Have you ever thought about quitting art? Sometimes, it doesn鈥檛 seem to matter how supportive your friends and family are, or how many likes you鈥檝e received on social media. Once self-doubt has cast its shadow, all you can do is look back through your sketchbook and wonder whether it was all worth it.
If this sounds familiar, it鈥檚 because many artists struggle with similar feelings from time to time. Knowing which way to turn can be difficult, so here are 5 good reasons to think twice before packing away your pencils for good and quitting art.
1. I鈥檒l Never Make Any Money From Art,
So What鈥檚 The Point?
Ever had this thought? Us too. In fact, you wouldn鈥檛 believe how many times we鈥檝e told ourselves that choosing to be an artist was a dumb career choice! Why didn鈥檛 we pay more attention at school to those 鈥榳orthier鈥 subjects such as science or math? Why couldn鈥檛 we have been more like the other kids and chosen a subject that was actually going to lead directly to a career?
Here鈥檚 the reason: No matter how often you consider changing paths, there鈥檚 a small voice speaking to you 鈥 we like to call it our 鈥榓rtist鈥檚 conscience.鈥 It鈥檚 the voice that says: 鈥楽ure, you can go and get a regular job if you like, but what about your art? Isn鈥檛 this what you were born to do, really?鈥橖/p>
We read an interesting story recently about a guy called Gabriel Nkweti Lafitte. As a barista in a well-known coffee chain in London, he鈥檚 used to providing great service while serving up skinny lattes and cappuccinos to thousands of customers in need of a little caffeine power.Nothing unusual here, except this 41-year-old has a hidden talent which he likes to share with customers. Not only does he write their names on the paper cups, he designs unique pieces of artwork for certain customers. After taking them home to work on (some of these intricate designs can take up to 40 hours to complete), Gabriel hands the finished cups over to his delighted fans next time they call in.The result? Gabriel鈥檚 awesome work is now an online sensation, having been picked up by everyone from local newspapers to the Huffington Post. He gets fresh requests for personalized coffee cups every day, with hopeful customers handing him their names on pieces of paper. His creative cup art is currently on display in the Starbuck鈥檚 branch opposite the British Museum in central London where he works, and he鈥檚 hoping to get his work transferred onto ceramic coffee cups soon.
What鈥檚 the moral of the story here? It鈥檚 that Gabriel has listened to his artistic conscience and decided to pursue his love of creativity. Far from being a struggling artist trying to make ends meet by working in a coffee shop, he鈥檚 decided to use the situation to his best advantage 鈥 combining a job he loves doing with the artistic talent he was born with.
As a man who loves adventure (he left his native Cameroon for France in 1982 before deciding to move to the UK in 2011), Gabriel doesn鈥檛 seem too hung up on whether he鈥檒l make it as an artist or not. He clearly loves what he does and the public are giving him love back in droves. It’s safe to say he won’t be quitting art anytime soon.
2. It鈥檚 No Good鈥 Think All My Work Sucks
Sometimes, finding creative inspiration can be tough enough on its own, so it鈥檚 even worse when you don鈥檛 like the results of what you鈥檝e come up with! Sound familiar? You鈥檙e in good company, because every single artist struggles with self-doubt on a regular basis. In fact, self-doubt is often one of the main reasons people decide to quit making art.
What鈥檚 the secret? There鈥檚 nothing more frustrating than trying to draw or paint something when you haven鈥檛 really figured out how to do it. As artists, we often get into the mindset of thinking that just because we can draw one thing, we鈥檒l instantly be able to draw anything else.
That鈥檚 when it鈥檚 time to go back to basics. If you鈥檝e been struggling with anatomy and feel you just can鈥檛 draw people properly, step back from your sketchbook and ask yourself how much you really know about the subject you鈥檙e attempting to depict.
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. We often find ourselves planning huge projects that leave us feeling ready to throw the towel in when things don鈥檛 go to plan. What鈥檚 the answer? Study things a little bit at a time. Practice drawing faces, noses, ears, eyes etc until you鈥檝e memorized the basic structure and don鈥檛 even have to think about it anymore.
Take a look at the awesome work of Charles Bargue. His books on drawing anatomy may date back to the 19th century, but everything in there is as valid today as it鈥檚 always been. You might also want to take a look at our numerous tutorials on the subject, from artists such as Laurie B, Sycra Yasin and Brian Wong. Watching these will teach you how to start small, and then develop your sketches into more advanced projects once you鈥檙e ready.
