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On my Tumblr site someone asked me for some general advice for an aspiring comic creator. This is what was on my mind. Thought I'd share it here on Deviantart as well.

Right now all I can think of is something I've been thinking about lately. And that is the depression some of us artists get about our art. Like our expectations aren't just "My drawings need to be good!", they are "My art needs to be PERFECT."

So I would suggest always try to improve, gain confidence, but expect good/average output. Don't expect perfect art, ever. By doing this only causes you to be frustrated, which in turn causes mistakes, which pisses you off more, then you're stuck in a lame spiraling circle downward to the pathetic whiny artist. Which in turn kills your deadline. Giving yourself freedom from perfection makes drawing much easier and better art is produced and on time.

I'm currently working on this piece where it started out difficult, I had high expectations for it, I was in a bad mood, nothing was going right. Lines felt SO stiff and uncreative. I had to take a breather and remember to not make it SO important, to have fun with it, to lower my expectations. Now I'm working on it again and it's going better than I expected in the first place. I'm just having fun with things, letting confidence grow with each line. When mistakes do happen I quickly change them into something that works. I'm just enjoying my self more than I have in a while.

Basically, to sum up. Perfectionists are rarely happy since it's unattainable. So fuggin stop it.

Sorry this answer probably isn't what you were expecting. It's just been on my mind. Good luck with the comics submission!

This feel good message brought to you by… comics! Buy some today!

Ryan
  • Listening to: the sword
  • Reading: BPRD
  • Watching: chopped
  • Playing: temple run
  • Eating: Way too damned much!
  • Drinking: GALLONS a month
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:iconkabochan:
KabochaN Featured By Owner May 19, 2012
Thanks, Ryan. That's something I think most of us could do well to remember.
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:iconwingthe3rd:
Wingthe3rd Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2012
dude go all the way..."fuggin" is so '92.
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:iconryanottley:
RyanOttley Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2012  Professional Artist
Not in Utah! Fetch yes!
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:iconwingthe3rd:
Wingthe3rd Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2012
lol fetch
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:iconastromchang:
AstromChang Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2012   Digital Artist
you know what Ryan, your work is great, you have a considerable skill set in your back pocket, you seem to be able to score at will. But on your journey from what I can tell in your journal entry, you have concentrated and been angry and sought perfection through determination and grit and hard hard work.
Now you have reached a place where you are more relaxed. When we achieve a high level of skill it comes easier I geuss, but dont forget the journey, for some the journey is about being the best they can be so they can get work, like you. If being the best you can be means having high expectations then expect your skills to grow in accordance with the effort you put in to practice. I have seen a leap in my work by doing the opposite to what now works for you, I have been depressed I have been angry but I channeled it into looking at loomis, Hogarth, Bridgman, oooooooh now I see before I was just trying to figure it out without the training.

what everyone fails to get across is that comics has its roots in traditional fine art techniques, and you need a strong gut on your journey if your going to get even a little good at the thing loomis bridgman and hogarth are presenting, then to top it all off you have thousands of practioners in the game that are on the road to mastery in those techniques, yourself included Ryan, who get professional work and pay, n live n pay bills with their art, thats excellent.

But for the young upstart like me who has yet to maintain a pro foot hold in comics and largely because his skill set is not there yet, I advocate getting angry and fired up if you gonna do it. relaxing is what you do after a considerble amount of time and a large body of of work in pro comics, for those that seek to forever level up, then thats another story. There is a problem with the artist that lets his expectations and desires get the better of him, who thinks he is better than what he is, then realises he has a lot more work to do. There is the fear factor that freezes artists from producing because they think there not good enough, your right, but perfection is doin the very very best of what your capable of for that time, then move on and look back with a smile. Thats hard work.
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:iconarthammer:
Arthammer Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012
Excellent advice. Some artists forget the growth period will take time as well and they also forget to have fun and enjoy the journey.
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:icondavid-mason:
David-Mason Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012
Wow, thanks for the advice Ryan. This very concern has been on my mind. It's good hearing from a pro that perfectionism isn't healthy for artists. I'll be whipping up a submission myself and taking it to the Seattle Emerald-Con as soon as my school quarter ends. Keep of the great work Ryan. It's always a pleasure to see your stuff.
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:iconniggaz4life:
Niggaz4life Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I couldn't agree more. The problem with perfection is that it's not only unreachable, but undefinable, as everyone has different goals. I have a big problem with this, to the point of procrastination, and have realized last year I need to do something about it. I guess that's why I got interested in impressionism and my style shifted a bit in that direction.
I believe art, comic book art in particular, is about communication, so a perfectionist can be like a person who talks too much/uses unnecessarily complicated words just to stroke his own ego. Of course it's important to learn grammar/spelling/perspective/color theory to communicate better, but without knowing where to stop we become snobs.

