Drawn in 2018
Drawn in 201o
Screencap of my sketches folder from 2016.
8 years separate these two drawings.
There’s quite a bit that can be crammed into 8 years. Truth be told, a lot of my learning and growth as an artist has happened within the last 900 days. I made a commitment to my art, myself, and my business to make a new drawing every day. I made rules for myself that were a challenge to keep. I learned quite a few things, not only furthering my skills, but also furthering my confidence in myself. One of the greatest things I learned was how to gauge my progress: by comparing my art to myself, and only myself.
It’s tempting to look at the work of my peers and get depressed, some even make comics about it.
There are so many incredible artists out there, and social media puts their work in front of you daily. It’s easy to find, and even easier to mentally punish yourself for not ‘being as good as Thus and So’. Beating up on yourself is easy. It feels like you’re taking action when you’re really only putting more shackles on already burdened purpose. I fell into that trap a lot and it resulted in years of very slow progress, of webcomics that were started and never finished because I didn’t think I knew how to.
Then one day something changed. It wasn’t in a snap of lightening or anything grand. It was a slow boil that finally crested and spilled over the edge.
I decided to take action and work on these things that I kept punishing myself for. I made a mental list, and picked one item to start on (which happened to be focusing on composition). I also started my personal habit of one new drawing/illustration per day. That was the greatest decision I could have made for myself as an artist. That and adopting a singular focus on what I was comparing myself to (me and my previous work).
Now I have a 900 day deep body of work that I can track my progress through. I know for the first 200 or more days I was physically drawing in my composition grids. I can point to certain illustrations and tell you what I figured out, where I stumbled, and what I learned. It was and is a marathon of ‘Practicing with Purpose’.
I can show you the pieces I thought were my best, which I’m now proud to say I’ve grown beyond. And that is another Big Thing: it’s ok to be proud of yourself and your work, no matter where your skill level falls. It took me so long to really understand that and put it into practice. I still have trouble. But when those negative thoughts arise, I have 900 days of practice and Not Failing to quiet them down with. Maybe daily drawing isn’t your thing, but I want to encourage every struggling artist I see to find something like that.
Make a commitment and find yourself a measuring stick.
Some gauge you can use to build yourself up instead of tear yourself down. I see so many people telling themselves they can’t when so often the only obstacles blocking them are the ones they’ve erected in their own minds. You CAN do it. You CAN write that book or draw that comic or create that world. You CAN be as great as Thus and So. Just remember to use Thus and So more as a guiding light as opposed to a unit of measure. You are on your own journey, just as they are on theirs. What will your day 1000 look like? I’m so excited to see mine, and the many days beyond.
Screencap of my 2017 Sketches folder.