Passion & Compulsion


If there is anything that I am certain about in my life, I know that I’m passionate about being an artist. Deep down, that’s really the core of why I’m an artist despite all of the challenges of this chosen career. At the same time, lately I’ve been noticing that (at least for me) there seems to be a really fine line between passion and compulsion. I seem to fluctuate between the two in a way that can sometimes be confusing and frustrating. I want to be able to tell people that it’s all about passion, but actually it seems like passion is only a small percentage of why I work the way I do.


When I’m producing artwork, I can be free and loose, that’s never been a problem for me. When it comes to and creating our video courses, things couldn’t be more different. When I’m editing the video courses, I find myself shaving off 1 second here, another second there. I remove “So” from the beginning of a sentence because I’ve taken the time to question that word, and have concluded that it isn’t important in terms of the sentence making sense. It’s to the point that when I do a the last passes of editing through the video, I’m proud of myself for shaving 20 seconds off of a 40 minute video.

On  I get really hyper nit picky about every image that is posted. (if you’ve seen our site, you’ll know how image heavy the site is!) I’ve been known on many occasions to post a photo, thinking to myself that I can ignore that one dot in the upper right hand corner, that tiny sliver in the lower left, only to return within 10 minutes. I delete the old photo, go back into Photoshop, remove that dot, and upload the new image. In fact, I’m surprised when I don’t do this.


Part of me resents the minutiae I obsess over to get the website and our videos just right. I go through moments where I question whether any of these tweaks are even worth the time. Does anyone really care if a sentence has a redundant “so” at the beginning?!? I hope it does, but at the end of the day, I know that it matters to me, and my compulsive side can’t and won’t leave it alone.

I’ll take time out of my personal time to stay the extra 15 minutes at work to make sure that every single blotter in the intaglio shop has been hung up to dry.  Do I do these tasks because of passion or compulsion? They’re so tedious and seemingly trivial it seems like it has to be compulsion, but then I start thinking that my compulsion is a result of my passion.

It’s incredibly time consuming to take this approach to the website and editing process, and there are moments where it really drives me up the wall.  I’ve tried in the past to ignore that dot in the photo, but to no avail. I can’t help my remind myself that in my min, these tiny adjustments are the difference between being good and really good. is a free website for learning visual arts which features video tutorials, art critiques, and more.

9 thoughts on “Passion & Compulsion

  1. Passion and compulsion are two sides of the same coin. Attending to the details of the print studio, and editing video are work worth doing well. But when compulsion drives me to do the same thing in my work too many times, without questioning; then its a problem. Often I am not sure which side of that coin is up.

  2. Thank goodness for both passion and compulsion! And don’t criticise yourself for wanting to get everything absolutely right – it matters, it really does, and it SHOWS! For me too, there is no satisfaction in doing something and only getting it nearly right, or not quite finished. It would mean I didn’t care – and everything you do just shines with the care that you put into it. Believe me, it’s true!

      1. By the way I recall you writing recently about where artprof fits, in the world of art education, and a other reader mentioned Sketchbook Skool. If you haven’t seen it this discussion just might be of interest –

  3. I understand what you mean about passion vs compulsion. It’s frustrating on multiple levels when I am torn between a project, whether linux based, or a drawing, and say homework. And being a student for many years I kept choosing homework. The other frustration is that it’s not one or two passions, it’s those but also the flavor of the week new shiny that my hyperfocus latches onto. Hopefully this keeps me from being boring though!

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