In the next few weeks, we鈥檒l be giving you lots of blogs on this very subject, which we鈥檒l follow up with new lessons to show you everything you need to know about anatomy. So, if you鈥檙e thinking about quitting art, you may just want to hang in there!
Pic courtesy of Nikki Lynn
3. To Tell You The Truth, I Think I鈥檓 Just Bored Of Making Art
Go on, admit it. You鈥檇 love to say you鈥檙e enjoying the journey of becoming an artist and learning lots of new stuff every day, but the truth is, you鈥檙e actually finding it one big yawn. Guess what? It鈥檚 ok to feel like this. We know this feeling all too well ourselves. It鈥檚 our old friend distraction at work, telling us there are millions of more exciting things we could be doing.
How do you send distraction packing? It鈥檚 time to get sneaky. Change your way of working, change the mediums you use, change your subject matter if you need to. Go to your local art store and buy some materials you鈥檝e never tried before. Mixing things up can give you a whole new outlook on things. Who knows, you might even discover your chosen way of working isn鈥檛 the best one for you!
That鈥檚 the thing with art: you鈥檝e got to enjoy what you鈥檙e doing, otherwise people can tell your heart鈥檚 not in it. When you create something, you鈥檙e making a subconscious connection with all kinds of emotions and responses to things. If you鈥檙e not making that connection and getting something from the experience, it鈥檚 time for a rethink.
4. No-one Seems Interested In My Work Anyway
As people, we like nothing more than a bit of attention – why do you think social media is so huge? Like it or not, each of us is on some kind of ego trip 鈥 we wouldn鈥檛 be human otherwise! However, as artists, we can probably be a little more sensitive than most and get dejected when we鈥檙e not receiving the attention we believe we deserve. You probably know the scenario 鈥 you鈥檝e spent hours finishing a painting, but only one Facebook Like? Only a handful of Re-pins? What鈥檚 the point?
Here鈥檚 a hard fact to take on board. Nobody is sitting around waiting for a great piece of art to inspire them. Everyone is just too busy just going about their daily lives for that. That鈥檚 why you鈥檝e got to keep banging on that door until somebody listens. It may take weeks, months, years or even a lifetime, but you need to keep promoting your work and yourself.
If you鈥檙e struggling to get more followers on social media, there鈥檚 a simple solution and the clue is in the name 鈥 it鈥檚 a social thing! Therefore, be sure to respond to people when they get in touch, promote the work of fellow artists and try and keep people updated as often as possible. You don鈥檛 even have to show them finished pieces all the time 鈥 lots of successful artists on social media like to show their fans works in progress or talk about their ideas.
It鈥檚 also worth considering the best time to post updates. We often liken this to trying to promote a product in a shopping center or street. When鈥檚 the best time to be there? When nobody鈥檚 around or when the streets are teeming with people? There are lots of free tools out there to help you with this. Some of our favorites include Hootsuite, Likealyzer and Facebook鈥檚 built-in analytics.
Try and be patient. It can sometimes take time to develop an online presence, but you should start to make progress eventually. Why not also try promoting your work locally and joining an art group? Talk to people who work in your nearest caf茅 or library and tell them about your art 鈥 you鈥檒l be surprised at how supportive people can be 鈥 especially in the creative community!
5. Making Art Is Too Expensive
Here鈥檚 another classic reason why people think about quitting art. And, if you鈥檝e ever looked on the shelves of your local art store and gasped at the price of some materials, it鈥檚 easy to see why. However, just remember there is always a cheaper alternative. Having the best materials in the world isn鈥檛 going to make you a better artist 鈥 only practice can do that.
If you need inspiration, why not take a look at the work of street artists? These dudes haven鈥檛 let having no cash get in the way of their creativity, often resorting to using anything that will make a mark. So that large canvas is too expensive to buy? Why not take a leaf out of Charming Baker鈥檚 book? He left school at 16 and did various manual jobs before going back to college.
After this, he spent years working as a commercial artist before developing his own work. He doesn鈥檛 worry about which materials he uses 鈥 he鈥檒l just use broken pieces of wood or metal instead. Oh, and he鈥檚 also one of the UK鈥檚 hottest creative talents right now.