I have started a new policy in my sketchbook that has held for the last few months. If I start a page, it has to end up with a finished work. This sketchbook has drawings I frown at. That I am not happy with. Pages pasted over with new paper. And lots of finished stuff. It is my best so far.
People ask me why I didn’t go to art school. I tell them I couldn’t afford it.
They ask me why I’m not an artist.
But I am an artist.
I make art.
They watch me bent over my little red book scribbling away and ask why I don’t make a living out of this. You’re so good! You should sell these!
I wish it were that simple.
Growing up, I drew constantly. I drew characters from books, imagination, TV, and everything else. I drew because I did not have another way to pass the time. I drew because I could not help but draw. My mother does not call herself artistic. She does not think the way I do. But she supported me. I had pencils, watercolor, sketch books, pens, and reference books. She offered critique when I developed enough to need it. And I got better and better.
Then I stopped.
Sometime around when I graduated, I got a job, discovered the internet and all the ways you can waste time, and finally made friends. I drew less and less, watching TV, hanging out, or working. Or sleeping. I slept a lot in those days.
I didn’t reliably create for multiple years, and I paid for that in lost skill.
Now I am forced to decide what I value. I am not willing to spend the rest of my life being mediocre at something. I want to be excellent.
I try to draw something almost every day. I try to allow myself to make mistake, to make bad work. If i keep creating, slowly my worst stuff will begin to look better and better. I set myself challenges in drawing new items or learning a new medium.
I grew up being told i was talented. I grew up being told i was smart. For a long time it was not hard to be the best.
Don’t take that too arrogantly.
For a long time, I liked being the best and it wasn’t hard, I wasn’t challenged. Things made sense too me. I expected things to stay that way. They didn’t. There reaching a point where I stood still, and I watched people who had been working for a long time suddenly get a pay off and they rose above me. They deserved it! I was being lazy and arrogant.
Now I am trying to buckle down, to work. To earn. To be excellent. Right now I am not remarkable, but I will be. I have to be.