The attached illustrations are of the same subject - drawn by the same artist (me) 29 years apart. First - you should always do the things in life you enjoy. And this means you need to focus on the aspects of those things (participating in sports, playing a musical instrument, drawing, sculpting, writing, etc...) that you enjoy and not let frustrations born of inexperience stymie your moving forward with them. I witnessed so many young people around me give up on something because they weren't amazing at it or "the best" the first time they tried it. Ability in anything - any-thing - in life comes from dedication and practice. In my personal journey as an artist I have gone through many stages of what I'd call "stagnation". I reach a plateau and can't seem to push through it and I step away for a while. I've taken breaks as long as 5 years from illustration. Focusing on photography and music and other endeavors. I went through a 3 year period while working in medicine where I did ZERO creative things. No art, no photography, nothing. I was too busy working. From this period I started taking photos in the operating room. One path will often lead to another. If it is organic and feels right - don't resist it. My illustration ability took a light-year jump forward when I attended film school. I learned to look at light as a character - part of the story - with it's own story to tell. And this has helped me approach how I design and plan for illustrations. ________________ The point of all of this is simply - don't give up on something because you don't get the results you wanted or had expected immediately. You need to practice as often as you can by looking at what you did that worked and what didn't work in your illustrations. This goes for sports, writing, music... etc... You look at anyone who has accomplished a mastery of a skill and you'll see countless hours of hard work to reach where they are. Lastly, NEVER - EVER - NEVER - EVER let someone else take something you love away from you by making you feel ashamed or embarrassed by what you create. We are individuals and as such, we all have our innate strengths and challenges. I've known many amazing artists who struggled for years and years to finally reach a place where they felt their art actually conveyed what they had wanted to share. There are people who for whatever reason - say hurtful things about other people's expressive creations. And this is truly shameful. We should - as artists - respect each others journeys and be patient and nurturing to one another. I could never feel good about my own journey by discouraging another artist in theirs. Just some things to think about. ------------------- Be kind to yourself and be kind to each other.
A Message To Young Artists
jon i am so happy to have come across your page i really needed to hear that back in 2000 i was an art major and when i had one semester left until i transfered to the art institute sf i was in a severe car accident that almost paralyzed me but still caused serious damage and made it impossible to do what made me feel like was my purpose to tell a story through image and words. Now after 13 yrs of working to restore the ability to hold a pencil for more than a few min. i have been working on my comic strip for the last few months but have in all honesty terrified to share it or to spend the proper time on it. having lost what was the greatest part of me has put a hinder in my confidence and drive to get back to that place but your encouragement has truly given me a push of strength into getting these stories and images out of my head and out into the world ...thank you.
@brett32 - Thank you so much! I'm sincerely glad that you found some inspiration in this card and my words! I am so sorry to hear that you've had such a rough time... but I am thrilled that you've fought and worked hard to overcome the challenges life has presented to you. I really would love to see your comic strip - when you are ready to share it. As artists we should always appreciate and respect another artist's journey. The only shame in life - in my opinion - that is truly unforgivable - is when people deliberately choose to be cruel or evil to one-another just because they can (or because they think it makes them feel better). Those people are truly lost souls and should be pitied... and ignored. :D So long as you enjoy what you are creating and you are able to express the things you really feel your art should express - then you should hold your head high and be proud.
I speak from personal experience regarding wanting to give up because you just can't seem to take what you see in your mind and translate it to the paper. I drew the first illustration in 1985 - I was 15 years old. And I'd not really attempted drawing people - at least anyone recognizable. I didn't finish this drawing and I put it away because it just "sucked" in my mind. I wanted it to look like the one I drew earlier this year. I lacked the experience and the confidence that successfully translating the images in my mind to paper creates. This is a slow process. And like I said, I've taken long breaks where I just didn't create anything. I needed to go out and learn other lessons. I never would have dreamed that studying photography and then shooting thousands of photos - training my eye to see light from a photographer's standpoint - that this would help me be a better illustrator. I would have laughed at anyone who said this to me as a teenager. That's why I say that you need to stick with it and keep trying. Keep pushing yourself. Keep learning - not just technique - but learn yourself and understand how you see the world around you - and why you see it the way you do. All of these things are part of your journey. You just need to not give up if you enjoy it. If you do not - then it's the right thing to do - find something else that you do enjoy. Life is too short to spend time on things you don't like.
These are great thoughts, @JonPatrickHyde - I'm so glad to see that you are sharing them here in this format. I especially like your points about the value of positive feedback, as well as this: "And this means you need to focus on the aspects of those things (participating in sports, playing a musical instrument, drawing, sculpting, writing, etc...) that you enjoy and not let frustrations born of inexperience stymie your moving forward with them. I witnessed so many young people around me give up on something because they weren't amazing at it or "the best" the first time they tried it." This is so important! It's so hard to continue when you can see that your work is not nearly the quality that you would like to see. That's really one of the first steps in any type of art - being able to put in the work and push through that stage when you feel like you suck and advance your skills to better and better points.