Overcoming Imposter Syndrome (Or, How To Be A Good Artist)
How to be an artist. Easy topic to address. How to be a good artist is more the right question. It’s more specific, and pretty easy to answer, it just takes more work.
First and foremost, if you make art, you are an artist.
That’s the point I tried to make by posting that meme first. People who make art are artists. Much in the same way that people who manage businesses are managers, and people who make food are cooks. If you engage in an act repeatedly, you can apply a definition to yourself according to that act. It’s a simple logical take.
You make art, you are an artist. Simple and clean.
Your problem is not “am I an artist”. Your problem is “am I a good artist”.
This is the issue that you are struggling with. Or at least, it is a primary issue that you need to give some attention to.
What you are making is not lining up with your expectations of yourself. Your vision of your work and of your self as an artist are not in line with the reality of your work and of your self as an artist.
You have a picture in your mind, and it built itself in your brain as you consumed and appreciated work over time. This picture in your mind means something, and it has value relative to your vision and mission, but not until you address this picture and develop specific goals from it.
If you don’t know what “good” looks like, you will always be disappointed. Define “good”.
Now, I say this as if most artists don’t have an idea of what “good” looks like. Most artists do or else they wouldn’t be disappointed with their work. The problem is not exercising critical thought alongside the idea of “good”.
This is a point where writing and pictures might help.
Find examples of what you consider good. And I mean go get pictures and get them together inside a folder. Take the “idea” of good, and break it down into specific examples from specific pieces of work, whether video games, artists, shows, or whatever.
Take each picture and put it inside a text document and write about what makes it good. Write what you appreciate about it and the elements of the picture that make it good. Write about the parts of the larger work or artist that contribute to it being good.
Really de velour an understanding of the skill involved in a picture, whether that’s how many people worked on it, or how many years an artist studied to achieve the necessary level of mastery to make that picture.
Struggling against a wall will always yield at least a little bit of results. But understanding how to make the wall come down will really give you an advantage.
Practicing with an objective increases your satisfaction.
When you understand what makes you think of a picture as good, then take that picture and do practical study. Try to acquire the skills embodied in the picture, whether the linework, the color work, the painting work, the actual drawing work itself, whatever.
If you know what makes a picture “good” or at least understand what makes you think of it as “good”, then you can attack that specific fundamental by building drawing fundamentals from work you really like.
Sometimes you will be challenged with specifically developing drawing fundamentals to begin with. It hurts, it stinks, it’s no fun, but you have to do it if you want to achieve your practical goals in your art.
Putting in work can get uncomfortable, but it’s how you get better.
Here’s another meme for you.
You must draw to get better at drawing. If you complain but do nothing, you will achieve nothing.
You get a job and go to work. How do you get good at that? You keep doing it with at least an ounce of care. Over time you get good at the work because the fundamentals become automatic to you and you can become inventive by taking what you know about the basics and optimizing them.
You are an artist. You just don’t think you are a good artist.
Define what you think a good artist is.
Break down the steps between you and your ideal.
And then take those steps.
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