Ask the Art Prof: How Can a Visual Artist Regain Satisfaction with Their Artwork?

Final Crit

“Ever since I started studying graphic design, I feel like I exchanged a bit of creativity for professionalism. Nowadays, I feel unsatisfied with my work all the time.   I still love drawing but I used to feel a lot more satisfied when I was younger.  I feel like something seems to lack in my art now.  How can one regain lost satisfaction with their work?”

I know that the majority of the time, I don’t allow myself to indulge creatively. Usually I’m experimenting with some new method or subject.  I challenge myself to do something unfamiliar and uncomfortable because I know that it’s good for me to be doing new things.  I try hard not to sit around polishing my strengths because I want to target my weaknesses in order to build a well-rounded skill set.

I’m going to advise that you do the opposite of what I just described: give yourself the license to artistically indulge. Fully immerse yourself in your greatest strengths, working only with subjects that you feel very excited about. Pick an art medium that you are very experienced with, and can work with fluidly.  If it feels good, then do it. Don’t worry about improving, experimenting, what other people think, etc. just focus on what will bring that sense of satisfaction back. Keep this up for several months and I am confident that you will be enjoying yourself again in no time. I had a professor as an undergraduate student who used to say all the time “if you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.”

Another strategy that you can employ is to think back to all of the artistic experiences that you’ve had in your past.  Try to home in on the experiences that brought you the greatest satisfaction, and attempt to create those circumstances for yourself again.  For me, drawing from a live model has always automatically brought me satisfaction.  At all stages of my life, life drawing is one specific activity that brings me a sense of stability and freedom at the same time. Life drawing reminds me of being an art student, and with that I associate the wonderful excitement and rigor of the learning process. Any time I sit down to draw the figure I know that I am always guaranteed to enjoy myself.

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ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

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“Am I actually an artist?”
“How do you gain confidence in your artwork?”
“Do professional artists doubt their abilities?”

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