Artists, Don’t Feed The Lions! How To Be a Better Artist?

Let me tell you a story.

An artist starts dying when he/she stops engaging in conversations. That’s a fact.

I told you where to find those conversations in my previous article. On top of that, some artists, are crazy enough to let conversations running in their heads all the time. The kind you don’t want to hear. It gives you a clue on why Van Gogh lost his own ear.

That being said, I talked to a man on LinkedIn lately -I will not say his name for obvious reasons-. After thanking him for his kind words about my work, he told me this:

“Well…it’s true. I love how you write. Yes, you are very fortunate to have your job. Mine is kind of ok. I would prefer to get paid for working with creatives and get some commissions or contracts for my sketches: but I don’t think I am good enough. What is your best tip for overcoming procrastination, please Lionel? I am not an Interior Designer. I am scratching its surface. I have found out I am ENTP I start things and don’t finish them because I’ve got so many ideas for something new.”

“I’m trying to complete my course. I have been blessed with scores like 100% seven times and 90% twice. And I still think I’m no good. Hard to believe in me. I spend all day in church, with Christian friends and masticating roast dinner! I get 5 hours to myself on Sunday and 9 hours on a Saturday. But I am hopeless at plans.”

This sums up all the struggles artists are facing today. It went on for centuries, but I think all the technology surrounding us today has accentuated that problem. I want to break it down for you.

You are very fortunate to have your job. Mine is kind of ok.

My friend, I don’t have a job. I know this feeling. I went through multiple jobs in the past, taking orders from people who had absolutely no clue of what they were doing but only motivated by bullying and running total anarchy in the workplace. I just quit so many times -I can’t remember- to finally chase my dreams. Eleven years in the industry and I still love every part of it. Feeling “kind of okay” is not an option, nor is feeling “ok”. Feel SPECTACULAR! I have a friend working in IT and who is running a photography business just for his own pleasure, it’s a side business from which he doesn’t make money from. I don’t think he’s feeling kind of okay when he changes hats every day. Photography is his fuel to overcome the boredom and repetitiveness of the IT industry.

What is your best tip for overcoming procrastination

We are all procrastinators. If you want to know the epitome of procrastination, please pay a visit to a creative agency. I read “Hey Whipple Squeeze This” from Luke Sullivan, he said: “As an employee in an agency creative department, you will spend most of your time with your feet up on a desk, contemplating your partner’s feet, also up, across the desk. To overcome procrastination I force myself to produce something of value and share it everyday. Something I know my audience will like. Writing, painting, drawing, making music is part of that process. But sometimes when creativity is not kicking in you have to ignite the fire. Take a walk or… go to bed.

I don’t think I am good enough, and I still think I’m no good. Hard to believe in me. I am not an interior designer.

When I read this, it hurts me deeply. Because I truly love my fellow artists, but they are constantly shooting themselves in the feet before even learning how to walk, run and fly. It’s normal to not be good enough. Embrace it, it’s the road to humility and greatness. For example, a few days ago I shared this drawing to a professional with a stellar reputation in the fashion industry. I’m not a fashion designer but God knows I’m fascinated by women. I love women, their eyes, elegance, and accessories. My work is a pure reflection of that. So when I clicked on “send” I told to myself: “it’s not good, it must be way more detailed, what are you thinking! She will not like it, it’s not even finished.”

Her reply: “I think it’s finished. When you start they want to see a quick sketch style, this is perfect Your style is promising, you have “illustrative” and you have “art” in it!”

I laughed nervously. I was stunned. Like the moment when I saw a video on Youtube about a man in the middle of a safari, stepping off his car, holding his camera clearly determined to have a close shot of a gang of lions. It’s a very sad story.

I get 5 hours to myself on Sunday and 9 hours on a Saturday. But I am hopeless at plans.

Okay, Google! How many Saturdays and Sundays there are in a year? Can you multiply that number by 5/9 hours? That’s a lot of practice time. I don’t’ believe in that 10.000 hours rules, it was made for commercial purposes. I believe in practice and consistency. 1 Hour every day delivers more value than 14 hours every two weeks depending on your mood.

In conclusion: humble artists doubt, arrogant ones fade away. I learn and approach the craft as an ignorant student. I engage in conversations, ask questions, cease opportunities, get the knowledge from total strangers, turn them into friends. It’s okay to paint half naked women or raw meat, just don’t put you in trouble by showing it to your Christian/veggie friends. Know your audience before stepping out of the car in the middle of the jungle.

Damn, what was he thinking! [Shaking my head.]

Drop me a comment in the section below. I’m Lionel Thomas, I make beautiful music for the eyes and I’m curious to know more about you. Tell me your story! Follow my blog, like my Facebook page. I’m also on Instagram and Twitter.