I only learned about it yesterday that a young artist just recently committed suicide over what seemed to be about her art. I don’t know all the details, nor did I know her in person, but what her boyfriend wrote on her Facebook page prompted me to write about the issue. I can’t say, if her art was the main reason for her to come to the conclusion to end her own life, but it seemed to be one of the things she thought about a lot. Out of consideration I am not going to tell names, or how old she was, because it doesn’t matter. A life was lost.
She loved to draw and constantly did strive to improve, which we all can relate to. She seemed eager to participate in conventions, having her own stall, and to participate in the online art community, and that’s where I want to add a few things.
Just to be clear, I am not saying the following was the exact reason for her decision, but rather a piece, which could have come into play. Many little things are accumulating before the limit is reached and there’s always that last ‘little’ thing too much…
The art community, especially the online one, can be a blessing and a curse, but overall it can put an enormous amount of pressure onto people. I don’t think I need to elaborate on the whole popular and unpopular kids issue, though it does tie in somewhere along the lines. It is all too natural wanting to improve your art, wanting to reach as many people as possible with it. Now where lies that evil? I can only guess, but I think it starts with thoughts similar to ‘how can I achieve a greater audience?’ This can be the moment where it is easiest to let yourself go and to move towards an artistic choice, which could guarantee a greater success, but for what price?
I only have myself as a comparison and I am never satisfied with my art. I know there are tons and tons of things I need and want to improve on. I put pressure on myself to achieve this. In healthy doses it is the catalyst to make yourself go forward and improve in the process. Yet, it all can turn sour and these mechanics can accumulate to too much pressure.
Thoughts as: Am I good enough? I did improve, but why don’t they still pay attention to me? Will I be more popular, if I draw in a different style to my own? Why is someone else more popular than me, even though I am on a similar level? This list can go on for a long time, and I am sure one of these questions haunts us once in a while. It is easy to convert your style into something for others, because it is more ‘in vogue’ right now… but at some point it might not just be you anymore. It may look great, you might wonder ‘did I really draw this?’, but somewhere it feels alien. That’s the point where you should shout ‘stop’ and think about what you are doing. It is all to easy to go this way and it is harder to stay true to yourself, but in the long run it will benefit you. You are what is important, not what others think. You have to live with yourself and should feel comfortable with what you do. People, who’ll find your art great will come and go, you are the entity that will stay.
It is a long and hard learning curve to be confident in what you do, and there will always be that nagging feeling in the back, but if you enjoy doing what you are doing, these nagging feelings won’t be as painful. You might still have these thoughts of being inadequate, yet they won’t pull you in a black hole where you are unable to think and act. It is hard work, no doubt about that, yet worthwhile. Not for others, for you.