I launched my pencil and my barren sketchbook across the room after trying to draw simple body shapes (without heads the size of planets) – for the best part of 5 hours.
Ten Jupiter heads later, I was done. I told myself I couldn’t draw, and that I should just stick to designing Piczo websites and Myspace layouts, because clearly …drawing wasn’t for me.
When I bought that expensive sketchbook, I had every intention of filling it with masterpieces and cool artsy looking collages and moodboards, overflowing with inspirational colours and sketches.
A few months later, and 2 pages deep – all I had to offer was a different take on our solar system, in which the planets were anchored by disproportionate human bodies.
Fell into the God awful trap of comparison, and convinced myself that being able to draw is a gift that you are either born with – or simply don’t have. I wish someone would have told me at the time how bloody wrong I was, and that skills can be developed and nurtured with enough consistency, dedication and care – although saying that, I was a teen – and probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.
I would literally sit there for hours, checking out everyone else’s work and wondering why I ‘wasn’t able to do that’, or how they managed to make such amazing content while I was creating glorified stick figures – with absolutely no regard or thought to the amount of hours and hard work that may have gone into those pieces.
It was a few years before I dared to try my luck again – I dug out the same barely used sketchbook and put the pencil to paper. However, this time around I was armoured with a less self-defeatist attitude, realising it was okay to not do a Dali straight off the mark. It was time to do away with this ‘perfectionism’ thing, as it had done nothing but hinder my progress, once I had trained myself into doing that – it was then that I genuinely started to enjoy just creating and embracing all of my happy accidents.
It’s all about self evaluation and growth, and the belief that you can create everything you want to create as long as you stick to it.
At this current point, I am still a beginner and struggle to sculpt and shade – but I’m having fun working through the whole process. I’m working with my weak areas and using them to add something a little different to my pieces.
I thought back to all the skills I had developed, or the things I had learned that I never thought I would get to grips with. For example, when I first started using Photoshop, all I could do was write text and just about fill it with colour. I would stare at the little icons on the screen like a deer in headlights, wondering how the actual hell I would ever learn to use these things, and how everyone seemed to make it look so easy. I found it impossible, and nearly shut the program down forever – but I persisted. Fast forward to years later, me and Photoshop are married and creating all kinds of colourful creative babies filled with mixed media and wonder.
It’s very easy to give up when you can’t see immediate progress, or when you try it out for a few days and continue to encounter the same difficulties time after time – I get that, I’ve been there and worn the crop top in every colour. However, we all know that nothing great comes without struggle. Resilience and a thicker skin will help you sift through all the shit, and continue regardless. Take pictures along the way and compare the various stages in your journey – once you can see the improvement for yourself, it will encourage you to continue to push even further.
* I have a gallery of some of my sketches/digital illustrations here, and I wanted to document my development over the coming weeks, months and years, to showcase the journey and hopefully convince anyone out there who has given up – to give themselves a chance, and stick it out!