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Taking up art again / sunk costs

Frosty the Snow PlowFrosty the Snow Plow Registered User regular
edited August 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
I imagine my relationship with art is not uncommon: I spent my years in primary and secondary school endlessly sketching away in notebooks, taking some art classes that felt rewarding, incorporated it as part of my identity even, perhaps even fancied a career in art - but once I left school and enter the self-directed real world where hours spent alone with just me and a notebook was replaced with computers and ever-present internet access, I lost the thread.

I've thought about it occasionally, and it often triggered doubt about what that says about how much I really care about illustrating, or that I plateaued or never had a real knack for it, and various other emotionally-charged insecurities/responsibility-absolving excuses. Ultimately, the more rational part of me suspects the key ingredient in that series of events is being young with a lack of self-discipline, thrust into a wider world of competing stimuli where sitting still in front of a piece of paper couldn't compete with my untested impulse control. Similarly, I'm confident that what makes an accomplished artist good is the time they invest, that natural talent - as an idea - is at best a vague, hard to define thing and at worst a coincidental set of initial advantages that pale in comparison to the thousands of hours spent practicing your craft required to become worthwhile at all.

The short version being: I am aware that being good at your art is about constant practice.

Five years since graduating, I no longer need to make a career out of it, nor have my entire sense of self-worth riding on the identity of "being an artist" or anything silly like that. I have the luxury of just developing it and seeing where it goes. However I have to admit, a weird part of it is just a cold desire to follow through with a skill I've already invested so much time in. That is the definition of a sunk cost fallacy. Devil's advocate would be to note that it never bothered me before that all that time invested was going to waste, but that I happen to be noticing an opportunity that lines up with where I'm at in my life. That can go in circles for hours and I'd be no better a judge of my intent for it.

I'd love to talk to someone who has gone through that arc of picking up art years later - or didn't. It's a little odd since I hold the opinion that compulsively researching and seeking out advice is often just spinning the wheels, so I don't entirely know what advice I'm asking for. I just know the story of not keeping up with art after entering the wider world is a common one, I'd just like to hear from others, whether they managed to pick up the thread years later or made peace with it.

Frosty the Snow Plow on

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    WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    If its not going to be your career, I'm not sure what the issue is.

    Draw if you want to, and if you don't, don't.

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    Frosty the Snow PlowFrosty the Snow Plow Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Doing what I want to usually leads to nothing getting done. All this deliberation could be over-thought, but just sitting down and drawing now requires enough disconnecting and distancing myself from distractions that it's worth asking why I want to do it.

    Frosty the Snow Plow on
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    tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    It just seems like you're spending a lot of words to tell us you used to draw and you stopped and now you're not sure how to start again. Why not try starting here. Post some stuff in the artists corner. Talking about it won't get you anywhere. If you quit again you haven't lost anything.

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    Frosty the Snow PlowFrosty the Snow Plow Registered User regular
    Can't disagree with that. :? You're right.

    I'd still be interested in someone talking about their experience with it if anyone's willing to offer, but maybe that's the same part of the brain that tells you to look up the raddest exercise equipment instead of just going and lifting the weights.

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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    I would bet you that at least 80%, if not closer to 100%, of the people on this forum fancy themselves some sort of "artist." Poets, painters, sketch-artists or musicians, most people, in fact, feel the urge to get creative.

    If you aren't drawing, you aren't an artist. If you want to draw, draw. If you don't, don't. Don't make it into an existential crisis. You'll probably never be very good. Does that bother you? If so, maybe you aren't drawn to it for the right reasons anyway.

    What is this I don't even.
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    Frosty the Snow PlowFrosty the Snow Plow Registered User regular
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    I would bet you that at least 80%, if not closer to 100%, of the people on this forum fancy themselves some sort of "artist." Poets, painters, sketch-artists or musicians, most people, in fact, feel the urge to get creative.

    If you aren't drawing, you aren't an artist. If you want to draw, draw. If you don't, don't. Don't make it into an existential crisis. You'll probably never be very good. Does that bother you? If so, maybe you aren't drawn to it for the right reasons anyway.

