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.
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).
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.
Sorry I ended up rambling.
Created at simplydevio.us