Okay, so here’s the thing, and this may come as a shock but: You do not have to hate what you make. You don’t even have to be modest. You don’t have to ask for pennies when you’re making gold.
I know, it’s hard. I’ve had my times where I started drawing and I couldn’t make a goddamn line come out right. I’ve stared at the flashing type line on my computer countless times, unable to figure out what comes next or how in the world to get this out right. I’ve gone back and looked at things I thought were great, only to find they were far from it.
But the thing is, in general, I don’t hate what I make. I love most of it. People come up to me and they feel a desperate need to tell me how good I am at writing or drawing, and don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but it’s also like they expect me not to think it. It’s nothing on them—it’s this idea drilled in that you can’t love what you do, that you always have to be struggling and striving and hating yourself, and you’re a dick if you say otherwise.
That, my friends, is How to Keep Others Down 101.
Look, nothing is ever going to be perfect. I should know—I’m often a perfectionist. I know everything wrong with what I make, but I also know everything right. That is what you focus on, and you take the wrong, you learn from it, and you do better next time. But that does not mean the first time sucked.
I’m tired of people thinking that they’re not talented, that their art isn’t good enough, no matter what everyone else says—even in spite of what everyone else says. That’s the desperation I hear in people’s voices: It’s from all the artists who just wouldn’t listen. I’ve been on the giving side. I’ve seen it, and man, it’s brutal when you know someone’s got talent and they just can’t, or won’t, accept it.
Maybe the fear lies in this: If you like it and no on else does, then there’s something innately wrong with you, right down to your tastes. So, if you don’t like it and others don’t, then you were right all along. But who the hell wants to be right about that?
We’re making art. Not everyone is going to like it, and you know what? That’s fuckin’ fine. No one has to, as long as you do. You are your first viewer, first critic, first audience member. If you were in that position with someone else, how would you be? Nice, probably. Your criticism would be constructive, supportive—you’d find the good things first and you’d point them all out.
So, why don’t you do that with your own work? Do it. Even if others don’t like it, you will, and once you decide enough times that you’re good or that thing you did was good or that part or whatever it is, you will build armor from that point on, and if other people don’t like it, you won’t give a fuck. You’ll know it’s good, and nobody is going to tear you down.
And guess what? That’s not cockiness. It’s power. You can’t expect everyone to support you, not in this bullshit internet world where everyone has an opinion they know nothing about. Trust me, you know better than they do.
Go make art, go love the art you make, thank the ones who think so too, and fuck the rest. You didn’t make it for them, anyway.