I don't like my work.

  • I don't know if I hate my work completely. I've always had low self esteem with my art/design. But lately I can't seem to shake it.

    I can't stop looking at other artists work (apart from adoring their stuff) I just believe I'll never be good enough.

    I'm getting professional help so it's being addressed. I've even started hypnosis to lift the belief that my art is shit.

    It will, like all things in life, take a bit of time to work through.

    Cheers for reading my despondent sounding post.

  • SVS OG

    I get this! I think most artists do. It's hard! Especially if you have to fit it all in around everything else in life because it's maybe not your career - if you didn't have the luxury of art school etc. There are lots of days I feel like I'm making no progress. But, if you're working, you're progressing. It's just sometimes slow and difficult and not immediately obvious. There's a fine line between being inspired/ challenged by other works, and being discouraged by them. I'm constantly trying to walk that. It's hard. Hang in there and keep at it. ☺️ Progress not perfection!!

  • Hey Pamela, thanks so much for that. I bet i'm not the only one - which in a way is supportive. I don't want everyone feeling shitty - just glad i'm not alone.

    I have a 4 year old boy and my husband works away - A LOT! Some days i don't speak to many people. And my mind starts to chatter endlessly about how crap my work looks.

    But you're right i just got to keep doing it. I don't want to stop. I want to produce comics! But my bloody mind just wants me miserable.

    I walk that thin line too. Juggling so many commitments makes it hard for me. I feel guilty for drawing when my son is playing and more recently like i'm neglecting his emotional needs.

    There is no end to my torturous mind.

    But you're right also - progress not perfection!

    Have a good day - thank you again!

  • Hey Papermoon,

    Everyone who has ever studied art feels like this. It sounds like you might be having a tough time so be kind to yourself.

    I look at my favorite artists and feel like I will never get to there level.
    I think of it as every time I am doing art I am improving. Even if I draw the worst thing ever it leads me to the next drawing which will be better.

    This learning curve helped me see how learning art works (if you think your work is bad its actually good because you can see your mistakes and you can fix them)


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @Papermoon, thanks for the post. A lot of people feel this way. There are a few things to do about it. Joining SVS is a good one since we are a very supportive online community. The next step might be joining a local group such as SCBWI and meeting regularly with other people in your area. https://www.meetup.com/ would be a good place to look for figure drawing groups, etc.

    Being alone for prolonged periods of time is tough and it's one of the drawbacks of this industry. I joined a gym and take yoga classes just to get out and see people. Especially when I'm on a book deadline and I'm locked in the studio a lot. Most gyms have a daycare option while you are there.

    Also, you can take your family to art gallery openings, etc. to get out and be part of the community.

    A lot of people don't like their work, but a constant moving forward will get you to where you are going. Try not to compare yourself to pros, just focus on what YOUR next step is. What you need to do with your art. Do you struggle with value? then work on value. Do you struggle with color? then work on color. A big help is doing master copies. It builds confidence and really moves your skill level forward.

    So maybe pick a few images you like from other artists and copy them. It's relaxing and can really help bring you back on track. You can also take a local class and you will see that everyone has different skills and weaknesses. It comes with the territory.

    Good luck. Let me know if I can be of help in any way. : )


  • A friend of mine once told me that discontent is a person's greatest asset. Without the desire to improve, you'll stay in one spot forever. That was an eye-opener for me. I revel in it now. As long as I can see the way up, I know I haven't reached the ceiling.

  • @Lee-White said in I don't like my work.:

    So maybe pick a few images you like from other artists and copy them.

    @papermoon Definitely this.

    I would also say 2 things:

    1. Constantly browsing other artist's images is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, doing so can give you tons of inspiration and ideas. On the other, at some point, maybe around image 46 or 135 or even 666, depression starts to really set in. It's a common enough experience that I've heard (and read) artists talk about it all the time.
      t some point you are just sitting there consuming other people's work, not creating your own, not growing, etc.

