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On about being perfect

Sun Mar 19, 2017, 9:09 AM
I was inspired by KizuNova to write this journal actually haha

I am a huge perfectionist. It might not be super apparent for all of the blebs I do, but I do a lot of bleb pictures because they allow me to be less perfect. If there's no rules to follow to begin with, how can I break them, right! And while this affects my whole life and caused me insane amount of anxiety due to me being anything but perfect and failing constantly on simple matters, I'm gonna focus more on how this has affected my art through the years. Maybe this'll help someone else struggling with the same problems!

When it comes to art, I wasn't always perfectionist. Far from it actually, I used to scoff at people trying to be perfect and reach impossible standards, and I would preach about how art was supposed to be something you create out of enjoyment, "create what makes you happy" sort of person. I feel that this is very apparent on my earlier artworks - while yes, anatomically very wonky, bgs being occasional shit et cetera, I still feel that a lot of these artworks were the most "fluid" I've ever done. And perhaps it's nostalgia speaking since I remember enjoying doing these, and part of me feels that it really shows.

Ready for duty... sir by Unikeko It's choreography, baby by Unikeko Another good day by Unikeko Summertime fun by Unikeko

I still regard 2012 as my best year in art by far. That's 5 years ago now and it's insane!
So what the hell happened?

Shortly after I pursued my dream of getting to be a game artist. Suddenly I had all the rules placed on me: "this is too anime, this doesn't have right anatomy, this doesn't have right perspective, this needs to be done faster" - you name it, I've heard it. I've had only one commission in my life prior to this, and even that fell off due to me being simply too anxious about not being able to do what I felt best.

I got obsessed with improving.

Now, I'm not saying this is a bad thing. It is absolutely good and recommended to pursue improvement in your art career, try and experiment with new things, but here's the thing. I have lifelong underlying issues with multiple of things, and one of them is that "I must be a perfect human." Now anyone who knows me this is anything but what I am, but it is a nagging rule I have in my head. Art was freedom from that rule. In art I could do anything and it was good enough, I could be free. But now it wasn't perfect. I saw all the mistakes I did, I became friends with far more experienced people who've gradually taught themselves during the years, and unhealthily compared myself to them, obsessively trying to attain the status they had worked for a good portion of their life. I felt like failure in art, when the skills they pursued wasn't what I had honed all my life to begin with.

It paralyzed me. For couple of years I barely drew anything, posting mostly occasional doodles on Tumblr. I kept art askblogs that helped me a bit, but it was drawing more on demand because I could express myself better with expressions than trying to explain them via writing (my strongpoint in art being the stories I tell).

tumblr msevb4JH4L1rmidtho1 500 by Unikeko tumblr n48dmseyzB1r4c1xto1 500 by Unikeko tumblr n6vxhzL6NR1s6f4dwo1 1280 by Unikeko Save your last word for tomorrow by Unikeko

Qualitywise, yes they're somewhat good (and that's picking from the best of the bunch). I'm still proud of the shading of the Annie picture. I'm still proud of the last picture. But looking at them and comparing them at my old art they're so dull. The characters are so stiff. To me there is no movement, no feeling - mostly working with what I knew, because at least that would make them perfect again. If I knew what I was doing, I could get it right, and no-one would yell at me. I got stuck in a comfort zone due to trying to get out of it.
I'm not saying that I was or still am in the best mental health place in my life, but losing the joy for art and my own depression fueling it, not being able to create surely didn't help. There were times I seriously considered dropping doing art altogether. I hated everything I created, and every positive comment I got felt like pity petting. I had occasional perks in art - and the first of them being Mirth (in the second picture there).

Mirth is a character I obsessed over for a while. She was the first thing I started drawing (asides from occasional vent arts) after my long pause in drawing, which made her first images very weird and very wonky. But I liked her 'cause not only did she have so much stuff to hide things with (hair, her huge hide, scars), she had also a lot of stuff to experiment with (I still have no clear idea how to draw anorectic muscular women) and she was batshit insane, which gave me the feeling of freedom again. Yes, what perked me to draw again was hugely traumatized woman with huge brain damage who was violent and cannibalistic. Also my friends seemed to like her, which gave me the couragement to move on. She allowed me to portray all the bad feelings I had inside of me, without it being too personal, with still being able to tell a story about it. Shortly after came Richard, another character I got unhealthily obsessed with, and while I didn't post as many pictures about him, my friends were tortured with daily doodles of me just being excited to tell stories.

