anything else good in life, moderation is the key.