I’m terrified of making art. Usually the process is arduous, full of frustration, procrastinating and anxiety. Lately, I can barely pick up a pencil and draw in my sketch book, let alone finish a piece of work.
Why is the act of creating visual art so not fun for me? In short: I care too much about what other people think about my art.
So delving deep into it, I see there are a handful of reasons:
1. I am a compliment vampire. I feed on the compliments of others and without them I start to wither.
2. I have a silver spoon in my mouth. I grew up in a place of privilege, in a privileged, middle-class family. I am the color of privilege and I am the gender of privilege. I even have blonde hair and blue eyes. I have not been trained by society or anyone to fail and I do not do it gracefully.
3. I compare myself to other artists. Just because I can’t use ball-point pen in my molskine like James Jean doesn’t mean I should be James Jean.
Where did it start? Let’s go back to 1986 for some story time:
It’s 1986 and I’m in my childhood bedroom. Surrounding me are dozens of crayola crayons. I am an island and I’m filling in between the lines of a toucan in a newsprint coloring book.
I finish up my masterpiece and proudly march into my parent’s room. “Look at what I did” I exclaim loudly. My parents reply in muffled unison: “Go back to bed, it’s 5 am”. Because when kids wake up on a Saturday morning.
It may seem innocent, but it was the beginning of a pattern. I would create something, coloring book page, or some glittery, fuzzy balls glued to construction paper and show it to someone. I would expect a compliment. Not just any compliment, a good one.
On one hand, I would dive deeper every time to reach new heights to receive a compliment. It made me more skilled as an artist and that drive has likely made me into the person I am today (not just artist). Each new piece of work was better than the last.
I made friends in school with art and I was recognized by teachers. But when I didn’t make art that pleased them, I felt terrible.
So where do I go now?
I’m at the point of paralysis. It’s actually impacting my art career. The answer is not simple.
1. Make art for the sake of creation. Do it for the sheer joy of making lines on paper or screen. Destroy it afterwards if you have to.
I know many artists who intentionally use poor quality sketch books because they feel inhibited by something high quality. If it
2. Fail. Fail and show it to the world. Fuck it, I want to draw dinosaurs. Occasionally the dinosaur will also be of poor quality. Shitty dinosaurs…
3. You are you, yada yada special snowflake, etc, etc. Look at other art for inspiration, not comparison. Style is how not forced, it is simply how an artist creates work. It happens naturally.
I will probably edit this post as I think more, but think of it as living catalog of my art ennui.