Tuesday, October 25, 2011

insecurities from an artist's perspective

Disclaimer: in no way is this meant to stir up conflict. this is just a rant/vent on things that go on in my head that I happen to record. If you agree, great. if not, just move along... nothing to see here.

I was surfing through an art forum when I stumbled upon a thread that asked about what causes artists to be insecure about themselves and their work? there are infinite factors that can underly this question. However I've stepped in on this question to share my outlook on more identifiable and common factors than many artists face or have faced on a day by day or yearly basis. Being an artist, this is an easy answer, because I can apply my thoughts based on the history of my artistic approaches and with situations I've seen around me. and though I can say I have learned to understand what can cause these factors and ways to fix them, even I, ironically cannot stop them when they come. no one can. I can only brave it, and get better at solving these insecurities.

these points are based on my own observations. including myself....

so again, the question was, "why do artists feel so insecure about their work?"

1. Comparing and Contrasting
comparing to those we draw inspiration from can be the number one plea of being guilty of gaining insecurity with a good handful of people.
study your inspiration, don't let it be your bully. it is important to remember your goal is to strive to reach the level that artist is at, not the style. you are you're own person, your own style. we need to not fall into the illusions of some one else's style. it is so easy to do because that is the first thing we see. we sometimes cannot look past the visual beauty and see the technical underlining of the piece. skill level follows many different layers of algorithms to how a piece is made. style is just the icing on the cake. look for tutorials on how to improve. and don't be afraid to grow while showing your growth by posting your art. as for critics. shun it off. most critics don't bite, only try to help you get to where you want to be as cruel hearted as they might come off as.

2. That first line - that last shadow. (lines and detail)
Like I briefly sampled with algorithms above, we start from scratch with our work following a series of steps. now unlike the viewer, we have drawn and erased every necessary line and shade it took to get to that finished result. there for we are more analytic about our pieces than anyone else; even the client. one of the factors of why we are our own worse critics and can be insecure about our finished product.

3. improvement and time management- a major psychological insecurity

the words many artists use are " improvement" and "practice." time and practice equal improvement. but some times time can get the best of us, thus delaying our improvement. however it is best noted that improvement and practice is infinite, so we need not worry about loss of skill which has, through real life experience with others, happened psychologically. its all in your head! the muscle memory you have developed through drawing 10,11,12, 20, 40 + years as opposed to a new artist whom picks up a pencil for a few months and then drops it for another, is completely different, and will stay. it just wont go farther if you don't take action.

In relation to time and improvement, road blocks,etc. even the best artists we admire go through stumps in the road. some larger than others. things come up, inspiration dies for months on end with out even a sketch to be done. it all happens. I'm going through it right now. this can draw major insecurity. because we constantly see a need to improve, taking long breaks can grow the artist restless and insecure about his/her work next time they pick up a pencil/pen/ etc. its all in the head. muscle memory doesn't die easily in the hand of an artist. not at all. we just need to keep a constant rhythm of practice. even if its just sketching 3 heads in one day. you're doing something! and it will all fall into the place you want it in the long run.

4. psychological composition ( in short: A fear of public critique based on your skill level)

This one is a deeper issue that can correlate with bullet number 2:

The work you finish/are half way finished on feels like it could be better. thus you delay or drop the work entirely and start over in hopes you'll nail it better the next time.
[u]I'm going through this one the most.[/u] its nearing the side of a perfectionist. which in an artists case, is the number one disease. nothing is perfect. don't count on it being just like this, or that in style and skill level. you are you. you practice visually (like anatomy,etc.), you sketch, you follow and learn up on techniques and rules of art. you're doing everything required to its minimum level. artists beat themselves up the most over this. how much is to much practice? there is never enough. we know this. however, what are good times to put out a pleasing composition to reflect your practices? you decide. but its that decision and insecurity that we haven't practiced enough that usually gets the better of our compositions sometimes. just submitting it anyway is what should always be done. don't be afraid to just release it to the world! even if its a client, the pressure can be ungodly! but, if you feel its finished, if you have done the work, nothing is left out, then submit it. there is a reason a client wanted your work in the first place. if the client or viewer feels like something needs to be added, take that into consideration and either modify, or take it to mind in your future practices. we shouldn't take it as a demotivater. and I speak in irony. because I'm going through this even though I know what causes it through this description.

5. Public Relations

The fear of having your work negatively critiqued, and slandered. or having your inspiration channeled through a person or group of people you're close to.

these things fall more into the "heart" and we, as people are/can be very sensitive in our environments. this can cause so many tiny factors to build up and create insecurities on ourselves and life style choices, thus creating a slight shift in our momentum in art. this point can create any of the points above. it is a powerful point that also doesn't just pertain to art, but to anything you love to do. It is not hard to get out of, but it certainly isn't easy to be in.

6. Direct Mind (not observation)

Much like re-creating seeing what is in front of you, what we see in our mind and try to put down on a canvas can be just as challenging, if not more. you thoughts are constantly racing. this is where sketching comes in handy. get that idea down fast! but often times we feel as if what we have projected from our mind onto a canvas does not fully represent the perfect image in our heads. this can lead to another type of insecurity. we again, become our own worst critiques from our own person.
practice. and then one day things will be easier to project through our heads. the more perfect we get our piece from what we display in our minds, a sense of comfort is released rather than uneasy vibes about our work.

7. its not good enough! ( the sister issue of bullet no. 4 )

Or in other words, " I feel like I should be here, but I'm over here instead."
Don't rush yourself to getting where you want to be. often artists will feel horrible about the works they've done. it looks awesome to the viewer, but in the artists head, they know they could've been better. this can be caused by over procrastination and lack of practice. its more of a prick in the foot feeling than it is a major insecurity. but none-the-less it is one. and also is one that happens in waves. everyone has gone through this one from what I have known. even me. and it will happen again. don't fret over it too much.

These are just some of the major points I feel are reasons as to why we artists feel or can feel insecure about our artwork. some are obvious, some are not, some probably stand alone, and no one else will ever know as to why some one is insecure when all other reasons fail to apply. we are all different.

As artists we are learning every day. we are sensitive to our environments, and highly analytical in observation. these are powerful elements that help our perceptions and practices of the world around us. We just need to be our selves, and get through the hardships the best we can. issues come and go. I say let art be the channeling for artists to get everything else out! do what you love and don't be afraid to share yourself to the world!

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