I don’t think you know how sick I am of artwork. I am so sick of it. It’s actually at the point where I want to quit drawing. It does nothing for me, except bring up blazing fireballs of anger up from the pits of my stomach, into my solar plexus, and pulsates frustration throughout my entire body.
I’m sure some people who read this will look at me confused, asking “Kelly, I thought you liked doing artwork?”. And you would be right – I liked doing artwork. I don’t now. My unthinking love for it has dwindled down into almost nothing.
What has brought about this? Why would something I loved to do so much suddenly become something I hate?
Well, for one thing, I never actually loved artwork. There’s always been some frustration with it. However, it was something I did without thinking much about the audience I was going for or if the hands looked right. It was pretty second nature for me to do, much like eating or sleeping.
The other thing, the culprit behind my increasing tiredness towards artwork, would be the unfortunate flood of it I have and had.
I think 2009, particularly the end of 2009, cursed me or something. I thought it would be super fun to draw my friends Christmas gifts, as well as some more generic ones for all my wonderful deviantART watchers. Some of my friends had done that in the past, so I thought, hey, why not give it a try.
I shouldn’t have.
I ended up spending a good portion of 2010 drawing artwork for other people, primarily gifts for their birthdays and Christmas. Then my commissions exploded in 2011 (despite being up since 2010) and I ended up working on those all year long, much to my dismay. I was determined to make 2012 MY year that I did my artwork, but that back fired on me and was, once again, overtaken by commissions.
[Please visualize me suddenly collapsing onto my desk.]
I attempted to fix my lack of artwork-for-myself by starting what I called my “roulette project”, in which I queued up a ton of artwork and posted it slowly on a schedule. It was ideally to keep my deviantART busy and not have so many commission images. The idea was born in 2011.
It took me until this year to finish all the images.
There was around 60 images at the start of the roulette project, which ended up having about 80 total. The roulette project (also known as my “back catalog”) included not only artwork for myself, but a few art trades as well. Most of it though was artwork for me. I wish I hadn’t thought that this would have solved my little unfulfillment issue I was having with my artwork, since it didn’t. Artwork still didn’t satisfy me.
Then I started on my website artwork, which, by the way, still isn’t done. I think there was about 50 something images total? There’s about 20 left or so, but still. That’s approximately 50 images (for the website), on top of 80 (roulette project). Within a year, I have done over 100 images!
I know for some people, that’s nothing, but for me, that’s a lot! WAY too much! No wonder I’m exhausted. On top of my “one person assembly” line thing I do that should really only be reserved for commissions and with a limit of 5 images at a time.
Not to mention, I still have an additional 30 images or so to complete for my new back catalog.
AAAAAAAAARGH TOO MUCH ARTWORK.
I’m sure some people will tell me to take a break off artwork.
I want to.
I really, really want to.
But I can’t.
Not right now, at least.
Currently, my artwork to-do list consists of completing my website images (which only has 20 or so left) and completing the new back catalog (30 or so images). My website cannot be worked on or completed until these pieces are done, particularly because every time I try to work on the website without them completed I have a little voice shouting in my head “HEY, HEY, YOU STILL HAVE ARTWORK TO DO” and eventually throws a tantrum until I stop. The back catalog could technically be put on hold, but I really don’t like the idea of having another one take 3 years.
My website artwork, at the least, has to be completed. There’s no exceptions: it has to get done.
The back catalog number 2, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily have to get completed right away and I could take my time on it. I just don’t want it to end up like the last one and take me 3 years to finish it.
I do focus on the website one primarily, but do you know what? I get bored. It’s not like I’m even working on the artwork I drew to reflect myself for the website – I’m working commission examples. Commissions examples that are kind of nice, but at the same time make me want to tear my skin off.
Okay, getting bored isn’t an excuse. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that when I get bored of working on one focus group of artwork (i.e. my website), I go to another focus group of artwork instead (i.e. my back catalog number 2). Eventually when I get bored of the other focus group though, that’s usually when I start to procrastinate, which leads to more frustration, yadayada.
So let’s say I complete all my website artwork and I managed to get my back catalog finished in a timely manner. I can take a break after that, right?
Let’s not forget commissions now, shall we? Those darned images that people pay me to draw for them. They’re reopening regardless if I want them to or not. I have too many people waiting and I didn’t just spend half a year working on new examples just to have them not reopen.
Honestly, I don’t really even want to reopen commissions, but I want that second paycheck. I’m sure some of you think I should just go and get a second job, but I honestly would rather have commissions as my second job than anything else right now. I actually feel like I earned that money. And it requires me to use my brain. Being a cashier generally doesn’t. I like thinking, thank you very much.
I’m currently thinking of keeping commissions open throughout all of 2014, then closing them in 2015 for the first 6 months. For those first 6 months, I would be on a SUPER heavy artwork ban: no drawing, no doodling, no painting. I can read up on artwork & techniques all I want and browse through them, but I can’t actually do any of them.
I guess the long wait is to, ideally, give me enough time to finish what I need to complete. Then those 6 months of 2015 would hopefully be to “reset” me. I hope.
Actually, with my luck, I’ll get caught up drawing some Kelly’s Journey comics that need to be out during mid-2015 and be stuck drawing artwork again for the entire year. Argh.
I suppose the other thing making me hate artwork is the amount of pressure. Yes, a large amount of pressure in terms of the number of pictures I want to complete is entirely my fault. Yes, having commissions adds to my pressure because other people are relying on me. However, there are other pressures that come with artwork for me.
