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Uh Fack 2: What makes you unhappy as an artist?

Journal Entry: Wed Jul 9, 2014, 7:55 AM

elcome back, and hi to all the fresh meat!
This is a blog series aimed at helping artists (including myself) who struggle with negative thought patterns in their art: lack of self confidence, hating your own work, feeling frustrated or discouraged, you name it.

I've officially dubbed the series "Uh Fack", since the acronym for the Unhappy and frustrated Artists club sounds like that. Not the most elegant of names, but then I realized that it is suiting the subject ;).

So here's the scoop. No more long and general introductions, this was the last one- (it's ok you can cheer, I've no feelings ;)). I think I've said enough about my motivations for writing these in the first two journals.

From here on I'm just going to address mental roadblock's from the list below, one at the time. And whenever possible I'll combine them with something more active like critique rounds, compliment rounds (!XD) and perhaps a hangout or chat or what not.

List of Art frustrations, in no particular order.
  • The big confidence crisis.
  • Dealing with negative feedback. 
  • Dealing with compliments.
  • Dealing with not being noticed.
  • The curse of having (too) high expectations.
  • Hating your own work.
  • Procrastination (not because of laziness, but because of feeling depressed/overwhelmed/...)
  • Comparing yourself to other artists.
  • Inability to recognize the progress in your own work.
  • Inability to focus (wanting to do all the things at once)

I'm well aware that there's overlap between some of these topics, so there might be some grouping or repeating myself - but I felt this was better than writing one or two massive pieces of text trying to cover all of them.

I'm doing a quick poll to see which one of these things are most commonly recognized, but I also want to ask you guys here if you guys feel like I'm missing anything on the list.

Previous 'Uh Fack' blogs:
Uh Fack, part1: Improving, angst and frustration.P
rogress. A thing we all want, right? Some more than others perhaps, but I think I can safely say that it's the one thing all artists want; to be a better artist.
In the past few years I've been struggling with this topic a lot. I ran into one of those phases in which I learned a lot of what I was doing wrong, but didn't manage to work on any solutions for these problems. I felt like going backwards, and I grew increasingly frustrated with my own art. I'm progressing, but hardly as much as I aspire to - while I do spend most of my waking hours drawing.
Sure, a bunch of my comic work allows me to study and practice - but it's a very narrow and same-y kind of study- and there isn't really room for mistakes or experiment because of time constrains.
So, this is what I found to be a super effective 4 steps plan to become an unhappy and frustrated artist:
Be a perfectionist. Preferably with high ambitions. (actually, just step 1 would get you a long way with be
  Uh Fack, part 1.5 : Some thoughts on perfectionA
nxiousness, frustration and the likes have been effecting me as an artist, holding me back in my pursuit of progress and happiness. I've noticed two things about that: Taking the time to dissect the problem helps me to find the right answers, And I'm all but alone in dealing with these problems.
For me there's two types of challenges in becoming a better artist: the mental blockades, and the actual practicing. The 2nd challenge is the one that is being addressed aplenty in the form of an seemingly infinite numbers of tutorials, live streams, demo's and what not. But if you find yourself struggling with the first challenge there isn't quite as much to work with. Plenty funny, recognizable and sometimes even consoling memes and comics about the topic have been made, but usually they offer little solution. That's why I've decided to focus on the first challenge for now.
Part of the condition of being an artist is the yearning for perfection, e

  • Listening to: nuthin
  • Reading: Blood of dragons - Robin Hobb
Add a Comment:
PhantomTeacup Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014
oops late reply-- my big ones are not being noticed (most of the time I can deal with it but sometimes I get really depressed about this, usually when I see someone with really rough art getting a lot of commissions while I can't get any) and procrastination/inability to focus (I'm easily distracted and when I want to do too many things at once I usually end up doing none of them).
SeurAaron Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014
Not being noticed and having to deal with an art community that controls the only art gallery in town. They even call themselves a 'guild'. They are all 45 and up, with their brains stuck in the past.
Rorelse Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I have like....all of them? Except negative feedback, I pretty much never get any of that and when on a rare occasion I do, I deal with it easily
ladyarrowsmith Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014
I seem to deal with never having enough time for everything, and feeling a bit overwhelmed. I want to put out really lovely beautiful work, but I get frustrated by how long it takes. I don't like rushing work, or just speeding through something just to "get it out there." But I definitely don't procrastinate. I have way too much anxiety about finishing things, to just lay back and ignore it..

I think part of my frustrations too, are that I want to be apart of so many projects. I want to get my comic out there (Goblins), but I also want to do the one-shot comic (VSEPR) and get it to the printers in time for the next big con... and my writer Terri convinced me to cosplay this year, which eats up TONS of creative time and energy... and my husband wants me to make him a costume too... so many artzy things pulling at my time. Not to mention I'm a full time grad student, and I work (not related to school) as a full time salaried person who has now been promoted into a position with so much responsibility I want to cry (I'm a very stressed out bunny). So, yah, I'm definitely thinking that lack of time for everything makes me unhappy as an artist.

