Being an artist myself, as well as being involved in various artistic communities, I’ve noticed we really have a tendency to beat ourselves up. But from my experience, along with advice from an artistic family, artist mentors, and general experimentation, I’ve realized art is so much more complex and subjective then just who’s ‘good’ and who’s ‘bad’. Therefore, here’re my thoughts and tips that I’ve researched and/or done myself to help shoot down that negativity and staying positive about one’s drawing creations!
Comparing yourself to other artists
From time to time, we all do this, but holy heck is it poison to your creative drive. And really, nor is it fair to you or the artist in question! Comparing two artists is like comparing apples and oranges, or a squirtle and a pikachu for that matter-
See, we all have different brains, different styles, preferences, life/drawing experience, talents, skills, IT’S INCREDIBLE. No artist is better than the other, we’re just different! The one thing we all have in common is taking a blank slate and turning it into something, and that’s amazing in of itself regardless of skill!
Plus, when you look at an artist’s blog or portfolio, 99% of the time you’re seeing all of their good/presentable art that they want you to see, not their 2am doodles from the void of insanity. You on the other hand see every single pencil stroke you place on paper; the good, the bad, the SHOOT THIS SCRIBBLE MONSTROUSITY INTO THE CORE OF THE SUN
So, when you see an artist you admire, cut yourself some slack. Redirect them as inspiration- not competition. Turn that “gosh they’re so much better than me” to “heck that looks awesome, I wanna make something cool like that!” Because in the end, only YOU can tell your story the way you want to.
Criticism is only a suggestion
Unless you’re working for an employer and you have to change your drawing, some person’s criticism of your art either from the internet, your parent, sibling, etc, is completely up to you to take! It’s totally cool to take a breather, go outside and vent emotions, cry a bit, whatever you gotta do to sit down and consider what they told you to change. But then, try out what they said and see if it looks better; it could possibly benefit your drawing and help you learn a new technique. However, if it doesn’t and/or you’re perfectly fine with the composition at hand, then you don’t have to change anything just to please the other person (See: How to Handle Criticism). Or if your peers/family ignore your art or just give you an ‘Uh-huh” “That’s cool.” Remember: Your art is not defined by how others perceive it.
Happiness starts now.
Let’s be real for a moment. If you’re not somewhat happy with your art now; improvement won’t change that. Nor will popularity. Incredibly skilled artists are often asked how they feel about their own art and many of them will answer “I’m not where I wanna be” or “I hate what I drew the previous day.” Yet there are so many people saying how much they wish they could draw like that very artist- which makes you wonder, how can I ever be pleased with my art if they aren’t? At first its disheartening, but really it’s a blessing to learn to be content as you are. Look at your drawing and ask yourself: Do you like the flow of motion? Do you like how you draw eyes or noses? Is that pose you just drew freaking cool or what? Find something you like. Whenever you catch yourself starting to beat up yourself with negativity, focus on these positive things, as small as they may be. Scope out at least one thing you like, even if you only kinda like it. And keep doing that every time. The more you reinforce the positive about each of your creations and yourself, the more you will believe them. It’ll take time, but it will eventually built up and be worth it :)
Having fun is what counts!!
JOY IS A POWERFUL TOOL AND MOTIVATOR EVERYBODY, never forget why you love drawing in the first place! Improvement will happen the more you draw and that’s a fabulous bonus, but it won’t come (or more so you won’t notice) if you don’t care about what you’re drawing. Studying art skills is important to an extent, absolutely, but too much can become toxic and stressful. Draw what you love, as self-indulgent/unoriginal/weird/stupid as it may seem, DRAW ALL OF IT. I draw a shirtless pyromaniac redhead with naked squirrel tails for heavens sake like what even is his design
oh yeah i don’t care BECAUSE I LOVE HIM AND DRAWING HIM AND NO ONE CAN STOP ME
Joy, passion, and straight up having fun is a fantastic fuel source, use it!
At the same time, art block happens
And it’s ok to take a break. Your creative drive is important to take care of and if you feel like art just isn’t working for you or you feel mentally exhausted, take a break. Literally sit yourself down and watch a good animated show on Netflix. Browse the internet for cool looking art of people you admire. Go to an art museum. Watch Bob Ross paint happy little trees on youtube. Rekindle that inspiration for art. Drawing will be there for you whenever you want to come back to it. <3
In the end, art is subjective. Art is not defined by how others perceive it. Art has no definite scale of who is good at it and who is bad. Happiness in your art is not a destination of skill, its a way of life and the journey of loving what you do. Now go make some rad stuff whatever the heckity heck you want that to be and express yourself to the world! And most importantly, have fun doing it! :D
~Katharine (All art drawn by me)