Audience – I’ve become largely aware of my audience, or rather, my watchers on deviantART. I’ve known for the longest time a majourity of them are Pokémon fans, so any related fan art would instantly be a hit. I know too that my watchers seem to be generally receptive to my Pokémon fan characters, as well as some of my original story characters. The desire to keep my watchers and have them stick around is important to me at this point because if I start branching off into selling my artwork or writing novels or something, I’m going to need an audience and I can’t think of a better place to push my works than there.
That being said, I have started to become a bit more conscious of what I post on there. How much of my story does this spoil? Do I want to really reveal this character now? Will this chase away potential readership? What kind of impression of myself does this give off? Does this portray my own characters accurately? I’m no longer trying to post as much artwork on deviantART as possible, but rather ones that I think would appeal to my watchers the most and attract the most curious viewers.
I actually want to go through my gallery and clear it out due to this.
I did start one of these conscious posting things more recently. For a while, I was posting my OnlyinaDreamshipping (the pairing for Pokémon‘s Ash Ketchum and my fan character, Kelly) artwork up on deviantART. When I first started posting this in 2004, it was probably fine – I barely had an audience and my audience was primarily my friends, who were mostly shippers of the pairing as well for some reason. As time went on, with a growing audience, and hearing horror stories of people getting flamed/bashed for fan character with official character pairings, I grew uncomfortable with posting on there, despite that people mostly didn’t seem to mind or enjoyed the images. I had a feeling posting them on deviantART would give the wrong impression about myself, Kelly, and Kelly’s Journey. Since I want more people to read Kelly’s Journey, I have pretty much removed all the pairing images, so they don’t think the story is about Ash and Kelly becoming a couple because if you read it while expecting that, you will be utterly disappointed.
Actually, part of the reason why I wanted to open up my website was to relocate some of these less-audience-friendly images so I can share them with those who are interested and allow those who aren’t to avoid them.
Perfectionism – I know the older I get, the more responsibilities I must take on. However, why must I do so too with artwork? It used to be so much fun, something I did without much thinking past what kind of pose I was going to draw and the outfit my character was going to wear. Now it’s me asking myself if the hands look alright, is the face skewed, is the body too small?
Okay, some of this perfectionism is entirely brought upon myself. I can be perfectionist sometimes and aim to do the best I can with my current skill level. Of course, even doing my best isn’t good enough. Backgrounds are my worst offender in this case. I’m also frustrated by my current lack of fun poses and angles in my drawings.
However, some of them are voices of others in my head with all their suggestions in my head.
“Why don’t you change the thickness of the lines?” (I do, just not drastically like yours.)
“Her hands are too big.” (Like, no waaaaay, I like, so totally did not notice that. /not)
“You only draw a line for the nose.” (GEE WHIZ, I OH SO TOTALLY DIDN’T KNOW THAT. /not)
“The anatomy is bad.” (Thank you, Sherlock, for noticing that. I totally didn’t know. /sarcasm)
There’s countless others as well, but those are just some that pop up in my head frequently. I mean, yeah, they’re all valid criticisms. There’s the part of me who completely ignores them to try and make drawing more enjoyable (which is does for a while), while another part listens and whispers them in my ear to spread fear through my body that somebody else is going to bring up these rather redundant comments.
I’m well aware the anatomy isn’t perfect on my artwork. It shouldn’t be. Not right now. I still have a long way to go. I’m aiming to make it better, trust me, I am. I’m taking the long road though. I’m sure some people are going to suggest that I practice realism, which is exactly what I’m doing (I must admit though, I’m currently focusing on arms/hands – there’s a reason those have improved greatly).
The “line for the nose” thing makes me laugh every time the criticism is brought up. I actually really like the line for the nose – it simple outlines the bridge, rather than the entire shape. I think it compliments the feminine look of my drawings. I think the other criticism that went along with it once before – that the shading was too large on the nose – was much more helpful. So thank you, person, for that. I’m not changing the line nose though unless I’m drawing realism or my style develops into something where a different nose style is necessary.
The big hands thing make me pound my head and make me more conscious of my drawings, which is partially better, but partially worse. Actually, I’m always conscious of my drawings. I’m just more conscious now of the potential criticisms they may bring and the fact I want them to keep their mouth shut. I don’t think people realize that when there are mistakes on pictures of mine, I’m generally aware with them and only fix them if I want to. If I don’t (which is usually because the focus is on something else, like colouring practice, and not the overall image or else I just don’t care), I won’t. Of course, now I do so people shush, which has, overall, made drawing far less enjoyable for me.
The thickness of the lines thing kind of makes me want to bash my head against the desk. I’ll be honest – I’m not really into drastic line thickness change. I think the appearance, especially if done digitally, is far too wiry for my taste and just looks bad. I mean, if you can pull it off, good for you. If not, then don’t. That being said, my lines do have SOME variation in thickness. It’s usually very subtle though, so I can understand it being hard to miss. Sometimes this comment still haunts my mind, but I tell it to shush because if I ever DO want to vary my lines, I will.
I must say, I wish I could return to my old feelings of artwork. I wish I could feel the liberation of flying through sketchbook pages, drawing some of the most utterly ridiculous, yet utterly awesome ideas for myself. I want to start colouring pictures occasionally and posting them up on deviantART right away. I want to return to a time where doing artwork was more easy going and I didn’t feel like I had to push myself over the edge just to make people shut up and to complete some big projects I probably should have rethought.
I hope one day I can return to those old feelings. I don’t want to give up on artwork. I just want it to be fun again.