It's funny how people seem to think that I'm all that great, just because I make the art I do, and I voice my opinion here in an occasional journal-article. Like any other artist out here, I have my own doubts about my art, and I have a hard time facing them every now and then. I'm not perfect. I'm far from where I want to be. And lately I'm quite uncertain of where I want to go with my art. It's something that is bothering me quite a bit, and blocked my creativity.
When I started doing art again, somewhere at the start of 2010, I used to very very insecure about my art. I never joined contests because I'm terribly afraid of failing. Honestly, I would feel bad about myself for weeks if I didn't at least end up in the honorable mentions. I never made tutorials because I was afraid one of DA's members would come up and say to me: "Why are you teaching this shit? You don't know anything about art!". And although I never liked to do fanart, I wouldn't probably have dared to do it either. Afraid that my art would be an insult to the original character/creator. Yeah, back then I just worked quietly on my own projects, because it was no contest, and nobody would be angry to me about messing up my own characters. To some degree, I didn't really want to get noticed. Because getting noticed, usually meant people starting to form an opinion over you. And yeah... there would always be people that would't just like me.
Back then, I used to think that that insecurity was a logical kind of thing. I mean, my art sucked. I had all the reason to feel bad about it. And I couldn't just imagine that there existed people with art worse than mine that felt great about their work, because I never did. To my idea, feeling secure was related to some degree of skills and appreciation.
I couldn't be more wrong.
Back in the time, I was quite uncertain about my skills. The one thing, however, that I was certain about, was my own project. By then, I'd been writing novels for years. Not professional, of course. I probably wouldn't be able to bear the shame of being rejected by a publisher (let alone that the Dutch market is extremely hard to get published in, due to me not able to write proper English). But at that point publishing didn't really matter to me. It's true that in my dream world the project would've been translated to English and gone worldwide, but what writer doesn't secretly dream about that?
Anyhow, the publishing wasn't by far the main goal. I wrote because I loved to write. And I drew because I loved to create an image of those characters and scene's that had been in my head for so long. Writing on my book, or drawing something related to it, somehow always made me feel good. Just like many people watch movies or play games to get lost in a world, I just loved creating my own world and just get lost in it. And I was fine with not being known, because I didn't actually want people to say harsh things about my characters. They were characters I created. And although they had their flaws, I liked hem.
Nowadays I'm way past that point in which people didn't know me. In just a few years of time I generated quite the buzz for my own project. A project from which I never would've thought anyone (except me) would like it. I mean; I was like a depressed teenager when I first thought that stuff up (hence the very emo-ish looking first project drawings). I never expected people to like that. I didn't intent to create it that way either. It's true that I posted stuff online. But that's more since I initially had a very small group of followers (most of them were also Dutch writers -- and we helped each other with our novels), but I never really expected people outside of that group to follow it.
What's the point then? -- many people would ask me. Well, the point is that, although the fanbase changed, my insecurity hasn't really changed that much. In my case, it was probably never related to skill. I didn't feel good enough back then, and I still don't feel so now. And even if I had the skill to earn tons of money with just painting, I wouldn't probably feel good enough either. My insecurity is related to being rejected in doing the thing that you most love to do. In my case; art, or writing.
I'm usually fine with criticism. I don't particularly like it (who does?) but I get a lot of it in my working environment. So I've gotten used to it, and I can handle it quite well. The point is; although work is something I love, it's just work. It's not something I pour my soul into. And it certainly doesn't hurt so badly when people tell me I suck at it.
It's weird to realize that something I started doing, just to feel comforted, has evolved in something so... widespread. Nowadays there are people that refer to me as being an example
of what they want to do with art. And although I haven't got a clue why, I kinda feel the pressure there. If people refer to me as an example... does that mean I should act like one? Does that mean I cannot fail, or I will disappoint people? Although it's really not intended that way, that's a whole damn lot of pressure. And it's bothering me. Because it's making me doubt every move I make, and it's taking out the fun from just drawing and writing because I want to.
I lately came to rewrite the first book of my novel series, since it's already 7 years old, and it doesn't fit so well with the rest of the storyline. I first thought about rewriting little parts, but once I started revising the original chapters, I soon came to the conclusion that just correcting a few things wouldn't do it. So I decided I wanted to do a rewrite. Nothing bad about that. And in a way, I kinda looked forward to writing it, since it's really fun to write about the same characters that you're used to -- but then younger, and uninfluenced by all the 'mistakes' you wrote years ago. A fresh restart!
So I started writing, but ended up staring at a white screen... far longer than was good for me.
I felt totally blocked. Before I started writing, I had many good ideas. But I started doubting all of them. I started doubting if the ideas were good enough. If it wouldn't make my characters either too stereotypical, or too weird. If I should change stuff about my characters, to make them different. If the storylines would be realistic enough to find believable... and whatnot. You get my point. Hopelessly artblocked. And the point is; art isn't much better either. The amount of followers here is fun, but it's building up the pressure to post actual good stuff on here, like full fledged digital art. Stuff I don't always feel I can make. And the more people compliment me here on my rapid improvement, the more bad I feel about not improving so much at the moment. It's a negative spiral. I'm well aware of it. I just don't know how to break out of it.
So that's where I am.
I posted this whole damn long message about me being artblocked and not having a clue how to get out here. Somehow, it feels like failing to admit this. But I think it would even make me feel more miserable to just disappear from the internet and keep up the appearance of being oh-so-perfect. I'm not perfect. I'm just another artist, like you. I'm insecure about my skills, probably like many others. And I messed up. But at least I have the guts to admit it.