Ironically, maybe that's what perfection is about, to find the optimal path between being sloppy and trying too hard. Or to "be like water". :D
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:iconsingularanomaly:
singularanomaly Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2012
This is excellent advice to remember in regards to everyday living as well.
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:iconkirbbrimstone:
KirbBrimstone Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2012
Awesome message. So true. You know the perfectionist the the least productive.
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:iconsors-the-luck-bot:
Sors-the-luck-bot Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've been having a problem with this for a while, to the point where it caused me to not even touch my sketchbook for a good two to three weeks... Of course I'm paying for it now... Feeling very rusty...
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:iconhisashisendoh87:
HisashiSendoh87 Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Cool answer.. I should remember about it before tearing up the sheet next time!
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:icongeorgecalloway:
GeorgeCalloway Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012
I tell people artists seek a perfection that doesn't exist. We want perfect but don't even know what that is. This is where the unfinished painting saying comes from (An artist never finishes a painting, he just walks away).
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:icontomscholes:
TomScholes Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
<3 amen
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:icongibsonquarter27:
GibsonQuarter27 Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012
Tweeted this out today Ryan. Good advice for artists. I've seen the 'perfectionartist' syndrome of which you speak affect other wicked talented people I know over the last few years. At some point you just have to let it go, and meet the deadline. Once you can do this , you are on the way. ;-)

As Ty Templeton says, you will ALWAYS see your own mistakes, but most folks will not. So, you have to realize that and let it go.
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:iconosadha-w:
osadha-w Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012   Traditional Artist
AGREE................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Reply
:icon-vassago-:
-vassago- Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012
So you are human....
Reply
:icon133art:
133art Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
Preach!
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:iconrockpopple:
rockpopple Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012
Great advice, Ryan. And I believe I will go buy some comics. Tomorrow being Wednesday and all.
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:icontreinor:
TREINOR Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012
Thanks a lot for this!
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:icontrinitymathews:
TrinityMathews Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Agreed
Reply
:iconmysticw01:
mysticw01 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Wow! That was a great answer, i fall into that rut a lot, just because i want the piece to be just right and spiral when i can't get it the way i want it or picture it in my mind.

Thanks!
Reply
:iconrosemcclain:
RoseMcClain Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
Brilliant, man. I lose sight of this so often. Can't hear it enough.

Thank you!
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:iconjasoncopland:
JasonCopland Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional Artist
Right on, man.
Reply
:iconlentendo:
Lentendo Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Wow. i am in this rut you've described! This is very helpful/inspirational! thanks for sharing, Brother!
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:iconvikthor:
VikThor Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Great read!

I'm actually considering to tattoo "KISS" ("Keep It Simple, Stupid", in case someone thinks I like facepaint and stepping on chicken) on my hand to remember it more often while working.
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:iconshaunoneil:
ShaunONeil Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional Filmographer
i disagree. respectfully. i think it's an easy mind set when you've reached a level of professionalism that allows you the luxury of letting your experience dictate your conscious effort. i'm willing to bet that perfectionist attitude provided the drive for you to get where you are today. but for anybody who doesn't have that luxury, 'lowering your expectations' leads to stagnant results. what you do might get comfortable, but there's little room for change and where's the fun in that? change is improvement, a result of problem solving, pushing through that frustration to get to higher ground. the goal is mastery, the idea that it's unattainable is irrelevant. watching each piece get better than it's predecessor is a measure of progress through which you know your headed in the right direction. take away that goal and your just swimming. and at that point, who gives a shit?
Reply
:iconryanottley:
RyanOttley Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional Artist
What your saying sounds like you think I said to lower your expectations to below average. I said expect good/average instead of perfect. I totally agree with always trying to get better, and never being completely satisfied with your work. For me expecting perfection is just miserable and I don't like living that way. Who does?
Reply
:iconsygnin:
sygnin Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I think Wya's point is not to 'not try'. But when you set yourself an unreasonable expectation and don't get the result you want, that is unnecessarily frustrating and can lead people to give up altogether.

There are a lot of people cheering others on by giving uplifting words of encouragement that suggest that perfection is attainable. However, few people even stop to consider what exactly perfection is. You will never be able to draw that awesome image in your head exactly as you see it, quite possibly because you are seeing it as painted by whoever your favorite painter at the time is. Being the best artist you can be is about understanding yourself, your limitations and what you can do to make something special. That perhaps is perfection; not being the person who makes the least technical errors in a piece of work.

I'm not saying don't practice to get better. But striving blindly for something unattainable (or ill defined) is bad for the soul and it can cut short your artistic journey.
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:iconstephenbjones:
StephenBJones Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional Filmographer
nice. thanks for this message.
Reply
:iconblindeyeinsight:
blindeyeinsight Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
This is incredibly good advice.
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:iconstephen-green:
Stephen-Green Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
From the depths of my heart, thank you.
Reply
:iconagamarlon:
agamarlon Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student
I don't need to listen this shit from you!!
Reply
:iconryanottley:
RyanOttley Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional Artist
Yes you DO!
Reply
:iconagamarlon:
agamarlon Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Student
Nah, I'm just kidding. I posted that comment to get your attention.

