Have you ever gone through boxes of old stuff and come across artwork from your childhood? If so, did you notice anything? Did you continue drawing? Are much better than you were then?
That happened to me twice in the last couple years. We were packing up my grandma’s house last year when someone found an old Sonic the Hedgehog comic that I had drawn. A part of me wanted to cringe, but I also found it really interesting.
I was probably seven when I drew it, but to see I had an understanding of sequential art and storytelling at such a young age was eye-opening. Especially since I had started drawing again and was finding myself drawn to visual storytelling through sequential art again.
A year later, we were helping my great grandma move. My uncle found a postcard with a drawing I did when I was five or six years old. It was supposed to be a dog. He was just as excited as I was to find the drawing. He mentioned how amazing it was to see my growth and improvement as a graphic designer and artist today, compared to the postcard.
Aside from the nostalgia of finding the old drawings, the biggest thing I took away from it was that I have progressed so much since then. It’s easy to get caught up in working hard at your craft and being disappointed or fearful to share your art because you know it could be better.
We need to remind ourselves that we’re always going to be improving and that each thing we create and finish can be a progress marker. We need to realize that we are making progress on a monthly, weekly, and even daily basis. It may not seem like it until we look back over the year or several years, but there was progress going on. Having a sketchbook or journal that you draw or write in every day can help you notice that progress even more.
The last paragraph felt like a “logical” conclusion, but I have one more thing I want to add. Even more than practicing every day, embracing your failures and mistakes can help you improve. It’s easy to do nothing when you fear that the final product won’t be the best display of your artistic ability.
However, that’s exactly why you should do it. You can analyze the imperfections of your art and see where they need improvement or where you need to embrace your mistakes and call more attention to them. Some of my favorite illustrators have unique imperfection about their art that brings the characters to life and helps make them more memorable. Sharing your imperfect art can also open the floor for dialogue with other artists that may have some helpful tips for what you’re struggling with.
Ultimately, we all get frustrated with our art from time to time. The important thing to remember is why you're making your art and that you may not be as skilled as you are, but you are more skilled that you were at one point in time.
PS. I misplaced the Sonic the Hedgehog comic. When I find it again I will add it to the post or at least share it on my Instagram for anyone that's interested to see it.