moby-dick-(or-the-whale)-90
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DO YOU LIKE YOUR ART?

13 October 2007

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During a conversation I had recently, the topic shifted towards whether you liked your own arty creations, and to my astonishment I confirmed unthinkingly that I wasn't very happy with my ideas and art either. O, on-the-spot-thinking-abilities, how you have failed me.

What was I thinking? I clearly wasn't. Was there no communication in this head anymore? Had I fallen to the level of savage? Extremely ominous vibes were all around me. I needed to get out of this town, and out of the country. I had gotten The Fear.

But seriously, how could I have said that? Disliking my art is something I did a good four years ago, when I was into being the emo school kid; frustrated with life and my place in it. And that's where it stayed. I decided a long time ago that the tormented arteest routine wasn't doing it for me. I'm too energetic, too optimistic, and much too fond of dramatics to truly wallow in my self-pity without instantly enjoying it too much to continue with it. I realized back then and there that seething over other people's art with teeth clenched in envy and then furiously trying to match it yourself was far too self-deprecating a lifestyle for me. Tried it; it didn't work out; and we parted on good terms. I found a new pair of shoes and it fits deliciously.

For the past few years I've been in a place where I'm really happy to be. I've got a webcomic I'm super-proud of, I am able to create neat little animations to explore every idea I can come up with and in general I feel good about myself. But it's also a game of percentages. Play to your strengths. It's futile to obsess over someone else's colouring if you know you're not a good colourist yourself. What am I good at? Writing, creative thinking, wacky stories. Style. Content over graphics. Semiotics. It shouldn't surprise you that I started focussing on those things -my strengths-, cherishing them over the rest, and let all the other aspects go free. Knowing your strenghts means also accepting your weaker points. And that's just what I did. I'll never be the next Mike Mignola, Ross Campbell or Akira Toriyama. Pity. But now that that's settled, let's focus on what I can be and can do.

And you know what? Suddenly, all the frustration falls away. You start looking at your work objectively for the first time. You see the mistakes. But you also see the good parts. You accept both. You aim for progress, but you're not going crazy over it anymore. And you can *GASP!* look at other people's art and appreciate it for what it truly is. You're no longer jealous of the good art, but are happy that they've been able to create it. And neither do you feel the need to laugh mockingly at worse art than your own, because you feel comfortable where you are and don't need external strategies to feel good about yourself.

And I've been trucking like this for a few years now, and it's great. Now, I'm not saying that you can't become a great artist if you're super competitive or a perfectionist or an insecure, angsty teenager. Those may well serve you perfectly. All I'm saying is that it's not my thing, and that though it's a common phase to go through when one is a teenager or young adolescent, it needn't haunt you forever. If you don't like it, you can escape; because lifestyle is something you create and participate in. Here's a rope out of this cave.

So, why did I confirm that I wasn't happy with my art, back there? I guess it's because I instinctively felt that saying you're happy with yourself to your peers is almost like bragging. Hey, look at me; I'm actually a happy person, feeling good! It's a goddamn disgrace and a pathetic high school approach to life. I am going to take some extra effort to weed those deep-seated prejudices out. Now, I know that everyone who really knows me knows I'm pretty content with what I make. But it never hurts to send out the correct signal to everyone who might be at a loss when I blurt out silly things; outdated responses that were useful once, during insecure times, but no longer relevant.

Now, back to animating and drawing my wonderful and wonderfully flawed creations!

Roderick.