Camping out on a plateau I've built for myself.
August 26, 2014 1:12 PM Subscribe
As a working artist for shy of a decade, I'm starting to feel like I'm hitting walls most of the time I make, which is making artmaking frustrating. Suggestions for how to rekindle love and patience for the process and start climbing up the next hill?
posted by actionpact to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I've been working as an illustrator for going on 10 years. It's something I feel infinitely grateful to get to do for a living, and if I look back upon the years I can see a lot of progress from when I started. I've learned that this career is more of a marathon than a sprint, and every time I am hitting a rough patch that my work's going to evolve in some way.
I started teaching college students a couple years ago and while that's been fantastic in a lot of ways and helped strengthen my own artwork, I'm also much more critical while I'm making. Especially when it comes to self-generated work, it's so easy to get frustrated or talk myself out of a project, thinking it's not ____ enough to pursue. (good enough, interesting enough, etc). I am dealing with issues of depression and anxiety and am working on them. But they definitely surface when I am making something, and I have to fight them all the time.
Even though I can see I've made a lot of progress, I also feel like I'm getting worse at drawing somehow; both in terms of general skills and physical ability (my hands wobble more than they used to, so I'm learning how to work with that). Or at least I'm getting more impatient with things being in process and looking bad before they get good. It's pretty discouraging and I often wish I could be like a little kid and just enjoy the process.
I experiment a lot with process and materials (sometimes too much and then I feel scatterbrained when I work on a drawing) and I'm trying to build in more time to expand my visual language, try new ideas and learn how to improve less-strong skills-- as well as try and let go of my critical nature. I'm also trying to pull away from the work a bit as I think sometimes I get too wrapped up in my job as my identity so that when it suffers it hits me harder.
So what I'm wondering is kind of two part--
1) are there ways to rejuvenate oneself or learn to be more patient and kind with myself when artmaking? I think I need to rekindle the fun and joy of making, even if I can't treat it like a kid would since it's my job. When it's good, it feels meditative and I can shut my inner critic off, but that's tough sometimes as the chatter fills up and gets me feeling anxious and impatient.
2) Can you suggest any tips, resources you've found or exercises you've done that have either made your skills ramp up after working at them, or helped you become more of a patient and productive artist? Basically, any good suggestions for getting to be a better/stronger/well-rounded artist. A lot of the things I've found seem to be beginner oriented, which aren't bad but I'd love to hear other points of view. I've started thinking of art as like a sport and drills/reps are important so you don't get lazy or weak in a particular area! One example that I've found helpful is to keep a sketchbook of drawings using only ink; that's helped me gain more confidence in line quality.
Any suggestions you can give me would be great. As I head into the next decade of my career, I don't want to slack or rest on my laurels!