My deviantART experience as a perfectionist (& what I learned from it)

Short version: My experience started as a nightmare until eventually I understood the true gift it was.

Long version:

I started my first deviantART gallery back in 2006 

and I love how much it pushes you to improve. Just a short look around and you’ll find lots of  wonderful artists pouring their talent all over that damn place.

So many possibilities and different styles! Lots of successful examples to follow! WHERE DO I EVEN START? I WANNA BE LIKE THEM SOMEDAY!

I’ve never been much of a formal student so learning how to draw by myself has always been my thing. In a fake it until you make it fashion, I improved a LOT just from following super talented artists and carefully studying their art.

 If you’re looking to improve your art, I suggest go create a deviantART! Put yourself out there no matter what level you are! the OVERWHELMING amount of talent and nice artists willing to share tutorials and resources there is sure to at least inspire you to grow if you really put your heart to it.

Bombom Returns

Bombom the Bunny, my OC is a clear example of my improvement!

 

What about the negative aspects? Can’t all be flowers, right?

Well, right.

I did say OVERWHELMING amount of talent, didn’t I? A few years into putting all my focus into my gallery, I kind of started losing touch with “minor, unimportant things” such as:

Why do I draw?

Why am I doing this in the first place?

Why does it matter to me?

 

And things got quite ugly from there.

In 2009, late teenager me went through the toughest part of life, which taught me so many  lessons it’s probably the reason I changed my perspective so much and got into blogging in the first place. Depression said hello, and brought its best buddies anxiety and perfectionism along for a party.

I completely lost my essence. I had no idea why I drew anymore, I did it on autopilot and as any good Virgo, I’m naturally detail-oriented, I convinced myself my art had to be good and extremely detailed or else I’m a ‘lazy bum’.(I can’t be the only one!)

Since all my idols were  amazing and dedicated artists mass producing masterpieces, I had to work my ass off to reach their level someday, somehow, at any cost.

As you might know, when we have no idea why the hell we’re into something anymore, we start looking for some sort of compensation, usually external. In my case that would mean Feedback, and well…

2

No offense to the lovely but busy people who want to drop by and acknowledge your work, but THIS is not exactly fulfilling or worthwhile when you’re under so much of your own mental pressure and your arm is getting sick of that bullshit called drawing over 12 hours a day.

Mine started warning me about overwork by developing a set of three tendonitis all at once – Shoulder > Elbow > Wrist. Uh oh!

werk

I found myself stuck in a cycle where drawing meant contributing all my time and effort to a single fandom, drawing someone else’s characters because it gave me more likes and comments than my own original work;

It was also my personal ‘rule’ that each drawing had to be better than the last. Suddenly spending only 12 hours in a piece wasn’t enough anymore. Perfectionism. Sometimes I forgot to eat, at that point I had to wrap my arm in tight bandages so the pain wouldn’t distract me as much. Work work work!

I was playing the “What they expect of you” game, and I was losing. 

I went from an overachiever to a hopeless victim people just commented ‘Cute!’ on and after about 50 drawings, a lot of arm pain and barely managing to look at my gallery as something other than a source of stress and anxiety anymore, I had enough.

Achievements are hollow and unfulfilling if you’re not in touch with the reason why you do it in the first place.

I even got myself a few dreamed Daily Deviations. And that was exactly where I realized my focus was all wrong.

What used to be my favorite activity suddenly felt hollow and cold. I’d give it all back if I could just embrace my true self at the time and remind me of how awesome I already am, how art is meant to be fun and great achievements are possible without all those self-destructive habits, but I didn’t know any of that at the time.

Jolly Speaks

 

❝You are good enough already, no need to try so hard, you know? ♡❞

 

 

4 months of rehab with a lovely physiotherapist later, I stumbled upon Dr Sarno’s book. It finally clicked how my body and mind need to be treated with kindness if I want to stay healthy and keep drawing. I say clicked because just how easy it is to say the classic, ‘you need to take care of yourself’ and go on doing the exact opposite?

The most important thing that changed was that stuff like views, likes, followers and popularity really dropped in my priority list. The pressure I felt whenever I started a drawing vanished and as a result, I actually felt like drawing again.

I actually feel less to no pain at the end of the day.

It made sense how I was blinded by the voices in my head, the same voices that told me ‘You need to get straight A+ to be any good in life’ were still there, urging me to work my ass off and nitpicking every single detail and turning even the simplest drawings into my artistic hell!!

I had forgotten I am already good enough. 

I know I can’t be the only one who’s been through such levels of perfectionism in art. The whole point with being so personal here is to bring awareness through my experience! Don’t let perfectionism ruin your art, or anything you do! 😉

It’s in the drawings I don’t really work that hard on that I express myself truly, I’d rather spend 20 minutes on a simple drawing than 4 hours polishing a lineart just to impress people. Just like that, I gave up on the dream of becoming like all those amazing artists with the beautiful, extremely polished galleries. Nope. I want to be my own kind of artist, respecting my limitations and embracing all the little flaws! 🙂

My new rule: My art career needs to feel good at least 70% of the time

70%, yes. As a creative entrepreneur of course I need to be cutting PNG backgrounds, answering questions, coming up with ideas and all the stuff that doing your own thing for a living demands of any of us, but as for the art creation process? It needs to feel really good!

No comparison. No inner war. No food for the mind judge today, sir!

I’ve drawn my entire life and never got any closer to achieving perfection anyways. So why not just put on some nice music, have a cuppa and let art flow? 😉

I surrender, to hell with achieving perfection. I’m exhausted.

I am grateful to the lovely deviantART community for all it has taught me about becoming a better artist, and especially for bringing this aspect of my personality to my awareness.

The knowledge that there’s plenty of room for everybody, that I don’t need to fight my way has brought me the peace of mind I needed to relax and just connect and develop my true art style. There’s always something new to learn. There’s always improvement. Nothing is ever lost.

I will have you know that every piece of art I create now, simple or intricate, came from the bottom of my heart. Cheesy? Well, there you go! 🙂

I’ll be the most dedicated artist I can be, yes, I’d be lying if I say I’m completely over perfectionism by now. I just know for a fact that no success is more important than

1) My physical and mental health

2) Feeling happy and excited about doing what I chose to do with my life.

Jolly Speaks2

❝Art is how I express my soul. Art is the checkpoint between life experiences and how an artist digests them. Art is how I cope. A breath of life and meaning in a World that sometimes just seems to spin way too fast.❞

 

 

If my personal story somehow resonates with you, I deeply appreciate you for reading all the way through and my hopes for this post is to inspire you to wonder –

What have you learned about yourself through art, or whatever activity you chose to do for a living?

Are you respecting your real limitations?

It’s never too late to review your limiting beliefs, make slight or profound adjustments! It’s nobody’s fault, so remember we all deserve happiness and go make your positive changes.

Just one last thing before I go – Whether you’re an artist or not, I’m not suggesting you become lazy about your activities, stop thriving or settle for less. No way!! the whole point with my story is:

Regardless of who you want to become, only do what truly makes sense to YOU deep down, because ‘they said’ you should is no reason enough. Because it’s popular on instagram is no reason enough. Because they pay really well is good, but still no reason enough. 

Don’t be afraid to dig deep and find out what really makes you want to get up in the morning. Don’t be afraid to change directions, start over, a million times if necessary. Respect, love yourself and become your own biggest fan despite all the sad stories of your past.

Jolly-pagedoll-web

Much love, peace and inspiration to us!

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