Stop avoiding problems: creativity tip

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An artist friend of mine was complaining about another artist.

The other artist’s work didn’t seem that bad to me. Then, my friend pointed out that the other artist’s style was built entirely around his inability to draw faces. He always organized all the figures in the art so that they faced away from the viewer or wore heavy hoods or masks. Never once, in all the art that came up with you googled his name, was there a full face.

If you only looked at one drawing, you wouldn’t notice. But, once you looked at all his work, it was impossible not to see.

Is your style based not on your strengths, but on your limitations?

What if instead of avoiding what you can’t do, you worked on it. You focused on being ok with what you currently can’t do at all. It’s not that you’ll ever be the best at it, but that you’ll be able to stop avoiding it altogether.

Obviously, you want to use what you’re exceptional at to your best advantage, but merely avoiding your challenges sticks out like a sore thumb.

Make sure your work reflects choices on your part, not fear of your limitations. Avoiding what you’re afraid of is not a style choice, it’s just refusing to expose your soft underbelly to the world.

(The art above is by Fletcher Hanks, not the artist in question.)

2 responses

  1. I really love this advice and can definitely say with confidence that the times I have jumped in and attempted something I “wasn’t good at” or felt was scary, I was more proud of the results than if I had done something safe and known… even if I learned how to do better the next time. It’s standing at the edge of the high dive contemplating the jump that is scary. After the leap, it’s hard to remember the fear beforehand.


    • Yes! I’ve had the same experience. The only way to improve is to do something you’re not good at.

      And you can’t organize your whole creative life around what you’re afraid of, you have to “face” it head on. Even if you aren’t the best at drawing faces or heads.


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