Things I wish I knew sooner as an artist

So, I've drawn pretty much my whole life. For as long as I can remember I've doodled and scribbled away; mostly stick figures or poorly drawn renditions of my brother's Bionicle figures. I mostly just enjoyed doing it, but never put any serious thought into actually trying to make a realistic drawing.

That thought came around 2017 -- five years ago.

I sat down with a single mechanical pencil and a cheap piece of printer paper, pulled up a picture of a wolf on my laptop, and got to it. The result wasn't bad -- it wasn't the best, but it was the most accurate drawing I had done to date. And this time it felt different -- there was a certain satisfaction that came with realizing what I'd just made with my two hands. Sometimes it still blows me away; I kind of disassociate and think about the fact that "whoa... I just made this, with my hands and a stick of lead."

Unfortunately, not all moments were like that. There were quite a few "AH SH#%"s and "Well that looks gross"s in there too, lol. Looking back, there are a lot of things I wish I had known back then that probably would have made the learning process easier -- so for any new artists here, I thought I'd share them!

1. Tracing is okay -- with conditions.

Oooo, controversial, I know. There seems to be less negativity about it than there used to be, but I still see a lot of accusations and complaints going around. So let me just say this: For learning, tracing IS OKAY. This is literally how we learn lineart, proportion and form muscle memory. If you take an animation class, they literally start teaching you by tracing frames. Tracing your own artwork is also ok. For example, if you're drawing the same thing over and over just in different color variations. Or if you come up with a body shape you really like and want to use in future drawings.
However, this is where the "okay"ness ends. Here is where tracing is NOT okay: 1. If you are tracing someone else's art and claiming it as your own; 2. If you are tracing copyrighted art and selling it for profit; 3. probably more reasons that I can't remember at the moment because of brain fog, lol.

2. It's okay to take your time.

One thing I always used to do was try to finish a drawing in one sitting -- even if it meant sitting hours upon hours in an uncomfortable position. I was also stuck in the mindset of "well, if I start taking commissions, I'll have to get them done fast!" And while stuff should be done in a timely fashion, it shouldn't be rushed either! Quality over quantity :) If a good drawing takes you a few days, who cares??? There are artists who book their commissions by slots, 10 spaces open at a time, and tackle them as they can!

3. Don't think you have to do things a certain way.

When I first showed my mom some of my better drawings, she asked if I wanted to sign up for some free art classes. I thought, duh, of course I want to! ...But actually, I feel like those courses worked to my detriment a bit. I had gotten used to drawing things a certain way, and then in came the teacher who was telling me I had to structure my drawings by making certain shapes first -- a cone in an oval for the eye, a cone on top of a square for the torso, etc. For me personally, this was more difficult and made my process worse! I tried to stick with them for a while, but eventually went back to doing things my way.
Don't be afraid to experiment and figure out what works best for you!

4. Taking inspiration from other artists is okay!

I used to think that if my drawing was in a style that looked even vaguely similar to someone else's, that it was "copied" and I shouldn't claim it as mine. In reality, our creative minds often subconsciously base ideas off of things that we've seen before -- and this is perfectly normal. For artists, we often follow other artists or art pages, so our social media becomes flooded with examples of other people's works. Obviously some of that is going to take root in our brains and influence ours! Of course, there's a fine line between taking inspiration and copying -- and where that line is tends to vary from person to person.
Even the most famous painters took inspiration from other artists!!!
If you're worried about "copying" someone else's work, I suggest looking up "draw this in your style challenges" -- In seeing people's entries, you can see how a wide variety of different pieces in different styles can originate from the same idea!

5. Just because it didn't take you hours to make, doesn't mean it's not "good".

Kind of similar to 2, hours spent doesn't necessarily equal quality. Some people just got those speedy fingers, and others take a little longer.


I know, I know, this is probably the hardest thing on this list. I still do it, to be honest. It's hard to see everyone on Instagram reposting the 8-year-old prodigy that paints masterpieces every day. It's hard to see someone getting 10 commissions a day when you can't even get one in a month. The harsh truth is, no matter how good you are at something, there's always going to be someone who is "better." This applies to any creative field -- art, music, design, acting, even stuff like programming or math. 
You might be asking "well if there's always someone better than me, why bother?" 
Good question! Notice how I put "better" in quotes when I said it -- that's because of the simple fact that art is subjective! People's tastes in art vary WILDLY, and even though you might feel someone else is "better" than you, there is someone out there who thinks the opposite! So never stop trying, because those people are waiting to find you and appreciate your work! :D

Ok, that's it for now! Here's a cookie for reading this far, lol.

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