    That's why I assume it's a common story. I appreciate and support that kind of thinking, but you're preaching to the choir. And I don't know what the right reasons are, partly responsible for the tiresome vaguely existential tone. I enjoy getting better at things, and I can see very clear and achievable steps I can take to become better, but that isn't specific to drawing at all.

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    WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    Agreed with Tynic. I think the reason a lot of people stop doing art is because they don't have a support/critique network of other artists.

    Feeling part of a community of artists is a great way to stay motivated... if thats what you decide you want to do.

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    AvrahamAvraham Registered User regular
    It’s not a sunk cost fallacy because the learning process is valuable in itself. It's like studying a foreign language or playing an instrument.
    The time and effort you invest don't vanish but pay off the more you work at it.

    :bz: :bz: :bzz:
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    KhavallKhavall British ColumbiaRegistered User regular
    I've realized that I will never be a professional guitarist.

    I'm a professional pianist, and I've been a professional bassist. I will never be a professional guitarist. I have invested years of work and practice; serious, professional practice, into guitar. I will never be a professional guitarist.

    Meanwhile, I really like guitar. I like playing it. I like hearing it. I like the way it works musically. So sure, I've sunk some money into it, and sunk a bunch of time into it, but right now, and probably for a long time, it'll just be a hobby. That will never keep me from enjoying playing it and working on it.

    This is me as a professional musician having an amateur hobby as an amateur musician. If you like to draw, draw. Have fun with it. Shit, spend some money and time and training on it. We all play videogames here, we all spend money and time on them. If you like art, do it. If you're not that great, then no one will really care. If you don't have the materials, then buy what you want and do it. If you don't feel it's worth it, don't.

    Anyways... if art is your hobby that you want to do, go do it and there's nothing wrong with not being awesome at it.

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    Frosty the Snow PlowFrosty the Snow Plow Registered User regular
    Khavall wrote: »
    I've realized that I will never be a professional guitarist.

    I'm a professional pianist, and I've been a professional bassist. I will never be a professional guitarist. I have invested years of work and practice; serious, professional practice, into guitar. I will never be a professional guitarist.

    Meanwhile, I really like guitar. I like playing it. I like hearing it. I like the way it works musically. So sure, I've sunk some money into it, and sunk a bunch of time into it, but right now, and probably for a long time, it'll just be a hobby. That will never keep me from enjoying playing it and working on it.

    This is me as a professional musician having an amateur hobby as an amateur musician. If you like to draw, draw. Have fun with it. Shit, spend some money and time and training on it. We all play videogames here, we all spend money and time on them. If you like art, do it. If you're not that great, then no one will really care. If you don't have the materials, then buy what you want and do it. If you don't feel it's worth it, don't.

    Anyways... if art is your hobby that you want to do, go do it and there's nothing wrong with not being awesome at it.

    You're not bad with words either. :^:

    I don't regret still asking for someone's personal account now, that's exactly what I needed to hear. I suppose I just fear that enjoying the process and the craft somehow wouldn't overcome some imagined future regret, but you're exactly right. I have no regret for the way I spend time and resources on pure entertainment, even video games that require some significant investment and some level of skill that has no use outside of itself (*cough* Dwarf Fortress~). I like art, I like how improving with drawing enhances my appreciation for other graphic arts out there. Your relationship with the guitar is all I'd hope for with a tablet.

    Thanks. :)

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    tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Hooray! Now go post some art in the AC :P

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    tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Oh good god, that smiley.

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    EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    Khavall wrote: »
    I've realized that I will never be a professional guitarist.

    I'm a professional pianist, and I've been a professional bassist. I will never be a professional guitarist. I have invested years of work and practice; serious, professional practice, into guitar. I will never be a professional guitarist.

    Meanwhile, I really like guitar. I like playing it. I like hearing it. I like the way it works musically. So sure, I've sunk some money into it, and sunk a bunch of time into it, but right now, and probably for a long time, it'll just be a hobby. That will never keep me from enjoying playing it and working on it.