Which is ironic, as it isn't ever really my skill level or that sort of thing that bothers me. Perhaps I look at my artwork as a journey and I enjoy the process just as much as the end result. I really love the discovery of art- that "ah-ha!" moment, when you figure out how to do something. To get just that right curve, to make that object really feel real, to give just the perfect expression that I had in my head, and to think- dang! I can't wait to try this on the next piece I do! But I'm a very strange person... HEH.
ElsaKroese Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014  Professional General Artist
Very recognizable.  Question: Are you good at keeping a schedule/planing/agenda to  get rid of some of the chaos and anxiety from not having enough overview on the situation and all the smaller tasks? That's one of my biggest pitfalls. Also because I'm dyslectic which makes it extra hard to sort those things out. It took me a long time to figure out a system that works for me, and even with that I've relapses. I do notice that when I stick to it, my life is that much more easy.
ladyarrowsmith Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014
I do keep a pretty tight schedule. I just tend to go over my schedule a lot and spend too much time on this or that. I probably just need to learn to say "no" to certain things, because I just don't have the time to do them... u___u its so hard!

Of course, if I didn't have to work full time I could do all the art things. If only I had a million dollars... LOL!
Tadpole7 Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014
Frustration with my lack a focus and slow pace at times.
zathraya Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
One that I forgot to mention in the poll was that I fear not being able to support myself and have time for my art (though I've decided to have an extra job to pay the bills).
Kyulein93 Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
These are some excellent topics you chose, Elsa! I'm pretty sure though, that this list might grow with time ;P

At the moment I'm at a point where I find my art decent again, not as crappy as a month ago. Which is some progress with motivation to keep on climbing that mountain.
Although I really find it hard to get constructive critiques. On dA and most other art sites. There are a few people commenting with a "ohhh I like it <3", but that's not really helpful. Sure it says, that the picture is not a complete eye sore, yet it isn't helping me getting better.
I have a friend, who regularly points out a few things and I'm really happy to have him doing this! But more people are able to spot more 
This whole matter might be related to "Dealing with not being noticed", so I'm especially looking forward to this part,  but I'll be reading all of them very eagerly!
ladyarrowsmith Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014
I know the feeling of getting a less than useful critique.. you are not alone. :) I've done many a head-smack after reading some. :hug:
Kyulein93 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hehe yeah!
I mean it's great to know that the piece seems to motivate some to at least type something, but comment just doesn't equal helpful comment....
(and the fact that one sits hours on such a picture and gets no feedback doesn't help to motivate either :D )
ladyarrowsmith Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014
Yep. I know that feels. All the hours my writer and I put into our comic book, and no one leaves comments. =_=''' blaaahhhh

Kyulein93 Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh yes.... For me this will be a hard part to overcome as well, but I try to look at it like this: I have my three wonderful proof-/test-/betareaders and even if it is just them reading the story, I think it is worth it!
And to my shame I have to admit that I myself am more of a "fave and run"-type of person... (by the way I LOVE YOUR COMIC! :heart: )
TheAncynt Featured By Owner Edited Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I just started recently as an (clay) artist, so i don't experience most of the above just yet.
Maybe "Dealing with not being noticed", but i know that takes some time.
So i'm okay with that.

The problem i'm dealing with on the moment is not noticing flaws in my sculpture when sculpting,
and later when i'm watching the photo of the sculpture then i notice them. :P
TheAngelOfMemories Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014
that last one right there yep :iconcryforeverplz:
SiofraTural Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm going through a pretty big thing right now with me greatly hating/disliking my art because one: I draw too slow, and two: I'm terrible at drawing humans, especially faces. I'm going into some really weird/depressed mood where I feel like I should work on certain commissions, as they involve humans, but suddenly, after not drawing for a while, I feel like my art is so terrible I should just curl up in a corner and give up.

I know that practice, practice, practice makes progress and that staying positive gets you far, but this feeling I just can't shake off. It's also sadly terrible that some friends draw art better and a thousand times faster then I can.

I guess drawing a doodle once a day could help... but do you (or anyone) have some kind of idea to really help me with human faces/expressions along with trying to get out of this sad art block? I know I can do it, it's just that my brain keeps saying "nah, you can't, give up." The fight against that was good, now it's becoming about too heavy to push back.
ElsaKroese Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Professional General Artist
I have realized that it took changing my mindset (and I'm still working on that) before I could really focus on improving as an artist again.
I was drawing all the time - well most of the time, when ever I wasn't paralyzed by whatever feels where troubling me - but still a good 30 to 60 hours a week.  
While feeling like crap I wasn't able to focus on the right things, to challenge myself to step out of the comfort zone or to do regular studies - because I simply didn't have the energy for it. 
It took all my energy to just keep drawing what I had to draw, without leaving energy to really look at how and what I should be drawing if I wanted to grow as an artist, and how I could really accomplish that. I mean, the real engine of progress is hard work, and I'm going to assume everyone knows that - but if you find yourself to be stuck it's more about doing the right work with the right mindset.
That's easier said than done ofc, which is why I try to tackle them one subject at the time ( it would be a very long comment if I tried to write it all down here :D.)
keight Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014
Every now and then each of us needs needs someone, we can take it in turns, who can say to us, politely and calmly, and in a way that will help us step back and look at our work with fresh eyes, "why are you doing that this way?" or "what would happen if you did this?"
Fayen-ri Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
It can be included the lack of understanding of the artistic orientation from some non artists :/
pearwood Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
All of the above but especially comparisons.
ArtByEdyn Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Dealing with not being noticed and procrastination because of being overwhelmed, terrified of messing up...yep that sounds about right! Can't wait to see these!
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