I’m very excited to present the final draft of this t-shirt I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. Ruth, my boyfriend’s mom, was diagnosed with Schleroderma in 2007, and we’re walking to raise money for the Schleroderma Foundation this coming May 18th in Baltimore. Ruth wanted a t-shirt designed and printed for her team of walkers to wear during the event, so she came to me with this project and I said “Hell yeah!” What could be more fun than designing a t-shirt?
You can view the project from start-to-finish on the Skillshare project page, to give you a sample view of how the project coalesced.
For awhile, I was stuck for awhile on the inside of the loop. The bottom right-hand corner felt like it was missing something. I was looking to balance it out, so I added a small section of rails. Somehow, I came up with the sub-headline “Rocking the Rails since 2007”. I think it’s a really great addition to the design, and I can’t wait to see it on a t-shirt.
I’ve learned quite a few things during this project. The first is that while I really enjoy illustrating, I really need to do it more often to get better at it. The second is that I should focus more on concept and drawing/composing the idea by hand to make sure it works first before I move into vector. I know this is a standard process…and I did draw initially, but the first drawings didn’t really work that well and I didn’t understand that until I got into Ai. I probably spent a considerable amount of time reworking pixel points and beziers than I should have; or at least had I pushed myself harder duing the design/research phase I may have been able to avoid extraneous pixel-pushing.
The third is that I really am too afraid of failure… or I just really dislike not being good at things. I’m not quite sure how to solve that, really, except to breathe through, accept it and move on. I think I just need to practice ignoring that negative self-talk as it arises. And/or distract my thoughts with something else in order to come back to the project relaxed and refreshed. I think artists (or maybe I’m just talking about myself?) have such an ego, and when it’s busted either by someone else or by their own fears, it’s a bit damaging and can impede progress.
In any case, I had fun working on this project and hope to possibly improve on it someday. What’s most important is that it’s available for our team of walkers to wear on May 18th! And that Ruth, my “client” loves it. And she does!
I’ve seen the amount of work that Kate’s put into this and I think she’s done a great job for a great cause. Ruth is an awesome lady who has had a difficult battle and I’m sure she must really appreciate this.
That bold-faced paragraph (emphasis mine) struck a chord with me, so I felt it was time to blog!
Fear of failure and disappointment in one’s own perceived skill level are all too common, particularly among creative types. Holy cow, I am so familiar with these feelings. I can’t even calculate how much time and mental energy I’ve wasted on self-loathing and disappointment in my own abilities. If you look at any of my sketchbooks from my childhood, you’ll see pages and pages where a single line was drawn and never completed, because I didn’t like how it looked. Never even mind how I felt about being put on academic probation in art school because of my grades, and subsequently becoming an Art School Dropout.
But anyway. A lot of time has passed since those days, and I feel like I’ve gained some perspective on the subject.
As I see it, there are two main options when you are faced with “Not Feeling Very Good at Doing ________”:
- Accept that your skills don’t lie in a particular area, and recognize that you have other abilities…OR
- Keep working at it, and working at it, and working at it.
The question is, how will it benefit you to improve the skill in question? Is it something that would just be kind of fun, but ultimately not that important — or is it something that might really improve your life in some way?
Is it the latter? All right then…here’s some stuff to keep in mind during skill improvement time!
- That whole thing about being your own biggest critic is really true for most people, especially creatives. Just remember that “good” is so subjective. Your own idea of “Freaking awful!!” is often someone else’s idea of “Perfect!! Amazing!!” On the flip side…
- When you do creative work for others, you can’t really predict or control how they’re going to respond. Even if your work manages to survive your inner critic — or even pass with flying colors — it could easily get ripped up by the next person to see it. Unfortunately, most people don’t have a workshop/critique background, and many don’t even have a sense of tact…even other creatives. So that means…
- Work on thickening your skin against your inner and outer critics. Use harsh feedback to fuel your fire, not extinguish it. Opinions should not equal self-worth, whether they’re your own or someone else’s. Plus there’s that whole thing about opinions and assholes and everyone with an opinion is one…that’s how it goes, right? But bear in mind…
- Not all of your projects are going to be winners in the traditional sense, and they don’t have to be. Even if it doesn’t make it to your portfolio, just think of it as another sacrifice to the God of Skill-building. Maybe you learned something new, or got a little faster at doing something you already know how to do, or — at the very least — staved off the inevitable erosion that happens when you don’t exercise a skill for a long time.
As creatives, most of what we do is readily improved with time and practice - in the meantime, we just have to allow ourselves to indulge in self-confidence, and acknowledge our limitations with light hearts. Easy, right?!?
(It also helps to surround yourself with supporters, for the times when that gets too difficult.)
*Edited because somehow all my formatting got lost…