    2. Consider the alternative to feeling bad about your art. What if you were tremendously happy with your work--everything you did was just so glorious. Where would the growth be? What if, like every beginning to mid-level artist, your work ISN'T that great? Would you really want to be deluded?
      Personally, whenever I feel really really good about a piece there is a little part in my brain that says something like: Ok, I'm thinking this is so awesome...what am I missing here because it probably isn't THAT good.

    On the flip side, when I create something that I think is awful I try and say: Am I just being too critical? What specifically, isn't working, how can I improve.

    Almost by definition, a beginning artist will not know what to improve or maybe more accurately: they won't know how to improve it.

    That's why @Lee-White 's advice is so dead on. Do copies of others work and get involved in this community for feedback and to bounce ideas/problems off of us.

    You will grow leaps and bounds.

  • Pro SVS OG

    @papermoon I really believe that every artist feels this way for a great part of the time. There is a quote by Ira Glass - a very famous one - that has saved my mood in many occasions:

    "Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

    I cannot describe how important these words have been and still are to me. I know it does not help to know that others feel the same way - but to me, it helps to know that it is a phase and that it is in your power to move out of it. Like kids going through the terrible twos (and 3s, 4s and 5s, from my point of view), so artists go through the pit of despair - and I think the fact that they keep going and come out from the other side makes them very special people.

    As for being depressed by other people´s work - that is definitely a phase. I know because I went through it and it lasts unbearably long. But now my thoughts are more like: "look what I could be able to do one day, if that is the way I will want to go!" And I find the wealth of possibilities thrilling.
    As for your kid - I believe happy mums make happy kids. I had to go back to work after my first child because being home made me miserable - and we were having a miserable time together. I look back now and I know I was on the border of depression. It was not healthy. Pay attention to your happiness and to what makes you a fulfilled person - I think this is what a child needs most from the adults around her.

  • Firstly i want to say a huge thank you to every single person who has responded to me on this thread! I thought folk might get pissed off reading a 'depressing' post - but, it turns out i made a good decision to talk about it.

    I don't want to hate my work and i don't want to give up. I'm glad i spoke up and said how frustrated i am - as it's been a blessing in disguise.

    My mind is still processing everyone's comments - and believe me they've had a wonderful impact. I hope anyone else reading this will be as bowled over as i am. You've all given so many different view points. Ones that would never have crossed my mind. Of course, as i don't know everything.

    I will take these things with me today:

    • Progress NOT perfection
    • Sign up to a Yoga or Exercise class
    • Keep going no matter what
    • Copy my favourite artists (i traced over some images last week and it felt good)
    • It's ok to be discontent - it's a person's greatest asset
    • Show, show, show your stuff and get advice and feedback
    • Get out into the community
    • Join a drawing class (create one if there isn't any)

    All of your suggestions, insights and words have given me a lot to think about.

    My son is on the spectrum, my husband works away a lot. And we moved from one country right across the globe to NZ. I've been here over 2 years now and i wouldn't change it for the world. I studied Interior Design (never got a job in the field) and drifted from crappy job to crappy job. I have to accept that i lost my drawing skills a very long time ago. So, i got to start at the beginning. And that's ok. I'm very happy i found SVS as the courses have been amazing. And now i've connected with you all here i'm ready to get serious.

    Have a good day. Thank you for all of your support.

    EDIT - this is my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/creativeelc/
    Got to be brave and say this is me.

  • SVS OG

    @papermoon I wanted to reply to this thread before, but everyone else made such good replies with wonderful advice...so I don't have anything to add other than I agree with everything that's been said...glad it's been useful to you... and good luck with your art journey 🙂 I also have a 4 year old (and a quite challenging 2 year old in 'terrible twos')... it's really difficult to find any time to yourself when you have to spend a lot of time looking after others. So good luck, do keep us posted with what you make 🙂

  • Hi Papermoon
    I thought the moon was made out of cheese. ^^;;