I still couldn't quite figure out why I didn't enjoy art as I used to. I was still way too nervous to make much of finished works (hence the huge amount of doodles only thrown at my friends), but at least I was creating again. In the end of 2015 GryAdventures introduced me to the idea of an arpgs. Sceptical at first (especially since the species of the group wasn't in my initial area of interests), I slowly became excited by the idea of being rewarded for doing art. My own mind struggled with the feeling, but I could get physical evidence of rewards. I'd get points for telling stories, and that was so, so important to me. And so if you saw me creating all those huge comics now hidden, that was me just bursting out with excitement of creating and getting rewards. I still didn't enjoy drawing that much, but I felt like I had a reason to experiment because I'd still get a reward even if it wasn't perfect. It felt so liberating to be part of community instead of sitting in middle of my own personal demons.

Shortly later I got a psychologist who tries to help me open those personal demons and stab them with an axe. It was there where I finally realized just how obsessed I had becomen with trying to "perfect," and how much rules I had placed on myself that I had to follow. While yes I've always been aware it's part of my life, but how it had leaked in and effectively ruined my art... it was both devastating and eyeopening.

I'm slowly trying to learn to be less "perfect." Trying to learn that sometimes just being me is good enough. Trying to learn that my art is good enough even when it's not "perfect." I still struggle with motivation (and arm issues haha), and find it hard to concentrate on art. But I feel that's a side effect of multiple years of hating it without realizing why, and seeing nothing but faults and mistakes in things I do. Too afraid to do anything but repeat same old. Too afraid that if I do something and it's not correct, it will be once again pointed at me with stern words of "this is wrong." I still sometimes slump down and get horribly insecure about art I create. Providing a huge chunk of the art of my group Kukuri-arpg I get insanely nervous that my art isn't "good enough" for the group, feeling that it deserves better. My personal demons are still there and alive, but I feel they don't control me as much now that I recognize them and their shape.

Learning anatomy and rules of art is beneficial and absolutely good for you (and hey if you enjoy it, more power to you!). Learn the rules before you break them.

But don't let them control you.

Just keep drawing buddy. The best way to learn is to do it and have fun with it.

On to the adventure! by Unikeko A warm day by Unikeko I like the ones that run by Unikeko In the Sea of Despair I Found Comfort by Unikeko Can you help me forget by Unikeko

Sorry I ended up rambling.

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Opium5 Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I can relate to several things you have mentioned above. Reading your text was a reminder what art is (or should be) about. Thanks a lot for that.
And also thank you so much for creating Kukuris! I haven't had that much fun with arpgs in a very long time. You created a place for a super nice, welcoming and supporting community. <3
And as others already mentioned: Your art definitely improved a lot and it's a pleasure to look at and to watch the development of your characters and their stories.
Lady-Weavile-461 Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
Wow really powerful words there my friend, I too have been struggling with perfectionism albeit in a different matter and its so relieving to know one isn't alone.  Thank you for sharing this with everyone it must have been at least a little hard to talk about. :sun: 

...Oh and I think your art is gorgeous, never give up doing what you love. :) 
KizuNova Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I won't say too much now that I''ve already spoken my mind.
But reading what you write speaks back to me and hit me in the guts one more time.  I absolutely agree with what you're saying and I anger over myself for not realising this earlier. I hope this journal speaks out to the world of artists and that people see that ART ISN'T ABOUT PERFECTIONISM. ITS ABOUT THE FUN AND JOY
PandaMaest Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm wondering whether you wrote about my life or why they are too similar.
If it doesn't matter I will also write a little of my story while growing with art so you can see what I mean and just in case somebody else wants to read it.

My joyful age with art might have started while I were 13. I joined the Neopets community and I drew since forever and there was a huge amount of people doing art there. It was brilliant to me to discover people were sharing their artwork somewhere I didn't imagine. I started scanning and submitting my traditional artwork to the computer and oh, I wasn't any bad nor I had any complain about my skills. Those years were great as I can remember, the bests.
I created my beloved and precious Original Characters by those days.

After that, there came the deviantArt community. I remember some friends of mine stopped submitting art to their Neopets accounts and they told me they joined this site. Soon, I started to feel interest for the digital art since I always were a traditional artist watching all kind of artists being great and sharing their awesome art. I asked my dad for a digital tablet and I got a cheap one that worked terribly and died too early so I kept drawing and submitting traditional content which by those days, already enjoyed.

