Stop the perfectionism

2 min read
RyanOttley's avatar
By RyanOttley
113 Favourites
On my Tumblr site someone asked me for some general advice for an aspiring comic creator. This is what was on my mind. Thought I'd share it here on Deviantart as well.

Right now all I can think of is something I've been thinking about lately. And that is the depression some of us artists get about our art. Like our expectations aren't just "My drawings need to be good!", they are "My art needs to be PERFECT."

So I would suggest always try to improve, gain confidence, but expect good/average output. Don't expect perfect art, ever. By doing this only causes you to be frustrated, which in turn causes mistakes, which pisses you off more, then you're stuck in a lame spiraling circle downward to the pathetic whiny artist. Which in turn kills your deadline. Giving yourself freedom from perfection makes drawing much easier and better art is produced and on time.

I'm currently working on this piece where it started out difficult, I had high expectations for it, I was in a bad mood, nothing was going right. Lines felt SO stiff and uncreative. I had to take a breather and remember to not make it SO important, to have fun with it, to lower my expectations. Now I'm working on it again and it's going better than I expected in the first place. I'm just having fun with things, letting confidence grow with each line. When mistakes do happen I quickly change them into something that works. I'm just enjoying my self more than I have in a while.

Basically, to sum up. Perfectionists are rarely happy since it's unattainable. So fuggin stop it.

Sorry this answer probably isn't what you were expecting. It's just been on my mind. Good luck with the comics submission!

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© 2012 - 2021 RyanOttley
anonymous's avatar
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KabochaN's avatar
Thanks, Ryan. That's something I think most of us could do well to remember.
Wingthe3rd's avatar
dude go all the way..."fuggin" is so '92.
RyanOttley's avatar
Not in Utah! Fetch yes!
AstromChang's avatar
you know what Ryan, your work is great, you have a considerable skill set in your back pocket, you seem to be able to score at will. But on your journey from what I can tell in your journal entry, you have concentrated and been angry and sought perfection through determination and grit and hard hard work.
Now you have reached a place where you are more relaxed. When we achieve a high level of skill it comes easier I geuss, but dont forget the journey, for some the journey is about being the best they can be so they can get work, like you. If being the best you can be means having high expectations then expect your skills to grow in accordance with the effort you put in to practice. I have seen a leap in my work by doing the opposite to what now works for you, I have been depressed I have been angry but I channeled it into looking at loomis, Hogarth, Bridgman, oooooooh now I see before I was just trying to figure it out without the training.

what everyone fails to get across is that comics has its roots in traditional fine art techniques, and you need a strong gut on your journey if your going to get even a little good at the thing loomis bridgman and hogarth are presenting, then to top it all off you have thousands of practioners in the game that are on the road to mastery in those techniques, yourself included Ryan, who get professional work and pay, n live n pay bills with their art, thats excellent.

But for the young upstart like me who has yet to maintain a pro foot hold in comics and largely because his skill set is not there yet, I advocate getting angry and fired up if you gonna do it. relaxing is what you do after a considerble amount of time and a large body of of work in pro comics, for those that seek to forever level up, then thats another story. There is a problem with the artist that lets his expectations and desires get the better of him, who thinks he is better than what he is, then realises he has a lot more work to do. There is the fear factor that freezes artists from producing because they think there not good enough, your right, but perfection is doin the very very best of what your capable of for that time, then move on and look back with a smile. Thats hard work.
EricNocellaDiaz's avatar
Excellent advice. Some artists forget the growth period will take time as well and they also forget to have fun and enjoy the journey.
David-Mason's avatar
Wow, thanks for the advice Ryan. This very concern has been on my mind. It's good hearing from a pro that perfectionism isn't healthy for artists. I'll be whipping up a submission myself and taking it to the Seattle Emerald-Con as soon as my school quarter ends. Keep of the great work Ryan. It's always a pleasure to see your stuff.
Niggaz4life's avatar
I couldn't agree more. The problem with perfection is that it's not only unreachable, but undefinable, as everyone has different goals. I have a big problem with this, to the point of procrastination, and have realized last year I need to do something about it. I guess that's why I got interested in impressionism and my style shifted a bit in that direction.
I believe art, comic book art in particular, is about communication, so a perfectionist can be like a person who talks too much/uses unnecessarily complicated words just to stroke his own ego. Of course it's important to learn grammar/spelling/perspective/color theory to communicate better, but without knowing where to stop we become snobs.

Ironically, maybe that's what perfection is about, to find the optimal path between being sloppy and trying too hard. Or to "be like water". :D
singularanomaly's avatar
This is excellent advice to remember in regards to everyday living as well.
Mickezilla's avatar
Awesome message. So true. You know the perfectionist the the least productive.
Fortunato-Sors's avatar
I've been having a problem with this for a while, to the point where it caused me to not even touch my sketchbook for a good two to three weeks... Of course I'm paying for it now... Feeling very rusty...
HisashiSendoh87's avatar
Cool answer.. I should remember about it before tearing up the sheet next time!
GeorgeCalloway's avatar
I tell people artists seek a perfection that doesn't exist. We want perfect but don't even know what that is. This is where the unfinished painting saying comes from (An artist never finishes a painting, he just walks away).
GibsonQuarter27's avatar
Tweeted this out today Ryan. Good advice for artists. I've seen the 'perfectionartist' syndrome of which you speak affect other wicked talented people I know over the last few years. At some point you just have to let it go, and meet the deadline. Once you can do this , you are on the way. ;-)

As Ty Templeton says, you will ALWAYS see your own mistakes, but most folks will not. So, you have to realize that and let it go.
osadha-w's avatar
-vassago-'s avatar
So you are human....
133art's avatar
rockpopple's avatar
Great advice, Ryan. And I believe I will go buy some comics. Tomorrow being Wednesday and all.
TREINOR's avatar
Thanks a lot for this!
mysticw01's avatar
Wow! That was a great answer, i fall into that rut a lot, just because i want the piece to be just right and spiral when i can't get it the way i want it or picture it in my mind.

RoseMcClain's avatar
Brilliant, man. I lose sight of this so often. Can't hear it enough.

Thank you!
JasonCopland's avatar
anonymous's avatar
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