    A little story.
    26 years ago I went through my art and threw away everything I didn't like. I was left with a small pile of drawings about 2 sketchpads high, but my discarded drawings filled a large LG 17 " Studioworks CRT monitor box about 1 metre squared. I spent a further 5-7 years studying hyper realism, graphic design and comic art before I was happy about my art. It's a stage we all have to go through. Back in the 90's the internet consisted of tiny little images and text and only a few art enthusiasts owned and ran websites. In fact there were so few that my site actually made it into the top 10 amateur art sites on the web (and was ranked number 1 for about 2 years at CBR). I also created an art gallery site so people could have their art posted there. That was before DeviantArt existed. I then closed the site down when DA was the obvious place to go. Nowadays people have it a lot easier. Reference material can be download in high res. Friends on social media can criticise your art. You can sign up for online tuition and watch YouTube videos. Artists can improve rapidly in 1-3 years whereas in the past it took 7-10 years. So if you get despondent or impatient try imagining living when I did when one had to rely on book libraries and small 320 x 200 pixel images.

    So my first advice is hang in there, one day you will surprise yourself.
    Secondly, copy other people's art - don't get stuck with creating your own. I copied a ton of comics and most professional artists encourage amateurs to do likewise.
    Thirdly, make a list of what you don't like about your art and do a study on each item and then tick them off.

    Here's a small portion of my improvement list -

    1. Add style and motion
    2. Expand my collection of gesture poses and facial expressions
    3. Improve handling of negative and positive spaces in my compositions
    4. Experiment with varied line widths
    5. Expand my library of custom color palettes and color combinations

    Make your own so you know where you're going and importantly have fun. 🙂

  • @smceccarelli I love that Ira Glass quote and use it often with students when they get to this point.

  • I want to throw my hat in the ring as someone who dislikes most of what I create as well.

    You may want to look up "imposter syndrome" and read about that a bit. I seem to have it (as do many creatives) and it is very helpful to be able to categorize certain types of thoughts as I.S., allowing me to better ignore them. I.S. is basically attributing success to forces outside your control (luck, circumstance, other people, timing) and fully accepting failures.

    A couple of hints:

    1. don't rationalize away compliments or achievements
    2. accept that failure is part of growth
    3. view failures as iterations or steps toward something, rather than an end.
    4. know that most people creating feel doubt
    5. vulnerability is part of creation
    6. you are awesome

  • @marksart00 I love that story! Thank you for sharing all of it. Funny enough in the mid 90's i was just starting out as a Display & Exhibition Design student - i built stuff, had to create Graphic Designed posters and make shift window displays. I laughed with my husband earlier in regards to an old 'enlarger' machine - i bet you know what they were. I spent hours enlarging and re-tracing fonts to get it "just right". Man that was a pain in the arse! I remember using Desktop Publisher in its infancy too... i do not want to go back to that.

    Thanks for reminding me how difficult it was in those days. I am blessed with a wealth of awesomeness on the world wide web today and i'm going to use it with both hands.

    If i'm honest, i'm probably more confident in my graphic design work than my sketching skills. I had to do life drawing at College then at Uni. I got cocky and thought i didn't need to keep it up as i could draw... Sheesh, what a load of bullshit that was. And then i had a huge wake up call - i needed more than arrogance to get a job in the design world - which i discovered i didn't really have - and then i had my confidence booted out of me and fell into an admin job.

    I really like your improvement list. I will come up with my own - as well as stealing some of your ideas (hope that's ok).

    @corykerr Thank you also Cory. I will look into the imposter syndrome. I felt that massively when i was a lot younger. But perhaps it's still there - just immersed into my imagination. I will do some research and work on it. And you are definitely right - i have got to accept that failure is part of growth. I think sometimes i don't want to accept failure and this in turn makes me very critical and harsh on myself.

    And the biggest thing is being vulnerble. Having people see your work is like they can see inside your head/heart - and that's difficult. You're offering up yourself for criticism.

    More wonderful wise words from both of you.

    Thank you for sharing your stories and things that help you. I appreciate it massively.

    I have felt a lift today. Speaking to you all and connecting has made it less daunting and less isolating. I'm glad i spoke up.