Up to here I remember the best ages of my drawing life and online friends were by the age of 13-16, before I joined a different high school and wanted to focus and dedicate on art but with terrible ideals people made me think I needed but just ruined all the fun and brought depression, anxiety and 5 years I totally quitted from drawing. My joy for art and profession spoiled by the ground...

I tried to build strength and recover from awful experiences during my high schools days but it didn't help. The swhirl I fall in beame deeper. I also dreamt to become the so popular by those days, videogames artist. Yep, me too. I saved money for long just to purchase myself my, right now by my said and working, Wacom Bamboo and started to draw and learn the digital art basics. I looked for the perfection and higher standards so I could become as good as the artists I admired so the missconception I has my "dream" could become truth. I event put totally apart my OCs to start drawing other stuff to claim for attention. Now I damn and curse those days.

In short terms, what I were doing didn't hurt me but the bubble popped and all the things fell over me. I weren't good enough and it started causing me to look for that perfection and to stress when I didn't got what I had in my mind which, were things I were too far from achieve. This, eventually caused me a huge frustration and made me hate what I was doing and art. There were some years I just was saying "I don't draw anymore and I don't want to".
I didn't realised I hurted myself just by letting others have a shitty opinion about my art and what I had to do and how I had to thinks. Special thanks, damnation and a booked place on hell for those of my teachers that helped in this progress. I realised there aren't many good teachers but I loved the ones that really enjoyed their career and were great.
Here I quitted Art School. I got tired to listen that I had to trace other's art. That's so pittyful to hear on my professional formation. Here I touched bottom.

Several years passed from that but my talented art skills were stuck, buried and forgotten somewhere inside of me. Just a couple years ago I felt again a little but sparkling urge to grab my tablet again and so I did. I stabbed to dead those ridiculous ideals that killed myself inside and looked again for my art spirit. My progress was low and little and I needed months to came up with a drawing but it seemed I starting enjoying it again. No stress and no top goals, just enyojing it once more.

Just to finish, I would like to mention that it's been by the time I've joined the Kukuri arpg my art has been blooming again. I caught my schedule and sat everyday to draw and watch the people from the group draw anytime of the day as long as I could. And up to this same momment I'm writing (sorry) this long comment, I feel renewed forces and I do enjoy my art again and think I don't have to miss the good-old times. Now I'm writing a new better time where I feel myself able to draw digitally in a way I do enjoy and I have good expectatives for the future. I'm planning on starting to develope and start what I always wanted to: drawing my OCs and tell their stories by comic.

Sincerely, we can say you already helped me and we didn't know.
Pluffix Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
(Teared up a bit irl)

As someone who constantly strangled themselves over others art that I had deemed "better," I am also struggling with similar demons.

Unfortunately, in my case, it shows in my art. Things not coming out like they used to. It's not fitting my "vision" at all. And ultimately, I'm scared this is because of a problem in my brain.

Or... Worse. Perhaps it's not even anything.

My memory, my art, my writing, my ability to communicate with others... it's all gotten noticeably worse these past couple years. And I'm worried about it, because it's not getting any better. But I'm terrified of going to the doctor about it. I'm scared to find out it's something. But I'm scared to find out it's absolutely nothing. Maybe it's just that I'm insane now. Maybe I finally broke....

But I've literally been sitting here scribbling. Trying to draw what's in my head and getting angry because it's not coming out. I keep restarting. Keep trying. But it's not happening.

no matter what I do I am stagnant. I cannot seem to improve. I can't get better. My art looks nothing like the people I look up to.

i don't even know what to do anymore.
Pluffix Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
To add: My fear that it's nothing at all... like I literally CANT be better. I don't even know anymore.
PriestessShizuka Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That was wonderful and eye-opening to read, and a very good life lesson, thank you for sharing!! <3 I realized that I might be in the early stages of doing the same, killing my own inner artist by stabbing it with the rules of perfection over and over hoping that will make me better ASAP, because every time I try to improve by seeking guidance from supposed 'art professionals' at college and universities, they only criticize me and make me feel like I'm only at level 1 and have a long way to go before I can even begin to consider myself a good artist. I was constantly worrying "does this have enough life in it? does it have enough value? enough color theory?? Will it satisfy THEM!? will they think it is good?" which did nothing but completely crush my motivation and hurl me into depression. ;u;