    This is me as a professional musician having an amateur hobby as an amateur musician. If you like to draw, draw. Have fun with it. Shit, spend some money and time and training on it. We all play videogames here, we all spend money and time on them. If you like art, do it. If you're not that great, then no one will really care. If you don't have the materials, then buy what you want and do it. If you don't feel it's worth it, don't.

    Anyways... if art is your hobby that you want to do, go do it and there's nothing wrong with not being awesome at it.

    You're not bad with words either. :^:

    I don't regret still asking for someone's personal account now, that's exactly what I needed to hear. I suppose I just fear that enjoying the process and the craft somehow wouldn't overcome some imagined future regret, but you're exactly right. I have no regret for the way I spend time and resources on pure entertainment, even video games that require some significant investment and some level of skill that has no use outside of itself (*cough* Dwarf Fortress~). I like art, I like how improving with drawing enhances my appreciation for other graphic arts out there. Your relationship with the guitar is all I'd hope for with a tablet.

    Thanks. :)

    The difficult part for any creative work compared to pure entertainment, and something you should definitely keep in mind, is that it's work. It's not easy being mediocre at something, and it's even harder if you suck. I love music, the idea of making music, and have some interesting ideas. But I never did anything musical growing up, and learning it as an adult is HARD. It requires a lot of effort and time, and I know every day after practicing that the teachers I've had are younger than I and significantly better than I.

    It's hard to stick with something when you know you're just trying to improve because objectively it's easy to look at your work and say "I suck." You just have to keep making it and keep working on improving it. You DO actually need to objectively look at your work and say "I suck, but I can work on it and improve," and then do just that. Focus on the parts you feel are the worst. If the hard part for you is getting started, then focus on getting started, NOT on the subject. Draw anything, even "dumb" shit like rocks or still lifes. Don't be afraid to go to a group drawing event to get some people's ideas and criticisms.

    The vast majority of people will not criticize you for being an amateur, and will only help. Some will be more helpful than others.

    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
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    NibCromNibCrom Registered User regular
    Is the problem that you want to do art, but you're not doing any art? Then you feel guilty about it?

    The solution is to have a goal. Something specific and written. Not sure what kind of are you're into, but it could be something like, "Make 1 painting a week." Or "Paint from 9am - 5pm on Saturdays with a one hour lunch break." Start a thread in the AC with a specific goal and some art posted. Then we'll admonish you when you don't get things done.

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    MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    Try taking a drawing class somewhere if you're having trouble finding the motivation to do some art. Sometimes that obligation helps you find the time.

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    FANTOMASFANTOMAS Flan ArgentavisRegistered User regular
    Pick up a drawing tablet, join a community (PA:AC is very good), maybe find other friends with similar interests, pick up entretaining activities. I was in a similar position, the pa:ac sometimes can get pretty serious, so I gathered some friends, and made a group in FB, just 20 members, all amateur and sucky like I am, and we make week activities, like "draw a bear week", etc. just to keep us motivated.

    A tablet will give you the hability to play around with colours and stuff like that without making a mess in RL, it will also help you interact with the computer and internet, wich you say they attract your attention so much, its a tool that makes drawing/painting comfortable, and clean.

    Yes, with a quick verbal "boom." You take a man's peko, you deny him his dab, all that is left is to rise up and tear down the walls of Jericho with a ".....not!" -TexiKen
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    Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    All this deliberation could be over-thought, but just sitting down and drawing now requires enough disconnecting and distancing myself from distractions that it's worth asking why I want to do it.

    If you want to do it, do it. This isn't some major commitment in need of a lengthy contemplation. Set aside an hour or two a week for a few months and draw, paint, sculpt, photograph, do whatever you want. Go to a local community/junior college and take a life drawing class twice a week for a semester. If you feel fulfilled by it at the end of the day, then continue on with it, if not, let it go.

    To me it sounds like you just need some sort of creative outlet.

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