Hello dear readers!
It is currently a lovely *trying to pretend it’s fall* day.
It’s eighty degrees where I am, but there is a breeze…and some falling leaves.
It’s FALLLLLLLLL I tell you!
As you may have deduced, fall is my favorite season. It’s been that way as long as I can remember. I love the (typical) chill in the air, falling leaves, pumpkin EVERYTHING, and Halloween stuff everywhere (finally my music is seasonally appropriate).
Today’s musing is on not being the best–as you probably ascertained from the title. Before I get to that, a few words on my morning ritual.
My morning ritual is fairly drab. I wake up, check Facebook for a while, get tea or coffee or guru energy and some breakfast, and watch some Tales From the Darkside (or something similar) for a little while. Then I get about whatever I need to do that day.
This morning I was perusing Facebook like normal when I came across some very good art by the amazing sakimichan (warning, some of her stuff is NSFW). I perused her awesome art with a feeling that began as awe and became insecurity as I looked.
In my head I was comparing my art to hers. Mine, I felt, would be at home in preschool, while hers belonged in galleries. (The logical part of my brain neglected to toss in that my main career choice is actually writing and I have no real technical training in art.) As I struggled with these feelings, I decided to try painting a character into existence.
Normally I am very line focused. I create a line drawing in pen or digital–pencil I always manage to smudge too much. Then I focus on coloring, shading and all the rest. So, today I started with blobs of paint in a human-ish shape and went from there. One hour later, here was the result:
Now, this is a far cry from Sakimichan. I was frustrated with myself. I mean really why couldn’t I simply draw something like this:
Then, I stopped to think about it. My girl looks fairly human, and her hair (which took FOREVER) has an effect I’ve never seen before… I actually decided I liked the drawing. I had challenged myself and created something new–not bad.
I went on with my morning (website updates GALORE today) then hopped over to my patreon to see if anything needed updated. I started looking into other patreon members…and went through basically the same frustrating process as I had with my art. My thoughts went something like: I am broke. My art is not making money. All these other very good people are. My art must suck, or maybe my jokes suck, or maybe…marketing?
My mum is a business type person, I am not. Marketing myself is like some foreign language that I need a translator for. It doesn’t help that I despise false positivity. I refer to the EVERYTHING IS GREAT WE DO NOT FEEL NEGATIVES EVER culture that pervades corporate reality in my experience. I am not dissing genuine happiness and optimism. Being happy is totally great. So, my brain sort of hisses at words like “marketing” and “branding” and other terms like them when I apply them to myself.
However, I decided to be brave. Maybe my own artistic self was getting in my way. (Read: maybe I didn’t suck as much as I thought.) I looked up web marketing for oneself. It was like a bizarre labyrinth of bright colors, bad web design and BUY BUY BUY NOW NOW NOW. After a few hours, I found very little useful info that common sense and normal internet use wouldn’t provide. In other words, I found NOTHING. I gave it up as a bad job and stared at other people’s patreon pages trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. Loading Artist for example is great and funny and living off of his art. (Way to go Loading artist!)
I still haven’t figured out what I’m doing wrong.
I did, however, figure out some interesting things about myself:
1 – I make art for me.
If you are making art only for others, you will quit long before you make any impact on the world. I thought about what would happen if Goth Gal or my other projects never made me a dime. Would I stop doing it?
I love making Goth Gal. I make her first and foremost for me. I’m glad I get to share her with everyone else, but I would still make this comic, even if I was the only person on the planet. Maybe that sounds weird, but I’ve been doodling her in notebooks for years now just for me.
2 – I am my only real competition.
I am not competing against the talented Sakimichan, or Loading Artist, or anyone else, not really. I am competing with myself. I try to improve because I want to make the best thing I can possibly make, not because I compare myself to those around me.
I do realize that, as a human being in a world of human beings, there are times I will compare myself to others. That’s okay, as long as I don’t get stuck there. It’s okay as long as it doesn’t poison the passion I have to create, the heart of my creativity you might say. (You can’t spell heart without art, after all.)
3 – I’m not the best and that’s okay.
Artists, Writers, Musicians and others like them are a strange breed. We aren’t so much competing against each other as swimming with each other in the same impossibly large ocean. Learning how to navigate it and survive is difficult, but not impossible.
In other words, I don’t have to be the best, I have to be my best.
That distinction may seem tiny, but to me, it’s the difference between beating myself up with comparisons and being able to enjoy the other artists around me.
After these realizations, nothing external changed. I’m still broke, I still have the exact same problems, I still wonder how to do this thing called life…but now I feel better about it. I can enjoy the swim instead of dragging my fins. As one great fishy once said, just keep swimming.
I hope this helps another fishy out there.
PS – I just published my first set of goth gal comics on the amazon kindle store.
Volume One contains the first 60 comics in high quality format. Visit this link to check it out! Kindle is compatible with PC, Mac, iOS, Android and of course kindle devices. If you have kindle unlimited you can read it for free too! Goth on!