But also the same for me, I'm really enjoying the kukuri ARPG atmosphere, getting rewarded just for doing art, not having to be perfect or follow anyone's rules but only to freely experiment and improve at my own pace, using only my own personal critique to judge if an art is good or not. Thank you for kukuris, Uni <333
MiraSomni09 Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for sharing this Uni. It's so helpful and encouraging for me, especially from someone I so look up to. I let myself get depressed and withdrawn from art so easily when I look at other artists and feel like I could never measure up. I've spent years hiding from trying things outside my comfort zone because it wouldn't be "good enough". It's reassuring to know that others experience these things, and I'm very thankful for a community filled with artists like yourself who keep inspiring me and making me feel like my work is good enough no matter what skill level I am at. <3
PULLAST0RMY Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I can totally relate to everything you wrote here - all that stuff about trying to be "perfect", losing the fluidity of childhood art and the passion that came with creation of comics and funny scenarios I used to come up with my OCs. 
I remember that you were one of the first huge idols I had when I began to surf the internet in 2006. Your website, Wüüpi, was very dear to me and I loved the species you had created, the amazing colorful drawings and the comic which name I have forgotten, sadly. I was sad when you closed down your site, but when I first joined DA in 2009, I began following your art here. It's been a long ride, and I'm sad to hear that you too have been struggling with the same problems as so many other artists. Life is hard and so is art, but at least art has the possibility to make a tough life a bit happier.

When I was a child, I was happy with everything I drew, but when I grew older and discovered the internet, I began comparing myself with other arftists. I felt devastated that there were so so so many people who were younger than me and still so much better at everything art related. My passion dried out, and for a long time, I struggled a lot with my art. I created a lot, but I despised most if not all of it. But I didn't give up, I kept doing what I loved even if I only drew some hasty sketches now and then, and I'm happy to see that you didn't give up either. I too learned not to compare myself with others - I only compare myself with myself, even tho it sometimes is hard to trust in my own skills.

And! I'm really really happy for you that you used your creativity and imagination to create Kukuri ARPG! I think your art fits the species and group like a glove to a hand. I really love how colorful and happy those critters are, makes me think of the old times...
And I agree with ARPGs being a good way to "force" yourself to create art and try your best, as you actually get a reward from it!

Even tho I rarely favorite or comment on your stuff (I think it's been years, yikes), I still check all the pics that I find in my inbox. Your art has always made me smile when I see it, be it any kind. I wish you luck on getting further away from "perfection" and getting more confidence in what you do (because dang, your art is gorgeous)! :peace:

(Sorry for the long comment, I just felt like sharing my thoughts on this aaaaa.)

Keimi9103 Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This make people think. Above all those people - like me - that are beginners and whine because their art is not as they want or as their models' art.
Also, telling us your personal stuff.. Gah.
Thank you Uni :3

And as Gry said, we love your art so much. SO MUCH. GAH.
Surrial Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I just saw myself in your story. O_o
Also I'm obsessed with perfection... I can't even do simple linework with minor "errors" because I feel like they're not perfectly clean. Looking at the anatomy and finding things which are not correct make me feel like I'm the biggest idiot and so on. It's so hard to snap out of that behavior but reading that someone had similar problems and managed to get out of it is a great motivation! Now I don't feel so "alone" with that anymore ^^
Thanks a lot for sharing!
Unikeko Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017
I'm glad honestly!! It's super weird to talk about personal issues like this, but I've found such liberation when I read about other people's struggs SO YEAH. If it has been any help I am pleased <3
Surrial Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I can imagin that ^^ And yes it is a great help! It makes one start think over and change to a better, healthier direction of improvement :)
GryAdventures Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
The most weirdest thing in this journal was to read how you feel like your own art is not good enough for your own group. But yeah I know your struggle. I still keep telling you that your art is good enough. it is just that once the seed of uncertainty has been placed in and once you let it grow, it is really hard to get rid of.

But we love your art regardless. Hoping you start to enjoy it as much as we enjoy watching it. <3
Unikeko Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017
Ahahah well yes don't get me even started about that demon fdkgjhldkjfgh

And yaay ;o;/
Xikhara Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh my goodness Uni <3 I'm so glad you're pushing through it; I have much of the same problem, and I haven't been able to get past it, but this is  huge, huge help. 
I absolutely adore your art, and the emotion that goes into it (especially the ones with Jack omg) and you inspire me tons! I hope you (and I) continue to improve and enjoy art <3
Unikeko Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017
Best of luck to both of us ;v;)9 It's hell of a demon to climb through fdkljg
Xikhara Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
That's for sure. We got this!
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