Friday 08, 07.2016

Evolving as an artist and overcoming art block

The idea for this material started a few weeks ago, when digital artist and animator Loish posted her “then & now” sketches on facebook, comparing her 2004 drawing skills to her current, 2016 drawing skills. 

This is what she shared:

Loish-Lois-van-Baarle-artist12 years of improvement! I found a sketchbook from 2004 and decided to revisit a few of the drawings with my current skillset. I remember what I wanted to achieve at the time but couldn’t because I was struggling with volumes, gesture, and confidence in my linework. I always recommend this exercise to people who are struggling with art block so they can see how much their work has evolved, even if it’s just over the course of a few months – it really helps put your skills into perspective!
        – Loish –
 Loish sketchbook illustrations

It’s pretty cool to notice the difference. I felt the need to share this, because I think it can be a nice motivation for anyone out there who wants to evolve as an artist. It’s proof that constant work and showing up everyday can achieve great results.

And I think overcoming art block is a big part of that, because everyone gets there sooner or later. The more you want to evolve and improve your work, the more likely it is that you’ll develop art block. I’ve been dealing with this myself (and I don’t even consider myself an artist, although I do enjoy doodling and illustrating every other day) and I can think of a number of reasons why you can get art block, but the question is “How do you overcome it?”. 

Loish sketchbook illustrationsSo I wrote to Loish, asking her to tell me more about how artists can overcome art block.

Loish: “I think it helps when artists realize how much progress they’ve made. Artists are often very hard on themselves and don’t realize how much they have improved over time because they are only looking at the flaws. There are many different types of art block but one of the most common types is the result of artists having insanely high expectations and not being able to meet them… making them anxious, stressed, and terrified of failure.

In that case, one way to overcome art block is to stop being so hard on oneself. Stop comparing their own art to professionals, stop beating Loish sketchbook illustrationsthemselves up when it doesn’t look perfect etc. Revisiting older work with improved skills really helps to see your artwork in the context of your own growth as an artist (so comparing you to yourself… not to other artists) and also helps focus on the positive – improvement!”

I couldn’t agree more, although it’s never easy. High expectations probably come hand in hand with one’s desire to evolve and learn. But it’s good to remember, when possible, that being hard on yourself and having high expectations can also hold you back.

I have found that sometimes, accepting the idea that your next work might be rubbish is what actually saves the day. Because when you accept that not everything you do has to be great, you take the pressure off. For me, that’s when my most popular illustrations got created. With me being tired of trying to achieve something great and instead just going “Let’s just draw something for fun, no commitment”. That’s when I’m at my most creative, because that’s when my limitations disappear.

If any of you have experienced something similar to art block, I’d be curious to know what you think. And if you have any tips for me, go ahead and leave a comment! 🙂

[If you want to get in touch with Loish, she can be found on her: website | blog | deviantART | facebook | twitter]

About Miruna

Hi, my name is Miruna Sfia. I'm 28 and I'm a self-employed graphic designer and illustrator living in Bucharest, Romania. I created Friday Illustrated because I wanted to be able to learn from some of the best people in my industry.

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