Some people are born with natural talent. Most of us, however, have to work hard to earn our stripes in whatever it is that we are most passionate about. Obviously my greatest fields of interest are art and writing, and every now and then, you’ll meet people who frown upon the likes of fanart or fanfiction. There are people who see these kinds of works as “stealing” and being “unoriginal”. Yet, in spite of this, some creatives do really well for themselves in creating fan-based works. Not only that, for some of us, creating these fan-based works is how we get started. It’s how we learn.
There seems to be this false idea that if you’re passionate about something, you’re going to be naturally amazing at it. When in reality, it takes a lot of research, learning, studying, and practice! Having such high expectations of others (and ourselves), is damaging.
Sometimes I just stick pictures that mean something to me (or inspire me) and write random things relevant to my thoughts at the time. For me, art is as much about documenting my thoughts and state of mind as it is documenting my creative processes.
Probably not helping the process at all, is the fact that so often we jump online or go to galleries and see amazing works of art, or we purchase a book and read it, and we forget that this is the final product. It’s so polished because the artist or writer spent forever slaving away over their masterpiece. They would have made mistakes. Sometimes, they would have had to start again from scratch. Books get worked over and nit-picked and criticized by editors. All so that at the end of the day we can have that perfect product that we want to invest in and enjoy.
There is beauty in the messy process of developing and creating too though, and it’s the behind the scenes work that we don’t see.
Don’t put so much pressure on yourself just because you’re not amazing the first time you sit down to try something.
It may even be years before you see any improvement whatsoever. If you’re passionate about it though – don’t give up. Haters are gonna hate, but if you don’t give yourself the time you need to develop, the likers are never going to get the chance to like.
Obviously this isn’t just applicable to writing and art – those are just my passions, and what I can speak for. It really doesn’t matter what it is that you’re passionate about – teaching, acting, music, design, construction, farming, accounting, food – all of those things have an important place in our society, and we need people to step up and fulfill those roles. So ignore the haters, embrace your mistakes, share your processes, encourage others, and grow.
I’ll start this.
Mikey Way (My Chemical Romance) fanart I did a while ago now. “My weapon of choice is art”.
My mum told me recently, that when I was a child they were a bit concerned about me. It was difficult getting me to interact with others, and it wasn’t for a lack of skill or a dislike for my peers – or even because I was unlikable – but because all I ever wanted to do was paint and do puzzles. Occasionally I also liked to venture to the swing, sandpit, or play around with the dress ups too. Mostly though, I was within my own head and busy creating and problem solving.
When I was in high school, I realised that my art skills were zero. Which sucked a lot because I loved art so much (I have a great natural aptitude for music though, it turns out, and when it came to creative writing units in English classes, I aced those too. Oh, and I have a math/science brain. Go figure.) I wanted to improve my art skills, but I felt like every step I took was met with a barrier and so soon enough I gave up.
One day, a friend of mine (who I affectionately called Lulu), brought along a video (yes, as in a VHS. Yes, I am old enough to have been still using those in my teens.) of a show that she’d recorded for me. I was never allowed to watch television before school, so I never got those glorious kids cartoons my friends grew up with. Anyway, when I got home, I put this video on and watched every episode she’d recorded to the tape so far, of Card Captor Sakura (dubbed, unfortunately. Fret not, anime fanatics – I now own it subbed and have watched it a million times since).
It didn’t take long before I started searching the internet for pictures from Cardcaptor Sakura, and it was through that, that I discovered the wonderful world of fanart and fanfiction.
From there, I began trying to draw Card Captor Sakura fanart. Initially, I started by purely copying the images I was looking at – learning how to structure my drawings by using the originals as reference. Eventually though, after lots and lots of practice, I began to deviate from that and create my own images of Sakura and her friends. From there I then branched into drawing the Harry Potter characters I loved, in that same style. Before eventually, I was creating my own original works, and my drawing style developed (though to this day, if you look closely (maybe not even closely), you can usually still see clear Card Captor Sakura influences in my art).
It was during this time too, that I began writing and sharing fanfiction from multiple fandoms. In the background I was still writing my own works, but I cannot express how much more confidence writing fanfiction gave me with my original works.
So there you have it. I began by copying and “stealing” other peoples artworks.
I’ve also been through some circumstances over the last few years, which have seen me stop creating. Both in terms of art and writing. So I’ve become very rusty and out of practice and I have taken massive steps backwards. You know what though? I’m going to stop being scared, and I’m going to stop being ashamed. It’s not healthy for me, or for other aspiring creatives.
From now on, I’m going to be more forthcoming on my creative processes. I’ll share visuals of my art progress. Discuss mistakes, and share things that I’ve learned along the way. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and that it will encourage you.
Art is messy. What are your thoughts on the images of perfection that we’re surrounded by today? How do you feel about sharing your mistakes, and hearing about the short-comings of others and what they learned and how they grew from those points?
For those of you interested in finding out a little more about the anime that encouraged me to once again try with my art, here is the first episode (subbed):