Although sometime I did it, I do feel I should stop my perfectionism. Meaning, I totally agree with you.


Btw, I'm a big fan. Your style influence my style in a really great way.
Reply
:iconryanottley:
RyanOttley Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Professional Artist
Thanks!
Reply
:iconagamarlon:
agamarlon Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012  Student
Hey, no. Thanks to you... I mean, for being aspiring comic artist friendly.
Reply
:iconthelittledeadgirl666:
thelittledeadgirl666 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student General Artist
I think that you have a perfect answer and it's one that more artists than anyone might think really need to hear and take to heart. That drive can be more of a hindrance than any art block or nasty art teacher, friend or parent. It's in your own head and can really get under your skin.

I have actually been stuck in this loop for the longest time. It became so bad that all I could see in my art was the bad and I almost stopped drawing. But I still pushed forward and tried to get better because I love it and want to be able to tell my stories and the stories of others. I honestly can't imagine doing anything else. I thought that it had stopped once I had been accepted into art school. I couldn't be as I thought if I had actually gotten in. But when I became sick and started not being able to move my hands and shoulders as well as I had before it was a major hit to my creativity and confidence. Suddenly not only seeming WORSE at drawing than you previously had been, but also worse than everyone around you and not improving at all with no real explanation (at the time) can do that. I still have my issues, and I am still sick, but I am really trying to work through it. I can't be perfect, with my art or my writing or even my health. But if I let that little voice inside my head that says "what's the point if it's not perfect" get to me and keep me from trying then I am going to end up no where.

So, I guess I really needed to hear it again. Perfect timing too. Thank you :w00t:
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:iconthecreatorhd:
thecreatorhd Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Amazing advice, dude. I needed that. Thanks!
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:iconlostgiant:
LostGiant Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Great advice.
Reply
:iconjosephlsilver:
JosephLSilver Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
If you're constantly frustrated, you're not enjoying what you're doing no matter what it is. And since comics are HEAVILY deadline driven it is so hard to accomplish that while being pissed at everything you do because it isn't perfect.

Great stuff Ryan, I definitely need to apply it more.
Reply
:iconjoefriday37:
JoeFriday37 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
This is very sound advice. I've just started to come to terms with the fact that I'll never be like my heroes, their standard is just way out there for me, but that doesn't mean I can't be good in my own right. I'm finally getting comfortable with my own style, after years of subconsciously emulating the artists who inspire me (on occasion, that's been you). I see myself drawing certain eyes, certain shading and certain proportions and then I tell myself off, because I'm not you, I'm not Mike Mignola, I'm not Adam Hughes, I'm none of these people, I'm me and I should draw like me.
I always had this romantic line I'd feed to a girl if she was being down on her looks, pointing out what she percieved as specific flaws, I'd say "You're human, so you have flaws. Flaws MAKE perfection." It's a cheap way to get into somebody's pants, but I guess it also applies to art.

Nobody is perfect, but we see a standard we love and we choose to aspire to that instead of just drawing, enjoying it and thinking "Yeah, that'll do." I'm doing my best to just work and stop wrapping myself in the fear of never being a great artist and then hopefully I'll make it regardless of my flaws.
Reply
:icondavidwfisher:
DavidWFisher Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Great post Ryan, something all people endeavouring to be artists must read! Kudos to you sir!
Reply
:iconsuperstinkwarrior:
SuperStinkWarrior Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Oh,man. That's been my problem for eons! Sometimes you have such high expectations for yourself, but we need to take the time and think about if what we're doing is productive or counter-productive.

Thanks for the advice.
Reply
:iconburn-our-dough:
burn-our-dough Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012
This blog post will be my new mantra. I will re-read this every time I get knots in my head.
Reply
:iconfiredblue:
Firedblue Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I get this a lot...
Thank you so much for posting this ;u;
Reply
:iconflyingsquiggle:
flyingsquiggle Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
dude, I started/stopped a few dozen graphic novel ideas, always abandoned on the altar of perfection, until i just woke up last August and said "JUST DO IT". my art isn't GREAT in the series, but i'm inking page 98 right now and it's a fair sight better than I thought it would be.

Just draw draw draw draw and let the quality start to happen on its own.
Reply
:iconchuckdoodles:
ChuckDoodles Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Preach it brotha! Still learning that lesson myself...
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:iconleseanthomas:
LeSeanThomas Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Professional Filmographer
Great stuff!
Reply
:iconrufftoon:
rufftoon Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012
Good words, good words. I have the bad tendency of being insecure about my work, so every time I reach for that perfect piece, of course Incrash and burn.
Definitely will look on improving, always, and hopefully have fun along the way.

It may not beat down the insecurities, but it may help make the road ahead less bumpy.
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