Updated: Apr 20, 2020
I was speaking to the Pleb’s team recently about my own personal art and how I was totally stuck on what to do next and I couldn’t figure out anything. I’d been creating a series of works, 50-60 illustrations all in the same series and it got tiresome for me, then right when I started to feel stuck I got a commission for 4 paintings a little outside of my box. So that kept me occupied for a few weeks and it was good and I thought it might really propel me into something new, but then I finished… and nothing. So I was in limbo, I’d sit at my workspace for hours trying to think of what to do next and nothing would happen, I’d sit there and watch Youtube videos until 4 a.m. then I’d swear at myself, take the loss and hope that tomorrow wasn’t a repeat of the same process. I know being stuck is something that happens (I’ve written about it before obviously) but I’m hard on myself when I’m not creating. So I finally just decided to clear my head and draw, see what happens, and I got something on the page but it wasn’t amazing, so next page, threw down another doodle, next page, another. I was hours deep into this drawing session and it seemed like things really started to flow but nothing seemed like a piece to finish and it’s then that I finally had the realization that I hadn’t kept a sketchbook in months and I started kicking myself. I used to draw every day, not to make finished pieces, but just for the sake of drawing, I’d track my emotions and thoughts through mindless doodles every day, it very much inspired my actual work but it was just fun. I found that I’d gotten myself so wrapped up in making finished pieces, trying to make a living off of art, that I wasn’t being creative and free like I should be, I was forcing it. I forgot my everyday art.
I think that it’s important for artists to have an everyday. We got into art because it’s something fun, something we enjoyed and through that enjoyment we found a talent and a passion, it’s not a brilliant career choice (many people would argue that it’s the opposite) so don’t lose that passion or let art making become a chore. I think that’s where our projects can become toxic, especially in the professional world, because if we want to stay relevant as artists we have to create and if there’s a lul, people can easily forget us. So I think people start to just try and create, create, create, making project after project of whatever they can, often repeating the same things, just so that they have finished pieces. But when we do this the passion fades, our art becomes diluted and repetitive, we’re not thinking creatively, we’re just mindlessly making what we think will give us success. That’s why I think that we need an everyday, a piece of art that doesn’t come with the pressures of being a professional artist, a vomiting of the mind into the world just to see what happens. It could be a note, a picture, a sketchbook, a drawing on a napkin, it could be anything but when we have something that we created that’s not for the world, or for the money, it’s for ourselves we may find new inspiration. Taking a risk on a finished piece can be incredibly rewarding but a failure really hurts, taking a risk on a doodle in your sketchbook could mean you just throw it away, or it could inspire a whole new side of your work you hadn’t thought of.
As artists we can’t forget what brought us to making art, the personal experience of making, the passion. We need to take a step back sometimes and just do things for ourselves and the rewards will be there. It can help you reflect how and why you got to where you are, reveal new avenues for you to take with your current work, or totally inspire a new set of work. Admittedly a lot of time in art we will have to take the safe route but I think a lot of people get too comfortable with the safe route, or they let the anxiety of failure keep them on the safe route. Even a lot of the most successful artists around right now are just making the same thing over and over and over and over, constantly watering down the initial creativity that brought them to fame (calling you out Arsham). But I think sometimes we need to embrace that “fuck it” mentality and make stuff for us, for fun, like we used to because while the safe route is obviously safe, it’s boring as hell, even if no one knows you took a detour once in a while, it could be an incredibly rewarding experience. I’m sure this rant has been totally all over the place, and might be a little hard to read, but my point is this, MAKE EVERYDAY, do things for yourself, keep a log of your art that happens everyday, away from finished work, maybe even away from the eye of anyone but you, make to keep the mind flowing. Be creative, do new things and don’t forget why you started making art.