Artistic insecurities ( ??? )

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Moonshadowe
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Re: Artistic insecurities ( ??? )

Post by Moonshadowe » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:35 pm

I guess I have a bit of egg on my face, and likely a side of bacon as well. Being new to the forum I had no idea your painting skills were on a level of masterful. If you feel your artwork isn't good enough, you shouldn't. Your work is no less than amazing.

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Alitogata
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Re: Artistic insecurities ( ??? )

Post by Alitogata » Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:10 pm

Well...It is not.. but thanks for your kind words and the psychological support either way... :)

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Re: Artistic insecurities ( ??? )

Post by brianvds » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:20 pm

Alitogata wrote:Have you ever thought, that your sketches are not that good? ( comparing them with other peoples' sketches)
Have you ever felt that other people sketch better than you do, that you are not that skilled enough, that you make very little progress on drawing and sketching, that you haven't find your personal artistic style yet, etc etc etc.. ???

Because these are some of the thoughts I do sometimes, and I feel disappointed and get angry with myself for not trying enough.. Have you ever feel this way and how do you deal with the feel of being inadequate? ( if you ever felt this way of course).
:(
I feel that way all the time, and have felt that way for the past thirty years. One has to just keep on putting on a brave and confident face - very exhausting. :-)

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avajarvis
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Re: Artistic insecurities ( ??? )

Post by avajarvis » Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:52 pm

I've thought about this topic very much.

Some conclusions:

Imposter Syndrome

I've never met someone who was good at a thing who thought that their efforts were all that worthy of admiration. Under the smile and the nods and the thank-yous, that someone thinks they didn't really earn their praises. This pattern actually has a few names, and the one I know best is "imposter syndrome": where you not only know that there's so much you still don't know, but you also think that other people surely know as much as you, since you can't possibly be special---that would be ridiculous. If you can do it, so can anyone else!

It's somewhat the opposite of the "Dunning-Kruger effect." In Dunning-Kruger, someone who has no idea of the field will think they know everything, and elevate their skills beyond what those skills actually are, because they don't know how much they don't know. Most people grow out of this. Some choose not to do so.

Evaluating Criticism

I suffer from imposter syndrome very much. I have a very difficult time evaluating which criticism is appropriate and helpful, and which criticism is not. It's especially confusing because criticism of both kinds can come from either experienced hands in the field, or your skill level peers! The imposter syndrome effect of "there's no way I am in any way special, anybody could do what I do, therefore any critique must be good no matter how harsh or confusing it might be" is a terrible fallacy.

And then you get to run into instructors who feed off this fallacy. And you just don't know if they're being straight with you or if they're being dishonest (intentionally or not).

For instance, I was told by one artist that a sketch I did was very terrible, because my lines weren't smooth, and that it was a miracle that he could tell what I had drawn, and that I was only lucky I'd managed a cohesive picture at all; otherwise it'd be total trash. And I felt... well, I didn't know any better, you know? I thought, well, maybe there are only certain ways to do sketches, he wouldn't tell me this stuff if it wasn't true. He wouldn't be so harsh if I wasn't an awful hack job.

Yet another artist, however, told me that this same sketch was very alive; that the lines had an energy that often is missing in inexperienced ink pieces. She gave me encouragement. She called me an artist.

And my artist friend, who believes in me for reasons I don't understand, told me similar things, too. They even said that my potential future style was there, and it would probably be interesting (and I couldn't detect any condescension, no matter how hard I tried). They also called me an artist.

Both of them gave me this advice for free. I had to pay $35 for the first dude's advice.

And... that free advice turned out to be right. Against what they say about free advice being worthless, in this case ... it helped.

That first guy turned out to be a blowhard. And if I had listened to him and accepted his teachings at face value, all I would have done would be to turn out art that looked like his, but an inferior copy. And it's funny because that's what at least two of his students told me they wanted for themselves. But it wasn't for me---and that was what counted.

What Do I Want?

At some point you gotta just ask yourself: what do I want, anyways? What do I need to know and to practice to do what I want to do?

And like, "what do I want" can be anything from "I want to be who I am" to "I want to make art that expresses who other people are." You could be a fine artist who does avant-garde pieces that few understand. You could be a graphic designer who only seeks the best way to represent a company. You could be a concept artist who seeks to portray in realistic terms only how a movie should be set up. You could be an abstract sketcher who will forever doodle with ink and stick in old phone book pages and be obscure forever.

It doesn't matter what you want. It only matters that you want a thing.

And it doesn't matter if you change your mind; in fact, changing your mind about what you want is only natural as you change as a person.

Once you have an idea what you want, go for everything that will help you achieve that goal. Ignore the stuff that doesn't help at all. Including any constant inner monologue about how you just aren't good enough.

Conclusion

I would be lying if I said that I never looked back after that realization. I always look back. I always wonder if I missed something, if I'm in actuality an ego-maniac who can't see past my nose.

But then I always end up looking forwards again.

Even if I'm a terrible artist, I'm an artist. Even if I'm a terrible writer, I'm a writer. What matters is that I create art; what matters is that I write. That is pretty much all there is to it.

