Learning a New Skill Sucks.
Have you ever tried to learn something new? Of course you have. We aren't born knowing how to put on eyeliner! Anyways, as I'm trying to improve my illustration skills, it's a constant battle to keep going while everything I produce makes me think: "Yes, this is not great now. But keep going because practice will make me better." And then, without warning (or rather tons of warning because I'm scrolling through Instagram), I fall into the comparison trap. Have you ever visited the comparison trap? You will see things that make you question your life choices and wonder how you got here in the first place. And your brain says, "COME. STAY A WHILE."
In today's installment of "keep going despite not loving the results", I present the image I drew above. When I started it, I had really high hopes for how it would turn out. You know, just like when you have the excitement to eat pancakes, so you order a short stack and slowly realize, "Oh God. THIS IS TOO MUCH DOUGH." When I finished it I thought, I don't like this. So, despite that feeling of not being 100% totally in love with something, I'm posting it anyways. And the reason is making this illustration gave me more insight into what I like/don't like as I work to develop my own style. Which brings us the to hardest part of learning a new skill: the end product might suck, but you can't get better without making all the sucky work. LIFE IS HILARIOUS SOMETIMES.
Another challenge to learning a new skill and not seeing the immediate payoff: It makes me feel like I'm wasting my time. My biggest challenge with the "keep practicing and let your skills develop" approach is that it requires PATIENCE. I didn't want to become a doctor, yet here I am, dealing with patience. (Should I apologize for that...because I WON'T.) Now, I love the internet, but one thing all that instant gratification has made me worse at is practicing patience. "What do you mean this store is out of stock of something I want? I don't understand that concept." And for those illustrators whose work I admire, all I'm seeing is the highlight reel of everyone's career. No one sees all the messed up drafts, the horrible presentations or that logo you made for your mom's family friend that was so tragic you had to wipe it from your memory Men in Black style.
Is there a way to avoid comparing yourself to others who are more established? I'm not sure. The only thing I can do is chalk this illustration up to a learning experience, move on and make something new. Because if there is one thing instant gratification is good for, it's that nobody will remember this tomorrow.