If you don’t like your art, you haven’t made enough

If I’ve made three duds in a row, I get irritated and start to doubt myself. A terrible cycle is likely to start. Space opens up to make art, but I’m not so sure I want to spend my time creating more proof of my mediocre-ness. I do something else instead and then I feel bad I’ve wasted the opportunity. Can you relate to this? Does this ever happen to you?

If you look at your art and feel discouraged, don’t give up!

Giving up will stop the production of disappointing art but it will not stop the disappointment. The only way to get satisfying art is to do more.

If you make one hundred of something, and then look closely at them, you will notice a number of things:

You can see quite clearly what you gravitate to. That’s good. You need gravitational pull. Nobody can stand to work hard on something that isn’t interesting.

You will like something more than something else. Become very consciences of that and try and do it more. Go as hard into that as you can. See what it is about. Not just once but loads of times. So many times that a dud barely even registers. Let yourself experiment, let yourself play. It’s not precious because you are about to make forty more!

Give yourself permission to go so hard and get so weird that you are almost positive it’s going to be crap. Safe choices will always be disappointing in the end. You may not hate it, but you will also not love it. You are going to love it when you look at it and know you escaped danger, you were on a knife’s edge. You almost fell but, no you actually stuck the landing. The little wobble you can still see in the work, that’s the magic, the thing that makes it yours and no one else’s.

Here’s one of my tricks to get myself to get weird. I listen to my favorite music as loud as I can. I get super pumped up noticing how cool the music is, the lyrics, the melody, the production, the whole vibe. It took so much creativity on the part of several artists to make something this delicious. There is no way that any of the music I like was made by people not being brave. Music is deeply weird, deeply personal, very risky. When I am grooving hard on music, I say to myself, I want to do this in my art, I want take chances, I want to be vulnerable, I want to be bold, I want to send a message.

Sometimes what I end up with is a total mess, but at least it is a mess and not a blank piece of paper or a duplicate of something I have done before. I am here to make the art that only I can make. That’s my personal goal. For me. To please myself. To leave this lifetime, with a lifetime of art made. I am unhappy with a lot of it. And I am also very happy with a lot of it. Because I make a lot of it.

Sidewalk Face 168

PS – The sentence, if you don’t like your art, you haven’t made enough, was booted from another post but so obviously good I made it a title. Kind of like when one of the contestants on the Bachelor is rejected by the suitor but becomes the next Bachelorette. It sat in my drafts folder waiting for me to write all this text and I finally did it.

15 thoughts on “If you don’t like your art, you haven’t made enough

  1. Great point and good advice.
    Hey, I could sure use a catch up call and some of your weird wisdom, give me a call if you can tear yourself away from the bachelorette.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. very well written and great advice..Funny how i just found this post at just the right time.I generally do art every day, even when i don’t feel like it. I find ,in fact, that “forcing it” most of the time yields better results than taking a break ( although very short breaks, like a few days here and there) are sometimes necessary…So many times ( more than i can count) I have said this( in various ways) to other artists going through slumps–because i know it happens and this was always my solution. But sometimes you just need a reminder.”Sometimes what I end up with is a total mess, but at least it is a mess and not a blank piece of paper”- my favorite line here. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I am glad the post found you! I totally agree about doing it regularly regardless of how you feel. It’s counter intuitive but the less optimal the conditions for art making, often the better the art. Thinking usually gets in the way. It’s like driving the wrong way down the road. It’s perfectly fine to do but only if you want to go in the other direction.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Solid advice on going weird…. shaking up how you work on your art can bring surprising results. And sometimes that result will be messy. But messes can be interesting. You can take a break from the mess, then come back to it and carve away stuff that doesn’t fit and maybe add some more — then you could have something sharper, more focused.

    Liked by 1 person

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