paarfaux said: Is it ever hard to push yourself forward as an artist? Often I feel like my art doesn't matter. How do you motivate yourself as an artist to keep going in the face of failure?
Hey, thanks for the questions. I’ll try to answer them as best I can.
I think the most important part of pushing yourself, for me at least, is to enjoy the resistance you meet along the way. Everyone has their comfort subjects/styles that they return to again and again. I have piles of sketchbooks full of nothing particularly challenging, either technically or intellectually. I think I’ve only started improving ever since I began wrestling with the things I find harder to draw and conceptualise (perspective + sense of motion are two things I neglected for years because they didn’t come naturally to me, for example). So, I started drawing things that were more difficult, that made my hand feel heavy and uncertain - but trying always to treat them with a certain child-like wonder. Like a puzzle that can be solved or the markers on a map. That way, by going in with your limitations bared you can enjoy the process of learning, of discovering these mechanics. Recognising that my skill-set has huge holes makes me excited to get filling them in.
Hmmm, the second part is trickier. If we take a wide lens to the picture, yeah your art, or anyone’s art doesn’t matter. Death will bury us and our work ;) …though, that exact limitation makes things quite exciting. You have this allotted time to try and produce the very best you can….GO!
Failure is a natural part of the process, of creation. There are errors and follies and time and again you’ll be pushing against the ceiling of your own ability. But, again, I think it’s important to enjoy this messy procession of triumphs and set-backs. And that ceiling raises over time, with practice and practice and practice. Failure is rarely black & white, and in the grey areas is where the interesting comments on your work can be found. I think it’s important to use failure as a sounding-board. It places you on the mountain, with the people whose work you admire, at various higher points on their way to the peak (with Mervyn Peake, right at the very top ;)
In summary: I think we should enjoy the challenge, it makes you stronger and more capable, as well as humbler in the face of better artists (but you’ll catch them eventually ;). Secondly, failure does often mean that you weren’t good enough, but that’s not the end of the story. Failure often pricks, razor-like, the areas in which you have to improve and that’s useful. Finally, practice, all the time. It goes some way to legitimising the struggle and gives you that Rocky-like resolve that helps to shadow-box your doubts and keep them, more or less, at bay.
I hope some of that made sense.