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Knowing When To Quit As An Artist

As I keep reading art-related blogs, it is fun to put recent blog posts next to each other to see themes emerge.

One such theme I noticed was on whether to quit or to continue. It is a subject that is on the minds of art bloggers! Here are a few of them. And, fair enough, who doesn't, occasionally, think about quitting?

Here is a great blog post, as always, by Sebastian Hetman on how to finish or know when to move on. Wise words!

Learn How to Finish and When to Move On

I'll add that I am good at finishing prototypes but usually get bored after that. But each refinement can be a prototype. That works for me.

The above blog post dovetails nicely with the concept of “Idea Debt,” as Jessica Abel presents it, which she, apparently, got from Kazu Kibuishi. It is not a recent blog, but still of interest.

Idea Debt: You probably have it (and how to 'cure' it)

Even if you sunk so much time and resources into a project, is it still something you want to do and finish to completion? If not, cut your losses and move to projects you do want to do. Life is too short.

Austin Kleon has something to say about the subject, singing the praise of morning pages - I do them too, and they are awesome, something you should never stop doing. It also hints at the current events and how to out-last these.

Spend time on something that will outlast them

A post on whether to skip this year's art fairs: this choice must be a tough call for galleries! I'm just glad I am not in their business.

Opinion: With Light at the End of the Tunnel, Art Fairs Are a Risk Not Worth Taking Before Vaccinations Are Widespread

On Seth's blog, he discusses big ideas that make a difference and how they take time to develop - another note on knowing when to stop.

Your big idea

Here are some pleasant thoughts from Austin Kleon - and a suggestion for a book “Range” by David Epstein, which I should read also. It offers a compelling argument that if you become good at one form of art, you can become good at another art form more easily. So if you think of quitting, consider that you can easily pick up something else. Changing is not stopping. Jean Giraud made the Blueberry comics but wanted to go a different route when he created his pseudonym Moebius. Then, later in life, when he retired, he turned from drawing in a “realistic” way into a more cartoon style - see his latest, “Inside Moebius.”

I find this particularly reassuring, as I frequently find myself trying new things. I like the idea of learning a skill helping me become better at learning other skills.

David Epstein's Range

Here is a blog post from the Urban Sketchers on not stopping. They are about going outside and drawing from life, which can be problematic in these times of lock-downs, so they continue to sketch inside.

Sketching the Small Stuff

Here is a blog post stating the cliche that “Done is better than perfect.”

The Comics Studio 03: Done is Better than Perfect

I don't agree with that, in that I feel that each thing you make should be a prototype for the next thing you try. Yes, it is done. You finished that prototype. That means you should continue to make the next prototype. You are striving for perfection, one prototype after the next. Otherwise, what would be the point of it all! To make mediocre stuff?

Austin Kleon has another interesting post, on cleaning up when you feel stuck.

Silence and street sweeping

It is useful to clean up your work environment also, so you have a better workspace. I have cleaned up my workspace considerably recently. I now have a drawing table in a space that has no internet. All I can do there is draw. I hung a camera over my drawing table so that I can easily make Youtube videos of me drawing. I spent a lot of time cleaning up my spaces last week and now I am back in full speed, writing and drawing every day, in spaces optimized for those activities.

Kurt Vonnegut owned a Saab car dealership.

Your grandfather might have bought a Saab from Kurt Vonnegut.

This did not stop him from writing.

In case it wasn't clear, and let me be more on-the-nose than some of the above blog posts: I think you should never quit as an artist. Do take time away to re-charge and experience life. Try different art forms. Keep trying things. Keep a diary. Write Morning Pages. Keep a Commonplace book. Keep a private sketchbook in which you can try things. Make collages. Write poetry. Read. Program. Look at beautiful things.

Don't quit! Why would you cut a creative outlet out of your life?

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