Monday, November 25, 2013
Be Happy With Your Work
Here's something that's been bugging me for a while.
Common advice given to aspiring artists is to always be improving. Always strive for more, push yourself outside your comfort zone, study the masters, don't become stagnant. All well and good. However, sometimes this advice gets slightly twisted to become "never be satisfied with your work."
If you like your work, that means you're not pushing yourself. If you look at it and think "I did a great job" you're just fooling yourself; you can always do better. Look at Da Vinci, look at Sargent, are you that good? No? Then stop patting yourself on the back! Always be hard on yourself, always beat yourself up; this is the mark of a true artist.
Sometimes they'll say it directly, sometimes they'll subtly imply it. Keep an ear out for it and you'll eventually hear this warped message from a professional or professor. In fact, recently on Twitter I saw someone just come out and say,
"There is no amount of self-loathing that can't help an artist's work."
Okay, brace yourselves, artists, I'm going to say something CRAZY: I like my artwork. I'm not saying that it's perfect, or that I don't need to improve, I'm just saying that I like it and I enjoy making it. BAM. Mic drop!
Really, what's the point of being an artist if you're not going to allow yourself to enjoy it? There are a lot of professions that are easier and higher-paying where you can make yourself miserable. Try taking a risk: be happy with your work without worrying that this will stifle improvement.
Enjoy what you do.
"(Humans are) a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present." - Screwtape, letter 15