You are already the best in the world at being you.
One trap I fall into sometimes is descending into despair when I see other people’s amazing art. You know that piece you see and you go ‘Damn, why can’t I have drawn that.’ And I spiral down from there. ‘I’ll never draw like that’. ‘Why do I even try’. ‘Even if I could draw exactly like that, what would be the point? I’d just be another person who draws like that’. Times like that make me wonder how we ever survive as artists, fragile flowers that we are 🙂
But here’s the thing. The thing that makes you irresistible to your ideal client is not your art – it’s your heart. Lilla Rogers says ‘People buy your joy.’ James Victore says ‘There will always be someone who is better at Photoshop than you.’ You’ll never be the Best Artist in the World. But you don’t need to be – the only thing you need to get good at is being you. People aren’t looking to buy your superb shading technique. They want to buy pieces of your soul.
The true value of a piece of art is that connection between the artist and the buyer. Part of it is making it beautiful, but there are hundreds of things you think are absolutely gorgeous and you still won’t buy them. The thing you will buy is the one that calls your name as you walk by, the one you can’t bear not to take home. And the artwork that speaks the loudest is one that reveals the artist’s character. Following trends and making pretty things will take you part of the way there – after all, Popular Things are popular. But there will always be new pretty things coming around the corner. And your heart will forever be unique. If you can learn to let it show through the colors and the lines, your audience will start to fall in love with you.
At this point I see about a half of you nodding along thoughtfully, and the other half is saying ‘Wtf, Lidija? I make my art the best way I know how, and it’s not like I have the option of not being who I am – so what exactly are you suggesting I change?’ And to that I say this: “Stop Wishing You Were Some Other, Better Artist.” You’re doing it. I know you are.
You know how when you first meet someone, and you like them and you want to impress them, you end up acting nothing like your usual self? I think we do this with our art. We’re so eager to present ourselves as the artist we hope we’ll be five years from now. But we’re not there yet, so how the heck do we know what that looks like? So we end up compensating by mimicking the styles of artists we perceive as being ahead of us. And we end up looking like a shadow instead of a beacon.
So stop drawing for an audience, or for your career, or for that agent who won’t take you on, or for your future clients. Draw for your own heart, and other hearts will react.