(Cross-posted from my LiveJournal. If you're seeing it twice then I'm sorry, but I thought I should post this here too.)
Something has been bothering me for awhile and I feel the need to get it off of my chest. I've been thinking about this topic for weeks and have come to some conclusions about me and my relationship to my art and writing.
I'm sure we all know that artists are never supposed to be happy with their work. Not if they're serious artists. They want to grow and improve and get better and better all the time until they become happy with what they do and can finally see that they're pretty good at this. This "hating everything I create" attitude is supposed to be a motivation, according to a lot of people. If you're never satisfied, you'll keep trying to improve and keep making strides toward better and better art.
Well... maybe this makes me a "not serious" artist, but this approach doesn't work for me. I admit it, I actually LIKE about 99% of the art that I do (and my writing too). This doesn't make me think that I'm the best artist in the world or that my shit doesn't stink, but I don't sit around bemoaning that nothing I do is ever good enough either. I like my style. That doesn't mean that I don't know there's things wrong with it and that I'm not working on getting better at what I'm not that great with (mechanical items, clothes, backgrounds), it just means that I'm pretty happy with what I think I AM good at.
Beating myself up and hating myself doesn't work to motivate me. It used to but it doesn't any more. Maybe that makes me arrogant, I don't know, but hating myself just isn't doing the trick. Hating myself is actually the way for me to NOT want to do something in the first place. I wanted to start my web-comic three years ago, but since I hated my art and hated that I couldn't draw cars and motorcycles, I put it on hold. For three years. To "practice drawing cars and mechanical things." But you know what? I didn't work so much on improving what I wanted to improve then because I had already convinced myself that I sucked, so what was the point? I lost three years that I could have actually been doing the comic and really pushing myself and actively improving all because artists are supposed to hate their work.
Maybe it's just my bass-ackwards-ness, but that seems messed up and counter-productive to me. Want to improve, but hate work so much that I don't want to draw. Hmmmm... I think that's what we like to call a "viscous circle," isn't it? Again, I'm not saying that I think I'm the most awesome artist or writer in the history of everything, and I'm not saying that I don't know where my flaws are and my areas that need improving. I am saying that I'm done with hating myself and my work just because it's "what I'm supposed to do in order to be taken seriously."
I've been working for the past nine weeks with a book called "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. It's a fantastic book and I really recommend it to any other artists out there who have a lot of emotional baggage to deal with about their work. Whether you paint, write, scult, draw, or make movies, it's a fantastic book. And I think this is where the shift in my thinking has come from. I KNOW it's where the shift has come from. Because since I've started doing that book, I've become unblocked about the web-comic and actually started working on it rather than talking about it. It's helped me get past all the pain that's been done to me (by myself and by other people) so that I could actually CREATE. My inner artist is a child who just wants to play. And letting that child play and then beating that child up for not playing well enough just doesn't do it for me.
Think that I'm not a "real" artist all you want. Say that I'm not "serious" about my work. Take from this rant what you will. But I refuse to continue to abuse my artist. Letting her play, flaws and all, makes me happy and more productive. This is what works for me. It's what makes it so that I'm motivated to push myself and improve. Again, I am NOT saying that I think I'm perfect and flawless and have the best art EVAH. I realize that I have so much more to learn and so many areas to improve upon.
But I think I'll be taking a different approach to getting there. Dangling the carrot works better for me than applying the whip. And if doing what makes me happy and makes me actually want to draw makes me a terrible person or makes me arrogant, then I guess we have to agree to disagree on this one. If it makes me "not a real artist" then I guess I'm not a real artist. But I like playing one on the internet and I'll keep doing so for as long as it makes me happy. Because that's what art should be about- being happy.
I'm happy with me, flaws and all. I can never be perfect. I'll keep striving to make myself happier and to improve upon those areas that I don't like quite as much as others, but I'll do it on my terms. Not with punishment, but with reward. Rewards make me want to keep doing things to help me improve, and they make life fun.
And maybe I'll never get rich and famous doing art this way, but at least I'm doing art that makes me happy. And being happy is, I think, a lot more important that being rich.
Listening to: Pillar- The Reckoning
Reading: The Artist's Way- Julia Cameron
Watching: Transformers G1- Season 1
Playing: Battlestar Galactica