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January 6, 2011
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If I knew then what I knew now, maybe I might have appreciated my work a little more.

I always used to compare myself to the other artists that I would see, artists much older than me, with the training and the experience I didn't have. It didn't seem to matter to me where they came from, just that they where good and I was not. If I had understood at the time that someday, with perseverance, study and practice that I too might be ask good as them, maybe I might have worked a little harder, studied a little more and not been so down on myself.

Now I look back on a lot of the artists who were my idols, megabytes worth of their art saved to my ancient drive in the basement for reference and inspiration. I realize, they really weren't that good. Some of them were actually quite bad. At any given time, if your art sucks to you or even thousands of other people, it is amazing to someone and you are inspiring someone else by sharing it with them.

If it seems like you are not improving at all, it is probably because you have stopped learning. When people draw the same mistakes over and over, they are practicing doing it wrong and practicing making those mistakes. Simply "Practicing" is not enough. Take a moment to study, learn to do it right, even if it is hard and messes you up now, it won't forever. This was a really hard bridge to cross when I was young and stubborn and lazy and just wanted to do what I felt like at the time. Now I can't wait to learn and study something new. This attitude and willingness to follow through has let me improve very quickly in a relatively short period of time for doing so. Just remember, nothing happens overnight. It will always seem a bit slow but keep going and don't be afraid to look at your older works when you're having lows. You don't notice your hair grow but you can sure see the difference if you look at pictures of yourself months or years after your last cut. No one stops improving for no reason, do not accept "just because" as an answer. As soon as you accept a perceived limitation as a fact of your artistic life, it will become so.

People often tell me they can't get better, that their art isn't changing and when I look at their stuff, I again see, not only that they might be practicing the same mistakes but that they are simply practicing different variations of the same thing. This may seem a bit strange from someone who has made part of their living doing portraits, but what a lot of people don't know is that this is a very small part of who I am and what I do as an artist. I am actually an animator, which is a side of myself that I don't often show to DA, but comes through in other areas of my art. Do something new. Try a different style. Try a subject you would have never drawn before and learn to appreciate something you might not have. Do you rely on your CG to make your art look nice? Just sketch. Sketch until your sketches please you just as much and don't have to rely on shiny rendering to hide your mistakes. Just draw heads? Draw a full body. Just draw people standing there? Draw an action sequence. Swear to yourself that your next 10 drawings will not be what your previous 50 were. Finish something you might not finish because it's just too hard, or learn to let go of something you spent a lot of time on that isn't going to work. Nothing is a waste of time, even if it ends up in your trash bin, where 9 out of 10 of my pictures go.

Something people who are not artists and even many starting artists don't understand is that art is not a "gift". People are no more born artists as they are born Olympic gymnasts. It takes years of time, dedication, study and hard work. It takes mental focus, toning, endurance, physical and mental co-ordination, aim and understanding. I practice drawing a minimum of 5 hours a day, every day, not including time to study, wherever I am. Immediate gratification is not a reasonable expectation of a dedicated artist. Art is not a competition. If all you do is work to please everyone else, you will never achieve the gratification and inspiration it gives to those who do art because they love to do it and have something to show or prove to themselves.

I know all of this may sound incredibly obvious and should just be a given but I am constantly surprised by how many people need to be reminded of this now and then, including myself. My very long point here is that every artist thinks they suck. During this time of thought, always remember:

You don't suck. You just suck right now.
Someone wanted me to upload a very old journal entry pep-talk for them. This is a pep-talk for all those new and starting artists, or for those who have been around the block and just need to get back to the basics. This is something I went through and am still going through. I think every artist at one point must go through. I hope that it helps give context and perspective to all the starting artists out there who think that they will never be good or achieve their artistic goals.

Art is not a gift. No one started where they ended up. And remember, whenever you feel like you suck, you don't :) You will be better later, use it as inspiration to get there.
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:iconthejoanapadj:
TheJoanaPADJ Apr 6, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you! You really are an amazing artist and a very nice person. :)
I started working hard when I first joined DeviantArt and, as you wrote, I had (and still have) a very large amount of drawings from artists I used to worship and admire. Looking back... I realized the same you did. And in a way that made me feel like I had grew as an artist and it made me feel better with myself because right then I knew my art was improving.

Of course I'm no better than many artists out there and surely my drawings wouldn't be my life, since I know they aren't THAT good yet. But one thing I know, the way I draw is MY way of drawing and no one can actually draw exactly like me. The same goes to every artist out there! Each artist is so unique in it's own way because they worked more or less than others to make their art.
Also.... at first, when I arrived at DeviantArt I just was overwhelmed by the amount of amazing artists... I could only see myself as a baby near those giants... sometimes I would be ashamed of my own drawings and be afraid of submiting them but then... I just decided to learn from those giants, you included Sambees, and tried to see how they worked and what they did to improve... and improvement was what happened with me too when I realize that. It took time but it feels so damn good. :meow: and the thing is that there is still SO much to learn.

I'm glad to have joined DeviantArt, even if right now... most of the frontpage is filled with naked girls and big breasts! xD
This place, this comunity, made me grow and even made me dare to call myself an artist! :meow:
So... thank you! ^^
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:iconeternities22:
Eternities22 Mar 3, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Okay, only about half of it
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:iconeternities22:
Eternities22 Mar 3, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My art is horrific...
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:iconmasterofthestorm:
Thank you for this. Clap
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:iconuntoldpromises:
UntoldPromises Jan 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes! I had given up art for a few years and started getting back on it but feel like I'm sliding back because I KEEP comparing myself and it's STUPID.
Just because someone is more advanced than me doesn't mean they're the only ones who should draw.
They WERE in my position before-- but THEY never gave up, so must I.
Thanks for reminding me. :)

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:iconrainkow:
RainKow Oct 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You really are amazing :)
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:iconbugsandbirds:
bugsandbirds Aug 12, 2013  Student General Artist
Not only have I found someone who has inspired me to try, study, or just doodle and get better, but someone whose art is absolutely mind blowing.
Reply
:icontclego:
tclego Aug 11, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow. You, my friend, are inspiring.
Reply
:iconfallen-h:
Fallen-H Aug 11, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is cool, and holds great meaning
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