I look at other people’s art routinely. I’m a visual learner; I don’t need written instructions, I need to see how it was done. So I can’t skip this routine, not if I want to continue to grow as an artist. But have you seen the amazing stuff that’s out there? I have a Pinterest board labeled “drool” because that’s what I feel like doing when I see these examples. And it can be sobering at times, because I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to offer what they already offer.
But then I think of my brothers (who are younger than me, the whippersnappers). They both have succeeded in their fields (visual artist and musician) and show no signs of slowing down. I’m ridiculously proud of them. I also have in my possession the first works they ever produced, and I have to hide them because they’d get destroyed if I let my brothers see them. And this encourages me, because they’ve both put in YEARS of effort to get where they are. I taught myself calligraphy when I was a teenager but marriage, kids and college (yes, in that order, don’t do it that way) interrupted and it’s only recently that I’ve picked it up again. And I can already see vast levels of improvement. I can even draw things that don’t look like stick figures (I didn’t see that one coming;) I know that in a few years I’ll be the one cringing when I look at my first Instagram photos and sales.
I also remind myself that I am a unique flower (understatement;) and that I do have something to offer. I might not have found the people who adore what I do but I trust that they’re out there and that we’ll collide someday. In the meantime I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. Which is harder than it sounds; I like to see what’s trending on etsy and I go down that rabbit trail of how to fit my art into that niche and no, I can’t do that, I don’t really derive enjoyment out of that. I enjoy getting a visual in my head and figuring out how to draw it, or seeing a stunning bit of lettering and figuring out how to incorporate the elements I like into my work. So as I said, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.
And to all the artists out there who are discouraged, don’t give up. All the great artists are going to die someday and we need people to take their places (I told you I was a unique flower). So keep on trudging.