Footnote

By the by, here is the sketch that one artist thought was trash, another artist thought had great potential, and another artist thought was a future portent of an interesting style.
mother of a friend 600px.jpg
mother of a friend 600px.jpg (227.1KiB)Viewed 2943 times
I know enough now---though it took a year---to realize that the only person who can say whether or not it's trash, has potential, or is even awesome is myself.

I think it shows potential, at any rate.

(If I ever write a how-to book about art, it would have two sentences: "Scribble a lot." and "Good, keep going." And a lot of blank pages of a good weight for people to doodle in.)

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Andre Jute
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Re: Artistic insecurities ( ??? )

Post by Andre Jute » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:55 am

When I was in college, already internationally published since I was 13, I sent an important writer some poetry for a magazine he ran. He replied that I should give up literature and take up something useful, like accounting. As it happened, I was, quite literally, a genius at accounting (just ask the Revenue in nine countries at the last count...), with an offer already to join Touche, Ross when I graduated (I interned with them one college vacation and played rugby for their team), so I just laughed and wrote a parody of him for the much larger magazine I published (he threatened to sue until he discovered my girlfriend was a lawyer). Years pass and at one point this ungracious writer and I share a distinguished literary publisher, where my ex-agent was then the head of the house. One day I'm given a manuscript written by this man and when I've read it I'm asked about putting it up for the Booker Prize, the biggest prize in literature. So I say, "It's literature but a bit twee, not much about the middle. But the critics love him." They tell me, "Sure, it's a political decision. But he's so petty, we're a bit worried." And I remembered his spiteful comment, and said, "If you're already worried that he'll make a petty comment about another nominee's book, and thereby reflect badly on his publishers, you have many equally good writers with generous natures on your list," and I named three, one of which was put up and won. (I shoulda mentioned someone else, less likely to win. Another of my publishers put up a book of mine that year...) It sometimes amazes me that talented men can be so insecure that they have to bully aspirants. But there is a lot of that about.

Seeing your rendition of your friend's mother, Ava, I would say, "Looks like you've arrived."

By the way, in a handbook for other writers I wrote, WRITING A THRILLER (25 years in print in English, widely influential, much anthologized and even plagiarized word for word, translations in Italian, French and Spanish still available, etc), two of the three key concepts are "scribble a lot" and "keep on going". Practice and perseverance are the keys to mastering all the arts that are suited to your talents (not everyone can be a writer or a singer or a painter, but everyone can do something well if they try hard enough).

All the same, if someone is clearly not going to make it, it is really one's duty, if asked, to say so, to stop the person wasting time that could be more productively used elsewhere. I'm fortunate that I've never had to do it, because what if you're wrong? Imagine saying, "My dear Theo, WTF are all those garish, overbright colors? Those are the visions of a madman. Until you move to the browner end of the palette, and add the neutral to every mix, you'll never be a painter. Your brother is wasting his money keeping you. Get a job teaching school!"

I'll tell you a secret. I pay zero attention to criticism unless it is either flattering or technically useful. The only relevant question is, Am I, personally, satisfied with this piece of work? (And, if the answer is yes, a further question: Am I being smug or will further work wreck what I have already?) What I want to know from a critic or a guru is: What does he know that can help me make the piece better? Materials, methods, tools, approaches, viewpoints, attitudes, it all adds up, and that list explains why I value the contribution of a practitioner higher than that of even a distinguished critic who doesn't practice the art.

I don't believe any piece of art is ever perfect in the eyes of its creator, but that doesn't mean it is perfectible. An artist has to know when to stop gilding the lily despite that unease that he is leaving an imperfect job. But this search for perfection doesn't mean that the artist is an impostor for not achieving perfection, or not achieving as high a level as other artists held up as aspirational targets. What it actually means is that the search for perfection, and the feeling of failure, and the determination to do better next time, is what drives an artist to be an artist.

The most useful motto for an artist I found in the novel The Colour of Light by William Goldman: On to the next!

Andre Jute
Last edited by Andre Jute on Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Rebecca
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Re: Artistic insecurities ( ??? )

Post by Rebecca » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:22 am

I am very happy to see how much the forum has livened up with your arrival, avajarvis. I very much enjoy reading your perspectives. This sketch has degas-esque composition (he was inspired by Japanese prints) with quirky hints to your fascinations. Please indulge in more like this. Take it where you will. It will work.
Rebecca

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Re: Artistic insecurities ( ??? )

Post by avajarvis » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:13 am

Thanks, Andre and Rebecca!

Andre - heh. Yeah, scribble a lot and scribble some more are quite good advice for both art and writing. And that is a really neat story about that prize. The world is huge, but individual fields are much smaller, and you'd think people would remember that... but nope. Oh well, you did the duty of karma. ^_^

Rebecca - A lot of my art I've found to be influenced by the art I experienced as a child (Chinese and Japanese woodprints and fans and wall hangings), even though it was over 30 years between that time and when I actually started drawing. It's always surprising to me when these influences echo in my work.

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