  • @papermoon First of all, welcome! As you can see, everyone here is seriously amazing. Don't ever feel weird about sharing anything you're going through here - you'll find nothing but support from your fellow artists, mainly because chances are, we've been through it or are going through it too.

    A good example of that is what you've mentioned in this post - I can completely relate. I found that Ira Glass quote that @smceccarelli shared a couple of years ago and it helped to keep me from quitting art altogether. I'll share with you my story, which is a little different than a lot of artists in general, but not so different from many of the artists here.

    When I was in 6th grade, I "discovered" drawing - and found that I really enjoyed it. I'd spend hours drawing little animal characters at school. But in 7th grade, I met a girl named Lianne who was really amazing for her age and it made me feel so discouraged that I gave up. I thought that if I wasn't naturally that good, then I'd never be, so I just put away my pencil and only picked it up every few years for a single sketch or drawing on a piece of printer paper or a napkin when I could no longer fight or ignore the urge to draw. That mistaken belief stuck with me my entire life and, although every few years I'd get the fire to draw something, it'd quickly pass after I drew something that looked, understandably awful. I have no idea why I didn't realize that it takes practice to get better, but no one ever told me that, so the mistaken belief that drawing ability is innate stuck. It didn't help that I had 2 super talented artist boyfriends through the years who laughed when I'd draw something and would just say, "draw what you see" and dismiss me when I'd try.

    Finally, when I was 39 I met my husband and, when he first saw one of my chicken scratch drawings, he was nothing but encouraging. Because of that, in February of 2011 I started drawing and never stopped - it's been an obsession ever since. I'm now 45. But I can't overcome the frustration over the amateurish look of my work compared to others. I know I want my work to be in conventions like IlluxCon, next to my favorite artists and I beat myself up for all of the time wasted. I think my work is embarrassing. But when I find myself feeling that way, I turn on an SVS video or some other art learning tool and I get to work. I remind myself that I was able to get where I am because I put in hours of practice, so if I want to get further, I have to do the same. It's especially hard though because I have to struggle with the feeling that I'm playing catch up with people who have been practicing for 20 years.

    But I've found that when I get the most frustrated, it usually means that I'm about to level up my skills, so I now start to look forward to that feeling in a strange way. So take heart - we've all got a story and we've all got regrets. It's natural. Just don't let those get in the way of kicking butt and taking names :).

    Btw, I saw a meme a couple of years ago that runs through my head a lot: "Practice until your idols become your competition."

  • @papermoon I hate my work as well! 😉 that's a good thing though. In fact, I would say that once you get to the point of feeling like your work is awesome you will stop progressing. Compared to everyone I know in my personal life, I am incredible, but that is why I am here, because I suck compared to everyone on these forums. It makes me feel bad, and that is good. It creates a sense of drive and pushes me to make goals. I just painted today, and wanted to punch myself in the face, which is good.

  • Note to al the repliers of this post: You guys here are amazingly awesome, to pick up a person who felt down in the dirt and clean him up until he shines and has blushes on his cheeks! I LOVE IT! #SVSROCKS !

  • I am really bowled over by the responses here! You guys are bloody phenomenal! Thank you.

    I've spent most of the day taking it easy and reflecting on what everyone has said and how to plan out some projects. I found some good project management Apps today. I'm getting serious and will embrace the noisy bastards in my head.

    Have a good day wherever you are in the world right now 😃

  • I want to add that three months ago i decided to form a Comic Group - like a writers group for but artists and writers of comics and zines - and i did it. We've met two times and the third is in a week. It's been wonderful connecting with so many people in this town.

    I even created a FaceBook page to help folk who can't attend. We meet at a lunch time with the help of an organisation called Creative Waikato. They've been awesome too.


    The Inktober project is what pushed me over the "i hate my work" edge. Perhaps that's what i needed. A short sharp shove over into the abyss.

    Anyhoo, take it easy.

  • @papermoon That's great to hear! I'm glad you've been pushed into the abyss.

    I just posted an image and my wife said, "I love that! Do you like it?"
    "nope, there's a lot wrong with it... but I'm glad you like it."

    Which is as good as it gets sometimes 🙂

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